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Zoƫ Brigley: Bluebeard's Wives

"It's always fascinating to see how the same spark of inspiration ignites in so many different ways in the minds of different writers. Give a number of poets the same starting point, ask them to write something, and what each of them ends up with will be unique, as this collection amply demonstrates. In many ways it is a more organic book than a lot of poetry collections I've come across - the idea to collect all the poems togather came after Bartok's Duke Bluebeard's Castle, and the Bluebeard myth in general, inspired these writers to be so prolific". -Sophie Hannah in the Foreword to Bluebeard's Wives

Bluebeard's Wives is an anthology of poetry from women in the West Midlands which is to be published by the Heaventree Press in August 2007. I am co-editing the anthology along with the poet, Julie Boden, who started the project when she became poet in residence at Birmingham Symphony Hall. Here is how she describes its beginnings in the afterword of the book:

"The June 2005, the ENO performance of Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, starring John Tomlinson and Sally Burgess, seemed to call out to women for a response and so in January that year I gathered together 21 women writers from around the Midlands area. We met, in January 2005, at Symphony Hall to tour the building, listen to a recording and to discuss the possibilities of the project; Jan Wild came prepared with sketches of the seven doors to inspire us. We exchanged contact details and then went our separate ways in order to allow time for our own ideas to arise and to mull over the germs of poetic inspiration. My own journey took me to Hawthornden Castle in Scotland where, as a fellow, I was able to write in splendid isolation and lose myself in the search for Bluebeard. Upon my return to the Midlands in February I read the resulting sonnet sequence at Symphony Hall and at the Poetry Café in Shrewsbury, making one or two minor adjustments before its performance and publication. After the lunchtime concert performance of The Amorous Organ ( February 14th, 2005) and before the evening reading of Bluebeard’s Wife a group of us met again to listen to each other’s work and to offer advice."

Initially involved as a writer responding to the Bluebeard story, I was later taken on as an editor of an anthology representing the project and my role was to act as a mentor to the writers offering feedback and encouragment. The Bluebeard’s Wives are: Jo Bell, Julie Boden, Rosemary Bosworth, Zoë Brigley, Sue Brown, Christine Coleman, Jane Commane, Rachel David, Helen Dennis, Roz Goddard, Natasha Godfrey, Penny Harper, Helena Hempstead, Hazell Hills, Jane Holland, Rosie Miles, Anouk Mishti, Cathy Perry, Emma Pursehouse, Connie Ramsay-Bott, Jo Roberts, Dorothy Rose, Sibyl Ruth, Jane Seabourne, Judy Tweddle, Catherine Whittaker, Diane Wiggett, Jan Wild, Helen Yendall and Diyan Zora. Although not everyone was able to get a poem ready in time for the anthology, they are all valuable members of the collective.