Q&A with Rebecca Sharp, Writer and Artist

Art

2/20/17

Rebecca Sharp is a writer currently based in Fife, Scotland. A writer and artist, she has taken an interdisciplinary approach with her work, collaborating with a diverse range of artists.  The Roger Smith Hotel recently welcomed Sharp as a guest of honor at the Annual StAnza Poetry Dinner on February 18th, 2017. Following dinner, she sat down with us to share more about her work and what inspires her to create.

What started you writing poetry?

I always wrote, even as a child – poems and stories.  I was raised on a healthy diet of Greek and Celtic mythology, so I’m sure that’s been an influence.  I’ve always admired writers and artists who have a multifaceted approach to what they do – so as a teenager, seeing Patti Smith as a poet and musician was inspiring; also, the Scottish poet Edwin Morgan, who stuck a great balance between structure and playfulness, light and dark.  

Do you consider yourself more of a poet or a playwright?

I describe myself as a writer and artist. I started out writing for theatre/performance, and I had a play on at the Traverse in Edinburgh just last year (The Air That Carries The Weight); but along the way I’ve also made performances using poetry.  So for me, the lines are always blurred – and that’s exactly the kind of work I make.  I’ve recently started adding ‘artist’ because ‘writer’ alone didn’t feel entirely accurate. I’ve had about ten years of making collaborative work with other artists – which I love and will continue to do – but I wondered if I was starting to hide behind something.  So I set myself the challenge of starting to make visual/physical installation-based work or poetic objects, taking my writing into another form by myself.  That’s where I am now.  At the moment I’m working with poetry and perfumery.

What themes are you most interested in as a writer? 

I’m interested in the magic in everyday – but I think every writer or artist could probably say that!  Thinking of my most recent play, another performance I made Rules of the Moon (also a poem) and a prose work I wrote (also a performance) Little Forks – I’d say memories, reverberation, haunting, psychogeography, edge-lands of place and consciousness. The cracks in between things – people, places, ideas, language – outsiders, edging on the Absurd.  

Who or what inspires you?

Personal experiences for sure – but taken from a different perspective, not strictly autobiographical.  Little Forks is set in Tighnabruaich (North West of Scotland), at a real cottage where I used to go as a child.  The locations are all real, and the responses that the characters have were my responses; but the story is fiction.  I daydream a lot.  I like sitting on the outside looking in, observing people and listening-in.  All the millions of little interactions – they all filter through.  In terms of outside influences – Laurie Anderson was a huge influence when I was starting out combining words and performance, and still is; I adore Robert Lepage as a theatre-maker, writer, director and performer – the consummate artist!  I love many American writers – Edward Albee, John Guare, Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Carson. And I’ve recently got to know Elizabeth Acevedo.

What is your favorite spot in New York?

I was here for three months in 2001 and again for a few weeks in 2002 when my play Last Child was on at HERE Arts Center. But I haven’t been back until now!  I love St Mark’s Place and Washington Square Park. Great places for being in amidst the action but also for watching and listening. My advice to visitors would be just to walk – take snacks and a book and cover as much ground as you can – if you come in with too much of a plan, you might miss some of the great chance-experiences that happen in a place like this.  

Photo credit: Raz Ullah

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