top of page

Poets in the Pandemic Blog Series

An interview with Annick Yerem @missyerem

About: Annick Yerem lives and works in Berlin. In her dreams, she can swim like a manatee. Annick tweets @missyerem and has, to her utmost delight, been published by Pendemic, Detritus, @publicpoetry, RiverMouthReview, #PoetRhy, Anti-Heroin-Chic, Rejection Letters, Dreich, 192, The Failure Baler and Rainbow Poems.

  1. Do you come from a literary background?

My dad was an avid reader as is my mum and both my parents strongly encouraged (forced☺) me to read very early on. I remember my first library card as being something really special and I’ve tried to pass that onto my son.

2. What did you enjoy reading as a child?

I read stuff by Astrid Lindgren like Die Kinder von Bullerbü or Pippi Langstrumpf, The Moomin books, Die Drei ???. The first poetry I liked that I can remember was by Margaret Atwood, Sarah Kirsch and Reiner Kunze.

3. How did you get started as a writer?

I started writing at quite a young age, but got sidetracked by life along the way. After a coaching session in 2019 (best coach ever, Nancy Wigglesworth), I ended up writing a poem after years of not writing poetry anymore. I just woke up one night and the poem was in my head (and in English, had only ever written in German before). “Things I Cannot Tell My Children” is an inner monologue of my mum talking about my dad losing his mind and how Parkinson’s affected his mental health. My dad was someone who always had a wealth of words, he was a teacher/reader and a very literary person. Sarah Stockton from River Mouth Review wrote back very shortly after I had submitted it and it was the first poem I got a yes for. I will always be grateful for her reaction and her encouragement.

4. Who are your favourite poets/writers and what are you reading now?

Christina Thatcher, Ankh Spice, Giovanna MacKenna, Sandra Birnie, Susan Jack, Britt Doughty-Godchaux, Ada Limon, Innua Ellams, Sean Hewitt, Lynn Valentine, William Stafford, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mary Oliver, Lucille Clifton, Sage Ravenwood, Ness Owen, Beth Brooke, Damien Donnelly, James Diaz, Gaynor Kayne, Peach Delphine, Jenny Mitchell, Taylor Byas, Lindsey Heatherly, anything written or edited by Kate Clanchy and Andrea Gibson. So many more! Reading “A Still Life” by Josie George right now and want everyone to read it, it´s fantastic!

5. Where does your inspiration come from and do you find writing easy?

My inspiration comes from everything within and around me, from other poets, from memories, films, smells and sounds and heartaches. I have learned to trust that the writing will come back when it leaves. I have to be patient and listen, then it´s okay.

6. Do you encounter any specific challenges as a writer/poet?

The biggest influence is the chronic illness as I feel it stops me from doing a lot of things I would like to do. I have yet to find the right words to describe pain or grief. It does have an impact on my life and how I think about things. I am a disabled writer and I don`t want to shy away from naming that, because it is a part of me.

7. What are you working on right now and do you have any projects in the pipeline you'd like to share with us?

I am slowly working on a memory project inspired by performance artist Tara Fatehi Irani´s project Mishandled Archives ( Tara has been gracious enough to brainstorm with me about ideas, which is wonderful. The working title is “ Gewesen”, about how we remember things and how we integrate memories into our present life.

Through a course I did last year with Lapidus Scotland, I met three fabulous poets/ writers in Scotland and one in England. We now meet every week through Zoom and write/ workshop as a group called The Flaming Flower Society. We submitted collectively to a competition with Hedgehog Press. The poems will be in the Poetry Ration Book sometime this year and we are all excited about that.

I´m also proud and grateful to be part of Tanya Shadrick`s beautiful project Birds of Firle, in the next few months.

8. Goals and aspirations?

I think that would be to continue what I started, and I would love to have a chapbook at some point. Am also very interested in collaborations with other writers, artists, musicians.

9. Any advice for aspiring poets/writers out there?

Build a community and don’t hesitate to ask people who have been doing it longer, how does this/that work! Even very simple questions. When I got an acceptance from RiverMouthReview, I didn’t know the lingo or the whole process of submitting. People are kind and helpful when you ask, that`s been my experience.

Rejections are not a reflection of your work, very often a piece needs to sit with you a while until it finds the right home. And when it does, it´s magic. Read the rejection, go into a huff for several minutes, hours (not days!), eat vast amounts of cake, ice cream or pizza, feel sorry for yourself, think helpful things like, " I will probably never write again", sigh dramatically, move on. Do not dwell. As Beckett wrote: "Try again. Fail again. Fail better." Be kind, gracious and generous to yourself and to other writers.

And if you are disabled/ chronically ill, have social anxiety: there is still a whole world out there full of people who want to be found. You are not alone in this. You can work, share, uplift others, no matter what your limits are. Just start. “You will light a stranger´s life/by lettings yours unfurl” (Mary Chapin Carpenter).

10. What are your favourite literary magazines at the moment?

Some of my favourites are the ones I’ve had work published in, I don`t know that many yet. I like River Mouth Review, 192 which is edited by Colin Bancroft and Mary Ford Neal, Dreich, Anti-Heroin Chic, which is run by James Diaz, Rainbow Poems, perhappened, Bear Creek Gazette.


"the one on my back
where they made me titangirl
and one of my superpowers
was to tie my own shoelaces
after a month"

Two poems that resonate:

You have chosen "A Place to stand, a lever by Ankh Spice and "Traces" which was written by you and first published by Anti-Heroin Chic. Can you tell me a little bit more about why you chose them?

A place to stand, a lever

By Ankh Spice

Like all of Ankh Spice’s poems this is many-layered, wondrous thing, because he watches and listens so intently and that always translates. Here he conjures up a scene that you can easily imagine: you see what the children are doing, but there is so much more going on. The last few lines really get to me “And I do believe that I too, I too was once a strong magic spell, just barely contained inside a skin.” To me that means that you have to remember that core of yourself. It reminded me of something that William Stafford said and Naomi Shihab Nye quoted in a reading. Somebody asked him when did you become a poet and he said when did you stop being one. This poem reminds me of who I was and still am, that I can access it anytime since it’s part of my core.


By Annick Yerem

This starts relatively light-hearted before going off track to another place. It’s about all the visible and invisible injuries we carry that leave a mark on and in us in some way. I actually wrote it the other way around first but thought that I couldn’t start the poem with those last lines, so I started off with the little things and worked myself through to that end. Like many poems I write, it´s about grief and pain and about my dad`s illness.


By Annick Yerem

the one on my nose

where i fell off a sleigh

then slid down an icy hill

and cut my face open

the one on my upper thigh

where i fell off my bed onto

a tambourine and

a bell burrowed

itself into my leg

the one on my chin

where the neighbours` dalmatian

whose name was moritz

saw a german shepherd on the other

side and dragged me across the road

the one on my upper lip

where my friend`s baby pulled on the

cast-iron pagoda in our

living-room and smashed it

into my mouth

the ones on my belly

where they cut and prodded again

and again i have no words

for those

the one on my back

where they made me titangirl

and one of my superpowers

was to tie my own shoelaces

after a month

the ones where you died

long before you died

and i was your witness

109 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page