Poet Jess Urlichs ‘may have overcommitted on houseplants’

Poet and children’s book author Jessica Urlichs has wanted to be a poet ever since she was a little girl, now her poems about motherhood and life, and open-hearted childrens’ tales are read all over Australia and New Zealand.

After spending some time in Melbourne, she now lives in Christchurch with her husband Drew and their children.

JESSICA URLICHS: The house is a 1920s-built bungalow. It’s been completely redone on the inside – and the outside actually, but they kept the character. We’ve been here for about two years now.

I only work from home. I have an office, but I hardly ever sit in it. I’ll either sit in the lounge or on my bed.

READ MORE:
* A budding writer’s first poem finds a home, and he does too
* What I’m reading: Small Bodies of Water author Nina Powles
* Young songwriter gains confidence from award-winning slam poet

It can be tough. Work usually only happens when the kids are at kindy. It’s very much inspiration-based.

Even if I have time that’s carved out, unless it’s for a manuscript or a book that I’m working on, I might be waiting for something to come to me, and I might waste the whole day.

Urlichs usually works from home, but seldom from her office.

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff

Urlichs usually works from home, but seldom from her office.

I always wanted to be a poet, but I think my idea of poetry was quite different to what it has evolved into.

Since having children it’s cracked me open in a way, I’ve got all these different emotions that I didn’t know I had before. A way to process them was through my writing.

Urlichs’ poetry gained popularity on line before she published.

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff

Urlichs’ poetry gained popularity on line before she published.

It all happened organically, when I started sharing my poems online I grew quite a big following. That’s when I started to self-publish some poetry, and then I had a publishing deal for some children’s books. So it’s been it’s been a journey.

In terms of style, I quite like rustic things, things that almost look a little used and loved. Things that are super new don’t usually capture my attention, but I do try and balance modern with rustic, just so the house doesn’t feel dated and dusty. I try and balance the two.

The family has been in this character home for the last couple of years.

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff

The family has been in this character home for the last couple of years.

We’ve restored a few things ourselves as well: the shelf in our lounge was restored. I’ve sanded back a side table.

It was a hobby of mine back in Melbourne. I’d pick things up from Gumtree, which is like Marketplace here, a couple of times a month. But since having kids I just haven’t really found the time for that wee side project.

What we have are bits and pieces we’ve picked up from markets or secondhand finds online. It’s just been accumulated over the years. I’d describe it as rustic and French Provincial.

Keeping tabs on a fast-growing family.

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff

Keeping tabs on a fast-growing family.

The wall ruler is handmade, from here in New Zealand, but I can’t remember where we picked it up. Every year we measure the kids. We just like to have it central in the house where we can see it.

Our house is hugely overrun by toys and chaos everywhere.

Wooden toys have a longevity to them. You can go to Kmart these days and pick up some wooden toys that are quite a good price. My little girl uses them most, she lives at that play kitchen

Wooden toys age well, and look good too.

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff

Wooden toys age well, and look good too.

The painting is of me and my son. The artist, Brittany Erwin, found me on Instagram. She just found an image of mine on Instagram, and asked if she could paint it – I think it was with one of my poems from my book. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, absolutely’. I just absolutely adore it.

The charcoal and pencil mother and child was the cover of my first poetry book, and that was done by Nava. She’s based over in New York.

The little sketch is from the cover of one of Urlichs books of poetry.

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff

The little sketch is from the cover of one of Urlichs books of poetry.

I’m a houseplant fan. Well, I’m trying to take care of them. I just see them and go, ‘Oh, I like that’.

I bring them home, and then they don’t live so long, and I realise it’s because I put them in the wrong place. I might have overcommitted to the amount of plants I have in this house.

Art by Harry Urlichs, plants by mum.

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff

Art by Harry Urlichs, plants by mum.

The painting next to the pot plants is my son’s. It looks like a botanical. I thought I’d quite suited the kitchen because we have a lot of plants there, so it all just tied in really nicely.

The family portrait is by Christchurch photographer Joanna McDonald. She actually did our wedding photography, and then she asked if she could come in and do a family lifestyle shoot because she needed to build up a portfolio.

So we were like, ‘absolutely’, because her photography is amazing.

Thise plant is a fake one from Kmart, the portrait is by Christchurch photographer, Joanna McDonald

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff

Thise plant is a fake one from Kmart, the portrait is by Christchurch photographer, Joanna McDonald

Leave a Comment