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Alison Grove, LISP 2023 Poetry Finalist 'Photo Taken on A Dappled Day'

LISP 2023 Poetry Finalist 'Photo Taken on A Dappled Day' by Alison Grove

Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?

I live in the North West Highlands of Scotland, where I’ve done a variety of jobs over the years to fit around child care and writing. Just now I work in a primary school.

- When and how did you get into writing?

I’ve always written…. diaries, letters, parodies…. but not long before my children were born, I started writing and submitting short fiction. My stories have appeared in a number of competition anthologies and small press journals as well as broadcast on BBC Radio.

I returned to writing after a break of several years, kick started by an on-line writing course offered by Unison during lockdown. The relaxed approach and accessibility of this course encouraged me to attempt poetry for the first time. This is only my second published poem.

- How often do you write? Do you have a writing routine? And what inspires you to write?

Sitting down to write is usually in fits and starts – I am somehow less disciplined now than when my children were tiny. I find bad weather is helpful.

Inspiration is everywhere – at work, shopping, on TV, reading, eating, driving, staring out of a window. I write down ideas, phrases, word pictures – often garbled – in a scatter of notebooks. Sometimes I am reunited with them and a story or poem gets a start.

- How does it feel to have your work recognised?

Uplifting. For a while it banishes those negative thoughts.

- What's the best and most challenging thing about writing a Story/Poetry?

Best is when an idea looks like it might work.

Most challenging is managing not to beat the life out of your idea while wrestling it onto the page.

- How did you develop the idea for your LISP-selected poem? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it?

This poem grew from an exercise which involved writing a factual account of what can be seen in a photo and infusing that with what can’t be seen – emotions, memories etc. I found a photo of myself taken on the day of my first holy communion and took it from there, making my first draft over a year ago, before shaping into this final version.

- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Poetry/Story?

I can only say what’s worked for me:

Unearth and decipher what you have written in your notebooks. Sit and get some words down in no particular order. Then try to edit without killing the spark. It’s more perspiration than inspiration. Learn to love your own company and hope for bad weather.

- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions?

Best is the incentive to polish up your work to send out into the world. The challenge is to avoid editing out the honesty precisely because you know others will read your words.

- Lastly, do you recommend that writers submit to LISP?

Of course!



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