It still surprises me to say that I live in The Netherlands, despite having lived here for ten years. I was born and raised in Ballymena, in the North of Ireland, and the rolling landscape of my homeland, the culture, the language is still very much a part of who I am. Story-telling has also been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was fifteen years old when I was introduced to poetry: Wilfred Owen, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, William Blake, Sylvia Plath, Philip Larkin – the words literally leapt off the page for me.
I studied Psychology at Queen’s University of Belfast, attracted there in the first place by the tree-lined beauty of Lennoxvale, with its stately Victorian buildings. I loved the place and the subject so much I stayed to complete a PhD (graduated in 1993) investigating how the brain processes fear. Spells of working in Edinburgh and St. Andrews, Scotland followed. I moved to Holland soon after I met my husband-to-be, Max. I rediscovered my love of poetry when we moved to Cannes in the South of France, where we were to live for a year. The light, the colour of the Mediterranean, the smells; they’re all very conducive to poetic expression. We returned to the Flat Country in search of jobs in 2000 and married in Amsterdam in 2002. Since then we’ve had two children, both boys – Matthijs and Malachi and they’ve made our lives complete.
Many people ask me why I write poetry while I work as a neuropsychologist. My simple answer is that only poetry makes me feel alive. I simply must write. That probably sounds very dramatic but it is true. Teaching neuropsychology to college students pays the bills and is a very interesting, rapidly-moving field which I’m happy to be a part of. Poetry, both writing, reading and reviewing it, makes me want to get up in the morning.
Ruth Mark is a freelance writer, poet and editor. Her first published poetry book Daily the Sky Shifts can be purchased online at www.ruthmark.nl - see under Books.