Literary interview: Deborah Edgeley by Sunil Sharma

Deborah Edgeley
---Please sum up your life-story in a Dickensian manner, albeit briefly, for an audience suffering from attention deficit.

After father's peregrinations in a poor part of Cheshire
It was announced with a flourish in
The Nantwich Herald of '69
that a hopeless romantic girl was ushered into this sorrowful world
by the friendly one-legged immigrant Dr O'Shinsky
wrapped in grey crepe for perusal of gentle, loving parents.

At first, Father was told it was a boy
Yet his football dreams of half the hour had to be reimagined
as the nurse clarified that it was, indeed, a girl
as there were two Edgeleys on the ward
blue AND pink.
Despite this,
they became the best of friends.

The girl grew tall
and worried about everything
just like her Welsh Guard father.

After Father's exit from this mortal coil
The girl cared for mother for twelve years
found a love for literature
and continues to forge the chains she wears in life.

Sunil Sharma
---How you got into writing? Is it lucrative in UK?

I got into writing during my studies with The Open University. By chance, I did a creative writing course to make up my points for an  English Literature degree.

It's difficult as a poet to make a living, or even pocket money, for that matter. So much time has to be put into promoting your work, and keeping a roof over your head, that there is little left for creating. However, many poets I know have been published by small publishing houses, and they hold book launches and readings, which is great, but it's so difficult to hit the mainstream, unless you want to sell out and write for the masses. Maybe that's too much of a sweeping statement?.. However, many local independent bookshops are very supportive to authors, especially poets, so at least their work has a chance of being seen.

---Your experiences as the editor of Ink Pantry?

The initial inspiration behind Ink Pantry was to find a platform to promote our work, and inspire and support other writers, ‘our’ being my comrades from the Open University: Berenice Smith, Jennie Campbell and Alyson Duncan. We had lots of other students involved. During our degrees, we managed to publish two anthologies and maintain the website. Recently, Ink Pantry have been added to Duotrope, which has sparked international interest. We’re thrilled to connect with many authors from America, China, Greece, Italy and India. There have been rumours of a third anthology…

---What are the enduring influences---personal and literary?

It was Thomas Hardy 's Far From The Madding Crowd. It was the character of farmer William Boldwood that fascinated me, with his obsessive pursuit of Bathsheba, buying her fancy clothes and labelling them with a ‘B’, in preparation for their phantom marriage. It was both heartbreaking and exciting at the same time. Clever. Passionate. Romantic. How could an author affect you so much, with words? There began my literature obsession. Jeanette Winterson is also an influence, her humour, imagination, and the fact that she's not afraid to tell the truth.

Personally, my parents have inspired me. My father's love and dedication, my mother's love and bravery. My sister Syl, a photographer. My partner, artist Mark Sheeky. Humans. Nature. Every emotion under the sun. I am a quiet person in general, so I observe and listen a lot, which helps with writing, I guess. A people watcher.

---How is the poetry scene in UK today?

Thriving. Better than ever. So many events, open mics, book launches, book signings, festivals.

---What happened to the famous Osborne legacy? Nobody seems now to look back in anger? Has he been erased?

His legacy lives on. More people than ever are angry about social injustices. The beauty of the technological age is that it's so quick and easy to connect, to join protests, to sign a petition that makes the headlines, altering the course of history to a certain degree. Everyone has a voice, regardless of class, race, gender. Everyone can try and interact with people who were once untouchable.

---Impressions about Crewe, the current town of your residence?

A dystopian ghost town with ever decreasing budget shops, crying out for an art space.

---Are immigrants making a difference to the cultural geography in UK?

Absolutely. They are important, bringing diversity, different life experiences and ideas, which adds to the canon of art, and makes us think in a different way (see last question).

---Your favourite author?

Can I pick two? Jeanette Winterson & Iris Murdoch. Oh, and Katherine Mansfield!

---Literary quote that haunts?

'He is more myself than I am.'

Cathy in Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronté.

---How is the Bard doing in a Britain, undergoing pre- and post- Brexit anxieties?

The Bard can't sleep at night, and he can't afford a haircut. He is a staunch remainer. His latest five act play, Ye Farce (Parts One & Two), is set in Venice. Europe, he says, is so entwined with his scept'rd isle that it would be a backwards step to cut the ties. He says there must be more education for both government, and people who are allowed to vote. What were they thinking?!

---Your message to emerging writers?

--Get organised. Set a deadline for each poem/story/novel, otherwise you will have lots of unfinished pieces floating around on your computer/ipad/notebook/in your head.

--Don't be afraid to tell the truth, no matter how controversial or painful. There will always be someone out there that will relate to your words.

--- A micro poem as illustration of your philosophy.

dead or alive.
Talk with me,
yet don't speak.
Let me make words with your energy.

---Your major concerns---as an individual, female and writer-editor?

Mental health, passive aggressive bullying, poverty, the environment, violence, hiding the truth.

---Your comments on market-driven writing? The craze for awards? The Lit Fests as new industry?

In my opinion, in general, market-driven writing is selling out, giving people what they want. An artist's job is to ruffle feathers and make people think.

There's nothing wrong with healthy competition, so I think awards are a great motivator.

Lit Fests are a wonderful thing, however, one has to have money to attend, travel, perhaps to stay overnight to get the best out of it, so it does exclude many people. Though there's always social media to get the general gist of it.

---What constitutes art?

I believe that art needs to show value by revealing aesthetic qualities through artistic crafting of the work, needs to be aware of tradition, needs to have a purpose and challenge with some form of discomfort, and be original, to make us see things in a new way.

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