Lynn Woollacott was born in 1955 in Nottinghamshire, and lives in the seaside town of Cromer. She's had many jobs from sewing buttons on cardigans to working as a lab technician in an all-girls school. She gained a BSc (Hons) with the Open University and went on to teach at Outdoor Centres in North Norfolk. Still with adult education she studied creative writing with the University of East Anglia.
Lynn’s mixed the dynamics of Judy and Punch, and Judy’s predicament, creating many layers in the strange, engaging and thought-provoking poems of 'Judy, Out of the Box'.
'Judy, Out of the Box' by Lynn Woollacott
Published November 2020
Paperback, 14.8 x 21cm, 42 pages
Lyn Woollacott writes:
"The appearance of Punch and Judy shows originated in Italy, in the fourteenth century. An early poster depicts the first performance in London as witnessed by Samuel Pepys in 1662. The shows have been part of British culture in seaside towns, market towns and cities since then. In initial shows Punch would kill his wife and child; Ghost would appear, representing Judy and the ghost of Punch united together as one. Even today, Punch falls into hysterics every time he sees Ghost. Historically the Crocodile represented the Devil, and Shallabalah was the Grand Turk of Senoa. During the 1800’s Shallabalah became the Publican.
Lynn’s poems riff upon Judy’s co-dependant relationships. With dark and light shades in situations relevant to the characters this fictional world examines the human side of Judy’s best and worst thoughts and behaviour."
"I really enjoyed this inventive, action-packed short collection by Lynn Woollacott. I was intrigued from the outset after reading the useful Foreword. This sets out the history of Punch and Judy, the theme behind the poems...
... Sausages feature strongly in several poems. In ‘Smokin Puppets’, Punch is ‘eating burnt sausages cooked in the flames.’ In the prose poem ‘Miss Polly is Distracted’, Punch ‘makes Toby dizzy spinning hoola-hoops from a string of sausages he stole from a pub.’
And we are taken into Judy’s moods, fights and nightmares, but also learn about her soft side. For example, in ‘Sleeping Arrangements’
Judy dreams of flowery chaise longues
and blue velvet chesterfields.
These poems are a form of escape. Like Houdini, Judy is a survivor and in poem after poem she reappears, bringing laughter, tears and mayhem."
-- Sue Wallace-Shaddad in Sphynx Review
Read the full review here:
And Julia Webb comments:
"The domestic and the fantastical meet in the stunning and original new collection by Lynn Woollacott. The Punch and Judy show is the perfect vehicle for exploring themes of domestic abuse and our attitudes towards it. The relationships explored here are not just between the puppets but also the puppets and their Master. Woollacott manages to seamlessly encompass other themes too: tradition, nature, history, science and all is served with both a seriousness and a subtle humour. The relationships here are complex and Lynn carries the whole thing off with panache."
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