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Abigail Parry - Bloodaxe Poet

Abigail Parry – Bloodaxe Poet

Three Bloodaxe Poets at Hastings Bookshop

Earlier this year, two of  three Bloodaxe poets, Matthew Caley and Amali Gunaskera, talked to Hastings Online Press ahead of their joint reading at the Hastings Bookshop. Here Jude Montague catches up with the third poet, Abigail Parry.


My name is Abigail Parry, and the name of the book is I Think We’re Alone Now (like the pop song recorded by Tommy James and the Shondells in 1967, and covered by Tiffany in 1987). It was published in November 2023, and was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Award 2023.

Can you tell me what this book is about and why did you write it?

The book is about intimacy; I took on the topic as a commission. The original commission was for a stage show that never happened, but the ideas stuck around and ended up in the book.

What do you hope people will get from the poems?

Hum. A good earworm or two?

Perhaps (perhaps!) some sense of connection with another mind – that’s one of the things I read for. That can be both reassuring (‘Oh look – this mind thinks like I do’), and also usefully alienating (‘Oh look – this mind isn’t like me at all, and has thoughts and experiences that I haven’t had – that’s interesting’). One of the presiding spirits of the book is analytic philosopher, Richard Rorty, who has some thoroughly sensible things to say about being a human among other humans, and about the ways in which we encounter and apprehend other minds. Another is Trinidadian poet Nichloas Laughlin, who says that his ideal for a poem is that it feel “both improbable and inevitable; [that] it should trouble the reader’s sense of mental privacy”. I love that.

Three Bloodaxe Poets

Three Bloodaxe Poets

What do you think about poetry in general?

I think there’s a lot of rubbish talked about it, and particularly about what is and isn’t poetry. At base, poetry is an organisational strategy – a way of ordering and presenting ideas and experiences. Definitions that go further than this tend to run pretty quickly into sophistry or snobbery.

What do you think is relevant about your poetry to Hastings from what you know about the town?

Hastings, to me, suggests contraption, invention, artifice. Not just Logie Baird and his televised images: Christopher Priest’s The Prestige, John Armstrong’s surreal architecture, Lord Such and his theatrics. Jack in the Green, in its present revival, is the same age as I am – I’m really tickled by the idea of a neo-pagan party that hasn’t yet been around for a half-century. (I’ve been to it: I wove myself a wreath and drank a good deal of ale.) I mention this because I’m much preoccupied, as a writer, with the use of artifice to say something true.

Did you know that Hastings was where Logie Baird invented television? any thoughts on that?

I did know this – but only because my friend Will lives in Hastings, and Will is a marvel. You could drop him anywhere in the world, and he would know everything there is to know about the place (unrepealed bylaws, properties of local fauna, historic feuds and trysts and duels and games of chess) within three weeks. He’s also got some radical ideas about how to scramble eggs, so I associate Hastings with very good eggs.

Wikipedia informs me that Logie Baird’s first public demonstration of the television took place not in Hastings, but at 22 Frith Street, London.* This is news, as to me 22 Frith Street will always be the Bar Italia immortalized in Track 10 of Pulp’s 1996 album ‘Different Class’. I spent the 90s listening to Pulp et al, and the 80s glued to a television set (like everyone else), so it’s strange to me that these two things should share a home. Some sort of intersection of fin-de-siecle ley lines, no doubt.

I Think We're Alone Now - Abigail Parry - book cover

I Think We’re Alone Now – Abigail Parry – book cover

Anything else that you want to add anything you think it’s very important for us to know

I take a Guinness, if anyone’s feeling particularly welcoming.

  • JM: Note for local history – Logie Baird’s initial demonstration to the newspapers of proto-television recorded in the papers was in Hastings in June 1923. Two and a half years later, after returning to London, Logie’s official demonstration of the (relatively) refined television process to the Royal Society was on Friday 27 January 1926.

Three Bloodaxe poets read at Hastings Bookshop at 7pm on Saturday 13 April, 2024. Entry is free, but you are advised to book an advance ticket by following this link.

For interviews with the Matthew Caley and Amali Gunasekera – Hastings Online Times – Three Bloodaxe poets read at Hastings Bookshop

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Posted 09:38 Tuesday, Mar 12, 2024 In: Literature

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