With over sixty anthology appearances to her name, poet and regular Talkbacker Liz Brownlee is celebrating with the publication of her debut solo collection, Animal Magic.
“After attending two creative writing courses around 1999, the first held by the wonderfully talented teacher Crysse Morrison, (who also introduced me to Writing Magazine) I started writing children’s poetry. I was lucky to get my very first poem published in a children’s anthology. Unfortunately, soon after, many publishers withdrew from publishing children’s poetry and the number of letters asking for submissions became few and far between. I’m in about sixty anthologies, but if one comes through the door now I feel like breaking out the champagne.
“In 2006 I decided to hone my writing skills in preparation for writing my own book, and did the excellent MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. I started a manuscript of animal poems. I carefully researched each animal I was writing about – and soon realised that nearly every one was threatened in some way.
“The book I was writing became more focused and I wrote notes about each animal, including interesting facts about them and their status – using information with permission from the IUCN Red List, the WWF and many other wildlife organisations. I also contacted a species expert for each animal – this led to many fascinating emails from scientists full of love and enthusiasm for their subjects.
“When I was checking facts with Scott Swengel, former Curator of Birds at the International Crane Foundation, he said, “I can tell you that there’s something different and special about the red-crowned crane that can’t be explained, almost like they know they are on a different plane from anything else”. There are only around 2,700 of these graceful birds left in the world. Last year, after IRON Press agreed to publish my book, I chose red-crowned cranes as the subject of the cover, which has been beautifully painted by Bristol artist Rose Sanderson.
“I feel very lucky to have my own collection in these austere poetry times!”
Animal Magic, Poems on a Disappearing World is published by IRON Press on 19 April.