Poet Puzzlers – Sarah L Dixon

Our guest poet this week is none other than Puzzle Poet repeat main guest and purveyor of quietude – Sarah L. Dixon (aka the Quiet Compere), fresh from a family holiday at Kellerman’s Resort. And what a Summer it was. Who’d have thought that carrying a watermelon could lead to such lake-lifting, log-dancing adventures with the misundertood serpentine-hipped and corner-phobic Johnny Castle? Anyhoo – she’s back and ya know what? We did put her in a corner to ask her these questions…

  • What did you want to be when you were at school?

A sweet-shop owner and then a Forensic Scientist.

  • What were the last good books you read?

A J.B Morrison double volume including A godawful small affair and Harvey King unboxes his family (Cherry Red Books) by rivers and weirs when I get chance is one of the things keeping me sane in lockdown. All J. B. Morrison (shhh! Jimbob from Carter USM) books have been very different to each other, well-thought out, full of character and affection.

I went to an overnight workshop in Leeds Library just before lockdown and one book leapt out at me and I have a new favourite author. The book was Nobody is ever missing and the author is Catherine Lacey. I bought The Crying Book by Heather Christle (Little) and Dark, Salt, Clear (life in a Cornish Fishing town) by Lamorna Ash (Bloomsbury) because I had chance to catch up with some Book of the Week readings from Radio 4 and they won me over totally.

Poets: I went to Kent for five days last year to meet a lot of friends I made through the brilliant and varied Mind the Gap poetry podcasts edited and present by Angel Cakes Dye and Mike Ivatt. Through this visit I became greater friends with a number of poets and am pleased to have recently acquired books by Rosemary McLeish Defragmentation (Wordsmithery), Matt Chamberlain Giving names to fallen trees (Pith and Kin), Barry Fentiman-Hall Sketches (Wordsmithery) and I recently received Tom McColl’s Grenade Genie (Fly on the Wall Press), Reckless Paper Birds (Penned in the Margins) by John McCullough and Cheryl Pearson’s Menagerie (The Emma Press). I was at Cheryl’s online launch too and I love the artwork and the square shape. Books that are high up on my list for when income is more stable: Ruth Stacey’s I, Ursula (V Press), Steve O’Connor Extraño (Flapjack Press) and Carol Caffrey Witherow The Untethered Space (4Word).

  • What would be your ideal way to dispose of a dead body?Pigs.

I love pigs and they are efficient. Saw a pot belly pig drinking at the Huddersfield Narrow Canal when I got up for 7am breakfast to avoid those poor at social distancing. A passing man told me this pig had to be rescued as it was sold as a tea-cup pig.

  • Is it fair to say that your writing is very personal?

Yes. Ex-mother-in-law thinks a lot of what I write is personal and should be private. I am a totally honest person and to me withholding any information feels almost as bad as lying. This applies in my poetry too. I find it very difficult to write as someone else. Point of view writing seems to be me writing as lamppost, goddess, weir.

  • If you had to be an insect, which would it be and why?

Bumble Bee. Because it can fly even though science says this is impossible. Bright and busy. I dress like a disco and get lost in patterns and colours – easily distracted.

  • What is going on?

Quiet Compere Locked Down Sessions – 16 poets x 5 minutes each from original 2014-2017 tour line-ups. These are every Wednesday evening 7.45-10pm on Zoom. I am running Zoom writing workshops on a Monday 12-2pm with 6- 8 attendees. One of my jobs has started up again this week. This is in an office and I feel the bosses there are being very careful to look after us the best they can.  I am able work my second job from home and I am going back to that early July. School from home with a nine-year-old is happening too. It helps that he is good company, creative, funny and has a dark sense of humour too. We are flagging a bit now, especially as we only appear to be half-way through the time he will be at home with me for most of each fortnight.

I have been building coves and forest scapes in my front room, transforming my bedroom into a festival dance tent with wall hangings, fairy lights and cushions. I have been setting my kitchen up as a restaurant or café and writing out menus and ale percentages on a white board. Keeps me entertained and makes my child-free days more interesting. We have camped on the floor in bedrooms with blanket and clothes-airer tents. We have toasted mini marshmallows on cocktail sticks with matches and written and read campfire stories to each other.

I am very slowly working towards my third book but this might be three years or so in the making. I know the title and the drive of it, the over-arching theme/s and I know when I write poems if they will belong in this book.

I am really enjoying Zoom open mics and have been to ones run by Flapjack Press, Word Club, Write out Loud Sale and Facebook only ones by Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists (PASTA and Yes, we Can’t). I read at two events for These are the Hands NHS anthology too. The poems shared there were emotional, heartfelt, honest, raw and varied.

  • What makes you excited when you read new work?

Things put in a new way. Disarming honesty. Lush description. Surprises. I am just starting to read short stories. I started writing short flash style dystopian fiction towards the end of 2019 but there is not much appetite for it right now. I will shelve those for a while. I do love magical realism where the world is slightly askew. I enjoy teen dystopia type novels like ‘The Maze Runner’ and ‘The Hunger Games’.

  • Do you have a book or project you could tell us about?

Quiet Compere stuff.

I have two books at present and the best way to get hold of these is to contact me and I will post them from my house £6 each (+P&P) or £10 for both (+P&P).

The Sky is Cracked from Half Moon Books (2017).
Adding wax patterns to Wednesday from Three Drops Press (2018).

I have received a few anthologies and magazines over the lockdown with my poems in. These are the Hands NHS Anthology (Fair Acre Press), Green Fields – Sorted for Poems (Maytree Press) and the magazine Foxtrot Uniform. I am looking forward to the Olympics anthology from (Half Moon Books) and Bloody Amazing! (Beautiful Dragons).

Sarah L Dixon is based in a Huddersfield valley and tours as The Quiet Compere.

Sarah has most recently been published in International Times, Domestic Cherry 7, Well, Dam! anthology (Beautiful Dragons) and Strix. She has several poems on Mind the Gap podcasts and had a poem published on a beer-mat. The sky is cracked was released in November 2017 (Half Moon). Sarah’s second book, Adding wax patterns to Wednesday came out in November 2018 with Three Drops Press

Sarah’s inspiration comes from many places, including pubs and music, being by and in water and adventures with her nine-year-old, Frank. She is still attempting to write better poetry than Frank did aged 4!

Frank’s line, aged 4, was “Is your heart in a cage so it doesn’t fly away?”
You can find Sarah and more info about The Quiet Compere online at any of the following:
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