Karen Middleton and Poems she wrote from “Cheers Village”.


I live in  Sherburn Village in Durham. I call it “Cheers Village” (as everybody knows your name) I started writing poems 20 years ago, when a certain world event got to me. After many trials and tribulations in my life. I felt better when I wrote my feelings down.

I have always loved listening to  poems. ever since my dad first read me the Pied Piper of Hamlin and later when I was given my first Dr Seuss book at age 5, I love reading and writing, or writing and reading, to quote a line from one of my favorite Christmas films.

English was the one of the few things I liked about school and I loved reading.  My teachers thought I had an endless supply of books at home but truth be told I was more like  the girl from the film Matilda, although my  mam didn’t go to the bingo all day and  my dad was not a dodgy car salesman who made me watch TV all the time and my headmistress was not really  like Miss Trunchbull more like Miss Honey, but I did spend a lot of time at the library and when the mobile library came to our small village, I thought it was Christmas.

Like a lot of kids, the prospect of growing up and abandoning the lessons I hated (Math’s in my case) was enough to mess around and not get the grades I knew I could get. As a disillusioned teen. I thought motherhood would be a walk in the park (yey.) By the time I discovered ‘Err, not so much’ I was soon a one parent family. If it couldn’t get any worse there were no parks to walk in.! just rows and rows of houses, I realized I was doing a better job than some two-parent set up.

I decided to go back to school and I am also now working on a law degree. Do I wish I hadn’t messed around at school; and be a student at 54? The answer to that would be absolutely but I don’t regret how my life has turned out, you learn from mistakes not by repeating them.

After a few years of ‘I am through with men, I’m happier single. I’ve no one to answer to. I married again, this time happily. I have 2 lovely teenagers who know everything, your teenager might think they do but no, mine do. I also have a lovely dog Maggie who doesn’t claim to know anything. But is content as long as you take her on long walks and tickle her tummy now and then. (That never went down well with my teenagers, the one time I tried tickling their tummy and suggesting we should go for a nice walk it was just plain awkward. They grunted at me and went back to their x-box.)

My point is You can do anything you want. At whatever age you want to. It’s never too late to achieve your dreams.

I have 5 children’s story rhyme books out in the imagination series (shameless plug) and I have published my first book of poetry, (another shameless plug.)

RLN: How has your writing evolved over the years?

I love performing poetry and sharing and listening to other poets I meet on my poetic journey. I am a regular at the poetry jam in Durham, which is held in Waddington street every month but when I first started going, I would not even get up to say a poem. but the poetry scene is very supportive, and it doesn’t matter if you just sit back and soak up the atmosphere until you feel ready to share your words.

I remember I was in the library studying for my law degree and the lady next to me saw I was on the Open University site and said ‘Oh I would love to take one of those but I’m too old and would make too many mistakes’ (she was the same age as me.) I told her the time was gonna pass anyway, I always tell my kids the biggest mistake you can make is not make any.

So, I in the words of Nike I decided to “just do it” and practice what I preach, where performing my poetry was concerned (I am a great procrastinator)

Now I have done gigs in in Newcastle and Yorkshire, wrote 6 books, and been interviewed  about them on radio.

RLN: What inspired you to start writing and which Authors were your idols growing up?

I can’t remember a time I didn’t like books especially poetry, when I was about 5, I was given my first Dr Seuss book and read that over and over.

My dad was a medic in the army and wrote poems in the trenches one of which was published, so he too had a love for poetry. He read me the Pied Piper of Hamelin and I would make him read it over and over and knew when he was skipping verses to get me to go to bed.

And once for homework we had to learn 2 verses of this poem and when we went back to school, I rhymed the whole thing off so I remember that, and I remember the, show off you’re meant to do 2 verses looks I got from the other kids.

I loved the famous five. There was one book by Enid Blyton I particularly loved when each branch of a tree would go into an adventure, “The magic faraway tree” I think it was called.

Pam Ayers, Victoria wood, and also some comedians have been very inspirational I have studied them a lot. You can learn a lot from them the way they walk and talk, their stance, their gestures, the ability to entertain and keep an audience’s attention.

Karen performing Poetry in Richmond.

RLN: What genre do you write in?

I have published my first poetry collection called “Poems she wrote”; it is a mixture of poems and prose with a northern dialect I am presently working on my second poetry book called “And this is how it reads.” And I have also written 6 children’s rhyme stories, in the imagination series, the last one being a compendium from preschool. I also am working on my second children’s book, title to yet be decided. I have started a young adult novel but that is very much a work in progress and on the back burner at moment

RLN: What is the biggest stage you have performed in?

I have performed my work at poetry jams at Durham and Newcastle, but I have never entered in any slams. But the biggest audience I have performed to was in my living room, when I was interviewed on Write-Radio, I never thought my work would be good enough that someone would want to interview me. That gave me the confidence to go to the next step I was asked to perform at Crossing the Tyne soon afterwards. Lots of people messaged me about my books, so it seems to be a snowballing effect now so perhaps I might enter a slam now.

Karen on Graduation Day

RLN: What has been the highlight of your writing career?

I would say being asked to perform at 2 venues in the same week and one of the hosts of one of the events read my poem Joke out online on youtube for national woman’s day as an example of a woman’s work, someone told me about that and I thought they were joking when they said someone was reading my poem on youtube I couldn’t believe it! When I saw that I thought must be doing something right.

RLN: Can you tell us more about your published books, what makes them unique and where can we buy them?

Poems she wrote is as about happenings mainly in the north east, it has poems that are unique and relatable as they are about everyday things and a lot of poems have back stories and I can tell why I wrote each poem

The poems range from telling someone to put a coat on because it might rain, to more important issues we wish we didn’t relate to like bullying, depression and terrorist attacks. My second book called “And This Is How It Reads” will be out just before Christmas.

My first children’s book from the imagination series is called “A Hundred,” I it is a simple book to help children to read but my other children’s books from the imagination series  encourages grownups and children to never lose that  childlike enthusiasm as I think our creativity is sometimes forced out even at an early age when we are forced into making adult decisions. A child never gives up, so  on that note I hid one on look for the book north east

My book is for sale on amazon. I have a fan page on Facebook that links to my blog, but to buy books follow link on blog that is www.stuffshewrote.co.uk and if you could leave a honest review that would be great.

My other books from the imagination series are called “Rory Remembers” this is about leaving your presents until xmas day. “Izzy Imagines” my favorite in the imagination series. A quick bedtime read, “The Garden Gate” about encouraging children to make the right decision  and “Loads and Loads of Silly Poems” a compendium of poems for preschool, a sort of Spike Milligan meets Dr Seuss.

RLN: What do you think is most important to a writer, the talent or the passion to promote their work?

I think they both go hand in hand and are both equally important, obviously you have to have a talent to promote or you would be wasting your time. I read somewhere that the “50 Shades of Grey” books were best sellers. Even though they very well received (pardon the pun) they could be found in charity shops when people have finished reading them as  they were badly written but then there are a lot of books in charity shops, so I don’t know about that. However that is only one person’s opinion.

RLN: As a writer and author, if you were to pick one which would you prefer; awards, fame or money?

I’m not really in it for the money although that would be nice, I know I will never be J K Rowling (as my names Karen Middleton.) I don’t wanna concentrate on book sales I’m not writing for applause but for a cause someone told me once, “money is the root of all evil” I corrected him and said no “love of money is the root of all evil” yes we need our bread and butter money but I am a great believer in karma and if I carry on making people feel better something good will happen that might be lots of money I don’t know.

RLN: Do you write full time, if no what do you do for a career and how has this influenced your writing?

When I graduated last November, I was hoping something would emerge such as a paralegal,  something like that, but I am not working right now and I am using my time at the moment to concentrate on my writing as it is very time consuming but very rewarding.  

RLN: Any words of advice to a newbie writer who feels vulnerable to share their work with the outside world?

My advice would be again  in the words of Nike  “just do it”, when I was in the library that day and the woman said she couldn’t study for a law degree and I was, I thought of course I can do poetry and not long afterwards I took my first step and went to Waddington street.

If anyone is debating even if they would  take baby steps and sit in at a poetry jam like I did it.  This will evolve to other things happening, and there is such a lot of support out there, now is definitely the time to do something with your poetry nearly everyone is on Facebook and there are groups such as writers helping writers, children’s authors and illustrators northern poetry for asking tips to other writers there will be someone who is on the same level at poetry as you and you might even make some friends along the way and you can never have too many of them. The poetry scene is very supportive, they love sharing and listening to work of others you meet on the poetic journey. I love it here, where likeminded people want to hear me speak, when I’m normally told to stop talking.

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