Changing Room

From cramped cubicles to rented bedrooms, hallways that become highways in the sleepless hours, to the space and beauty of a shrine; Woodford’s award-winning poems revisit old rooms and find new ones following the birth of a child and the passing of time in the family home and beyond.

There are ship rats, bed-socks, KitKats and, in the poem Work which was a Ledbury prize winner, the post it notes and endless afternoons of office life. Changing Room includes poems from Woodford’s Leverhulme residency at Durham Law School as well a sequence on ageing and getting out which appeared on buses in the North of England and as part of a touring exhibition in libraries.

Anna Woodford’s meditative new poems are full of an exquisite sense of time and change, reckoning and reconsideration. In deceptively plain language, full of beautifully straightforward music, these poems pare back layers of history to explore family, the flesh and deep feeling with great acuity and wisdom.

Jacob Polley, judge of the Northern Writers Awards
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Book cover for Changing Room by Anna Woodford

Paperback: 64 pages
Publisher: Salt Publishing
Cover illustration: Hisako Ando
Publication date: 15 July 2018
ISBN: 9781784630881

Prize winner at Ledbury Poetry Festival 2017


These are the things I never wrote about –
the Nurofen. The smiley mug. Postscript
by Seamus Heaney blu-tacked to my bit
of wall. Nick hovering in the office
doorway as though he wasn’t the boss.
Nick in his slippers sometimes.
The in tray where my twenties were to do.
The little window in the computer room
overlooking the houses I dreamed about
living in with my ex. The clock
where it was never home or lunch.
The clock whose hands I hung off
like the silent movie star in the poster
stuck in a hazy Freshers’ Week bedroom.
In those days when nothing was connected
the slowest modem in. the. world.
The work skirt, Mum’s cardie, the clogs
with gold studs I remember in detail
as if my history were no more substantial.
My getting the milk and phone Hello
Gateway Communications. The cheese
bites, strawberries dipped in chocolate,
lunches with lots of knives and glasses
on our birthdays when what we wanted
was a day off. The team meeting. The
low ceiling. Nick singing Here Comes
My Happiness Again (again and again).
These are the things I never wrote about
when I was starting to write or maybe
it was before my pen was my own
and writing was copy for Leech Homes
and press releases pending
the one tick two ticks of approval,
the stuff we went through after
Nick died, the mountain of stuff
he never got on top of and buried
under the weight of everything
the photo of him in his twenties
grinning and sticking up two fingers.

This poem would stop a stanza short
without Kate and I in a gallery cafe
a decade or so later on a weekday
which is not exactly a window
into my life but how it was that day.
This poem is a side, a plank of olives,
an unmade sandwich on a spread table –
we are discussing Emotional Labour,
ephemera, things that get left out
of archives. We are talking about YAY!
scribbled on a memo which for Kate
is YAY! conjures the boss uplifting
the whole team but for me is a wacky
hat, a happy dance, a clashing font,
too many exclamation marks You Don’t
Have to Be Mad etc or something
more like Morse, Like help, More like
help me please I’m drowning