WD : If you could begin this interview, what question would you ask yourself?
AP : I’d ask me what my revolution is. And my answer would be love. Not the hearts and flowers kind of love. But the really raw, tender, ardent, real kind of love. And how we can give more of it to ourselves.
WD : How do you begin a poem?
AP : Mmm… so my poems are mostly begun in fragments that arise through engagements with the sacred. So, this might come through an alchemical chocolate ceremony, a descent workshop, a dance with Lilith, a moment where I lose my sense of self in the distant horizon of the North Sea… or sometimes it comes out of the blue – a fragment from a dream, an unusual turn of phrase, a piece of graffiti that catches my eye.
Also, I would say that my poetry is very visceral. It’s written from the body to the body. Missives of the flesh. So, I’ll often begin with my body, and what it wants to say, what words it is circling, what phrases are repeating through my cells on a loop. I’ll write them down, and then see what comes next….
WD : I am smitten with your self-portraiture, it’s just stunning. Inside From Revolutionary Lips you pair all the poems with a self-portrait. I would love to know more about your process of taking them & then marrying them off to a poem.
AP : Oh gosh, I’m so touched that you love the self-portraits. I began a selfie practice a couple of years ago, and, like with most things, I took it to the nth degree. I began exploring editing the images, using different lenses, different apps. The images that have been woven through From Revolutionary Lips are, I think, some of my best work.
I’m very intuitive in my process. I’ll take maybe 20 or more images in relatively quick succession through the front facing camera on my iphone. And then I start playing with maybe 2 or 3 through the app Pixlr Express + and Snapseed. Occasionally I’ll also use Koloid, which is like an old fashioned developing fluid app. Basically, I just allow myself the freedom to discover, to make mistakes, to create beauty.
However, I can’t take credit for marrying them to the poems. That is the work of my very talented designer Tracey Selingo. I sent her the poems along with 30 self-portraits, and she sent back the ebook having paired the images with the words. And I was astounded to see how beautifully they resonated with one another. Almost like a new depth was delivered to both.
WD : My heart is aflutter over Red Thread Voices. In your mission you say, “I am dreaming of a space which amplifies the voices of the wild woman as she breaks her silence” — while Words Dance is not all-female press there’s something about working with women & sharing their work that I revel in, especially young women, who I feel are not taken seriously & are silenced the majority of the time because of that. Tell us about Red Thread Voices & how you see it evolving.
AP : So, Red Thread Voices was born when I found that every time I tried to put together a book proposal for a mainstream publisher, I just couldn’t get moving on it. Profound resistance. And I found myself thinking, I’m either just really lazy, or there’s something actually stopping me from going down this path. Upon further reflection, it dawned on me that my desire for creative sovereignty is profound. The thought of giving my work to a publishing house who would then edit it, package it, market it, all in ways which I would have very little say over, and then pay me a ridiculously low sum of money for the pleasure…. well, I just could not reconcile it with what I wanted for my work, for my voice in the world.
It was not a huge leap to take this from the personal to the transpersonal. If I desire that creative sovereignty for myself, then I desire it for us all. So I created Red Thread Voices, in the first instance, to act as a platform for my own wild howl, and then, as we move forward, to amplify the voices of others for whom this creative sovereignty piece is also held sacred.
WD : What poets do you continually go back to?
AP : Mary Oliver is an obvious choice. But I also love TS Eliot, DH Lawrence, George Mackay Brown, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Wendy Cope, Kathleen Jamie, Lavinia Greenlaw… I could go on and on and on. I love language that can create a physical effect in my body. I want to be touched by words. All of these poets have created worlds with their words that gift their readers with a tangible experience. And that’s what keeps me returning.
From Revolutionary Lips:
The veil of ambivalence
settles close to the skin
when desire lies latent
– tamped down by stories
of excess and extravagance.
Oh, she’s too much,
we say, all the while
the permission we seek
to want what we want
Bold, brave and beautiful, these poems are not for the faint of heart. Diving deep into the mystery, let From Revolutionary Lips take you on a journey of one woman’s becoming – and feel your own journey reflected back. Meet Lilith and Salome and Pandora – feel their desire, dance with their madness and free their voices – and in so doing free your own. Taboo-busting and truth-spilling, these poems will unlock the doors and lift the latches as, together, we find a way to come back home – home to our hearts.
You can purchase both audio & written versions of From Revolutionary Lips from Red Thread Voices.
Would you like to share an interview in The Dance Interview Series?
We are looking for short interviews with poets & independent presses. Email us at wordsdancepublishing (at) gmail (dot) com, we’d love to get you set up to share!