Friday 22 October 2021

I.M. Julie Boden, 1960-2021

By Jonathan Taylor

On Tuesday 28 September 2021, much-loved Midlands poet, performer and literary advocate Julie Boden passed away, following a long illness. 

Julie was born in Sutton Coldfield in 1960. She worked as a teacher, Creative Advisor and then full-time poet. At various times, she was Birmingham Poet Laureate, Director of Poetry Central, Poet in Residence at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, a Director of Warwick Words Festival, Founder of the Oasis Café Theatre and a Fellow of Hawthornden. As a passionate spokesperson for poetry, she toured and performed nationally and internationally, nurturing and promoting the work of hundreds of other writers, of all ages and experience. She organised and ran workshops, readings, events, lectures, poetry competitions, and interdisciplinary collaborations – between, for example, musicians and writers. 

Julie’s poetry is musical, emotive, humorous and approachable, with a wide range and appeal. Almost uniquely, it manages to ‘sing’ both in performance and on the page, in the reader’s mind’s-ear. Her books included Beyond the Bullring (2001), Cut on the Bias (2002), Through the Eye of a Crow (2003), Wasted Lives (2003) and Bluebeard’s Wife (2005). She edited and co-edited five anthologies, including Bluebeard’s Wives (2007), with Zoë Brigley. A selection of her poetry, entitled Aheenthi, was translated into Gujarati by Adam Godiwala and published in India in 2006. Her poems and articles were widely published at home and abroad, and featured on BBC Radio and TV. 

 As well as her own work, Julie will be remembered for her enthusiasm, kindness, humour and unique ability to communicate those qualities to others. She enthused everyone who she met about poetry, and fostered new connections and collaborations between hundreds of artists. She will be hugely missed by all whose lives she touched. Like so many other writers in the region, I was lucky enough to call her a friend. Thoughts are with her son and daughter.

Here are two beautiful poems she wrote for children:

Happy Day

Today is a good day
A yellow day
A golden sparkling silky day.
A smile day
A play day
A let’s jump up and sing day.
A chocolate day
A strawberry day
A birdsong all day long day.
A cuddling your pet day
A never to forget day
A feeling like a Queen day.
A warm glow in my tummy day
A ‘Look how good you’ve been!’ day
An everybody loves you day
A yellow day
A shining day
A good to be Alive day.

Sad Day

Today is
A sad day
A dark day
A bad day
A grey day.
A bleak day
A weak day
A coarse hair blanket scratchy day.
A broccoli day
A rainy day
A something in your eye day.
A bad egg day
A lemon day
A nothing in my tummy day
A porcupine to touch day
A creeping down the stair day
A whisper to my bear day
A grey day, a sad day
A please give me a hug day.

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