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Hope in the hop yards for romany writer Raine Geoghegan​

Raine Geoghegan

A GRADUATE of the University of Chichester’s MA in Creative Writing is celebrating her Romany roots in a new film that will be premiered at one of Britain’s top poetry festivals.

Raine Geoghegan will appear at the Ledbury Poetry Festival on Tuesday 3 July in the Market Theatre to discuss the film Stories from the Hop Yards. Raine takes part in the film, and will also be previewing her first poetry pamphlet Apple Water – Povel Panni, which is based on her Romany family. 

The book is to be published by Hedgehog Press and will be officially launched in autumn 2018.

Hedgehog’s editor Mark Davidson said: "Raine’s book is perhaps one of the most interesting and important you will have read in years. Focusing on her Romani heritage Raine Geoghegan has created a wonderful pamphlet that captures the magic of her own family’s stories and helps preserve a language that is in danger of fading away. This is to be previewed at the Ledbury Poetry Festival, and is as powerful as it is authentic."

Raine turned to writing after being diagnosed with chronic illness many years ago. Her work as an actress/dancer and theatre director/tutor fell by the wayside, and writing was something that she could do from her bed.

During the last eighteen months, she has been writing about her Roma heritage. She is half Gypsy Romani, a Didikai in the Romani language.

Her mother’s family were true Roma. She grew up listening to the language and says she was "enchanted by its musicality and deep beauty."

Raine has written poems, songs, and monologues which reflect the way of the Roma. Her work has been published in the Romany Routes Journal, Words for the Wild, Under the Radar, Fair Acre Press, The Travellers Times, and Anima Poetry Press, among others.

Three pieces are to be published in The Clearing literary journal in August and will be available on a podcast.  She will also be collaborating with a Primary school in Herefordshire on a film that teachers and pupils are making, based on Stories from the Hop Yards.

Raine, whose writing mentor is fellow Chichester graduate and poet James Simpson, said: "I am delighted that the work is beginning to pay off. My life has taken an interesting turn, but what satisfies me most is that I am bringing my ancestors back to life -- and, as I give readings and promote my book, many people will be learning about the true Romany culture. The ancestors will take centre stage, and their voices will be heard."

Reflecting on her time at the University, Raine said: "The MA in Creative Writing helped to galvanise me. I loved the challenge of writing, and completing each module on time. The tutors brought their own individual slant on the various genres. It was hard work but also fun and very creative.

"I would recommend it to anyone serious about their work and of taking it to the next level. One of the things that has stayed with me is how to keep up the practise of writing new material and to always be in the flux of learning and developing as a writer."

To find out more about the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester go to