Review and Interview of Anne Six by Stefaine Markidis
Our love affair with Melburnian poet and feminist Anne Six began when we read, published and adored her poem ‘Corruption’ last year. We wanted more – and guess what? There was more! Anne had been busy writing her debut poetry collection Little Bows & Lace, which was released last December. Ramona took a lucky sneak peek at the collection, and we fell even more in love with Anne’s fierce and promising voice.
With 78 sharp poems, Anne Six takes us deep into the joys and trials of teen life. Little Bows & Lace gives a candid account of those exhilarating and often painful years between childhood and adulthood.
Anne’s poetry is articulate and honest. Her words are raw in their flesh and form, as she presents a misery that feels like suffocation, a heartbreak that burns skin hot and cold. Her words are heavy with the pain, confusion and euphoria of love.
While much of the collection is anchored in trauma, these poems are not only windows to sadness, they also open to glimpses of hope. Self-destruction becomes recovery as the collection traces its path out of despair. This movement is written with heart, without gimmick, as the collection moves incrementally out of depression toward life on the other side.
Anne is a talented and honest writer and her words will strike you true, right in the heart. You can pick up a copy of Little Bows & Lace on Amazon.
Stefanie, Ramona’s Creative Writing Editor, spoke with Anne about writing, making sense of the mess of adolescence and the feminist underpinnings of her work.
Why did you decide to dedicate this collection to your fifteen-year-old self?
The majority of the poems in Little Bows & Lace, were either written, or inspired, by my experiences at that age. I was going through a tough time, and was stuck in a cycle of self-doubt. I truly struggled to set goals, and see a future for myself. Hence, the dedication. I wish I could’ve known how far I’d come, and how well I’d do. This collection of poems is partially, also, in honour of the fifteen-year-old me. I’m past that dark stage of my life, and I feel like a different person now, but I still want to pay tribute and respect my past, for contributing to who I am today.
How and when did you start writing poetry?
I’ve been writing my whole life, since I was a child, but poetry came a while later. It started as simply a way of expressing myself, but the poems I wrote were so bad, I wouldn’t even class them as poetry. I’m not sure what changed within me, or what inspired me, but eventually, around the age of fourteen, I began taking it more seriously, and I realised how good it made me feel, to not only express, but explore my emotions through writing.
How did it feel the first time you reflected back on your teen self in a caring way? How did this change your writing?
I’ve always been a very self-aware person, so I can’t recall a moment where I started reflecting back, necessarily. I do, however, remember how I felt when I realised the importance of accepting your past, and building upon it. That’s also why I decided to publish older poems, written when I was younger. We should recognise, and give ourselves credit for the struggles we overcome.
Some of these poems explore an addiction to sadness. One poem ends with the question ‘Why do I enjoy my own suffering?’. How does this relate to growing up?
I think the best way to explain this might be through reference to my own experience. Essentially, I had been suffering for so long, that my illness became part of my identity. So, when it was time for recovery and remission, I was unsure of who I’d be, and afraid of having to recreate my own identity. I was trapped in a strange cycle of multiple anxieties. And I think the idea of ‘sticking to what you’re comfortable with’, is very common in young people. They want to go out and experience life on their own, while simultaneously wanting to have a place of comfort – a place of safety. This can be anything from friends and family, to a hobby, even if their place of comfort isn’t necessarily a healthy, stable one. Even if this feeling isn’t experienced directly, I think the ideas of addiction and comfort are also useful in analysing what is and is not healthy, both mentally and socially.
The poems in Little Bows and Lace often address a ‘you’ or read as a note-to-self. Is poetry always an address to someone?
My writing is usually addressed to myself or someone else, but it can also describe certain events or experiences without the direct intention of addressing someone. It can be a reflection, a letter, a story, and much more. Poetry can be anything you want it to be.
For you, how is poetry connected with feminism?
Not only does poetry allow me to express my concerns and worries about my identity as a woman, but it also gives me a platform to share information and messages I think are important in the feminist movement, such as sexual assault, reproductive rights, the ideals of femininity versus masculinity, and so on. Even in the past, women like Audre Lorde, Alice Walker and Sylvia Plath, all contributed to the discussions of feminist theories through their work. Literature in general is a perfect way to process or bring attention to the struggles people of all genders may face.
You identify yourself as a feminist writer. When did you come to understand that these terms applied to you – feminist and writer.
I’ve identified myself as a writer for many years, but I didn’t become aware of the feminist movement until my mid-teens. I’ve considered myself a feminist ever since. My passion for feminism grew quickly and it’s played a huge role in the formation of my personality and identity. Although Little Bows & Lace is mainly focused on growing up, my more recent poems are mostly about gender and sexuality.
Many of these poems are based on personal experience. What can this kind of self-writing achieve?
Writing about personal experiences can be hard at times, especially if your work is read by people close to you. However, it can also be very therapeutic. Not only does it allow you to express yourself, but it also lets you reflect on the situations, feelings, thoughts or experiences you’re writing about. This kind of self-reflection can provide you with a different perspective, and enable you to enhance or improve your thinking, and ultimately, grow as a person. I think writing about personal experiences is not only good for the writer, but also for the reader. A lot of people want something to relate to, and reading about the lives of others, is a great way to achieve that.
While this collection deals with pain and trauma, it becomes more hopeful toward the end. I love the poem ‘Anne’, which is comprised of this line: ‘I will no longer be named Melancholy and Sorrow’. What are you hopeful about?
This poem specifically is about my want to grow from the person I was previously. I had confidence in my ability to do so, and was hopeful that I could become who I wanted to be, instead of being constantly hindered with concerns about my mental health. I’m hopeful for growth, stability, and finding overall enjoyment in life.
What are your aspirations as a writer?
Firstly, I would like my writing to relate to young people, and possibly open their eyes to certain concepts or ideas they might not have experienced themselves. My main goal is to encourage self-love, and empower my readers to feel confident in their own skin, regardless of the social values and constructs that may affect them. I hope people of all genders can read my work, and gain something from it.
What are you working on? What’s next?
I’m currently working on more poems, and even some short stories. I’m hoping to release another collection of poetry by 2019.