Hello and welcome! I’m Claire HM (she/her) a teacher and writer of lyrical fiction about working-class people, living in North Birmingham.
My novella How to Bring Him Back is published by Fly on the Wall press. Set in 90s Birmingham subculture, it’s a story framed by a spell to let go of the past. It follows Cait, fresh out of university but living in a bedsit and working in a bar she hates. She’s still as rooted in poverty and lack of opportunity as she ever was in her council estate beginnings, as she stumbles between two men, drifting further from the things she wants. It’s 67 pages of gritty realism written in lyrical prose about love, longing and the possibility of magic in the mundane. You can read more about How to Bring Him Back here.
I am a poet as well as a fiction writer, and the Gentlewomen of Brummagem monologues rewrite the words of women from Classical literature and mythologies and puts a Brummie tongue in their heads, to probe gender, class and the politics of the regional accent. You can see me performing them here at Erdington Evening of Creativity.
When it comes to creative writing classes, too often as writers (who are not middle class, male, white, straight, cisgendered and/or able bodied) we are denied the authority of our intuition and lived experience that can make our writing practices rich and personal fulfilling experiences, as well as producing culturally radical work. The excellent Isabel Waidner explained in their interview with The New Statesman ‘I have come to think of the British novel as a – if not the – technology for the reproduction of white middle-class values, aesthetics and a certain type of “acceptable” nationalism. So it has to change, and not just subtly either.’
I run writing classes that help writers develop intuitive, self-authoratitive writing practice in classes based on rituals like meditation, spell casting, channelled writing, tarot reading and astrology. I’ve run ritual based poetry workshops and even had a book launch as ritual event (it was an experimental workshop to write a group poem as a ‘letting go’ ritual, for the launch of my novella). To find out about my upcoming classes sign up to my newsletter, Charms and Incantations, or drop me a line here.
It’s taken me a while to get here, though. I’ve been submitting my writing to journals and publishers for over twenty years. For many years, there was often positive response to my writing style and insight, alongside feedback from well meaning mentors that if I wanted to see my work in print I’d have to change what I was writing about to suit the markets out there. What I realise now is that when I was writing about women like me, my writing wasn’t middle class enough to find a publisher.
There have been many years of self-doubt and a few hiatuses from writing practice along the way, but in 2018 I had an essay published in the anthology, I Wrote it Anyway, about my experience of accessing university and the long journey of finding the confidence to write as a woman in her forties from a working-class background. You can read it here. And since then I’ve grown in my own sense of purpose and in my identity as a writer, and I am driven to help other writers who are marginalised by mainstream literary opportunities find this purposeful confidence too.
I’ve had poetry published in Black Flowers Literary Journal, streetcake 68 +72, Mooky Chick, Coven Journal and in Cape Magazine. I keep a page here that links to my writing, recordings and interviews published online.
As a working class writer I have a day job as an ESOL teacher and Projects Manager of English programs for resettled refugee communities. As a creative writing teacher I am growing workshops that centre writing as ritual using astrology, tarot and channelling, and developing my role as a facilitator who holds space for magic to happen.
In my writing life, I’m currently conjuring the sequel to How to Bring Him Back and continuing to allow the creation of stories rooted in intersections of class, gender and magic to make me anew in political consciousness, and an emerging sense of my own wholeness. It’s my hope that you’ll find some of that here too.
with so much love, Claire xx