Writers from across Yorkshire and beyond were among the mourners at the funeral of Skelmanthorpe poet Janet Fisher.
She had been a member of the Huddersfield poetry scene for over 20 years, as both a poet and a publisher. She authored four collections of poetry, and as co-director of The Poetry Business was a leading figure in making Huddersfield one of the most active and dynamic poetry scenes in the UK.
Janet died aged 72 on April 11, following complications from knee surgery.
The funeral followed Quaker tradition, starting with a short interment ceremony in the burial ground at High Flatts Meeting House, near Birdsedge. It was followed in the Meeting House by a commemoration of Janet’s life.
Attendees read from her poems, and Janet’s voice was heard through a recording of her poem “Brittle Bones.” Her family and friends shared personal memories.
Her husband, Ray, spoke of her journeys into Quakerism and into writing, stressing the importance of her work at The Poetry Business in her creative development.
Director Peter Sansom said that The Poetry Business had received many messages of condolence from writers around the country, all of whom had admired Janet’s work as a poet and editor, and who felt that she would be much missed.
Peter described Janet’s own writing as combining intelligence and wit with a unique and daring imagination, well-illustrated in his reading of “Blast from the Past” from her last book.
As well as four books of poetry, Janet authored several pamphlets and contributed to anthologies by publishers including Virago and Bloodaxe, and she appeared on Radio 4. She was an active participant in the Albert Poets, and was due to read again at The Albert on July 14; her husband, Ray, will now be reading her work in her stead.
Janet’s last book, “Life and Other Terms”, was published a few months before her death.
She was born in 1943 in Birmingham and was brought up in Deddington, north Oxfordshire. After graduating from Bristol University with a Law Degree in 1967 Janet worked in legal publishing in London, meeting Londoner Ray in France. They married in 1970 and continued living in London until moving to Skelmanthorpe in 1978.
She became co-director of The Poetry Business in 1989 with Peter Sansom. The Poetry Business promotes writers’ development. It was based in the Byram Arcade, Huddersfield, for over 20 years, before moving to Sheffield after Janet’s retirement.
Her first pamphlet was published in 1989 and her first full-length collection in 1996. She received an MA with Distinction in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2014.
In lieu of flowers donations were made to Medicins sans Frontieres.
Her husband said: “The family were most touched by the ceremony and the contributions from friends from all over the world. I am so proud to have known her and take solace from the memories encapsulated in her words.”
Life and Other Terms
I split autumn perennials,
layer rhododendrons for spring,
lashed by winds,
lacking even good bones
against the virtues of age.
With full hands
I pull at heels of rosemary,
lad’s love sweet and sad,
bitter rue and yarrow.
Geraniums on the patio
turned out like children to get the sun;
the faint green of old bottles
wait for something to be done with them,
and I see living’s a job like any other,
that there are no true and perfect implements
to trim the edges, only working usages, like knives.