PixieVic is a poet. I doubt that many people will need to be told that for much longer. To witness PixieVic deliver her set of poems about fucked up people fucking up, oh and plenty of other types too, up is enervating in its intensity. PixieVic's stories of little victories torn half shredded from the flaws of defeat, but victories nonetheless, render stunned, knowingly empathetic smiles from her immersed audience.
PIxieVic's first collection of poetry, PixieKisses, will be available in December, published by Kingate, it's a big deal so here's the story....
OutsideLeft: You said you have always written, but not really shared your writing, so what's different now?
PixieVic: I’ve always used writing as a form of therapy - something I think everybody should try - last year I went through a divorce and writing saved me, I started posting things on my personal FB page and was surprised by the response I got. Then a dear friend of mine Steve Pottinger, a seriously talented poet himself, suggested I join Write out Loud, an online poetry blog, which I did. It grew from there really. Now I run my own FB poetry page and am a regular contributor on HelloPoetry. I did my first ever Spoken Word performance in December last year as part of a Performance Art piece about Audio Porn - my theory was if I could stand up and talk about vaginas & masturbation I could pretty much talk about anything!
OL: You're pretty prolific. How easy has it been choosing material for PixieKisses?
PixieVic: Well, I’m a serious procrastinator and my own worst critic so it’s taken awhile to get the book to it’s final draft! PixieKisses is an exploration of relationships... The good, the bad & the ugly! I realised there’s nothing out there quite like this so I thought what the hell, I’ll bare my heart and soul in print!
All my poems are written from observations of the strange things I’ve encountered! I thought there’s lots of ‘self help’ books out there for women on how to move on from divorce, but they can sugar coat things - my book doesn’t do that. It’s hard to rejoin the dating scene in your 40’s, particularly online - this is an honest account of my experiences... However it’s not just for women, there’s a lot of information in there that might help men understand a little more about how a woman ticks, or at least this woman! It has been described to me by one male friend as an ‘instruction manual of sorts…!’ And I enjoy sex, so I write a lot about that, why not I say!
OL: I love the one about the beatnik potential sex partner. Hilarious. Your show I saw recently, yeah, made me come back and reappraise what I was doing with my life and my wife. Not many performances do that...! Wandering into your show was akin to ambling around a blind street corner to be confronted by a bandit with a blowtorch... Sure, you could get aways, but would you? Not so many of us would have the audacity to share so much so openly. Believe me, I am a catholic and am generally crap with boundaries, but I find your honesty, while it's lovely and hilarious too, it is daunting…
PixieVic: Ahh... Well I was brought up a Catholic... went to a convent school and everything!! I think that explains a lot really - although I don't practice now, it’s something that stays with you...!
I’m always nervous before I start, I never quite know how my style of honesty will go down … I don’t pull any punches. My work can often make people feel uncomfortable, not just in language (which can be very strong on occasions!) but in content, hidden within the humour is a very real account of heartache, it seems to touch people in different ways. Generally though, I’m pleased to say, I’ve mostly only ever received positive comments after a performance, although I welcome the nasty ones too as I like to provoke some kind of reaction even if it’s a negative one! I did a set once which were all poems about my ex, someone approached me afterwards to tell me they thought he was better off without me and could understand why he’d left, which I thought a little harsh, but everyone is entitled to their opinions! As far as emotions go I don’t think I could have performed these poems last year when it was all still new and raw, but now I see myself as a woman with a lot to say, so I say it!
OL: Are there good venues for you to present your work? Some better than others I guess?
PixieVic: I love the Ort as a performance space & spoken word night, it’s very welcoming & you never quite know what you’re going to get! I also like Hatstand at the Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath, it’s a bit like performing in someone's living room. The Scary Canary in Stourbridge hold regular spoken word events, there’s Howl in Moseley & the Walsall Poetry Society (of which I’m a member) also put on a lot of events. I always put performance dates on FB so that’s the best place to look.
Erm, yes, as an aside I am watching excellent videos of Kate Goes from the Ort as I type this...
OL: Anyway, you publish and promote other poets alongside yourself on your page at HelloPoetry. Do you have favorites? Are there poets you would recommend?
PixieVic: I wouldn't say I have favourites, although there isn't anything Leonard Cohen has written that I don’t like! I like poets who ‘tell it like it is’, like Cohen & Bukowski - but also I love nonsense & things that make me laugh so people like Spike Milligan, Victoria Wood and Pam Ayres also spring to mind. I come across a lot of poets at events and online that I like & others I don’t - I don’t like poets who are self important or think themselves better than the rest of us because they can use big words or know how to use a thesaurus! My only recommendation would to be to go & see poetry live, I think it’s more interesting to hear poems as the author intended them to be heard, although as I’ve said you can hear/see a wide range of stuff - if you like it great, if you don't move on!
OL: Poetry. I was a while ago exchanging thoughts with the Emergency Poet and asked her why kids love poems at 6 but what the hell happens that by the age of 16, that love is lost. Her response was to recommended a poem for then education secretary, Nicki Morgan! So when did you start thinking about poetry? And is that in anyway connected to your work now? Or does that seem remote and a different time?
PixieVic: Haha I love that idea, I think what Deborah does is amazing - I think everyone should have a bit of poetry in their life! I don't remember ever consciously starting to think about poetry … I was lucky in the sense that I grew up in a family who were immersed in the arts so it was always around. We’re all musicians, so I’m as much of a fan of lyrics as poems. And I play rhyming & word games with my own son so hopefully he’ll not see it as an alien thing later in life!
OL: Aspects of your poems made me think of Stella Gray's column in the Guardian, your re-emerging into the harshly lit dating world where, yep dating had changed. Maybe a lot. Maybe the just the tools. I was having dinner with a member of the secret service one night and we were making up ads for ourselves for the singles pages in community newspapers before it all went online and I had no idea how to do that then. But of course, she had read all the good ones, in her line of work I suppose...
PixieVic: It was one of the most entertaining things about my time in the online dating community, the things that other people put in their profiles! I think the weirdest thing I kept coming across was men’s obsession with dress sizes & weight, & their own compulsion to tell you how tall they were... I did go on a date with someone who claimed to be 6ft - when I met him he was shorter than me (I’m just over 5ft 5) seemed an odd thing to lie about as unless he planned on wearing stilts it’s not a lie you can carry off well!
OL: Can we even talk about the PixieVic persona or public image?
PixieVic: Pixievic is the part of me I’ve only shown to close friends until I started performing. I don’t carry on conversations about sex at dinner parties (unless asked!) but I have been known to throw the word vagina into conversations occasionally simply because it still seems to be a word people struggle with! I guess she is a character I play, she is me but there’s more to me than her!
OL: If Lauryn Hill's "Die for me, Die for me? Why don't you live for me..." is desperately breathtakingly operatic, or Chance the Rappers plaintive looking back and moving on, 'We don't do the same drugs no more." You seem somewhere in between... There is a rap/folk aspect to your work, maybe John Osborne is going too far back, and its not opera and it's not soap opera but someplace in between you so easily it seems to me capture, private agonies and public joy... the moments of the everyday lives... I don't know where I am going with this... How do you do it!?
PixieVic: Haha honestly I don’t know …! I write about things that happen to me. I have poems about headlice, encounters with religious fanatics, strange meetings in supermarkets & my lack of technical know how. I’m not a very political poet - I know plenty of excellent poets who are, but I don't feel the need to share my opinions on that subject. I just write about my life - and it’s been an interesting one so far!
OL: I saw a picture of you on Facebook at a radio station - we’re nosey..?
PixieVic: That was with the Walsall Poetry Society. We were invited to share some poetry on Billy Spakemon’s Sunday show on Black Country Radio… we’ll be doing a longer interview that will be aired nearer Christmas (we’re recording it on the 8th December). I struggle a little with this type of thing as I always need a family friendly set, which cuts out about 2/3s of my work!!
As we say outsideleft is not for everyone, and so here are PixieVic's handpicked links to her work - enjoy!
PixieKisses will be published by the indie Kingate Press & goes to is slated to be released in December and will be available from Pixie Vic's FaceBook page, or at gigs, but also on Amazon & in independent bookshops.
Contact Pixie Vic through her Facebook Page
Pixie Vic will be appearing at the Hatstand in Moseley at the Kitchen Garden Cafe on Monday, December 5th