This week I interviewed another ‘ordinary person,’ Alice Fenner. Alice would say she’s perfectly ordinary, but I beg to differ. I have known Alice for many years and the first time I became aware of her creative genius was on reading a story she wrote for the school magazine – a dark fairy tale with shades of Tim Burton (I would love to read it again Alice, if you still have it!). Since then I have heard compositions that reduced me to tears and read poems that made me re-think the way I look at the world.
Over the years I lost touch with Alice, as relationships change over time, so I was very glad to find her again online and to see that she had continued to write. On top of this, Alice is also an all round supermum to her son, Stanley, and she still found the time to answer my questions (below).
I already know that you’re an extremely talented writer, as the stories and poems on your blog show… Are there any other ways you like to create?
Well, I like painting with my son! Mainly we paint suns, cars and fish. I used to write music a lot but after a while I found it difficult and frustrating and I ran out of ideas. It needed an attention to detail that made my head hurt. And a lot of what I wrote was terrible.
What’s your preferred creative channel?
What is it about poetry that you enjoy?
I like how poetry lets you invent characters and tell a bit of a story but in quite a free sort of way. You can just go straight into a situation, and straight out again. It’s a great way of talking very personally. I enjoy prose poetry particularly. There’s something about the rhythm of a sentence that I really like. I’m quite interested in trying to write poems that are written in a way that’s similar to how someone might talk, using a lot of normal everyday language but with extra poetry bits. That way it feels like someone is just chatting with you, like you are sat at a bus stop or something, but the poetic bits make it unreal at the same time. I like that mix of normal and not quite so normal.
What or who inspires you to create?
I often get inspired by reading a few words which I think are really amazing. Sometimes they come from a poem but, most often, I find it’s a line in a pop song that gets me going. I always listen to music when I’m trying to write, usually the same song over and over, and often the poem gets based on the feelings and images I associate with that song. I also get inspired by people who find time to be creative outside of work and other commitments. I find it inspiring that so many people do creative things and have the courage to share their work.
Tell us a bit about your son, Stanley
Stanley is 3. He’s very funny. He loves running, trains and Postman Pat. He has a genetic condition called Opitz G Syndrome. It’s a rare disorder which causes quite complex problems. Stanley had a tracheostomy until earlier this year. He is still fed via a tube and has some more surgery ahead. He’s doing very well though and has come an incredibly long way. He’s lovely.
Finally, what would you say your values are?
That’s a difficult question! I think my values are probably mainly to do with trying not to make too much of a mess of anything…
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions Alice. I think you do very well of not ‘making too much of a mess’ of anything, in fact, I’d say you manage quite the opposite! I hope you found answering these questions as interesting as I found your answers.
If you would like to read some of Alice’s work, head over to her blog, get acquainted with her lovely ‘normal but not quite normal’ poems, and say hello!