1. What writers did you enjoy reading as a child? When Alycia was a child, she enjoyed reading C. S. Lewis as she was fond of the fantastical elements of his books. Another collection she really liked was called Among The Hidden which she read in middle school. An author she loved around this age is Tamora Pierce. “I remember sitting in the library, like, every day at school, just reading anything and everything she’s ever written,” shares the poet.
2. Did you write as a child? When she was around 10, she wrote her sister a superhero comic novel. “I was always into writing books,” she laughs. When she was 13, this passion for writing led to her creating fan-fiction. When Alycia was around 15, she continued to write prose which was very lyrical and imagistic, and she was fond of world-building and creating characters. She got into poetry when was around 18 or 19 years old.
3. Do you show your work in progress to anyone? She encountered poetry in online forums for the first time, putting her work and receiving critiques. During her university education, she took part in workshopping classes; these led to her being open to showing work in progress to other people which now she sees as part of her writing routine. “Poetry is so community-based,” Alycia says, “I cannot imagine writing in isolation.”
4. Do you think that helped you with your collaborative collection with Pratyusha on your chapbook Second Memory? “For me writing always felt like such a collaborative process anyway that this collaboration did feel very natural,” Alycia reflects, “it felt natural to show someone else my work in progress, but also to respond to the way that they were reading my work… [and] creating new work in that same piece.”
5. And what was the biggest challenge of this collaborative form? She shares that Pratyusha and her are friends and have writing styles that are in sync. The biggest challenge was getting started due to time restrains, capacity, workload, etc.
6. ‘My Body is a Forest’ and ‘Elsewhere’ are two poems in your chapbook Hinge that spoke to my soul as someone who moved to a different country and often toys with themes of belonging and cultural dissonance. I was wondering what does it mean for you to ‘belong somewhere’? “It is always changing,” she says. When she first started questioning the ways she fitted in in Canada or the interactions that made her feel like she didn’t belong there, she knew she had two options: assimilate or discard parts of herself that she perceived as not belonging. However, this made her feel exactly the opposite. To change this narrative, she decided to reclaim her identity by having conversations with her family and learning more about her history (especially from her dad who liked telling stories), reclaiming some of the language she had lost, finding people, communities and places that gave her a sense of calmness and reclamation. In Canada, she found this not only in the landscape but also in other people’s writing. Now that she has lived in several places like the USA, Scotland, London, she observes that she finds belonging within people.
7. How important is accessibility of meaning of a poem to you? Do you think that one should have to work hard to “solve” the poem? Different poems resonate with different people. When it comes to her poetry, Alycia shares that she never wants her poems to keep people out but wants instead to draw them in. She says that she has been including some theory in her poems lately, and is aware that this may create difficulty in reading but hopes, nevertheless, that they will evoke feeling through the imagery.
8. Do you have a favourite poem of yours? She loves her collaborative collection Second Memory as she can always look into that book and enjoy some part of it. When it comes to a single poem, it is ‘Hinge’, the title poem of her chapbook, as it incorporates a lot of themes of her writing, such as sexuality, prayer and faith, science, landscape and water, womanhood, etc.
9. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? “Be open to always sharing your work but also don’t take everyone’s critique as truth.” She shares that one of the most important things she learned as a writer is to know when to trust herself.
10. Can you give any advice to someone wanting to write and publish poetry? “Read a lot,” Alycia says, “I wouldn’t have written nearly as much if I wasn’t reading as much.” She also advises writers to not worry too much about publishing while they are still writing their work. Her last advice is to be intentional about setting up writing time.