Writer, photographer and podcaster Naomi Woddis explores dialogues around mental health and chronic invisible illness through a mix of creative formats. Her relation to storytelling evokes the multiplicity of voices and perspectives that constantly redefine human expression and the way they can empower narratives that have been long disregarded. Her work, that has appeared in several publications, radio stations and exhibitions such as ‘Seasons’ at the Oval House Theatre, challenges stigma around disability narratives by sharing her personal experience dealing with invisible illnesses and forging a space of inclusion aimed at discussing similar experiences.
As a younger person reading poetry I looked for an emotional resonance, something that could help me understand my inner world. Now many years later, there's a much wider choice of really stunning poetry being published and performed. This multiplicity of voices and perspectives means that poetry is in a constant state of flux and redefinition which is a wondrous thing to witness, and be part of.
This is a tough one. I think allowing one's words to spill out on to the page can be very liberating. However I am always a bit suspicious of emotional catharsis just for its own sake. I have an analytical nature and want to familiarise myself with the source and the context. As well as witnessing the intensity of feeling, that raw embodied emotion can provide the spark for a fine piece of writing but is not the end product. By a long shot.
Over a decade ago I was invited to do a show on a community radio station, Reel Rebels Radio. The show was called 'The Conversational' and broadcast for a couple of years until I became ill with Lyme Disease and wasn't well enough to continue. My health improved enough over the last few years to get in touch with the station again and pitch the idea for 'The Two of Us'. They loved the idea so now the show airs every Tuesday at 7pm and is also available on podcast. Alba Frederick (my co host) and I interview creative people from all disciplines about their work and how it relates to mental health. All of our guests have been extremely generous in what they have shared about themselves—the conversations are intimate, inspiring and, I'd like to think, hopeful.
That's a big question ! A great deal of my work stems from personal experience, whether it's a photographic project about my life as a disabled care-giver or on the podcast sharing my own struggles with mental health. I hope in my small way I have both lessened the stigma and de-mystified what being disabled by chronic illness looks and feels like. The last 10 years have been incredibly challenging for me both physically and emotionally. I've been very fortunate in connecting with many other disabled artists and felt connected to a community of like-minded (and like-hearted) souls especially through the Arts and Health Hub. The most valuable thing that I've learnt during this time is that so often living in a disabled body is implicitly political: for me it meant giving up ideas of being able to work full time and support myself financially. I had to find a way of re-evaluating my life and myself that wasn't based on my income or my professional status. This journey is still on-going.
Poetry Mosaic is an archived project but one I was and still am very proud of. The premise of Poetry Mosiac is really simple: I would post three questions on the site and ask for short replies which I would then edit in to a poem. It was in the days when I still on facebook and I would post a link to the questions there and also send them off to my mailing list. Because I was using the blog format it was possible to post the questions, answers, the resulting poem and the comments in response to it, hence mosaic ! I loved the collaborative nature of it and that it brought out the poetry in none-poetic language.
+ Words: Alejandra Espinosa, Luxiders Magazine Editor
Liberal Arts graduate | Berlin-based writer
Connect with her on LinkedIn or Instagram (@sincosmostura)