Crysse Morrison is a southwest treasure. She has thrown herself into all manner of writing from successful novels, plays, short stories and poetry to giving back to the community by facilitating workshops to spread her love of literature and performing. Because of this, Crysse has become a well loved part of the artistic community in Frome and the wider area. We’re very excited to have such a wonderful addition to Burning Eye, Crysse adds something new and interesting to our repertoire of poets and represents the quality and talent from the lively hub of poetry in the southwest of England. We caught up with Crysse to discuss the new book Crumbs from a Spinning World:
Why is this collection called ‘Crumbs from a Spinning World’?
It comes from a poem by Brian Patten called The Translation which talks about how easily love translates into pain, in which a ‘slow sad bird’ sings:
“From my nest among moments
Where I keep a spinning world
I stole one crumb of joy
But lost it coming here.”
I’d love to write like Brian Patten but my voice, like me, came from South London via Irish troubles & other tough times, to the oasis of Frome in southwest England: my themes like his are all about being human, but there’s more friviolity in my stuff.
You’ve written quite a bit of fiction – two novels and a lot of published short stories – what drew you to poetry?
Like most people I’d written the odd poem, usually at times of stress, but after my novels were published by Hodder & Stoughton I was invited to be involved with other writers in a more extensive way, through readings, talks & courses, and also to become Writer In Residence in my home town of Frome. That was a brilliant year because it gave me a chance to explore a genre then new to me: Performance Poetry. I invited several poets to visit & show us how to do it, and decided I’d better have a go myself… I found my persona in a recalcitrant sexegenarian (not unlike myself) and had fun performing in, and even winning, a few slams around the southwest.
What inspires your poetry?
Absolutely anything except romance. Many of my poems are snarky analysis of a crap childhood, and my speciality is outrageous elderly behaviour, especially as I’m now a recalcitrant septegenarian, which isn’t such a good word as sexegenarian but the actuallity is just as much fun.
Quite a few poems are simply ephemeral – responses to moments & situations which don’t have much relevance after the event. For example, this came from an exhibition at Arnolfini in Bristol, but it would take longer to explain than to recite:
Gina Pané – say it like Amani – think it like pain.
Obscene self-exposure – delusions of grandeur
was she seeking closure? or just savagely sane.
Any advice for poets?
I don’t think poets need advice – and Oscar Wilde has already nailed it with “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”. My advice, if I had any, would be directed to older women generally, and it’s summed up in two of my favourite poems: ‘Proxy Botox’ and ‘Bungee-jumping Crumblies’. Or maybe even better in ‘Life is Grimm But Not Like Fairy Tales’: Paint your toes scarlet and dance like a harlot, and when you’re too old to spin straw to gold, start a sanctuary for dragons.
I expect to carry on performing at wordy events wherever I go, especially the crone poems which I hope will enlighten the young as well encourage the old. I organise the Poetry Cafe in Frome, an egalitarian bi-monthly event with guests and open-mic. My current focus is on stage drama too, especially site-specific performances – more about that on my website http://www.crysse.com – and I write an arts blog about word/music/theatre events in Frome and around the southwest: http:// crysse.blogspot.co.uk