Since July 2008, Judi Benson has been battling ivy, amongst other garden bullies, on the nine acre site of The East Ham Nature Reserve, as a volunteer with Green Gym, a subsidiary of British Trust Conservation Volunteers (BTCV).
She spent twenty-six months as Writer in Residence at the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, working in oncology and palliative care (2004-2006). As a result of this residency, she edited an anthology of patients’ and staff writing, Not Just Words – One Word Sonnets and Other Words, published by DGRI, with financial assistance from The Scottish Arts Council, 2006.
Her third collection, The Thin Places, was published by The Rockingham Press, 2006. Of this collection, Nigel Mcloughlin says in The London Magazine:
“In The Thin Places, Judi Benson has taken all of her grief and channeled it into the creation of a tensile, febrile language which leaps out at the reader. There is incredible energy in the poems which reverberate with affirmations of life.”
Jim Burns says of The Thin Places, in Ambit magazine:
“Judi Benson has a good way of dealing with history and politics in her poems. They are always relaxed and yet the tension builds so that, by their final lines, we’re never in any doubt about the anger that lies behind them. This is a strong collection with much more in it than I’ve had space to indicate.”
Scottish poet Tom Pow writes:
“Judi Benson’s new collection encompasses many different geographies – from that of a London bookshop to Italy and the Balkans. She crosses borders between the present and the deep past in the powerful ‘Burying the Ancestors’, but most significantly in a series of memorable elegies for her late husband, the poet, Ken Smith, she maps out the territories of the living and the absent. Even in the greatest darkness, she is on the side of life.”
Other poetry collections published by The Rockingham Press, include, Call It Blue, 2000, and In The Pockets of Strangers,1993. Of Call It Blue, Carol Ann Duffy comments:
“….language itself seems almost to be a companion, a fellow-traveller in poems of memory, love, journeys undertaken and stories told. The relish with which the poems are made – the voice always clear in the ear – reveals a warm confiding humanity which will gain her many new readers.”
She has written for and had her pieces read on both BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4. Her poem, “Burying the Ancestors”, was short-listed for the Forward Prize and appears in The Forward Book of Poetry, 2004. Her poem, “Shopkeeper’s Sign” was the Saturday poem in The Independent, 2002.
From 1987-1996, she edited Foolscap, a magazine of poetry and prose. In 1994 she edited and produced What Poets Eat, an anthology of food-related poems and recipes, featured on The Food Programme, BBC Radio 4. Other anthologies include: Klaonica – Poems for Bosnia, co-edited with Ken Smith, Bloodaxe Books, 1993. ISBN No. 1 85224833. With Agneta Falk, she co-edited, The Long Pale Corridor – Contemporary Poems of Bereavement – Bloodaxe Books, 1996. ISBN No. 1 852243171.
Judi has taken part in a variety of poetry festivals both in the U.K. and abroad. Her poems have been translated into several languages including, Italian, Czech, Spanish, Bosnian, Serbo-Croat and Romanian.
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