A woman who has recently published her first book of poetry is urging others to allow themselves to be creative and not be held back by self-doubt.

Teacher Rachel Askew, 39, from Richmond, has had a love of creative writing since being inspired by a course she took while in sixth form – but it is only now that she has taken to writing again.

She said: "I've had the urge to write creatively since that course in sixth form, but I needed something to force me to do it because my self-discipline had been lacking.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Poet Rachel Askew


"I had written a few poems over the summer of 2022, and found I had an appetite to do more."

Rachel came across a writing challenge set by BookLeaf Publishing, The Write Angle, which calls on writers to pen a poem a day for 21 days, and have that work published.

This resulted in her compilation of poetry, How I Choose to Respond, being published last month.

She said: "It's a bit sad that it's taken so long. The only risk I was taking was in sending it off, and even when I had sent it away I still thought it probably wouldn't happen.

"I was so surprised when I received my first copies of the book, and it was a strange feeling to think that it was out there in the world and anyone could read it!

"It's a scary feeling but also it has been very lovely hearing feedback from family and friends."

Rachel said sometimes it was tough to find a topic to write her daily poem about, but soon found she was able to look for inspiration in her everyday activities – which in the year 2022 including taking on the Great North Run, and marking the death of the Queen in the school where she teaches.

She said: "It was my first Great North Run, so that poem is about my experience of it, and of being a bit overwhelmed.

"There's another poem called What 3 Words, which is from the exact location of Richmond Falls, and uses other What 3 Words from around the falls in a poem about memories of summers spent by the river."

Rachel's poetry book, How I Choose to Respond, is available at Amazon, Waterstone and Barnes and Noble, priced £8.99.