'In the Spotlight' interview with E L Harrison for Lucent Dreaming

E L Harrison in the Spotlight

Ellen Harrison, whose piece ‘The Gentle Wolf’ is published in issue 7 of Lucent Dreaming, is from Yorkshire, and currently lives in Warwickshire. She is a recent graduate of Coventry University and holds a MA in Professional Creative Writing. Her work imbues the natural world with myth and magic, and she is keen to use her passion for writing to rekindle others’ love for the landscapes around them. She has held an exhibition of her green-themed poetry with Positive Images Festival, been published online by Headline Poetry & Press, in print by Silver Apples Magazine, and will have work in forthcoming print editions of CovWords and Headline’s Restoration v.1 issue.

So, what inspired your piece ‘The Gentle Wolf’? Can you tell us a little more about what it’s about? 

It started as a classroom exercise during my master’s degree, a little over a year ago; taking a colour and free-writing for a few minutes. Off the top of my head, I picked turquoise. My writing is often centred around nature, and about drawing attention to the world around us. At first, turquoise might not be a colour that springs to mind when thinking of the landscape, but from those initial words I had on the page, I realised that it did appear in nature, it was just a little more hidden. And then I rediscovered a painting in the loft that I’d created a few years ago. A turquoise wolf. At the time I’d been on a spree of painting animals in colours I felt represented them. I’ve always had an interest in colour theory, and the more I thought about it, the stronger the connection became. Though initial impression of wolves might be wild, ferocious, even, they also represent protective, family-oriented society, and are symbols wild beauty. I suppose adding the wolf to the poem added a level of personification to this hidden colour of nature and its own beauty in the wild.

What are some of your favourite books and art (including shows, videos, music) – of all time or more recently. Why are they favourites? 

I fell in love with the language choices used in Victorian literature, and by the British Romantic poets I studied throughout my A-Levels and bachelor’s degree. I enjoyed Wordsworth’s nature poetry, but more particularly Keats, Shelley and Tennyson, all who no doubt influenced my interest in nature writing. Last year I was introduced to New Nature Writing, particularly Robert Macfarlane, whose book The Wild Places is just fantastic. And Paul Farley, who co-authored Edgelands: Journey’s into England’s True Wilderness with Michael Symmons Roberts, writes really evocatively and with such an attentive approach to language choice when discussing those unseen, hidden spaces that we so often ignore. I also find music really inspiring when it comes to writing poetry, because there’s obviously such a strong connection to rhythm. I love Hozier who has an absolutely magical talent for metaphor, and Dermot Kennedy, who again, uses language to create such vivid imagery. There’s a strong folk-music influence in both their work, and that just somehow lends itself to way they portray their emotions through both the music and the lyrics.

What, if anything, are you looking forward to right now and what writing/creative projects are you currently working on?

The world’s in an interesting place right now: the global pandemic has affected every one of us, and as the regulations around social distancing begin to relax I’ll be looking forward to getting out into the world a little more. I’ve had several months of examining my local environment in detail, and though it’s inspired a lot of poetry, I’m also ready to experience something new. I’ve really missed taking longer walks, visiting country parks and such, and those places that quite often inspire my writing. Right now, I’m building my portfolio and working on a poetry collection inspired by a Writer’s Retreat to Greece that I went on this time last year. Collating what I wrote at the time, notes, photographs, and a pre-existing love for Greek mythology (and Bettany Hughes’ series ‘A Greek Odyssey’ which is currently airing on Channel 5), I’m intertwining my love for nature with myth, magic, metaphysics and sense of self.

Can you tell us about how you got into writing and art? Is there anyone whose support or encouragement really inspired or motivated you? 

As a child, I just never had my head out of a book. I loved being somewhere different, and from fairy tales to ghost stories, mythology and fantasy, I just liked this idea of ‘something beyond the ordinary’. And poetry was just fun. I’ve fond memories of reading Colin McNaughton’s There’s an Awful Lot of Weirdos in Our Neighbourhood over and over again, and just before I applied to do my MA in Professional Creative Writing, my Dad rediscovered a long, whimsical poem that I wrote when I was around ten. It’s two pages long, complete with illustrations, and it just confirmed that this is something I’ve always wanted to do. I stuck with English throughout school, A-Levels and a BA in Literature and Creative Writing, but I also really enjoyed art at school, and I still paint and draw a lot. As part of my master’s degree, I was introduced to comics by Clari Searle, whose genuine passion was for the subject was infectious, and led to me explore how image can be used to portray language. As a result, I used my final creative dissertation to explore the effectiveness of comics in motivational texts; combining colour-theory and tips, and a chameleon as a spiritual guide, to motivate other creatives. It’s not a complete piece yet but hope to return to it in time. But every one of my tutors across all the various modules were incredible, and a year on, the invaluable information I learnt still keeps me motivated. But if I could recommend one book to every writer and artist out there, it would be Neil Gaiman’s Art Matters. Because it really does. The world’s a better place for it, and we’re better people with it.

Where can people see more of you and your work?

I have poetry published in Silver Apples ‘Very Superstitious’ issue, and on Headline Poetry & Press’s Rx Poetry page. Forthcoming work will appear in Here Comes Everyone and CovWords. Links can be found on my twitter, @elharrisonwriter, where I also tweet short- form poetry. An archived writer’s diary from my time at university can be found at
https://thewhisperingbee.wordpress.com. The website needs a little TLC, but it offers an insight into my creative writing process.

Lucent Dreaming is an independent creative writing magazine publishing beautiful, imaginative and surreal short stories, poetry and artwork from emerging authors and artists worldwide. Our aim is to encourage creativity and to help writers reach publication! Subscribe to Lucent Dreaming now, support us on Patreon and follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

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