Author Interview: Gillian Byrom-Smith


I met the lovely Gillian Byrom-Smith at a spoken word event in New Mills. When I realised she had been published by the fab Stairwell Books Press, I definitely wanted to feature her work on the Fly on the Wall blog!


'Heading for the Hills’ has a sense of specific place – is it describing one location? If so, why did this environment inspire you?

‘Heading for Hills,’ really portrays a journey across Britain; some of the poems were written after visiting places that really inspire me. The overall journey begins in York and ends as we were preparing to move over to the Peak District, after many years of traveling regularly across the Pennines by train. Other specific locations are Great Malvern and Berwick-upon-Tweed; I find both places particularly inspiring.

How long did the book take to write?

The poems were gathered together over a period of about ten years, which represents the period of time my husband and I had known each other.


Who are your favourite authors and/or poets?

Over the years I have been inspired by numerous people; those that stand out to me are Kate Atkinson, Ian McEwan, Charles Dickens, Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith and Bob Dylan.

What do you want a reader to take away from this collection?

I would like to reach the reader, especially those who would not normally think of reading poetry and help them try to make sense of the world through the magic of words.

I analyse some of my favourite segments of the book:

Poem: ‘Flying Not Diving’

Her shadow marking time; a sundial to gulls’ – This evoked a sense of relaxation – a world away from time keeping and pressures.

Poem: ‘Green Man’

‘He is as old as the hills and new born’ – This suggested to me our ‘inner child’ and how we can feel rejuvenated by nature.

Poem: ‘Lanterns’

‘Our dreams rise

like Chinese lanterns crowding the sky.

We are Earthbound by train tracks.’ – I love the image of dreams rising, and being airborne!

You can buy a copy of Heading for the Hills from the lovely Stairwell Books here!

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