Musicality and poetry have much in common – expressionism, perfectionism, mysticism. I happen to love both. I played piano until Grade 6 and would get lost in playing, I had to be asked to stop. My favourites to play were Mozart and Haydn, at best sweet and tuneful. We all know what the worst sounds like thanks to Mr. Dawson.There is a certain angst to poetry that is often found in music, where the discord lives, hiding or displaying the layers of feeling and expression that the poet is trying to convey. There is pain and beauty in both art forms, and so much to continue to explore, learn from and be inspired by.
Creating poetry is a joy and an endeavour. Handing your carefully selected verses over to another to design as your book takes shape, is like handing over your child to a new childminder. Someone else is in charge, temporarily. If they are experienced, they will ask you what you expect, what your parameters you are, what type of parent you are, then re-assure that they understand your needs as they wave you off. I was lucky to find a talented and sensitive designer who understood my vision, who also helped to shape my artwork into the book’s cover; I trusted her to pull the whole thing together.
As the poems are of the soul: tender, sensitive, heavy, existing in the half-light of the human experience, I wanted some of that to translate onto the page. The result showcases my vision so well: the three sections, Discovery, Holy Fire and Resurrection are clearly defined, the poems flow easily across the page. It feels like a poetic archipelago from the sea of my imagination. My gift of words to the willing and open souls in the world.
‘Divided into three parts of an inner journey—Discovery, Holy Fire, Resurrection— Suzy Rigg’s Songs of my Soul is a diverse poetry collection. It has pieces that tackle the aches of isolation and fear and loss: ‘For one so alive/ it is hard to believe, you are gone’ as well as more jovial light verse about the London urban experience, such as ‘The C-O-M-M-U-T-E’ in which one feels the, ‘touch of a strangers bag or case/ The jolt of an armpit right in your face’. Rowland Rigg’s début is a ‘song full of longing, loneliness, fear.’ (p.5), but it is also, ‘a joyous chime of freedom’. From allusions to Red Riding Hood in ‘Footprints’ (p.6) to Rapunzel in ‘Things not forgotten’, these poems are often suffused with the primordial archetypes of fairytale, an eerie play of life and death.
The book is striking; in ‘tightrope’ Rigg’s experiments with concrete forms while exploring the fragility of life and elsewhere with subjects as difficult as the black diaspora. It’s also sometimes wry, warning at one point that ‘all characters are creations of this poet’s imagination and any similarity to persons you may know is just spooky.’ Songs of my Soul is an impressive introduction to a new and original voice. I look forward to more work from this poet.’
A. I was born and brought up in the Midlands, with my mother, a teacher. She was also an eternal student and loved to read – she studied English literature for her first degree and there was lots of Chaucer, Shakespeare, William Blake and or course Shakespeare lying around. She whetted my younger poetic appetite by encouraging me to read Christina Rossetti who I loved. We identified strongly with our Caribbean heritage and loved John Agard,Maya Angelou,Benjamin Zephaniah – all of whom we saw! Before I went to University, I worked at my local radio station Radio WM and also for the Caribbean Times as a junior reporter – the writing bug started early!
Q. Tell us about about how you came to write Songs of My Soul
A. It’s a culmination of a few year’s work – I had so written so much material it seemed a pity to leave it all in folders on my computer or dotted around on various blog posts. I really wanted to put it all together as a collection and due to personal circumstances, I had the time to do this, and most importantly the will. Shaping the book was a really cathartic and creative experience; the book is themed into three sections – Discovery, Holy Fire and Resurrection- which I think enables readers to dip in and out of according to their mood.
Q. What is Songs of My Soul about?
A. It’s a personal reflection on life with universal themes – parenting, love, passion, grief, loss. These are themes that everyone can relate to – there is a ‘song’ in the book for everyone. The reaction has been so positive – it’s brilliant to create a body of work that potentially everyone can relate to.
Q. You painted the cover of Songs of My Soul – can we expect any more paintings from you?
A. I’m a writer first and foremost and although I loved the painting experience, words are my first love. I did have a vey clear picture of what I wanted the cover to look like, a representation of a spiritual, calming place and universal landscape we can all relate to. I love the colours of dawn, when the world is just waking up so I tried to capture this on the canvas.
Q. So, the book is published now, what’s next for you?
A. I would like to make a donation to the National Autistic Society with proceeds from the book sales, it’s a charity that’s very important to me. I have a figure in mind and once I get there I will let people know as this will have been a real joint effort. There has been such positive interest in the book, that I will continue being a poet. Observing life and people and capturing it – I have also written a few short stories and will be developing these. I will continue to develop my craft, I’m a bit like my mother in that way – there is always something new to learn, another experience to write about. I’m very excited about sharing my words – I believe it’s what I was put on this planet to do.