Julia Darling’s poetry really normalised serious illness and, in an age where films and TV soap operas portray sickness and death as melancholy- or drama-ridden experiences, she let us know that it is possible to deal with real-life illness with humour. I can’t put into words how much that helped me come to terms with my Mum’s illness and the death of both my grandfathers from cancer.
It will always be one of my treasured memories that Julia Darling selected and read something of mine for the Guardian’s poetry workshop in January. It was the first poem I had the confidence to send off, and that confidence came largely from knowing that the commentary would be constructive and generous, because everything I have ever seen Julia Darling write has been so. She and her writing will continue to be a great inspiration to me, and I am sure, to countless others.
Many, many thanks.