Sense of place in poems of Riversalt

POET: Lou Smith

POET: Lou Smith

NEWCASTLE-BORN poet, writer and broadcaster Lou Smith will launch her first book of poetry this month.

The work Riversalt has been published as part of Flying Island’s pocket poetry series.

The work explores Smith’s family-history and sense of place.

“My family migrated from Jamaica and North Wales and England to Newcastle,” Smith said.

“[Newcastle] is where I grew up and lived until I was 25.

“The poems are set in these places. I went to England and North Wales and Jamaica as well,” Smith said. 

“I went to those places to find out my family history, there was a lot I didn't know, and I had grown up hearing stories.”

Smith said the stories of her grandmother, who grew up in Jamaica and later immigrated to England, were those she knew the least about.

“I wanted to find out more about her and how she came to be in the situation she was in,” Smith said. 

“She was born and raised in Kingston, we didn’t know about her father’s family, she was raised by her grandmother.

“I tried to piece together the elements of her history.”

These stories weave with stories from North Wales, and England and intersect with Smith’s Newcastle life.

“The majority of poems are set in Newcastle,” Smith said. 

“My initial writing about my grandmother’s story was imagined from my position in Newcastle. 

“Then I started writing a lot about sense of place, and cultural identity and personal identity and a lot on the waterways, the rivers, the creeks and the ocean and how these waterways link us and separate us.

“A lot of the poems, they look at the landscape, and the industry, and the beauty of the landscape, and my own experience of that landscape growing up.”

“It’s a journey through place, landscape and family history.”

Riversalt launch: The Press Book House, June 30, at 6pm.