[Interview_2] Alice Lenkiewicz

Alice Lenkiewicz is the author of Men Hate Blondes (origional plus, 2009), a poetry collection; and, Maxine (Bluechrome Publishing, 2005), a novella.

In addition to being a writer and a poet, she is also an artist and a poetry and art magazine editor.

In an earlier interview, she spoke about the series of events that led to her setting up Neon Highway, the magazine she edits with Jane Marsh.

Below, Alice Lenkiewicz talks about some of the ways in which she approaches her work as a writer:

How would you describe your writing?

I have found that what I read and how I write are different things. When creating a process of writing poetry and fiction I am quite interested in the ‘cut up’ method and using various techniques that are considered postmodern, such as playing and challenging the traditional idea of linear text, creating a variety of discourses, mixing different genres, taking note of the voice and the author and how this will affect the overall viewpoint. I enjoy challenging the idea of singular identity with inter-textual references.

Postmodern theory opened up a new ways of seeing the world and provided me with interesting ways of experimenting with language and plot. I experimented with this in my novella, Maxine, the idea of multiplicity and ‘self’. Identity and place were important parts of this book, drawing attention to the idea of metafiction.

I also experimented with the idea of fact and fiction, prescriptive versus descriptive language, the authoritative voice and the subversive voice, the idea that nothing is finite, the displacement of self, identity and place, the various ways of interpreting time.

Maxine was my final MA thesis and was written in context with the Writing Studies course I was on, that focused on theorists such as Foucault and Roland Barthes.

I am also interested in Surrealism, reinterpreting the dream and the subversive nature of fairytales and the sublime.

When it comes to poetry I am quite diverse. Sometimes I write in traditional forms and sometimes I will go outside the norms playing and experimenting with the language yet again in multiple ways. .

I read a variety of works, both traditional and alternative. I enjoy the Victorian novel and poetry such as Keats and Donne, Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath. I also enjoy reading works by Gertrude Stein, Albert Camus, Kafka and Carlos Williams as well as more contemporary poets such as A.C. Evans, and poets from my own magazine, Neon Highway.

I have come to appreciate language as a tool for understanding and enquiry. Language can be about sound and exploring the visual. It does not always have to make immediate sense. It’s a complex subject. But I think a variety of techniques are necessary to explore in order for writers to gain the most out of understanding their own writing process and also to find out what it is they actually enjoy.

Who is your target audience? And, what motivated you to start writing for this audience?

I am very open with the idea of my audience. I enjoy variety and I don’t celebrate the idea of being instructive or factual in my approach. I find that once you label yourself a certain kind of writer with a certain technique then people find it harder to approach your work. For instance, at one point I was known for being an ‘experimental poet’ which can get in the way of people’s thought processes and there have been times when people have said they didn’t understand what I had written when in fact it had been a traditional sonnet following traditional rhythm and metre, so it can lead to some surprisingly awkward and confusing situations.

I don’t mind people saying they don’t understand something but it needs to be for the right reasons. Also, I like to think that people can make their own minds up and therefore I feel it is up to the audience how they interpret and read my work.

On a more general level, my work could be seen as more feminist or for those who enjoy reading poetry or illustrated works, as I tend to illustrate and provide artwork and write about women’s submission and empowerment as part of my theme. But, again, it is up to the reader how they would interpret this.

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