Writer of the Week: Vivien Brown

writer of the week

Our Writer of the Week is Vivien Brown!

This is the second time for Vivien as we interviewed her about her short stories back in 2020. This time we’re focusing on her wonderful poetry.

You can read her latest poem ‘The Mother of the Bride’ in Special no. 223 which is on sale now.

Your touching poem in this month’s Special captures the feelings a mother has for her daughter on her wedding day. What inspired you to write it?

When one of my twin daughters got married a few years ago, I remember feeling a little bit sidelined as her father was the one to travel with her to the church and then to walk her down the aisle. Entering the church by myself felt a bit strange.

I had been very involved in choosing the dress and planning the day though. I was also given the very special role of reading a poem and releasing doves after the ceremony. So I was by no means left out.

Watching a daughter marry is quite an emotional event, but a very happy one. My other daughter will be getting married in May.

Your poems ‘Tree of Love’ and ‘Baby Love’ feature in The Friendship Book 2022. Would you say that family and emotion have a strong influence on your poetry?

I like poetry that tells a little story or that captures the mood of a special occasion.

Family themes work so well, whether it’s children building sandcastles or a family holding hands to watch a firework display.

I wrote an earlier and much longer version of ‘Tree of Love’ to be read at my sister’s wedding. It’s about how a tiny seed of love can grow into branches that entwine and grow strong roots that hold a couple together through all weathers.

‘Baby Love’ captures the love and pride at becoming a grandparent. My fourth grandchild has just been born, so I know those feelings well.

When did you start writing poetry and do you think it requires a different skillset to prose fiction?

I have written poetry for as long as I can remember, on a wide range of themes.

Many of my more recent poems have been for young children, about animals, monsters or teachers, and are designed to make children laugh.

I find writing a poem to be much more fun than writing fiction, and much quicker to do. The time from idea to finished poem can often be as little as just an hour or so. A short story takes considerably longer.

Strangely, I always write poems with pen and paper, never on a screen.

Do you have a favourite poem or poet? Why do you enjoy it/them so much?

I really enjoy poetry that has a nice feeling of rhythm and rhyme and that conjures up images that either make me laugh or cry.

You can’t beat Pam Ayres for a well-written light-hearted poem. ‘Oh, I Wish I’d Looked After Me Teeth’, warning kids of the dangers of eating too many sweets, is still a favourite.

Jenny Joseph’s ‘Warning’ is a wonderfully defiant way of looking at old age, although she wrote it when she was only 29.

Can you tell us about your current writing projects?

I always have several things on the go at any one time.

I am writing two very different novels and a children’s picture book, although none of these has a definite publisher as yet.

Of course, I always have lots of ideas for more short stories, which remain my first love.

I have just heard that a poem I wrote about a widow coming to terms with being on her own has been shortlisted in a competition, too.

What book have you enjoyed lately?

I read a huge amount of women’s fiction, but the book I have most enjoyed in recent weeks was ‘A Labour of Love’. It’s the official behind-the-scenes guide to the TV series ‘Call the Midwife’ which tells the ten-year history of the show, and features interviews with cast and crew, and lots of lovely photographs.

What is your top tip for aspiring “Friend” poets?

Choose a theme that means something to you, one that will touch readers’ hearts in some way and make them think ‘Yes, I know exactly how that feels.’

Find our previous Writer of the Week interviews here.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.