Story behind the poem: My animal life

My prose poem “My Animal Life: An Autobiography in 10 Parts” was published yesterday by the wonderful Okay Donkey online literary magazine. I’ve been enjoying reading their stuff since they launched earlier this year and even though I wasn’t really sure what I’d written (was it flash fiction? creative non-fiction? memoir? prose poetry?) I wanted to send it to them just in case they liked it… after all, it mentioned donkeys and a host of other animals.

For the first time I got an acceptance with a request for a few edits. It made me really happy to realize they liked my work, but thought it could be better – and amazingly wanted to help make it better. Thanks so much to Genevieve for all her help. It was a great experience to work together to get this weird little autobiography as good as I could.

I wrote the piece earlier this year while I was at my parent’s place in the north of England. I can’t remember exactly what got me started on it: probably a combination of dog-sitting for a friend, going to the campsite in Wales where we got our family dog Miggy. some favourite walks, and a bunch of memories all mingling together. I realized, with surprise, how many of my important memories had animals at their centre. It’s mostly about animals and loss, but is also, maybe less obviously, threaded through with other memories of bereavement, mourning, and other losses – friends, opportunities, loved ones. And I hope there’s a little bit of hope and joy in there, too.

It seems to have resonated with readers so far and I’m pleased to have been able to write something so personal that also has some kind of relevance to others. I’m also super excited to be able to honour and name animals who’ve meant a lot to me and my family and friends over the years – the ones whose names ended up not getting included are there too, in between the lines.


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