Sheffield writer, author and poet, Bryony Doran

by Bryony Doran

What if he were to bottle it, go AWOL
on this last weekend home before Afghanistan?

Would they hunt him down like an escaped convict,
take him to the Glasshouse, lock him in the dark

and when he’d served his sentence, let him
walk away with a dishonourable discharge,

two legs and the rest of his life?

As I read through the anthology of poems, written by a mum who has first hand experience of seeing a son, her only child,  go off to war, I can’t even begin to put into words the emotions her words evoke. I feel myself welling up as I read, taken through the past on a tour of her thoughts and memories.

Bryony has a way of writing that makes her poetry accessible. And I have been drawn into her world in a way I’ve never done before with poetry. She makes herself vulnerable, lets the reader in to the quiet worry and resignation of dealing with her sons decision. It’s all set against a backdrop of the everyday which makes it ever more poignant.

In particular her poem called Macaroni Cheese starts with:

‘For his last meal he asks for a simple dish,
one you always made when he was ill as a child.’

These simple sentences, void of the obvious emotional words, catapult me into the weight of his request. And the emotional reaction I can only imagine her feeling whilst trying to outwardly display a calmness she doesn’t feel.

It’s all too easy for us to focus on our lives right here, right now. Bryony’s poems give a glimpse into the lives of those whose loved ones serve their country abroad, in dangerous circumstances. And with that glimpse comes a bit more understanding of some of the struggles many parents and spouses face.

Her anthology is titled Bulletproof and is part of a book of poems from four authors called Home Front. I also had the privilege of photographing Bryony for the release of the book.

It’s always a joy to spend time with her. She brings a warmth and ease to our shoots together. So here are just a few of my favourite photos of this very talented writer, author and poet.


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