North Shields poet Dean Jolly nets rich harvest of words
A poet from North Shields has published three pamphlets of poems about his home town and the north-east coast in quick succession, to express how much the area holds a special place in his heart. Dean Jolly said: “What fascinates me most about this region is its rich history and unique culture. From its maritime heritage to its strong sense of community, there's a depth and authenticity … that you don't find in many other places. I also love the natural beauty of the area, from the stunning coastline to the rolling hills. The people … are truly remarkable. They are proud of their roots and fiercely protective of their communities, which creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere that's hard to match.”
He explained that he had self-published the three pamphlets in less than 12 months because he initially felt he hadn’t “scratched the surface” after his first publication, and also because the smaller pamphlets “made the project more accessible and affordable for a wider audience, which aligned with my goal of bringing poetry to as many people as possible”.
In his foreword to the first pamphlet Dean says: “We must continue to acknowledge, honour and celebrate our heritage or else it will be lost to time and tide. Once described as a place where no town ought to be, it is a testament to the spirit of the people who lived there that the place still remains.”
The three collections include poems about the ferries across the Tyne between North and South Shields, the Stan Laurel statue in North Shields, Tynemouth market, and a young war hero awarded the George Medal for his role in helping the Bletchley Park codebreakers crack the German Enigma code. Here are his answers to some questions put to Dean by Write Out Loud:
How old were you when you started writing poetry?
I have always had a passion for writing and have been inspired by the beauty and power of words from a young age. I first started writing poetry when I was in college studying for my A-Levels. I remember writing my very first poem in an extracurricular creative writing course after our group took a trip to St Mary’s Lighthouse [at Whitley Bay] for inspiration. The freedom that came with self-expression had me immediately hooked, and over time I have continued to enjoy writing poetry and honing my skills.
What gave you the idea for the north-east poetry project? And what made you decide to publish in three separate pamphlets in less than a year, rather than, say, one larger book?
My initial idea was to write a poetry pamphlet inspired by my home town of North Shields and local/coastal themes which I completed and self-published in March of 2022 titled: North Shields ‘A Town Where No Town Ought To Be’ 12 Poems of Time & Tide. My partner suggested that I should follow it up with another collection of similarly themed poetry. The first collection proved popular due to its local flavour, and I also felt that I hadn’t quite scratched the surface of what I could write concerning the themes involved. So I found myself writing a sort of follow-up collection which I titled As Tyne Goes By: 12 More Poems From The North East. After publishing this, I organised a small launch party at the local Exchange theatre which consisted of me reading poetry from the first and newest collections, followed by a spoken word open mic night and charity raffle raising money for the Exchange charity. The night was a success and I was starting to get more feedback which seemed to be positive. I went right back to writing so that I could produce the third and final collection which I have just published, titled Drift Seed: 14 Poems of Root & Tide. Publishing in pamphlets made the project more accessible and affordable for a wider audience, which aligned with my goal of bringing poetry to as many people as possible.
What fascinates you about North Shields, and the north-east coast?
The north-east coast and North Shields in particular hold a special place in my heart. What fascinates me most about this region is its rich history and unique culture. From its maritime heritage to its strong sense of community, there's a depth and authenticity that you don't find in many other places. I also love the natural beauty of the area, from the stunning coastline to the rolling hills. There's a real sense of peace and serenity that comes from being surrounded by such breathtaking scenery. Finally, I find the people of North Shields and the north-east coast to be truly remarkable. They are proud of their roots and fiercely protective of their communities, which creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere that's hard to match.
Which poets influence or inspire you, would you say?
The poet whose body of work influences and inspired me most is Charles Bukowski. I love his rawness and his ability to not overly complicate his message. I’m also partial to Philip Larkin, Edgar Allan Poe, Pablo Neruda and Siegfried Sassoon.
Where do you read locally? Which are your favourite open-mic nights?
I've read twice in the Exchange theatre in North Shields, which is a venue I would absolutely love to see arranging more spoken word evenings. I mainly read in Tynemouth at a regular monthly event called Under The Arches hosted by Penny Blackburn in Alfie & Finns Gin bar located inside the Land of Green Ginger. I do aim to attend a few more local venues such as The Engine Room on Tanners Bank, and Words on the Wall in Hexham where possible.
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