Joanna Bennett wears her insides on her outsides. She is also known as the poet Tatterhood and is the author of 3 books Swimming Underwater, Tiny Lungs and These Are My Delicious Sandwiches. Her poetry speaks to the heart of things. Little things that really are big things. What it feels like to watch someone you birthed into the world sleep beside you. The stretchy long days of parenting through isolation during a pandemic. The low hum of irritation at the socks on the floor or the blinding sentimentality of your box of Christmas decorations stored somewhere in the back of the cupboard to be rifled through when the time is right. Jo writes in a way that makes sense to a sleep deprived addled sometimes hormonal brain. Her poetry gifts us fragments of womanhood and motherhood and aching love and the daily grind of parenting tiny humans. I first heard her poetry spoken about by Pandora Sykes on the High Low podcast and very quickly ordered her 2020 book of poems called Tiny Lungs. Illustrated by her son each group of words for me was a window into the heady mix that is parenthood the fear, the exhaustion and the love. For me poetry helps especially when I’m bone achingly tired and overwhelmed or hormonal or just plain over everything. There’s no pressure to finish a whole chapter let alone a whole book – poems can put your restless mind in touch with something bigger and brighter and deeper and wider than the dishes you’re meant to be stacking in the dishwasher or the never-ending pile of clean washing filling up baskets all over the house. Whether it’s her words about the light on a sequin or the heart breaking simplicity of her poem Bones about grief and miscarriage and friendship Joanna Bennett helped me through some of the isolation this pandemic and Covid 19 brought over these last few years. We had second babies, daughters who want to eat wires and scale precipitous heights (from her poem wires about parenting a her daughter) about the same time in 2020 and while Jo lives in Bristol and I in Melbourne her third book These are my delicious sandwiches speaks into so much of what I felt being pregnant when the world was beginning to lockdown and what that would mean for me but also for my baby and our little family unit. Jo is exactly as warm and funny and honest as I hoped she’d be and her voice leapt out at me across the internet air waves late at night in our backyard studio.
I read somewhere once that sometimes putting art into the world is like sending out a beacon to your people to say hello here I am is anyone else out there feeling the same as me? And that’s how I reckon it is with Jo. I hope you fall as much in love with her as I did during this conversation.
A little more about Joanna in 2017 she was longlisted for the Out-Spoken Prize For Poetry and in the December was commissioned by GOSH Arts to write a book for Great Ormond Street Hospital which was subsequently turned into a film read by Rupert Everett.
Follow Joanna Bennett on instagram @tatterhood_
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Editing – RAW Collings and Claire Tonti
Theme music – Avocado Junkie