Jessica Mookherjee: Poetry

Snapshot: Jessica Mookherjee

There is photographic evidence 
of the exact time she shifted her gaze,
when her eyes went out of focus.
The pictures show me growing bigger,
in pigtails, often alone,
a snap of a girl with her hand on her mother’s
shoulder, like a Victorian husband.
I passed on my birthright to all those unborn
boys, soothed her worried forehead,
cut out coupons in newspapers for amulets,
put them in father’s hand- so he could keep
us safe. Stood behind my mother as she prayed
at the front door, led her to the kitchen,
made sure she looked at the babies
there is evidence of her holding them,
keeping them close, 
there is no photograph of me
climbing stairs two at a time, 
no evidence that I tried not
to slip and break my neck.


The best place is the beginning. Take a deep breath and put some words down on some white space. Go on. Breathe and go on.

Start with what you know. Read. Read about things you don’t know… keep learning.

Find teachers.


I started working with Susan Wicks, who taught me bravery and discipline, I was selected for a  masterclass with Gillian Clarke and Carol Ann Duffy at Ty Newyedd, I looked for teachers like Ros Barbar and Mimi Khalvati. Find a community. Build one.

In the beginning .

I was shortlisted for the FairAcre first pamphlet  competition in 2016. Then I was shortlisted in a Templar anthology, and for Nine Arches/ Poetry School opportunities, and also shortlisted for Indigo Dreams. Keep going. Write Poems.

Swell : Telltale Press 2016

In April 2016 I was asked to join TellTale Poet’s Collective. I liked TellTale Press, watched them for a year, hoping to attract their attention. They are my kind of people. A poet’s collective, as advocated by Carol Ann Duffy herself. “do it yourself,” she told me, “the indie press, it’s punk, it’s rock and roll and it’s the future”. Well why not? The poets are shining, talented and respected and finally – they asked me, so happy.

Happy to be a TellTale Poet, and a pamphlet – “The Swell” was out in October 2016. Launched in Tunbridge Wells. Telltale Anthology “Truth” out in 2018.

‘In The Swell, Jessica Mookherjee has created her own new and true poetic world out of both an often catastrophic reality and dream. Though her poems evoke powerlessness as much as beauty, they do so powerfully and beautifully.’  Fiona Sampson
‘precise details given with enough space for the reader to draw their own conclusions. “The Swell” is a delight to read.’ Emma Lee
‘Highly recommended’ Karen Dennison

Moving Forward 2017

I was amazed and delighted to be nominated twice for the Forward Prize best single poem by The South, for “The Drowned Girl” and The Journal for “Ursa Minor”. To my surprise I was highly commended for “Ursa Minor” and am in the 2018 Forward Prize Book, next to Paul Muldoon.

Joyride : Black Light Engine Room Press 2017

The Summer – life took on a new, heady flavour. Life first, poetry second. Write it all down. P.a. Morbid, the editor of BLER Press asked me to put a pamphlet/chapbook together for his Incidentals series. JoyRide was born. November  2017. ‘Fly, my pretty’.

Flood:  Cultured Llama 2018

My first full collection will be published in April 2018. I changed the name of the collection at the 11th hour. I added poems and edited right unto the submission date. I’m very proud of my Debut.

‘vividly immediate, with its own rich culture, distinctive rhythms and striking imagery. The separate stories in the poems of Flood flow together’ Susan Wicks.

‘Jessica Mookherjee’s Flood is dense with the loss and longing of mothers, daughters and childless women who are nevertheless also both. This tremendously unified book demands to be read at a single sitting,  Fiona Sampson

Co-Editor: Against the Grain Press

New venture – to midwife new and beautiful poetry into the world. A poetry press editing alongside my hero poets Abegail Morley and Karen Dennison.

Where can you find my poems?

Rialto, The North, The Poetry Saltsburg Review, Agenda, Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat and Tears, Obsessed With Pipework, Brittle Star, Lampeter Review, Prole, Paper Swans Anthology: Chronicles of Eve, The Journal, Lunar, Gold Dust, Three Drops in the Cauldron, Clear Poetry, The Poetry Shed, Black Light Engine Room, Antiphon, Amaryllis, Elbow Room, Ebracce, Moth, New Welsh Review, South, Under the Radar.


Helpful Websites

To understand modern poetry – 

This is quite good:

To know where to look for magazines and competitions – 

Try this:

And I am…

Jessica Mookherjee is a poet of Bengali origin. She grew up in Wales and now lives in Kent. She has been published in many print and online journals including Agenda, Interpreter’s House, The North, Rialto, Under the Radar and Antiphon. Her pamphlet “Swell” was published by TellTale Press in 2016, JoyRide was published by Black Light Engine Room Press in 2017. Her poems appear in various anthologies including Templar 2016, Eyewear’s Best of British and Irish Poets 2017 and Paper Swans’ Chronicles of Eve. She won the Paragram Prize in 2016 for her poem The Beast. She was ‘highly commended’ for best single poem in Forward Prize 2017. Her first full collection, Flood, will be published in 2018 by Cultured Llama. Her second collection is forthcoming in 2019. Jessica is a board member of the Kent and Sussex Poetry Society and Co-Editor of Against the Grain Poetry Press.

How I started…

Look for stanza groups… I’m in the Kent and Sussex Poetry society, I’ve been in various writing groups, always strive to be around people who you think are better poets than you (they might not really be – but it helps if you think so). Find good teachers – they are out there. Read and start or join a poetry reading group. I have helped out in two local arts and literature festivals and that is great fun. I have started and been part of a number of local collaborative projects.





6 responses to “Jessica Mookherjee: Poetry”

  1. Woop woop, onwards and upwards Jessica Poet! 🙂 x


  2. Fabulous to see this Jess. Great insight, passion and care. Thanks for sharing.


  3. ..A good introduction to the life of the poet – now – poems, more poems!


  4. […] Fair where I was on the Telltale Press stand, with fellow Telltale poets Sarah Barnsley  and Jess Mookherjee. It was the launch of Jess’s pamphlet The Swell, which is pretty exceptional. I also bumped […]


  5. Love this Jess and really looking forward to your pamphlet – do let us all know where we can buy it as soon as you can. I have very fond memories of fun and laughter with you at the Masterclass in Wales with Gillian Clarke and Maura Dooley – what a great group it was and what wonderful words came out of it…


  6. What an excellent site. I’ve followed to here from your lovely poems in the current Under the Radar, issue 18.


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