I met Jacqui at creative writing evening classes. Later down the line a few of us formed a breakaway writing group and we even self-published an anthology, Sturgess is Missing. We all went to Glastonbury together and stayed in an ashram. We went to Burley and pretended to be witches.She was one of the few writers I know who can transport me with both her poetry and prose. Ambi-creative. Her prose is haunting and lyrical; her poetry is profound and sumptuous. I’ve kept a lot of her work and I don’t often do that, I only keep the pieces that touch me and it’s interesting looking through how much of it is Jacqui’s.
Jacqui introduced me to Haruki Murakami, which makes sense now I think about how otherworldly and foody she was. Kafka on the Shore, the book she lent me remains one of my favourite books.The story Jacqui wrote that I remember best was about a woman who turned into a dolphin and swam away. The imagery from this story often reoccurs in my mind, that transformation, that freeing.
Our monthly meetings dwindled and an annual Sturgess reunion has been the extent of my connection with Jacqui in the last few years. I knew she was battling cancer, I knew she was very ill; it doesn’t make her death easier.The funeral opened with heartfelt talk from her youngest daughter. The coffin was wicker. Grandchildren ran around. People wore jeans. At Jacqui’s request they played Three Little Birds. I only knew one facet of Jacqui and learnt what an incredibly dynamic person she was in other aspects of her life. I only knew her intelligence, gentle eccentricity and beautiful writing.
We walked through woods to her plot. Three bell ringers played and a robin sang to accompany them. Goodbye Jacqui, you lived your life well.