‘Cardiff Met Creative Writing lecturers Christina Thatcher, Kate North, Dan Anthony and Lucy Windridge share their favourite inspirational books for National Writing Day 2020’.
‘Today’s guest post by Christina Thatcher is a fascinating account of being a working class academic, and the feeling of not fully belonging to your past or present. It tells of her upbringing in the US by hard working parents, doing well at school, then going on to University to study, and now living in the UK working as a Creative Writing Lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University. The poem ‘Subtext’ is from Christina’s brand new collection, How to Carry Fire. You can buy a copy of the book, here.’
‘Christina Thatcher reads three poems from her second collection, How to Carry Fire, which deal with her brother’s heroin addiction: “Detox Passage,” “Relapse” and “Bad Things”’
‘Starting with the burning down of Thatcher’s childhood home and finishing with an understanding of how to build a home within oneself, as well as within someone else’s heart, How To Carry Fire is hot to the touch in its heartbreak but warming in its hopefulness. Her poetry’s language is simple in terms of sentence structure, but deeply textured beneath the surface…’
‘Wales-based poets from Cardiff Metropolitan University, Kate North and Christina Thatcher, read a selection of poems on the theme of hope.’
‘In a remarkable second collection, Christina Thatcher not only teaches us How to Carry Fire, but demonstrates that from the flames can emerge love, passion, beauty and resolution. These are raw, honest poems, powerful in their effect. Although each poem stands alone, like individual embers glowing inside a grate, they also slot into a strong and cohesive narrative structure…A fine achievement from this very accomplished writer.’
Fina reads and discusses the poem “Etiquette” from More than you were (Parthian Books, 2017) by Christina Thatcher.
Nicola Heywood Thomas ask writers what books they recommend as a means of escape during self isolation. Plus will this pandemic influence new literary themes and indeed, reveal new writing talent? Nicola is joined by poet, Christina Thatcher, novelist, Philip Gwynne Jones and former National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke.
Light poems for Dark Days: a selection of uplifting poems read by Christina Thatcher.
Light poems for Dark Days: a selection of uplifting poems read by Christina Thatcher.
‘There is a darkness and despair around some of them yet the threads of hope string them together in an uplifting harmony. They deal with various issues drug abuse, arson, hate yet also love, strength and peace. A book of poems you will keep returning to in order to fully appreciate their beauty and discover nuances you missed in previous readings.’
‘Writing Loss, Love and Fire: A Guest Post by Christina Thatcher, Author of How to Carry Fire
When I was 21 my father burnt down our family home. It was an accident but he never recovered from the guilt. This loss of our house – as well as our cherished objects, photographs and land – acted, in a way, like a culmination of all our losses. My father and brother had been losing their war with addiction for years. Many deaths and heartaches had led to this. The fire felt like the height of our hardship but also like an omen of more destructive things to come.’
‘This collection may have begun with dysfunction and tragedy but it moves … not only to a new continent, and specifically to Wales, but also moves from trauma towards healing through the power of love, experienced through patience, empathy and understanding – of oneself as well others – as continuing and residual fears and anxieties are worked through and resolved. In witnessing the devastation and courageous rebuilding, the reader – and reviewer – of How to Carry Fire are also moved … and privileged to have witnessed a powerful work of art taking shape, as a phoenix arising from the ashes.’
‘Christina Thatcher’s poetry collection, How to Carry Fire, is about destruction and survival. I was only able to highlight a few of the poems here, but they are representative of the power in this collection. Throughout the book I felt seen and heard, even though I don’t know this poet. Fire can destroy, but it can also be cathartic. It can forge new pathways and encourage growth, her poetry promises us this and gives room for a little hope on the other side of trauma.’
‘The Landscape(s) of Home in How to Carry Fire: A Guest Post by Christina Thatcher
In an essay for Geography, Owen Sheers says: ‘I fell in love with landscape long before I fell in love with poetry’. This was true for me as well. I grew up on a horse farm in eastern Pennsylvania. I didn’t travel as a child so the bigness of the world seemed to be contained within that farm: the front pasture where horses would trot alongside cars as they entered, the L-shaped paddock with its oblong water trough and bat-filled shed, the back field which required a leap over a stream and an uphill scramble. The arteries of the barn reached out farther too — first into the riding ring where we practiced our equitation and, then, into the woods where we rode for pleasure. These trails were our gateways to the rushing creek, the swimming hole, the iron bridge, the jumping logs and much more. When I was young, everything in the world felt like it led back to the heart of the barn.’
‘The original fire has become a metaphor for internalised anxiety and trauma. The run away from an abusive father leaves a legacy that prompts a brother to succumb to addiction. The poems, however, take that trauma and transform it into measured, considered poems that seek to explore without judgement. They show compassion and humanity, admitting faults and celebrating successes. Christina Thatcher’s fire doesn’t just destroy, it paves the way for regrowth.’
‘There are a lot of strengths to this collection, which I enjoyed immensely. Thatcher’s work is written in a way that makes her pieces accessible to readers who might find poetry overwhelming. She writes in a way that is straightforward–it’s both honest, raw, and hopeful.
There are, ultimately, two choices. You can allow yourself to be destroyed by your past, or you can overcome it. How to Carry Fire is a testament to the will to live and prosper. I highly recommend this book, which is available now through Parthian Books.’
‘This book will really attract deep readers…The poet has mastered the art of writing in layers…’
‘What does happen when life infuses you with fire? The kind you can’t control as it controls every part of you. You feel, breathe and live it…Her poetry is a release, a reminder and hopefully also a rescue.’
‘Cardiff-based poet Christina Thatcher discusses her second collection How to Carry Fire published by Parthian Books…Christina challenges you to write your own poem inspired by fire. This could be a literal fire (like a bonfire, campfire, home fire, wild fire, etc) or a metaphorical fire (like the fuel for passion, love, determination, etc). Whatever sparks your interest! Please share you poems via social media using #poetrynonstop.’
‘Join poet and Creative Writing Lecturer, Christina Thatcher, for a reading of love poems from her latest collection, How to Carry Fire.’
Author’s Notes: Western Mail Newspaper (March 28th, 2020)
‘Christina Thatcher is one of Wales’ most powerful young poetic voices – and her latest collection [How to Carry Fire] is a tour de force, writes Jenny White…The resulting work cements Thatcher’s position as a distinctive, powerful and unerring authentic new poetic voice – a stall she first set out with More Than You Were, her 2017 debut collection which explored the legacy of her father’s addiction and death. While many of her poems deal with gritty topics, they are also strikingly beautiful in the purity of the love they convey. There is hope here, as well as loss, and a sense that while fire destroys, it can also transform.’
‘The volume is a collection of 73 poems linked by the common theme of fire, both physical, metaphorical and analytical. Each of these poems I have read aloud which has certainly set me on fire to say the least!…Each poem in this collection is a flame in a fire, dancing, reaching out to us, the reader. The paradox of fire, survival and destruction. Comforting warmth yet lung searing devastation. As a group the poems convey a fusion of the physical and emotional effects of fire. Maybe we all carry fire within us?’
‘In turn both stark and unforgiving the idea of ritual cleansing through fire seems to be the recurring theme which cuts like a knife…Daring, stimulating but also, at the same time, inspiring, How to Carry Fire is a thought provoking collection, from start to finish.’
‘With humour, with honesty and with bravery, a lot of these voices let you into their worlds to see the fragility of the human condition, how trauma and grief affect different people differently and how there cannot be a one size fits all approach to dealing with life.’
‘Christina Thatcher and Dr Kathryn Addicott have scooped two of three prestigious awards in memory of a Welsh woman who campaigned for women’s rights across the world.’
‘Published poet and Cardiff Met Creative Writing lecturer Christina Thatcher has led lively reading, writing and reciting sessions with primary learners at Llanishen Library.’
‘For the first ever Writers Series special episode Jacob and Ryan sit down with writer Christina Thatcher to discuss her debut poetry collection More than you were.’
‘This collection is published by Parthian Books and is about the death of a father after a drugs overdose, written by his daughter Christina. It covers topics such as addiction, family politics, child memories and, of course, grief…I definitely recommend getting this. I think you should buy it. I think you should read it. And I think that if you have not grieved before this book will be there when you have. And I think that is true regardless of the relationship you have with that person you are grieving for. I think this is beautiful.’
‘Christina Thatcher’s More Than You Were presents a narrative about coming to terms with a difficult parent and learning to love oneself in spite of a lack within the family. The collection – the blurb tells us – revolves around the death of Thatcher’s father by drug overdose and poignantly seeks new ways to consider him. […] While the poems record the worst excesses of the father, they are also commendable in their complexity, because they show that even if a parent is abusive, the child’s feelings are complicated by love, guilt, and grief.’
“Having recently lost my own father, albeit in very different circumstances, More than you were hit home. The collection should be read as a whole, such are the effects of grief. Thatcher candidly writes about the myriad ways that a parent’s death can affect a child – and no matter the situation, her writing is beautifully executed and deserves to be absorbed slowly, with consideration and a sense of peace.”
“Our guests today are writers Janet Lees and Christina Thatcher, two poets separated by the sea but who are coming together to host a series of events addressing certain subjects we may normally find difficult to discuss. The subject matter may be heavy but Christina and Janet assured me it won’t all be doom and gloom…”
“Listen again to Women Today…we chatted on the phone with award winning poet Christina Thatcher about her 2 day event this weekend with Janet Lees at Noa Bakehouse on the Isle of Man.”
A video of Christina Thatcher reading in Bucharest, Romania.
“In this week’s episode, we’re really diving deep into what it means to be a multi-passionate and Christina is sharing her story of having a multi-passionate career that really weaves her interests and her passions together. Christina shares her insatiable desire to learn and what she has learned about generosity and kindness through so many of the community projects she has done, and really putting your skills and strengths out there into the world…I am in awe of all of the work Christina does, how she shows up in the world and what an impact she makes. I love Christina’s honesty in sharing her journey, own struggles and lessons of finding a work life balance while being a pillar in her community and how much joy and enthusiasm she has for life. Christina’s attitude to life is contagious and I know you’re going to absolutely love this episode!”
‘I’ll leave you with two poems by Christina Thatcher, from her book More than you were, published by Parthian. as the Poems of the Week…It’s a strange coincidence that I read More than you were whilst thinking about the lyric tradition and what poetry is for and what it should do. The collection explores the death of David Thatcher, Christina’s father, and this footing in fact and reality is made explicit on the back cover of the book. But if we go back to ‘direct truth claims about the world’ I guess the claims these poems are making are claims about trauma and violence and grief, and the repercussions of experiencing these things….It was hard to choose just one poem – although they do work on their own, you can read this whole collection cover to cover in one go. It is completely compelling. There is a narrative which drives the poems forward through these tiny snapshot moments…’
“The poems in More than you were are brutally concise, often no more than several short lines or a single sentence, each standing on the page as spare and sharp as a lightning rod in a snow field. These poems are direct, honest and simple, made thoughtfully with regard to their function and form, creating an elegeaic, plainspoken style that lends a quiet intensity to Thatcher’s exploration of grief and addiction. Nothing is wasted, or superfluous: every single poem pared down to its ‘decisive moment’ (to borrow a phrase from Cartier-Bresson)…”
“…This defiant, engrossing depiction of a father and a daughter makes for an extremely accomplished poetry collection. Not only is Thatcher far, far more than he was, but she also generously portrays him as he was in his entirety: bad, good, and all that came in-between.”
“Wales Arts Review loves a good conversation about art and literature, so when the opportunity came up to speak with three of the most exciting young writers in Wales today, we thought than rather than speak to us, it might be a better idea to have them speak to each other. Rhian Elizabeth, Christina Thatcher and Natalie Ann Holborow interview each other about their lives and work…”
“It is often true to say that the most incredible poetry comes from the most painful experiences in life. For centuries poets have been transforming their pain into something beautiful and unique which speaks into the lives of others and helps us to confront our own pain, and two Cardiff poets have recently launched debut collections which do just that. Rebecca Parfitt and Christina Thatcher have both produced poetry collections which strike at the heart of what it means to be human, exploring the most intense and painful of emotions…”
“What We’re Reading is a series in which the staff and friends of The Cardiff Review tell us about what they’re reading…”
“On this Month’s edition of Brum Radio Poets, Gavin Young is joined by Christina Thatcher and Richard Archer. Brum Radio Poets is broadcast on the last Sunday of every month…”
“My Mum told me over the phone that my Dad had died. She was crying and for a short while I couldn’t really hear her — white noise crept in, time slowed down, the room started to shrink. But as soon as I hung up, everything became sharp again. For weeks, I wrote down everything I could remember. I wrote about my Dad’s red guitar, his pale Irish skin, his loud singing, his old Camero…”
“Christina Thatcher, a PhD student and postgraduate tutor at Cardiff University, was the first to read. An American who has made Wales her home, Christina wrote her collection More than you were (Parthian) in order to better understand the impact of the death of her father, David Thatcher, of an overdose in July, 2013. Christina read a series of short powerful poems in which she explored the blurry shock of the news, the practicalities of dealing with a loved one’s death, and the onslaught of grief.”
“Christina Thatcher is a poet and creative writing tutor from the US. She moved to the UK in 2009 after winning the prestigious Marshall Scholarship (studying MAs at Cardiff and York). She is currently working on a PhD at Cardiff University, and her debut poetry collection, More than you were, will be published by Parthian in May. I met her through Roath Writers, the community writing group which she has been running since 2012.”
“Christina Thatcher, though, isn’t the sort of poet to guffaw and whoop-whoop at – hers is a dark sequence of short poems about her addict father’s death and how she dealt with the realities of grieving for a parent who, in life, was challenging and whose death was a series of lessons that she now shares with brutal honesty. Christina’s work is touching, brave and personal and delivered with a combination of sweetness and a nod to inevitability.”
“The second in Cardiff Libraries’ series of Poets on Video features Christina Thatcher. As the year comes to a close, it can be a time for reflection and remembering those no longer with us. Christina reads two poems, the first simply entitled ‘Grief’ by Raymond Carver, from All of Us: The Collected Poems (The Harvill Press) followed by ‘Terminology’, from her forthcoming collection More than you were (Parthian Books).”
*The gray scale picture of me reading in the feature photo for this post is from this reading – thank you so much Lonely Crowd!
“Creativity as a light in the darkness for processing troubling personal experiences is a prominent driving force for American-born Christina, both in her own writing and in the many inspiring poetry workshops she leads and groups she facilitates. In self exploration, strength can be found. The very heart of her work can be expressed in three simple words: write to empower.”
“Christina Thatcher talks about how writing helped her overcome a difficult upbringing and led to her moving from the US to South Wales. In the six years she has been in Cardiff she has put herself at the heart of the creative writing and spoken word scene and completed a powerful collection of poems about coping with the loss of her father. She reads from this and other work and challenges listeners to write a poem about mundane things. ”
“A big part of the brilliance of Ignite Cardiff is the fact that its talks can come from anyone, from any angle- on subjects that are truly extraordinary or touchingly ordinary, things that happen to an unusual few, or things we all experience over time. Amongst the great talks at the last Ignite Cardiff, the talk from the brilliant Cardiff based writer Christina Thatcher seemed to bridge these two sides- giving a unique view into something we all experience. And if you weren’t luck enough to see it then, definitely give to a watch.”
“As you sit and talk to Christina Thatcher, you can’t fail to be won over by her enthusiasm and her heart-wrenching honesty. Maybe it’s her American accent, but she’s not the sort of person you’d expect to run what sounds like a macabre way to spend a few hours – death writing classes.”
“What did ensue was pretty overwhelming. Christina spoke with a touching honesty about the passing of her Father a year ago; her words were raw and heart wrenching. One person on Twitter described it perfectly: “A master class on how to deliver a message in 5 minutes.” It really was.”
“While Christina sadly wasn’t here for Made in Roath this year, it’s fair to say Made in Roath – as we know it – might not’ve been here at all if it weren’t for Christina! Definitely not the literature and spoken words events, which we have to thank her for organising – thank you Christina! Despite all her international jetsetting, she still found some time to answer me some questions, about what its like being one of the organisers of a festival as dynamic and hectic as Made in Roath.”
“Organiser Christina Thatcher says, “If you take stories from people in the community that might not normally tell them and turn what they’ve said, the sentiment or their exact words, into something that they can see and be proud of, that’s wonderful.”
“Bright, bubbly and full of energy, the American-born and Cardiff-based Christina Thatcher is convinced that creative writing can be an important means of empowerment.”
“Christina Thatcher is a strong believer in the inspirational powers of writing. Having herself known hardship while growing up in Pennsylvania, she started keeping a daily journal while in the first grade.”
“She has that rare combination of academic and personal excellence, outstanding academic ability, grace, modesty and maturity that makes a true Marshall scholar. Her potential as an educator and writer is boundless.”