This page: What You Want by Joan Johnston Lip Reading by Fiona Ritchie Walker Broken Biscuits by June Portlock Waltzing off from Hand-Me-Downs by Sylvia Forrest A Kind of Mink, by Heather Young White Lies by Jeanne Macdonald

Cover of What You Want

What You Want by Joan Johnston,
ISBN 978-0-9520090-3-0


This morning I dream his face
is on a sheet of postage stamps
sticking inside my eyelids as I wake.
I lick my lips, slip my arms
into his wedding jacket;
the torn lining is covered
with our life in pictures.

I'm going to speak with his lisp
all day; then whisper the syllables,
separate the vowels of our names.

"Joan's poems are thoughtful and revealing with a deceptively light touch."


What Joan did next

Joan Johnston

After the publication of What You Want (in 1998) I was relieved to find I was still writing poems. Five years on and I'm still writing them. Every so often I bundle a few into an envelope and send them out to see what will happen. They still make appearances in magazines like The Rialto, The Printer's Devil, Rain Dog (Manchester), London Magazine and Sand. I now have a second collection, Orange for the Sun (published by Dogeater).

After the first book came out I was asked to do loads of readings. I did so many I got very tired of those poems. Recently I've re-visited them though, and am re-writing / expanding some of them: I'm still interested in some of their themes and preoccupations; I still want to explore them, but as the writer I am now. I think it's a sort of updating and checking out what's changed in me since I wrote them and a reflection of the way I write now in terms of structure and form. Also, I'm making longer poems - one of them even runs to 24 lines!

My other work has continued to be writing-related. I have facilitated writing workshops and groups in adult education, though this has recently been curtailed by the fact that, although I have a poetry pamphlet and the Diamond Twig collection published, I am considered by one education establishment to be inadequately qualified to run their Creative Writing classes because I don't have a Creative Writing MA. I have undertaken difficult work as a writer in a psychiatric hospital and a prison, which felt more like a privilege in many ways. I have also been a writer-in-residence at a day centre for the elderly, worked with children and young people in schools, and this summer I am about to undertake a community-based writing project in Northumberland for a 90-minute film.

Biographical details: