Part of an ongoing monthly series of blogs provided for Rusty Goat’s Poetry Corner, Swindon’s fantastic open mic night. Poet In The Corner shines a spotlight on talent from the local region and around the UK
Poet In The Corner: June Edition
Greetings Goatlings, and welcome to the June edition of Poet In The Corner – our spotlight on the poets of the UK, with particular emphasis on local and regional talent. Coronavirus won’t stop us from introducing June poet is the force of nature that is Hurricane Jemima!
Jemima Hughes is a poet from the midlands although we can forgive her for that. Born in Birmingham she was not always the confident performer you see today. She was a shy child who obeyed the rules, though she disliked being at school. Brought up in a close family unit she was introduced to trampolining at age 8 which became a significant part of her life until adulthood. However, Jemima’s turn to poetry came at a extremely rough part of her life. After a severe mental breakdown she began to write to express the pain of those dark times.
Jemima says she never meant for anybody to hear or read her poetry as they were very raw and honest about the struggles she was going through. However, luckily she went to watch a poetry event. It took a couple of months to feel ready to ‘take the stage’ as it were, but she went on to perform at an open mic and after received a lot of feedback from people telling her how much they empathised with her words and understood, or were able to relate to the experiences she had suffered. Realising the importance of sharing those times as a way of normalising mental illness ,she continued to perform and went from strength to strength. Now she is regarded as one of the top talents of the UK and often drops down to spend time with the Rusty Goat and all of the Goatlings. It is always a pleasure and an experience to see Jemima perform as she guides you into a story with her narrative, leaving you wanting to hear more.
When asked Jemima says her proudest achievements within the poetry world were to become a headliner in multiple events around the UK, as well as a multi slam champion. She placed second in the UK slam 2020, but here at RGPC we are secretly certain Jemima knows that you can’t top being the winner of the 2019 23rd Swindon Poetry slam. Her first poetry collection ‘Unorthodox’ is being published by Verve Poetry Press this summer and will be available for sale in Waterstones. However, she says that by far she considers her biggest achievement is to get her words out in public and the feeling people are benefiting from sharing those words with her and relating.
Asked to categorise her poetry style Jemima says she prefers to write for the spoken word and utilises the age old technique of ‘winging it’ to perform. The poets she admires range from local to worldwide. Her first inspiration was the inimitable Neil Hilborn (As a huge Neil Hilborn fan I advise you that if you haven’t heard him then look him up immediately…. No actually read this first. Then head to Google and You Tube! Check out “OCD” and “The Future” as your starting blocks. Anyway, back to Jemima… apologies for my mind, it works at right angles so badly that I use a set square to navigate life). Jemima began to watch Neil perform on You Tube and it inspired her to never hold back and feed all of her passion into her words and performances. She is also a fan of Chloe Frayne, stating she can captivate you with a few words on a page. Through joining the spoken word community she says she has met countless wonderful poets and finds herself continuously inspired by the work she reads and sees from them.
Asked about her love for poetry and spoken word Jemima says that her favourite aspects are being able to tackle tricky subjects which people find difficult or uncomfortable in a raw, ear-catching and rhythmic appealing way which she hopes makes you want to hear more. To quote the Goat “Opening doors for conversations into difficult conversations”. Her plans for the future are to continue to reach and help as many people as possible. And visiting the Goat Shed for Poetry Corner is high on the list we would naturally imagine… (We miss you and Baristocats Marcus and Tracey!)
Finally Jemima says, “Keep listening. Feeling heard when you are speaking is life saving so keep talking. The subject of mental health does not get old but keeps getting more and more important.”
Jemima’s first book: Unorthodox is out now via Verve Poetry Press. You can order signed copies at
and you can follow her at