An Interview with Alice Tarbuck

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This October sees the Dundee Literary Festival, among which delights we may experience three contributors to a collection of essays by and about 21st-century women, Nasty Women. Jen McGregor, Alice Tarbuck and Becca Inglis will help elucidate why it was already a sensation before it launched on International Women’s Day this year. The Mumble managed to catch up with one of the trio for a wee blether


 

1085-2169-onestopartsHello Alice, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Hello! I’m from Edinburgh (Leith to be specific!), and after a period in Cambridge and London, am back to happily living in Edinburgh!

When did you first realise you were a poet?
I think like most people who enjoy writing, I’ve written all my life – I admire the unselfconsciousness of children, who just go for it! Certainly, in the beginning, it was all a load of joyful nonsense. Still is, really!

Which poets inspired you at the beginning & who today?
At the beginning, as a child, I read things like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Child’s Garden of Verses, and loved it. My current favourite poets in Scotland and the UK are Rebecca Tamas, who writes brilliant witchy poems, Iain Morrison, who writes incredible, intricate poems that wriggle into your brain, Marjorie Lofti Gill, whose collection ‘Pilgrim’ I could not recommend highly enough, and Harry Josephine Giles, whose collection, Tonguit, was listed for the Forward Poetry Prize for best first collection last year.

You are currently a PhD candidate at the University of Dundee & the Scottish Poetry Library – how is the thesis going?
*insert screaming noise!* I’m hopefully handing in in a matter of days.

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What is that attracted you to the poetry of Thomas A. Clark?
Clark is unlike any poet working in the UK today. His work comprises tiny folded objects, right up through artists books to installations on a large scale. His meditative, minimalist aesthetic draws the reader in, to the beautiful complexity that lies behind so much of his work. You can get a better sense of it via his blog.

What does Alice Tarbuck like to do when she’s not writing?
I’m a keen forager, and I love to cook. I also enjoy being the least coordinated person in any given exercise class, and singing.

What are the stand-out continuous themes running through your work?
I am very drawn to mysteries, be they from religion or folktales. Moments of transformation, things going wrong. I’m interested in the hard, sharp, strange edges of things, and in the body, in its fluids and curious forms. I like edging away from grammar and syntax.

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Later this month you will be talking about the Nasty Women project at the Dundee Literary Festival. Can you tell us about this?
I am so excited to be speaking alongside Becca Inglis and Jen McGregor, and we’re so grateful to the Dundee Literary Festival, and to Peggy Hughes, for programming us! We’ll be talking about the extraordinary success of 404 Ink Publishing, and why it’s more important than ever to hold the truth to account in the midst of sensationalism and international political turmoil. You can purchase tickets here.

Which authors will you be looking out for yourself at the festival?
There are so many brilliant authors coming this year, its almost impossible to choose!
However, Rachel McCrum and Caroline Bird are unmissable, and I’m so excited for Erin Farley’s tour and talk around the Jute Works – fascinating! https://literarydundee.co.uk/festival/tour-warp-weft-and-words

What is the literary future of Alice Tarbuck?
Ha! Who knows! More poems, hopefully, and perhaps even something longer!

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