The Writing Shed
The Art of Being
Meeting Heather Cook

Meeting Heather Cook

Winner of the Poetry Category Hysteria 2022

I’ve been interviewing writers just like you and me since 2012. They started with written interviews called the Thursday Throng and maybe at some point, I’ll bring that archive over into Substack. Since 2020, I changed it to this podcast. The important thing about these conversations is that these are people who write, there is nothing extraordinary about them except that they’ve had the courage to put their words down on paper (metaphorical or otherwise). I find I learn something from all of the lovely writers and authors I speak to, I hope you do too.

Today, I’d love you to meet Heather Cook, whose poem ‘Girl in a Cathedral’ won last year’s Hysteria Writing Competition poetry category. You can also read her poem on on the Hysteria Writing Competition website.

Heather describes herself as a 'feel it, write it' poet, seeking to capture the emotions and atmosphere of people, places and things. She has always written poetry and easily loses herself in the process. She belongs to a local writers' circle, which has been enormously supportive and a great source of inspiration. Now retired and not so physically active as in previous years, she feels fortunate to have such a rewarding interest. And although she hasn’t yet published a collection, she is thinking of doing so soon.

Key takeaways from our conversation

  1. Heather was shortlisted for the King Lear Prize in 2021.

  2. And she was commended in the Ware Poetry Competition in 2019.

  3. Heather was a previous finalist in the Hysteria Writing Competition.

  4. Heather is passionate about making all arts inclusive, rather than elitist and academic as everyone has creativity within them.

  5. It’s very easy to exclude ourselves and others because we attach a label of ‘not for me’ to some of the arts.

  6. She believes poetry to be the ‘song of the people’ and that everyone has the right to write.

  7. Poetry was always Heather’s first love in writing and shared a passion for reading it with her mother in the last years of her life, particularly John Betjeman.

  8. Heather spent many years working with rescue cats, often rehoming many of them.

  9. Altogether, Heather has had six books published supporting Cat Rescue between 2012 and 2018.

  10. Heather has always written and kept a journal, but now she is retired she is no longer as driven or busy so has more space to be creative.

  11. The process of writing poetry is a craft she enjoys, especially when she knows she has said something that others will find satisfying.

  12. Poetry has the capacity to express the mundane in a way that takes the despair out of it and offers a lighter way of looking at life.

  13. Alan Bennett, Pam Ayers and Victoria Wood are all masters of this kitchen sink written craft.

  14. You can say anything to anyone as long as the language you use makes sense to both and doesn’t demean either.

  15. Heather is considering putting together a collection as she feels she has enough material and would enjoy producing something tangible.

  16. Open mike nights are fun because the act of reading something out loud shows that poetry really does belong to the people and should be out there.

  17. Dylan Thomas was so skilled at creating the sharp relief of visual poetry that invokes a picture and feelings at the same time and is really only properly understood when it’s spoken.

  18. Heather started writing an epic poem and enjoyed the process, particularly the characters because of the variety of voices.

  19. All writing reveals something of the writer, regardless of the genre, because it draws on the experience the writer has of life.

As mentioned today

You can meet Heather on the Woking Writers website.

If you’d like to join me on the Art of Being, just drop me a line or leave a comment below.


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