Hi there

I’m Jo Somerset.  I write stories, poems, nonfiction and results of my experiments in life – for adults and children.  I’ve even had something translated into Catalan.  Here’s the latest from me.

Mugshot 2019

March murblings

This month, I’ve been thinking with Autumn Voices about various ways that people are active in later life. As their guest blogger, it’s been fun reflecting about International Women’s Day, the year of Covid, older people’s activism around the world and how disabled people , who comprise two-thirds of the 126,000+ Covid deaths, are shouting “Not Dead Yet!”

LGBT History month

LGBT History month

I’m exploring twentieth century LGBT+ experience through the life of H. Morley Clarke – a tailor – and his partner Roland Spence – a bookseller in Leicester – for LGBT History Month.  My presentation to Leicester LGBT Centre on 23 February will be alongside Dr. Ju Gosling on  campaigning for equality by LGBTQI+ Disabled People  and Rico Jacob Chace on Trans Lives in British History.  Tickets are available to book online at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/135994534313

Let’s all feast on seasonal reading

Two wins in one day. That’s how it feels: end of lockdown 2.0 marks the next page of reaching my audience.

Today, two totally different pieces are published, in the outstanding new Queerlings magazine, and the dazzling foodie creative delight that is mishmash.

Bringing a couple of aspects of my self together – the bit that is writing ‘ever more queerly’ according to Meg-John Barker – and the bit that can’t separate writing from cooking, tasting, or doing a myriad of other things – gives me great pleasure.

So today I present:

Dear Granfer ,

a chunk of my history which is also our history, with a Christmassy flourish,

and

Eating the Alphabet,

words to make you salivate in the feasting season.

Polish Zapiekanka

Lockdown Lit

I was resistant to writing anything about Covid-19. Enough that it’s invaded our bodies, our lives and our world; I refused to let it seep into my creative space too. But in the end, submerged thoughts rose to the surface while swimming in desolate waters. ‘Swimming away from the virus’ is published by Bounds Green Writers in its Lockdown Lit series.

Autumn Voices Guest Poet

Autumn Voices Guest Poet

This month I’m honoured to be the guest poet at Autumn Voices creative community in the UK. Five of my poems appeared weekly through October 2020:

Millennium Bug  

As the clock displayed 00.01 am on 1st January 2000…………CLICK HERE

Lesson from Lorraine

Lorraine’s imagined voice speaks to us, reflecting on her life as a polio survivor and disability activist.………..CLICK HERE

Love Rising

Oh, the yeasty smell from the pizza shop……….CLICK HERE

Sixty

I performed this rap poem at my sixtieth birthday party at Fort Belan, Wales in 2005.

Welcome to the Fort, to my birthday celebration.
Welcome to the place that’s welcomed every generation
to play out their dreams
in this tiny dreaming nation
of dragons and despots and demons and dens
of poets and passion and beaches and friends………..CLICK HERE

That Place 

Often, navigating the small hours is a roller-coaster journey. 

There is a place where thinking and sinking join,
where knotted thoughts loosen in the dark,………CLICK HERE

Leanne Bridgewater Award

I’m honoured to have received the inaugural Leanne Bridgewater Award for Innovation and Experiment from the University of Salford. Leanne was a well-known poet artist, aged only 29 when she died.

“I’m proud to be following in her footsteps,” I told Write Out Loud.

Different eras, unique voices. Both of us were born in Birmingham, both migrated to Manchester as young adults, both got a distinction (brag, brag) in our creative writing MA at Salford.

Leanne Bridgewater in 2015, shortlisted for Melita Hume poetry prize
Jo Somerset (me) when she found she’d won the award

Now there’s only one path to take, the one forged by Leanne and which I will follow: creative as I can, daring or bust.

A slice of queer history

Dear Jay,

You’re telling my childhood story except it’s 40 years later and it’s not mine, it’s yours. In grown-up words you describe how your three-year old self realised about gender restrictions,

I’ve experimented with format in this piece – contrasting my experience as a young lesbian in the 1970s with someone working through gender issues in the 2020s.

Click to read the full version Jo and Jay: a conversation across the generations

Clavmag is ‘something new and exciting and very very gay’ according to its founders, Gab and Frey.  It’s a digital lit mag publishing creative writing from queer, trans + non-binary people.

Bugs in our lives

It seems a long time since February, when I wrote this poem about bugs. In 2000, the Millennium bug (computer virus) never materialised, whereas now……

Millennium 2000

The dark sky crowded into our city streets.

No rain (thank you, gods), not freezing (nine degrees),

just clouds and stars peering down on

children pouring beer into the gutter then, with assumed bravado, holding up a near-empty bottle.

It was all fireworks and damp squibs and a few Cava corks popping

and my neighbour being hit by a rampaging Catherine wheel that flew off its nail.

 

The bug never arrived

and anyway it would have been sterile, computer-housed,

not a killer like the bugs to come.

Not like polio-malaria-AIDS-foot’n’mouth – funeral pyres consigned to memory thanks to intelligent-progress-scientific-advances

but SARS-Ebola-Coronavirus, science fiction-like, not a reality for our generation,

just what we were about to bequeath.

 

Sorry.

 

 

5th February 2020