The Writing Shed
The Art of Being
Meeting Diane Jackman

Meeting Diane Jackman

This year's Writer in Residence for the Hysteria Writing Competition

Last month I caught up with Diane Jackman for the fourth time. Previously, Diane joined panels for the launch event of Hysteria 8 and Hysteria 9 with some of the other competition readers. I’ve always been struck by how well she understands the writing process and writing competitions in general.

Diane has been a supporter of Hysteria for several years, and I’m pleased to say that this year she will be sharing her wealth of writing experience with us as this year’s writer-in-residence for the Hysteria Writing Competition. Over the course of the competition, between April and August, she will write monthly articles designed to help writers enter competitions this year.

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Diane’s poetry has appeared in small press magazines and anthologies and has won or placed in several competitions. Starting as a published children’s writer she now concentrates on poetry. And her first collection Lessons from the Orchard was published last summer by Sacred Eagle Publishing Ltd. She is passionately interested in medieval rabbit warrens and Anglo-Saxon literature. She leads poetry workshops and runs a poetry café in Brandon in the heart of Breckland, England’s desert.

Key takeaways from our conversation

  1. Lessons from the Orchard is in fact two collections of poetry in one. The second is called the Threat of Water. Each takes a different look at the history and impact of man on place and nature.

  2. The first poem in her collection won the Dedington Festical Prize.

  3. Diane started writing after joing a WEA creative writing class in the 1970’s when she would write anything and everything, from reviews to short stories.

  4. Her first published story was in the London Evening News and is reflected in a poem in her collection.

  5. She also submitted short stories to Hull Telephone Exchange who had an regular bedtime story for children.

  6. As her confidence grew she submitted stories to Brimax Publishing and Hamlin both of whom published story anthologies for children.

  7. Diane was a finalist in Hysteria 8 with her flash fiction entry ‘Parachute’.

  8. She was a reader for the poetry category for Hysteria 8 and Hysteria 9 and is the writer in residence for the 10th-anniversary competition.

  9. Diane originally started out writing for children and has written 19 books as well as stories for the classic British children’s radio series, Listen with Mother.

  10. Altogether, she has had 24 short stories and flash fiction pieces published since 1979.

  11. Origami Poems has also published two of her micro chaps, the most recent in January this year.

  12. Perhaps most unusually, she won the dwarf stars award by the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

  13. Her interest in Anglo Saxon Literature and the reading of these Olde English texts informs her poetry today.

  14. Diane says she writes because she can’t not!


cover of lessons from the orchard

I was fortunate enough to be given a signed copy of Lessons from the Orchard by Diane and was blown away by what I can only describe as the complex simplicity of her poetry speaks to. The vastness of what we often think of as a little life in which the timelessness of nature interweaves in a never-ending pattern the intricacies of people and place, forever locked in symbiosis.

I have three favourites: Envoi: Moon over the orchard, Chronicle and Incantation. They spoke to me of history and meaning, of the little we know versus the enormity of what we don’t, and of the simplicity an acceptance of that fact provides. Perhaps I was most struck by the way in which we humans impact both our past history and our present from the present moment.

As mentioned


The Writing Shed
The Art of Being
A podcast about writers and writing