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Tributes & MessagesIrene Cunningham

I just found out last week that Julia is gone. I was so surprised, I thought she was alright, I thought she’d survived. I’ve been traveling for a few years and had left Newcastle and gone back to Glasgow about 8 years ago. I can’t imagine the world without Julia. I always think of people carrying on behind me and that they’ll be just the same when I next meet up with them. Sometimes when I meet people I can’t believe the years that have passed since we last talked, in person. I can’t remember the last time I talked with Julia…it was probably at some book launch or other, maybe 5 or 6 years ago.

Julia was the warmest, funniest and most talented person I’ve ever met. She made me giggle. We spent some hysterical mornings in writing workshops up at the uni in the early 90s, run by Gillian Alnutt and Margaret Wilkinson. God they really turned us inside out. I think that’s where her Godess on margarine tubs came from; I love that poem. When I think of performance poetry I picture Julia and Charlie Hardwick in the Red Herring café doing the birth stuff, and all the nights in all the odd venues; of one freezing night in Morden Tower with a tiny little electric fire and an audience of half a dozen (which was not the norm). But the thing I remember most about Julia is her smile.

She is the only writer who can get people to love everything she produces, and that web page of hers, that diary marching towards death is stunning; just what I would’ve expected of her. I think that Julia Darling was in this world just to show us how living should be done.

Irene Cunningham