with Lucy Holme:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Lucy: I started writing as a child, mainly short stories typed or printed out on that old fashioned green-lined computer paper with perforated margins. I wrote mad escapist dramas set in Greece about teenage detectives searching for runaways and penned a rather earnest poem called ‘Everest’ which won a competition at school and saw me receive an autographed copy of a Roger McGough anthology, one of my most treasured possessions as a child.
I read Nabokov’s Lolita probably too early and loved Sylvia Plath as a teenager and as well as Hardy, D H Lawrence and English classic novels like Middlemarch and Pride and Prejudice. I really loved the war poets like Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves for the brutal, bleak realities of war and loss but I also had a huge love of my mum’s holiday novels – devouring Jilly Cooper, Jackie Collins, Jaqueline Susann et al and had read all of my sister’s Stephen King collection such as Carrie, Firestarter and The Shining and her quartet of the Virginia Andrews Flowers in the Attic books while I was still quite young. Alice Walker’s The Color Purple was the book that probably made the biggest impression on me as a child.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
I am influenced and inspired by brilliant poets who have carved their own path and projected strong, singular voices weaving narratives of protest and injustice into their poetry like Eavan Boland, Claudia Rankine and Natalie Diaz, as well as the wry inventiveness of poets like Caroline Bird, John McCullough, Geraldine Clarkson and Rachel Long. I love anything which really speaks of its cultural heritage and poets who wrote the most beautiful verse against all odds in the most difficult of circumstances so if I had to pick one main poetic hero it would be Marina Tsvetaeva. I also adore the fiction and commentary of Zadie Smith and Deborah Levy.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
Lucy: I grew up in Kent in the UK and went on to study English Literature at Manchester University encouraged by my brilliant school teachers at my fairly traditional girls’ school, including an amazing woman called Mrs Scholfield who was from the Czech Republic and spoke fluent Czech, Russian, French, German and English. I was so inspired by her dedication and in-depth knowledge of the Brontes, Austen, TS Eliot, Oscar Wilde and Dickens. She made me feel at a young age that anything was possible when it came to learning. I also had an incredible art teacher called Mr Griffin from whom I learnt a great deal about the merging of art and literature.
After uni I travelled to France and then began working in the private yachting industry. I did a circumnavigation onboard a private yacht and did many Atlantic crossings travelling all over the Caribbean and Europe and this has really influenced my work. In twelve years I accumulated a lot of experiences being in that sometimes dangerous, shifting and unpredictable world.
I met my partner at sea (a Cork man born and bred) and moved to Ireland in 2013. I am endlessly inspired by Cork City and the stunning coastal areas which are so easily reached.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work that you’ve done creatively so far?
Lucy: Probably the pamphlet I am working on at the moment which explores the precariousness of girlhood and also encapsulates the experiences of young women working and living at sea in a still very patriarchal maritime structure. I have collated many different accounts from women I knew, and still know now, from those years and it has become a record of the strange mix of loneliness, freedom, exhaustion and reckless abandon which characterises the life of a seafarer.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Lucy: I always knew it was there in me and spent many years frustrated by my own inability to make it happen and actually call myself a writer. I had three children in fairly quick succession and for many years my life was consumed by their myriad needs. I had no time to put pen to paper! By the time I went back to part time work in the wine industry I knew I was buckling under the weight of my own creative impulse. In the summer of 2019 I gave up a wonderful job I really did enjoy because I knew it was now or never and began writing then in earnest. In October 2019 my father died suddenly which was a terrible shock. Thankfully I had begun sharing my writing with my family that year and he was incredibly encouraging along with my mother. It was a source of great pride to him so that has definitely spurred me on to keep going and improving.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Lucy: I have three still quite young children and I need some time on my own to reset so I really like a long walk every morning or evening with our two dogs. I read a lot, love swimming and enjoy drawing and painting although I do not get as much time to do this as I would like.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Lucy: I am proud of all the poems I have had published since I began submitting last May and particularly of the Irish print journals I have been published in recently. I have had poems featured in Cork’s Crossways and Sligo’s The Cormorant Broadsheet and have poems forthcoming in Galway’s Tír na nÓg, Dublin’s The Liminal Review, and An Cappall Dorcha, and will feature in the next issue of the Munster Literature Centre’s Southword magazine. I was also delighted to have a visual poem accepted by Michelle Moloney King of Tipperary’s amazing avant-garde experimental journal Beir Bua. I would love to explore creating more visual poetry in future projects.
I am also fond of a poem I wrote based on the ancient skellig lists of Cork and Kerry and published in the folklore themed issue 2 of Tether’s End Magazine.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
A line I like for its mystery and depth is from a poem I wrote called mezzaro genovese which is part of a series of poems about time spent living in the Italian city of Genova.
‘She zigzags uneven ciottoli which threaten to trip;
Feet, hearts, switches.
Puts a coin in the slot to light the electric candle.
Bows in the shadows to deceased saints.
Walks ahead while history scurries close behind.’
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Lucy: I have met many poets through the twitter community who have been incredibly supportive and encouraging but in terms of hands-on help I was fortunate to receive a mentorship with the poet Grace Wells through the Munster Literature Centre and the extent to which she has guided me to fine tune my poetry cannot be overstated. She is the most generous, knowledgeable and sensitive reader and it has pushed me to write poetry I don’t believe I would have written otherwise.