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Disabled performance poet Jackie Hagan dies after long illness

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Write Out Loud has been saddened to learn of the death of award-winning performance poet and playwright Jackie Hagan at the age of 43, after a long illness over a number of years. Her partner Miles Hadfield posted on Facebook on Friday: “I'm heartbroken to tell you that Jackie passed in the early hours of yesterday morning. Her illness, that she lived with for so many years, had been getting worse in recent months. After a quiet, fun birthday at home at the end of April she went into hospital for treatment. She was discharged after a few weeks but at home she was never really right so I took her back in, just over two weeks ago. During her last stay in hospital she enjoyed some nice times with family and friends - her mum Moira and brother Michael spent a lot of time with her.

“I sat with her and got her to talk about all the wonderful things she'd done with her life. Looking back on it put a smile on her face: and what a life it was - she was bursting with intelligence, wit, words, love and kindness, a great writer and a great performer.”

Jackie Hagan, from Skelmersdale in Lancashire, was a multi-award-winning poet, playwright and performer who became a Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellow in 2018 and was nominated for a Women of the World award for effecting social change using spoken word. She worked extensively for the British Council, represented the UK in slam poetry in Rio de Janeiro, and was the subject of a Channel 4 documentary short. She won Saboteur Awards' Best Spoken Word Show twice, was a Creative Future Literary Award winner, and regularly appeared on BBC Ouch! and BBC Radio 4.

Jackie Hagan suffered from APS, a disorder of the immune system that causes an increased risk of blood clots, and systemic sclerosis, a rare, chronic disease that is four times more common among women than among men. She was a double amputee. After her first amputation, back in 2015 she went touring with her show Some People Have Too Many Legs.

Last year she appeared on stage at Morecambe poetry festival, and afterwards in an article for Write Out Loud wrote: “I found myself in the dressing room, with Roger McGough bodding about behind me, wondering if people will get what I’m saying, or be totally distracted by wheelchairs and disease popping its head up in poems, and then the first laugh, my God, it was like the acceptance and connection I was drip-feeding myself with a teaspoon, like a big ocean of that, I wanted to hug everyone.”

Despite often being in a lot of pain, for years she posted brave and funny updates about her condition on Facebook, when she was able to. News of her death prompted expressions of shock and sadness on social media, and a flood of tributes. 

In a review of her show Some People Have Too Many Legs, in 2015, Write Out Loud reviewer Judy Gordon said: “She has talked about it before, here on Write Out Loud, on radio and TV, and in the pages of Chat magazine. But hearing her talk so intimately, profoundly and humorously was all the more moving. She interspersed the story with excerpts from her childhood which were both hilarious and heartbreaking. And she doesn’t ask for pity - she just tells it like it is … At the end she described coming to terms with her stump and learning to love it despite its bizarre appearance - and then revealed it in all its comic glory before drinking bubbly out of her prosthesis. This was a genuinely heart-warming show that left us loving her even more.”



◄ Clare Shaw to judge Winchester poetry prize

When did the ‘culture wars’ really start? Maybe back in the 60s … ►

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R A Porter

Sat 29th Jun 2024 13:41

I wasn’t aware of Jackie Hagan until I read the article and looked her up on YouTube. What a brave, talented, funny and remarkable woman.

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Andy Millican

Tue 25th Jun 2024 14:23

Such sad news. What an incredibly brave woman and performer and so funny too. I once shared a poetry gig with her in 2018 ( I think) at the Carlton Club in South Manchester and she was hilarious. Her self deprecation and the poetry she used to highlight her disablement had no barriers. A sad loss.


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