INTERVIEW: Caroline Hardaker | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Writer Caroline Hardaker came to poetry by, in her words, “a really weird route”. Poetry wasn’t something she always wanted to do. She started off writing scripts and screenplays in her early 20s. When she discovered a poetry journal online with poems about things she didn’t know people wrote poems about, the things she likes – witchcraft, mythology etc. – she saw that poems are in fact “rhythmic little stories about literally anything”. And then when the first poem she submitted for publication got accepted, poetry quickly became a bit of a bug for Caroline.

She’s passionate about poetry: “In free verse, you have the freedom to do anything: you can write about anything and it can be any length, any genre. It’s generally all on one page, so you can see it all at once, see the shape of it.” There’s something old about poetry that she loves too – that sense of history, of the generations of those who have done it before.

Having lived in the North East all her life, Caroline is influenced in her writing by everyday city life and the local countryside, particularly the coast. Each poem in her debut poetry collection, Little Quakes Every Day, is a story which rolls off the tongue, a painting with words that engages all the senses. This poet is also an artist, you see. She paints and creates fibre art and so the colours and textures are vitally important, as are the smells and sounds of the scene. It all works together to create a visual image with an accompanying rhythmic drum beat as you hear the poem aloud in your head. The inspiration for these poems is rooted in Caroline’s fascination for real life discoveries, inventions and revelations, that she sees depicted in a photograph or a painting, or objects and collections from other cultures from her time working in the Museum Service.

The inspiration for these poems is rooted in Caroline’s fascination for real life discoveries, inventions and revelations

The poems in Little Quakes Every Day are gathered into three sections – histories, discoveries and inventions – themes that fascinate Caroline and that she comes back to again and again in her writing. The organising of the poems was therefore simple. “I have a sense of awe, there’s something quite magical about history.” She reveals. “Time repeats itself to the degree where you can see patterns. Humanity is currently at a turning point in environmental terms – and I think it’s important to understand mistakes of the past so we can try to not repeat them.” Caroline balances a concern about environmental disaster with a hope for change. She’s exploring what it is to live a sustainable lifestyle and is inspired by others trying to make a difference. You’ll find a focus on the need to work together but also on a sense of loneliness towards the end in the Inventions section of this collection.

All the poems were written before COVID-19 and yet the themes seem “weirdly relevant”, according to Caroline. And then there’s the title – Little Quakes Every Day is a line from one of the poems which hints at the little things that shape us, as Caroline explains: “We’re all adapting all the time, all trying to make sense of the world. When we first entered lockdown, I personally found it really hard to be creative, I couldn’t settle. And then I became even more creative than normal! I did try to write about it, but I wanted to use creativity as a way of getting away from reality.”

Little Quakes Every Day offers a window on other worlds both past and present, an escape in itself.

Little Quakes Every Day by Caroline Hardaker is published by Valley Press on Monday 9th November. Caroline takes part in a live launch party via Zoom on Friday 20th November, see her website for info

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