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This interview is taken from PN Review 261, Volume 48 Number 1, September - October 2021.

Means and Ends
Alice Hiller and Sasha Dugdale
in conversation
Sasha Dugdale and Alice Hiller
Sasha Dugdale: You’ve told me that you came fairly late to the writing of poetry, and I wanted to begin by asking you about your journey to your first collection bird of winter, which is published this year by Pavilion Press. I often think of Penelope Fitzgerald who, when she was asked why she had taken so long to write her novels, is said to have answered, ‘I’ve been busy’. I think you’ve been very busy with your work, your life and family, but I wonder also if we come to poetry when we are ready to, or when it is ready for us. It isn’t something that can be hurried. The genre (in its elusiveness and instability) waits for us to find it.

Alice Hiller: Thank you for that question Sasha. I’m 56, so I agree with Penelope Fitzgerald about having ‘been busy’ (studying, earning, parenting, bereavement, single parenthood). There was an additional inhibitor for me, of feeling that the waters of my self had been polluted when I was groomed and then sexually abused as a child. Although I always worked with words, for many years, I couldn’t articulate my own experience. I wasn’t even sure I had a space to speak from – as an artist.  Having been a freelance journalist, and then done a Lit Crit PhD, amongst other things, I started trying to write creatively in my forties. My younger son had left for university. It was safer to engage with dangerous energies – because there was no one at home to be hurt if I came apart.  I tried a novel. ...

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