Gillian Mairi Bailey - Poetry Publication


Gillian Mairi Bailey - ‘To Know Me’

Book Launch Sunday 20th October 4.45pm at St Mary deCrypt Church, Southgate Street, Gloucester

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These poems are unearthed gems, concise and rich in crystal clarity. A treasure for any reader of poetry.

 Z D Dicks (Founder/CEO Gloucestershire Poetry Society and Gloucester Poetry Festival)

Radiant and luminous poems written by a poet with a richly lyrical voice and more than a touch of Seamus Heaney in her vivid, earthy descriptions of rural life. Each poem is a little Eden or arcadia, seething with sensory detail and resonating with musicality. These are astonishing poems in which a dazzling use of imagery is fused with a masterful use of language and line break, in which every line, ever word, is breath-taking.  Immensely beautiful and potent poetry, which remains connected to the real world whilst transcending above it.

Anna Saunders (Cheltenham Poetry Festival Founding Director)

Bailey shows a beautiful attention to detail in this writing. Her work boasts a crisp and observant voice that left me longing for the simplicity of youth, and her countryside descriptions had me itching to escape the city for a weekend of wonder and wilderness. This work has a rich taste to it, indeed.

Dr Charley Barnes (Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2019-2020 - Managing Director | Sabotage Reviews - Visiting Lecturer | Newman University and University of Worcester)

I wish Bailey could have read these testimonials to her talent.  From the moment I read the first poem, 'Blackberry Jam' I knew we had found a jewel.  Working with her words gave me goose bumps... It is an honour to finally fix her poems in print.

Josephine Lay (Poet in Residence at Cheltenham Library - Creative Writing Adviser Black Eyes Publishing UK)


 Book Cover Design by Jason Conway of Cre8urbrand


Gillian’s Biography

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WGillian Mairi Bailey was born in Haverhill, Suffolk in 1935. 

     From her early school years words illuminated her path. In her prose piece entitled, ‘Five Good Things About Me’ she recalls the process of learning to read, as words hanging ‘in front of me like a string of bright raindrops.’ The realisation dawned on her, ‘I can do anything, know everything. I can read.’

 Gillian gained a first-class English degree at Leeds University, before meeting and marrying the Reverend John Bailey. They travelled to Australia on missionary work with their young son, Mark, and returned several years later, when Gillian was pregnant with her daughter. Subsequently she taught English at a secondary school, sharing her love of language.  Later her strong social conscience led her into becoming a member of the Labour Party, as well as protesting at Greenham Common. By the mid 1970's she'd switched her focus to enabling refugees and migrants to learn English and find employment. This role filled the next twenty years of her life until she retired. 

     At last having time to develop a voice of her own, Gillian enrolled in an Open Studies poetry course, achieving another first. She became heavily influenced by the First World War poets, as well as other contemporary female poets, and it is during this period that Gillian wrote the majority of her work, presented here in 'To Know Me'. She also became co-editor of a local poetry magazine, entitled ‘WordPlay’. It is probable that she submitted her work to various publications and won several awards, but unfortunately, details of these accomplishments are missing.

     Gillian was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1997.  Sadly, the rapid progress of this disease severely curtailed her ability to write, and dried up a well of verse still untapped. Yet her love for poetry never left her. She remained able to quote and recognise any number of poets.  She died in 2014.

 In March 2019, during a chance conversation with Katy Bailey, we learned of her mother’s poetry, and the fact that, Gillian Mairi Bailey had never been published. We asked to see some examples of her work and were immediately impressed by their quality. We suggested a book of nineteen poems, along with five prose pieces.

     However, Josephine Lay, ‘Black Eyes’ creative writing adviser, and a poet herself, realized that Gillian’s poetic voice lay barely hidden within two of her prose pieces. By teasing out ‘found words and phrases’ Josephine was able to create two additional poems, almost entirely out of Gillian’s own words. These have now been included to make total of twenty-one poems.ording to go here….