and in the shop…
“The agister’s experiment”
Two Rivers Press
this poet is taking part in the poetry pRO project
Gill Learner lives in Reading but grew up in Birmingham.
As a teenager she wrote ‘mock Gothic’ poetry but also had less derivative poems published in her school magazine. Later, during early motherhood she tried writing short stories for children, without success. On retiring from teaching Printing Studies at Berkshire College of Art & Design, she returned to writing prose and did receive a few cheques. In 2001 she switched to poetry and began reading it intensely. Her ‘poetry library’ long ago outgrew its shelf-space so she often has the painful task of deciding which volumes to give to charity shops.
Since 2002, she has been published regularly in a wide range of magazines (for example Acumen, Agenda, ARTEMISpoetry, The Interpreter’s House, Mslexia, The North, Poetry News and South) and online at Well Versed and in Agenda’s web supplement. Her poetry has also appeared in anthologies including Running before the Wind and Cracking On (Grey Hen Press), Her Wings of Glass and Fanfare (Second Light Publications), Homesickness and Exile, Dance and Slow Things (Emma Press), Blame Montezuma! (HappenStance Press) and Hands & Wings (White Rat Press). Her work has been translated into Romanian. She has won a number of awards including the Poetry Society’s Hamish Canham Prize.
Gill values the rigorous and helpful criticism of her fellows at Thin Raft, Reading’s poetry workshop, and also finds feedback from the Reading Stanza group useful. She loves reading to an audience and is a regular in the open mic. sessions at Poets’ Café in Reading (where she has had the honour of twice appearing as guest poet).
Her first collection, The Agister’s Experiment, (Two Rivers Press, 2011) received encouraging reviews in the PBS Bulletin and ARTEMISpoetry. Her second collection is Chill Factor, (Two Rivers Press, 2016).
This first collection from Gill Learner displays a confidence usually seen in a much more experienced poet … The poems here fizz and crackle while exploring the vast range of humanity – they are by turns funny, chilling and angry, but are all diverse in form and content. A strong sense of loss pervades these poems, too, and this nostalgia for times past, reflected in poems about motherhood and legends retold, leave a lasting impression on the reader in this excellent debut.
Poetry Book Society Bulletin, Spring 2011
It is rarely that a first collection hits the nail on the head as accurately as [this]. The image is apposite. Key poems relate to the world of small workshops and men working at their craft, an unusual terrain for a woman and one aspect of the impressive universality of her writing. There is a tight focus on concrete detail. She revels in the activities of ‘making’ and carrying out technical operations. … In Myra Schneider’s words, these poems ‘lift off from a base of precise knowledge into the imagination’. They have ulterior motives, drawing us into large topics and feelings which run deep.