Sonia Jarema

Sonia Jarema is a poet, writer, learning support assistant, self-employed gardener and mother of two. She was born in Luton, to Ukrainian parents. Her dad worked on the production line at Vauxhall Motors and her mum sewed buttons on coats for Eastex. Most people had never heard of Ukraine and even though the country has now been featured in the news people still ask her if Ukrainian is the same language as Russian. As a child she had to memorise and recite Ukrainian poetry and either this started or fed her love of language and its inner music. When she started school she couldn’t speak English but gradually it took over as her main language.

Ukrainian history wasn’t taught at school so it was left to the second generation to carry it. In her poetry she explores this history alongside the breaking apart and coming back together of a family. She writes because stories and words gave her oxygen when life grew difficult. She writes to explore the intense pictures that were fixed in her memory when words failed her. Writing for her is a way of processing experiences that have no place in everyday conversation. It’s a way of drawing people into another person’s loneliness as well as combating it. She writes to cling on to what is being lost, to catch histories before they slip away unrecorded. She writes for people no longer here, to show that they were here. She writes because she has to and without it she’s lost.

Her poems have been published in Stand, The North, South Bank Poetry, South, Envoi and The Interpreter’s House as well as on-line and in several anthologies. Her novel was longlisted for the Penguin WriteNow programme in 2016-2017. Her poetry pamphlet Inside the Blue House, was published by Palewell Press in April 2019.

Contact Information

Camilla Reeve, Senior Editor

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