Walking and writing are both my favourite past times and both have been my saving grace too. If something is upsetting or worrying me I take it on a walk. While out walking I think a lot more clearly and with every step my surroundings be it the sky, plants, trees, sea, river, wild life all seem clearer.
I write every day, a daily diary, poetry or short stories.
I do not live in the material world I do not have many needs. Following the crowd being like everyone else is not for me, a lone wolf I will always be.
While out walking yesterday I thought on the word freedom and the Janis Joplin song ‘Me & Bobby McGee’ and the line ‘Freedom is another word for nothing left to lose’ goes round and round in my head. I think freedom is having positive thoughts, having a kind heart and empathy and compassion should be held close. Just simply be true to yourself and accept others for what they are. However, stay away from people who are quick to spite, judge others and seek revenge. To me people who live this way are prisoners to fear. There is no room for the above if you lead a life of compassion, empathy, peace and love.
My mother Valerie Rosa, was born 2 months premature 20th January 1941 she died July 30th 2020, at 4 10pm. She left this world holding my hand and hearing my voice. “Let go Mama of the hurt and pain and let your spiritual wings take flight. Fly around the world creating kind thoughts as you fly by. That evening Thursday 30th July, John and I sat in the garden raising a glass to Mama, a meteorite flew over us. John and I were astounded and both said ‘Mama’ My mother lived in fear most of her life, she could not let go of the pain, disappointments, grief and shame. She locked it all in. Yet, now and again the anger flew out and would bite and deeply hurt. I, her eldest daughter and her second child accepted my mother’s mental illness and her many times being sectioned. Yet, even I would run and hide because her distorted words and thoughts deeply wounded me and I needed time to heal. The last years of Mama’s life she surrounded herself with people who were negative, bitter, egocentric and judgemental. I stayed outside looking in, there was no room for me among her circle.
On a positive note from my mother’s death, I have grown close with her remaining sibling Jimmy. Uncle Jimmy, married to his wife Hazel for 60 years have three daughters, many grandchildren and great grandchildren. I phone them on a Sunday (I often phoned mama on a Sunday) Jimmy is a quiet man, a good man. A retired HGV driver a gardener and carpenter. I speak with Auntie Hazel we discuss books, life and often walk down memory lane. Hazel and Jimmy never knew I wrote poetry and that I am a published poet too. I gave them a copy of ‘Butterfly Kisses and A Bee Sting Mind’ and ‘Healing Garden’
My Uncle John was Mama and Jimmy’s eldest brother. John was born 1936 he died April 1961 aged 25. A month after I was born. John died of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy the inherited disease in my family on my mother’s side. My great Uncle Melvin was 18 and my younger brother Sean died aged 19 both had the disease Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
I recently found out that Uncle John wrote poetry and short stories. He kept them in book form but sadly the books were never kept. This deeply moved me and I wept. Then I took myself on a 10 mile walk. Thinking on Uncle John what did he write about? How did he feel when the muscles wasted away and he could no longer write? Questions, too many questions. Then my mind went back to 2006 after being tested and told many times I was a carrier of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and from this I decided not to have children. I found out the professors were wrong I was not a carrier and there is ONLY ONE carrier. From this devastating news, poetry found me. I had never written poetry in my life. I attended St Francis school, Ely Cardiff. In 1968 before we broke up for the Christmas break. I wrote a short story and I came top of the class but that day I knocked my two front teeth out and through fear this accident held me back. It took me nearly thirty years to write again. In 2006 poetry and stories found me and I would like to think Uncle John’s creative genes are in me.
As I write this blog, the novel I have written titled ‘Forbidden Love’ is in the process of being edited and proof read and will be out this year. Wonderful story teller Cath Little is working with Windsor Clive School, Ely, Cardiff. The same school Uncle John, Mama and Uncle Jimmy attended. She is telling stories on old Ely. Cath invited me to take part and I have videoed my Ely memories for the children of Windsor Clive School.
I went to St Francis school during the 1960’s and early 1970’s, our school did not have a canteen so we would walk over to the ‘proddy’ school Windsor Clive where they called us Catholics ‘Rock Cakes’ To their school canteen and where the school meals were plentiful and tasted delicious.
Kindness matters and people will always remember kind gestures and words.
I am the author of three poetry books ‘Butterfly Kisses and a Bee Sting Mind’ 2014, ‘Healing Garden’ 2016 and ‘Spirit Cracked not Broken’ 2017 and prose poetry ‘Between Aurora and Twilight’ 2020. My first novel titled ‘Forbidden Love’ was published. May 2021
The novel titled ‘Forbidden Love’ is an historical novel covering Ireland and Wales over a hundred years. A true love story of an Irish woman falling in love with a Welsh soldier, (my grandparents) I show and tell how love can conquer, a military rising, 1WW, Irelands war for Independence/ Anglo Irish war, racism, depression of the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Photo of my grandparents on their wedding day, May 1921 and the front cover of the novel.
“Two families in two cities two young people who will bring division and discord to those they love. Julie Griffin Pritchard’s story of ill fated lovers unfolds like a screen play against a backdrop of some of the most significant events in Irish and British history. ‘Forbidden Love’ charts the battles the young couple must fight to be together and the fractured relationships that ensue. It evokes the hash realities of poverty, prejudice and hatred engendered by sectarianism and the difficult choices faced by those with divided loyalties. The personal and the political are in constant proximity but not always in agreement and a price must be paid for both. The complex narrative is at once a love story and an examination of the conflict between different beliefs and ideals and the lengths to which people may be driven to defend them.”
Review by writer and poet Mair De-Gare Pitt
“In ‘Forbidden Love’, Julie Griffin Pritchard has given us a heartfelt and touching picture of lives shaped by poverty, prejudice and suffering, but in the vivid detail she shows of those lives lived with strength and optimism, she offers hope for the future.
She follows the paths of her forbears from late 19th century Dublin to 20th century Cardiff and we share in their joy as well as their pain. Mary’s delight in learning to read is a bright moment, while the forcible incarceration of her young epileptic son, James, in Grangegorman Hospital for the Insane, while Father Flynn comments, “It is for the best, Mrs Caffery” is heartbreaking.
The struggle of the Catholic family against oppression, and the characters’ awakening to political awareness is traced through their involvement in the movement for Irish independence, and the difficulties of love across the political divide is explored in the story of Maggie and Dick. The beauty and the suffering of these lives is encapsulated in Julie’s beautiful image, “beneath a blanket of stars and a bone-white moon.”
Review by poet and author Alan Roderick
Julie Griffin Prichard’s ‘Forbidden Love’ is a ‘family saga’ with a difference. Far from being creations of her own imagination, the main protagonists are all members of her own family, in particular her grandparents Maggie and Dick, whose love story this novel celebrates. (Margaret) Maggie Caffery is born and grows up in Dublin whilst (Richard) Dick Griffin is born and brought up in Cardiff. Ordinarily, they might never have met but a chain of circumstances brings them together. It is an encounter which will change their lives as slowly, but surely they fall in love. Dick is willing to give up home and family to start a new life together with Maggie in Ireland, but it is never an option, as public opinion and, in particular, the IRA would never stand for such a liaison.
Julie is a performance poet ( and there is a poetic intensity about the best bits of ‘Forbidden Love’) and has published several volumes of poetry. ‘Forbidden Love’ is her first novel. She makes no secret of where her sympathies lie in the struggle for supremacy in Ireland and it is the dramatic scenes set in Ireland which will live longest in the memory of the reviewer. Julie has done not just her own family, but the rest of us a favour by bringing her grandparent’s love story, with its Romeo and Juliet overtones, a Celtic connection, if ever there was one, to a wider audience.
“Ah did I tell you about Kevin Barry” A tear would fall and I caught her memories and gave them life. Julie Griffin Pritchard.
Between Aurora and Twilight is prose not poetry and this collection is about my lone walks, my childhood walks and my thoughts all wrapped in nature, sun rises and sun sets.
Quotes on ‘Between Aurora and Twilight’
Quote from poet Jeff Hankins
YOUR book, as I hope you know, is a delight from start to finish and I hope you are justly proud of it.
I had expected the wildlife and nature observations, having read your reflections on your walks as posted on Facebook! And it did not disappoint (I love natural history books, and have a few Robert McFarlane books on his own walks by the side of my bed: ‘Between Aurora and Twilight’ will take its place alongside them as a dip-into book before sleep!)
But the book was so much more than nature observations, and I love the way it wove together memories eg of previous walks (LOVED reading about the Camino, and Hadrian’s Wall too), but also of people and childhood. Some moving stuff there. And fabulous little snippets of anecdotes.
This would strike me as hard to meld into a structure, but your ‘circle of seasons’ pattern works well, and your voice somehow manages to give it a seamless unity.
I know you are modest about your talents, but what is enviable about your style (if I‘m allowed to envy, just a little!) is that you have an artist’s observational eye, and a natural lyrical mode of expression
“Julie my lovely lady, I am reading your book and your words and descriptions are bringing me such joy and comfort. I suffer with anxiety and depression and reading your book has been a light. I would love to walk the Camino but my knees and hips are not good. I feel I am with you with every word on this literature journey, seeing the ponies and the birds in flight, the frost and the sunshine and the stars in the night sky. Thank you Julie I think you were a woodland healer in a previous life”
Review from Author of “No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish” Ruby Lord
“As I read the book it struck me what a beautiful world we live in. If we can walk outside, listen to the birds and watch the season’s change we get nearer to nature. With UK lockdown, we have the time to get to know our streets, lanes, roads, the areas we’ve taken for granted. Read this and touch nature’s images. Julie’s words stress the miracles around us in an almost religious way. When I read about walking Hadrian’s Wall in five days, I was so jealous; I had to go for a (short) walk. A lovely book interspersed with difficult lessons in her life. Reading, writing and walking takes us to the places no one else can reach. I had a great trip.”
A review “Between Aurora and Twilight by Alys Parry author of “Call of the Mountain”
“Between Aurora and Twilight I liked very much made me happy and sad. Your images and the descriptive writing of your walks and your knowledge of nature, brought it alive for me and you are so brave and honest about your feelings.”
A review on “Between Aurora and Twilight” from writer and publisher Debbie Price.
“The Healing Power of Nature A beautiful and descriptive account of walking with nature and fully appreciating every moment. Although written in prose her poetic words capture the beauty of the countryside she walks and the wildlife and characters she meets along the way. Injected within the text are snippets of past traumas that impress upon the reader how being at one with nature has helped her to heal. Her honesty is admirable, it is not easy to share bad things but when you do, as she does, the burden lightens and allows the person to become less vulnerable. In writing this the author is encouraging others to also use the natural world to heal.”
Quote from author Alan Roderick.
“This charming and delightful book could just as easily have been entitled A Year In The Life, spanning as it does the months between December and November, or Walks With Julie. And what walks! We accompany the author as she braves Hadrian’s Wall and travels part of The Pilgrims’ Way in Spain; we get to know the people she encounters and feel for her as she loses her way in Spanish towns or gets sucked into a quagmire not far from her Bargoed home. The narrative is peppered with fascinating references to nature lore and flowers, birds, plants and butterflies. She tells of cuckoos fighting and vultures flying high but underpinning the book is an underlying sadness as she recalls memories of her, sometimes, less than idyllic childhood. Julie Pritchard is a poet who writes from the heart and this is a book to savour, again and again, for walkers and non-walkers alike.”
‘Spirit Cracked not Broken’ Is about abuse and how writing on abuse can help erase the memory and lay the emotion surrounding the memory to rest.
Poet and Playwright Patrick Jones “Spirit Cracked not Broken is pretty amazing Julie. I felt your voice so strong in the images and words. So powerful, raw, honest, brutally honest. It is true poetry you took me on a journey, into a life into darkness, into glittering smiles and breaking hearts”
Wonderful quote from Socialist and poet Ian Thomas who was at my reading on Monday 7th August
A big thank you to Julie Pritchard who launched her new collection of poetry ‘ spirit cracked not broken’ in the capel in Bargoed tonight. Extremely powerful and moving , if art is meant to move you emotionally this succeeds big time, as a compliment the last time I felt similar feelings was after watching ken loaches film ‘ the wind shakes the barley’ in the cinema, Julie’s poetry is as Patrick Jones writes ‘so powerful. Raw. Honest’ thank you Julie.
1961 Cocooned inside your womb
alarmed by the churning of your belly
thump, thump of your heart beat.
Your nervous system crashed into me
I fell into the light and cried for the safety
of your womb.
Put into the arms of despair
shared the breast with my elder brother.
Healing Garden is a collection on self healing. We all have a deep well inside us all to dip into and heal.
Playwright and poet Patrick Jones
“Enjoy your reading you are an accomplished performer of your words and I admire how you showed yourself in your life’s journey with us. Enjoying “Healing Garden”
Spanish academic Inaki Sanchez.
The poems in “Healing Garden” reflect the soul and I like the way you move from describing nature scenes to spiritual”
Poet and Writer Jeremy Hooker
“Julie’s second collection of poetry is an emotional journey inspired by nature and people. It is beautifully written and full of imagery. I enjoy Healing’s freshness of your heart-felt poems. You honour the place where you live. Which I believe is an essential thing for poetry”
Poet Chris O’Neill. “I bought “Healing Garden” for my father, he has Dementia and he reads “Healing Garden” several times a week”
Jim Davies Red Poets reviewer gave me a wonderful review on my latest collection Healing Garden.
“Healing Garden” by Julie Ann Pritchard (BBTS.2016)“Julie is a great favourite at the Imp Merthyr. We love her singing her graceful movements and her passionate words I welcome this chance to comment on her new book”
Now why would one walk year upon year in all seasons and all weathers around the Common above your valley’s village? Julie does that; not to walk the dog or keep fit or names the mosses. Nor is it to worship God; never mentioned even on Christmas day tramp.
But he/she (some deity) does seep into her Bargoed hinterland of green pastures, purple headed hills….. and a Celtic Cross.
Around 1750 in a valley or so to the north William Williams (wrote in Welsh) of the “crystal fountain” and its “healing streams”
In this collection Julie writes of the therapeutic qualities of her own moorland that relieve her stress and make her whole: the soft turf, the unruffled sheep, the windblown wildlife and the lashing rain. And this is her healing place, she acknowledges the great calm of isolation whilst also enjoying brief exchanges with the occasional local person.
I walk on your
you move me
to a serene place
(Extract taken from poem “Return”)
Red Kite floats on high
below a murder of crows
Screeching squawking warning the
red, rouged beauty.
(Verse taken from poem “Ancient Pagan”)
Now the Healing Garden is ten miles by 2, so what Julie’s inner garden? Her heart and soul? Her neural seat of memory and emotions, her Hippocampus less than a thimble in size which receives new daily assaults and trauma from her past.
“Broken shards of trust splinter my thoughts
I miss my inner being my true core”
(A line from Humanity)
“Ache of abandonment
deep sense of loss I have no closure”
(Line from Forgotten)
“She goes to the pinny and breathes in her grandmother”
If you neglect your inner garden
and rake over the past
seeds of doubt will grow.
(Extract taken from poem Healing Garden)
Author and Poet Mike Jenkins.” Julie’s poetry is full of energy and compassion, and is a wonderful performer of her own work”
“Julie’s second collection of poetry is an emotional journey inspired by nature and people. It is beautifully written and full of imagery” Poet and publisher Deborah Price
“Butterfly Kisses and Bee Sting Mind” the title came to me in a dream. This collection is about manipulation of the mind and not allowing anyone with their dirty feet to walk through your mind. Also nature poems.
Reviews “Butterfly Kisses and a Bee Sting Mind” A beautiful uplifting collection of poetry thought-provoking descriptive and full of innuendos, Julie paints a picture of a world full of enchanting charismatic characters, both mythological and real. Her love of nature shines through” D M Price
Photos and reviews of my performance poetry.
Performing at Dempsey’s Cardiff “A passionate reader of her own work”
Performing at Murengher Newport
Jemma Beggs 2014 “Julie Pritchard a passionate performer whose poems are full of strong visuals and raw emotions”
Chris Hall “Julie shows wonderful dancing delivery”
Interviewed by Martin Locock from Spoken Word Wales in Victoria Park, Neath, spring evening in April 2016. The interview is below.
I recently read the book ‘My Name is Bridget’ by Anna Corrigan and Alison O’Reilly. It ripped my heart out and threw it back. All my schooling and part of my upbringing was Catholic. The catholic faith came from the Irish side of my family. From the Irish blood that flows in my veins, I have a love for Ireland. Culture, history, literature. I have read many books on Irish history. The memoir I have written titled ‘Forbidden Love’ about my Irish grandmother falling in love with my grandfather against the back drop of Ireland’s war for independence. Is no longer a memoir but a novel and will be published this year 2021. While writing this novel I had to do research into Irish history and my own Irish family and from this I learnt many things. Ireland was traumatised from the famine, later failed uprisings, then 1916 and ‘Ireland War for independence’ The Catholic church dominated Irish life. Manipulated an already traumatised nation with shame and guilt. Some of these women were raped. No man was questioned or arrested. Only women and children were badly abused and imprisoned and some were damaged for the rest of their lives. They were the vulnerable in Irish society back then! After thought, Eamon de Valera was born what was deemed back then when no father was around, a bastard. Why did he not step in when he was in power. I think this horrid very disturbed man, should be held responsible as much as the Catholic church. The poem I wrote titled ‘Golden Ring’ came from anger, ‘Feathered Wings’ came from softness of my heart, I wrote the 2 poems in one hour.
(In memory of Tuam mother’s like Bridget)
Outside the home of judgment
belly swollen, legs heavy
abandoned by all.
The loss pain and shame,
fornicated outside the golden ring.
A rape, a married man, or an hour of passion.
You, who wear the ring of gold married to Christ
so that gives you the right.
To call me a whore and my child a sin
because of no golden ring.
Shamed to silence I can never tell,
guilt is stuck in my throat,
memories rise and I swallow the hard truth,
that remains stuck beneath my broken heart.
Brainwashed by the cloth and the habit
to leave what was mine behind,
Yet, they will always be with me
underneath a blanket of guilt and shame.
A warning to you, who wore the golden ring married to Christ.
The future WILL find the cess pits and other humanitarian crimes.
(In memory of the children and babies)
Lay broken in a home with no care
the only warmth you feel are the sunrays on your skin,
the silence and no children’s laughter is deafening.
Lack of empathy no compassion is shown
cold comfort is dished out by the bucket load.
Lullaby to lay you down on feathered wings,
softly, gently send you to sleep.
To another time and place
a future where your pain will be released,
into the arms of the truth sayers in words and songs.