Introducing Young Poet Joanna Nissel

Date Night

Should I text my friends photos of what I’m wearing before I meet the acid rain? Is it safe to walk home alone when the unbreathable air might follow me? Am I overreacting by taking three wrong turnings on the way to stop the glacier-melt knowing where I live? Will headphones block out the rush of seawater behind me as it swallows the flatlands? Is it enough to attend self-defence classes to fend off the disappearing species? If I told someone, would they even believe me?

Joanna Nissel

Joanna’s compact and thought-provoking poem should undoubtedly strike a chord with many readers in the way that it focuses not only on climate change but also questions how safe is it on the streets at night for someone alone. She told me what drove her to write this piece: ‘recently, a friend was shocked that I live-shared my location during dates. He said, “If you feel you have to do that, isn’t that a sign you shouldn’t be going?” He had no idea this is common practice for most women. I wanted this poem to shed light on such hidden pressures and how they combine with others like the climate crisis.’

Joanna Nissel began writing poetry in 2015 (aged 20) at Bath Spa University. She was the recipient of the university’s Les Arnold Prize for most outstanding creative writing student and was named valedictorian. Guerrilla Brightenings, a series of poems reflecting on her experience of shielding during the pandemic was published by Against the Grain press. She says ‘it took me a long time to admit I’m a poet. I began with prose poetry at Bath Spa University. At this point, my style was very confessional and personal. Now I tend to oscillate between this and more external pieces that play with lineated form. If you had to characterise my voice… A mentor once complimented the ‘stillness’ of my poems. Now I’ve learned to occasionally throw that out the window in favour of rich, all-encompassing poems that combine a range of surreal and realistic imagery. I’m excited to see whatever evolution comes next. I’m also fascinated by the systems surrounding poetry and am completing a PhD into poetry mentorship in the UK. I tend to get very involved with the poetry scene and always enjoy talking with poets about their practice.’

Joanna’s blog is at

This website contains some useful guidance about apps for live-sharing and keeping safe when walking home alone at night.

Photo by Krzysztof Hepner on Unsplash Thanks Krzysztof.

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