Lit at Ladyfest Ten: Interview with Alex Pryce

Alex Pryce

As i’m sure you will be aware by now the Lit at Ladyfest Ten programme is now live! We can hardly contain our excitement, and certainly can’t wait until 12th November for things to kick off. So from now until the events start, we’ll be bringing you a series of interviews with some of the amazing female writers involved. First up is poet and podcaster, Alex Pryce:

Tell us about yourself and your work?

I was born in Northern Ireland but I’ve lived in England for a few years now, so some of my poems are inspired by my childhood and feelings of displacement there and here. I’m fascinated with how poetry can access mental territory I find very hard to articulate in any other way. For me poetry isn’t really about showiness, it is about the text ultimately, and my writing is driven by rhythm and sound.

I’m also quite playful in my verse and I explore multiple personalities, voices and scenarios that are often far removed from myself. I’m a student who goes totally moony over contemporary poetry, so I like to think my work is in dialogue with other writers. I’m told I’m the chatty type.

What can we expect from your event at Ladyfest Ten?

Well, lets just say it isn’t the sort of poetry you did at school! I’m lucky enough to be reading with Katy Price, Sophie Mayer and Shelagh M. Rowan Legg – so I would expect thought provoking poems, well delivered and hopefully followed by raucous applause.

One of the main aims of Lit at Ladyfest Ten is to promote and celebrate writing by women. What advice would you give to women finding it tough to carve out their own niche?

I think that writers now are often asked to compromise in order to fit into a certain writing ‘industry’; I’d say be true to yourself. And avoid clichés, definitely avoid those. I’d advise women to be more aware of the opportunities the web offers, not just in terms of publishing but in terms of networking and exploring what all is out there that you can engage with.

What has your experience been as a woman working in your field/in the industry?

My experience has been broadly positive since online networking (see above!) means I’ve had the great fortune to find kindred spirits. However, writing is very much about working alone and it can be isolating and often directionless since there is no real definition of what it means to be a writer. I am aware, though, that despite the great advances in literature there are still areas that need improving. Why, for example, do men review poetry by men and women review poetry by women in nearly every major literary journal? Are we still so blinded by sex we couldn’t possibly appreciate poetry without it?

How important is sex, sexuality and gender to you and your writing?

I live in a bubble which is dominated by critical writing on feminism and queer theory (this is known as doing a PhD), so I think about all the complex issues all the time. That feeds into my poetry, although not always in a very overt manner. Poetry is highly sexed because it hyper-reflects how we live. That also means it can distort too, which is where the most interesting things can happen.

For our audience who might not be able to make it to Ladyfest Ten, what authors and projects are you into at the moment that they can investigate instead?

I run the Poet Casting website which features recordings of emerging and established poets reading their own work, which I obviously can’t praise highly enough! Sophie Mayer, who is reading at Ladyfest, is on there along with over 200 others. It is great to dip into. London always has plenty of poetry going on, but some people say they can’t find it! There are listings on The Poetry Society website or nationwide listings in Poetry London magazine.

Many thanks to Alex for taking the time to answer our questions! You can catch her at the For Books’ Sake Poetry Showcase, 1.30-3pm, Sunday 14th November at The Horatia. Have you booked your tickets yet?

Post by Alex Herod