Waterstones launch for student’s powerful collection of poetry


Elizabeth Train Brown and front cover of her collection of poetry

A Lancaster University student’s powerful debut poetry collection, described as ‘essential reading for anyone grappling with the concept of gender’, will be published later this month and launched at Waterstones in September.

County College student Elizabeth Train-Brown, who is just starting her final year of an English Literature, Creative Writing and Practice degree, will be signing copies of salmacis: Becoming Not Quite A Woman, a poetry volume which explores gender through mythology, at Waterstones in Lancaster.

To be published on August 31 by London-based Renard Press, Elizabeth’s work exploring gender, love and identity, is described as: “A captivating first collection from a talented young writer. Essential, identifiable reading for anyone grappling with the concept of gender.”

Her poems have been shortlisted for the Stratford Young Poets Competition 2021, Wells Festival of Literature Young Poet Award 2021, Erbacce Prize for Poetry 2021 and Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2021.

A synopsis ahead of publication reveals that, as recounted by the Roman poet Ovid, a young nymph called Salmacis one day spied Hermaphroditus bathing. Consumed with passion, she entered the water and, begging the gods to allow them to stay together, the two became one – part man, part woman.

For Elizabeth, Ovid’s fables are more than fiction and the pagan myth formed a fascinating framework for exploring identity.

She draws on the rich mythological history associated with the tale of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, re-examining the tale through the lens of metaphor in this collection of poetry that, says the publisher, is a ‘stirringly relatable and powerful exploration of gender, love and identity’.

Elizabeth is a poet and writer whose work has been published internationally in various anthologies and journals achieving widespread recognition.

The inspiration for the poetry collection came from Elizabeth’s Creative Writing tutors, poet, writer and broadcaster Professor Paul Farley and award-winning poet Dr Eoghan Walls.

“They gave me the confidence to push boundaries and seek out what else poetry can achieve when you start ripping open language and playing with what it can do.

“All sense of space in this came from Paul's enthusiasm for my descriptions of place in a fantasy novel I'm working on alongside this collection which gave Salmacis this sense of concrete identity, sort of bringing Ancient Greece into 2022 Lancaster.

“Eoghan was behind the more visceral imagery. There were more than a few seminars where he pushed me to go further and further to controversial, taboo, and uncomfortable images that paid off in constantly interesting ways.”

Elizabeth says she is still in complete awe that her collection is being published and that it is being heralded with a launch event.

“I've been invited to interviews with local papers and now I'm working out what my signature actually looks like because I've been asked to sign books at Waterstones in September,” she adds. “It's utterly surreal because it's everything I've dreamed about since I was a kid.”

As a valued member of the Lancaster University Student Union newspaper, SCAN, Elizabeth was awarded Reporter of the Year at the LUSU Student Media Awards this year for her work as Associate Editor and reporter. Her recent series on asexuality with The National Tab has been picked up by major news outlets online, including an LA chat show.

Outside of writing, Elizabeth continues to follow in her parents’ footsteps as a circus performer and fortune teller, recently competing with Lancaster Pole Fitness at IUDPC in York and Roses in Lancaster.

She has just finished a placement year, organised as part of her course, working as Content Delivery Manager at Lancaster-based Copify, writing copy for businesses around the world.

Back to News