A visit to Alice Major's studio. Alice is the author of Knife on Snow.
My Studio and Quantum Physics
My studio exists in what physicists might call a “superposition of states”—i.e., something that exists in two different states at the same time until a detector’s shutter clicks and determines what you see.
One state is the image I share when I do online readings or meetings. I like to think it looks fairly calm and confident: nice angles behind me, some variety but with the clutter edited out.
The other is what you see if the camera lens shifts a couple of feet to the left. Piles of file folders with correspondence and minutes for arts boards I’m on. Another pile of manuscripts not my own, that I’ve helped edit. A box of research papers for the essay collection I’ve been working on in a half-assed way for three years. Sundry bits of technology that I’m still trying to figure out how to use or get rid of. Framed things I’ve run out of wall space for. Below the desk, boxes I want to send to the city archives if I ever get them sorted out. The gym bag on the floor isn’t related to any physical exercise—it contains the microphone system I borrowed to record an audiobook of my latest collection.
The shelf holds a clutch of magpie feathers and a small heart-shaped box of pink stone in which a teaspoonful of my mother’s ashes stays with me always.
It strikes me that this is something like what a poem is when you present it to the world. There’s the chosen angle, the edited and relatively succinct composition that reflects deliberate decisions. But behind that, there is a whole cluttered background that you drag into the process of making it at this particular cross-point of space and time—which doesn’t seem to leave you a lot of room to write, but somehow you squeeze it in.
Alice Major's powerful collection considers humanity's reckoning in a time of tremendous upheaval.