Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

All the best: Moyra Donaldson

The poet and social worker (57) lives near Bangor and will be publishing the fifth collection of her work next month. She is married to John Liddle and they have two grown-up daughters, Claire and Janna

Wise words: Moyra Donaldson juggles her busy career with writing

My best moment

It's still yet to come – it would be hard to get up in the morning if your best moment wasn't yet to come! So far, though, there have been almost too many to mention, but meeting my husband, having my children and being published for the first time are all up there.

My best way to relax

I love sitting out in the sun – if there ever is any – just reading a book to escape from the stresses of everyday life.

My best job

I have a full-time job in social work as well as being a poet. My favourite job, though, is facilitating writing workshops and I also mentor poets who are preparing for their first collections. I really enjoy seeing someone else's skills and confidence grow. I get a lot out of it professionally too – it encourages me to think about what I'm writing and why.

My best advice

My granny was full of bits of advice such as 'Don't sit too close to the fire as it will dry your marrow out' and 'If the wind changes your face will stay like that'. The best bit – and the one I've always remembered – is that two wrongs don't make a right. I try to remember that when I'm feeling vengeful or put out by someone.

My best song

Anything by Leonard Cohen (right) – I've been a fan since I was a teenager and I saw him at Kilmainham in Dublin a few years ago. It was a magical evening and even my husband, who wasn't a fan before that, was converted.

My best gift

It's actually a memory that's quite emotional. My mother was very ill with vascular dementia and was moved from a nursing home into a hospital, then on to another one. She was very withdrawn and hadn't recognised anyone for months but when I walked into her room at the Ulster Hospital she looked at me and said: "Oh look, it's my wee girl Moyra." It was a real gift at such a time of grief and upset. It didn't last but it was one of the most precious gifts I've received.

My best achievement

Managing to juggle everything; a family, a full-time job, writing and having fun too. I don't always manage all of it but when I do that's my best achievement. Making lists and an ability to stay up late at night are the secrets!

My best buy

A second-hand Aga for our kitchen. They cost a fortune but I found a place where they do refurbished ones. I love coming down in the morning to a warm kitchen.

I love Quentin Tarantino's films but I think if I had to choose one it would be Ridley Scott's Bladerunner. There's also an Australian comedy called The Castle that I put on when I'm feeling down. It has very gentle humour that really appeals to me.

It's like being asked to choose one of your children – it changes depending on your stage of life or what mood you're in. I'm choosing Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell, though. I have such lovely memories of my mother reading it to me as a child, a chapter a night. Without me ever realising, it taught me about storytelling and empathy. It's been quite an important book in my life.

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