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Since the age of eight when I wrote my first poem which began "The sea was roaring up and down" I've wanted to be a poet. Poetry has always struck me as the neatest and safest form of creativity. A poem can exist in multiple copies; it can even be preserved in one's memory. It cannot be damaged like a painting or a sculpture, it needs no interpretation or performance like music, and nowadays a life's work can dangle from a key-ring.

Most of the poems I've written arise from the happier, brighter side of life because that is what gives me my best inspiration. When I'm depressed or miserable, everything lets me down. If there is any one continuing theme in my poetry then it is the appreciation of beauty, and after that the appreciation of place and the hold it can exert.

Where I live now there is no shortage of beauty. My husband and I moved to Umbria in Italy from Lincolnshire in the UK after falling in love with the green landscape of mountains, meadows and olive groves. As I come out of the supermarket I raise my eyes to the forest-clad slopes of the high hills which in winter are capped with snow.

After thirteen years of running a tuition agency, we have finally sold it as a going concern and hope to be able to turn our attention to more flexible ways of earning a living. We have no children - in fact no family at all - and so can please ourselves. Our three dogs do not complain, as long as they have us and each other and full bellies.

I started this site partly as a way of enjoying the connection between my own poems and the fuller memories and experiences behind them. I also love to make behind-the-scenes visits to other people's poems, so urge my fellow poets to provide that same insight.

One of the most enjoyable exercises which I ever performed in the poetry groups, workshops and courses which I have attended over the years, was writing a POEM in response to another poem. I hope that some readers will have a go at doing this, perhaps making a poetic thread on particular topics.

Happy reading and even happier writing!

Damaris West (maiden name Damaris Naylor)

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