Today we had an interview with Suzie GeeForce, a London-based spoken word artist and playwright. She has performed poetry in London and Edinburgh and has had work published by Lunar Mission One, Visual Verse and Enigma Magazine. In 2016, she was nominated for the Long form Rhysling Award for her poem “Artist Signature” and published an Elgin Award-nominated collection of poetry called “Energy (or the Art of Keeping it Together).
Occasionally also known as Susan Gray, she was born to a Burmese mother and English father in London, and she found her passion and pursued her PhD in Creative Writing, with Science Fiction and Magic Realism as her genres of choice.
She is also currently working on a show called Real(ity) Test and a spoken word EP called Object Relations. She has recently taken part in a series of readings at the BSFA (British Science Fiction Association) and performed at the Bifrost Cabaret at Nineworlds Geekfest 2016. She also recently provided us with our sketch for the very first International Speculative Poetry Day on November 3rd.
Her produced plays include: A Christmas Gift (2012), Terra Firma (2014), SUM (2014), The Reality Test (2014) Buzz (2015) Cuckoos and Chrysalids (2015), The Other Roof (2015) and Blue Blood (2015). You can visit her online at https://suziegeeforce.co.uk.
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started as a writer? What was one of the hardest things for you to learn?
I got started as a writer when I was about 5 years old, I guess. I loved reading since 3, and I wanted to write things that I basically wanted to read myself. I wrote my first “novella” when I was 6, and that’s when I knew this was my passion. The hardest thing for me to learn was being more open with my emotions and feelings – we tend to overanalyse things we say or do on a daily basis, and this feels more *permanent*. You have to be true to yourself, which is definitely a kind of bravery, and you soldier on.
What’s your writing process like these days?
I like to start planning in the morning or just before I go to bed – so when I get to my desk, I know exactly what I wanted to do (I dream vividly and tend to forget a lot of things afterwards). It’s not the best way, but I like to write story beats or poems in separate documents as I like that clean, fresh feeling to a new work. I often have my coffee or tea next to me – and if I let it go cold due to concentration on my work, I know I’ve done a good job (although a little sad, because cold coffee/tea).
It’s really strange, but I can’t work in silence or with music – silence unsettles me and I get too involved in listening to music and lyrics. I often put on a podcast or audio book or even listen to ASMR at times to focus!
What’s a poem you usually suggest for a reader who wants to read you for the very first time?
I think “Robot Factory” (from Energy) is a fair summation of the ideas I like to write about – technology and the future of humanity!
Who do you look up to as your literary heroes and heroines?
I would say Greg Egan, Ursula Le Guin, Brian Jacques, Adam Roberts, Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami, Samuel Delany, Angela Carter, Jeanette Winterson.
What inspired you to write Energy (or the Art of Keeping it Together)? What was the most challenging of the poems for you to include in this collection?
Before the collection, I found myself gravitating towards the concept of energy – negative and positive, active and inactive – and how everything we write about and experience is linked to this. I found myself, in a time where my moods were fluctuating a lot more than usual, almost obsessed with it. I thought this would be no better time than to collate these pieces on this central theme. The poem Tailor was the most challenging, as I was going through a particularly unsettling time in my life.
So, it’s Dr. Suzie GeeForce now. What are some of the elements of your dissertation you hope to most apply to your forthcoming creative output now?
My PhD was about Science Fiction Theatre – but more importantly, it was about writing to constraints. If Theatre is constrained in terms of special effects, how can we work around it or make it stronger because of it? What can this particular medium do best when staging the fantastic? Poetry has a similar constraint that can produce beautiful results. I find it the case with Augmented Reality in art, too.
Where would you recommend someone travel to find inspiration as a poet?
I don’t focus too much on travel – I feel that I write very internally. Experiment with different locations and find out what environment works for you! For example, I don’t like silence at all when writing or thinking. I think I find inspiration better in the bustling city; people watching, or looking at parts of the streets that people often ignore. However, I did find inspiration when I was in Yangon – to see the mixture of traditional and modern living amongst each other, as well as the beautiful, creative and mystical forces of Sedona.
What’s been on your mind these days as you contemplate the direction of Burmese literature?
Burmese literature, for me at least, has either been strongly traditional or radically political. I love in particular Maung Day’s poetry, especially his collection Gasoline, as he isn’t afraid to deal with hard and harrowing topics. However, I’d love to see some Burmese Science Fiction – I’ve asked around my family and they can’t recommend me any!
What’s the most interesting territory you feel poets can be exploring these days?
I’d like to see more poetry that addresses our relationship to technology – whether it is positive or negative – especially since fears of automation and climate change are the orders of the day.
What do you loathe in science fiction and fantasy?
Probably too much world building or info dumping – especially when it’s not blended into the story. You can definitely see this in dialogue and it can really take you out of the narrative (and not in a good way).
If you could have any creature, fantastic or real, for a traveling companion, what would it be?
I’d want either a talking cat or a dragon – I’m pretty basic in that regard!
Coffee or Tea?
I love both, although coffee is more of a necessity to me!
It’s been a little while since you posted in your blog. Will you be returning to that in the future, or should we keep an eye out for you elsewhere, like an app?
I make too many blogs, I think – that’s the problem! I’m working on AR text based adventures under my new company, Critical Lit Games! These include AR Gamebooks (I’m thinking of writing an AR poetry book as well, watch this space), Bookmarks and Models. The stories are SF and Fantasy, so do check them out if the idea appeals to you!
What’s your advice for beginning writers who want to write poetry?
Freewriting is the best gateway into any kind of writing. It’s like a meditation that allows you to capture your thoughts without constraint. You can then chip away and create your sculpture. Words are material – it’s better to have too much than too little, in my opinion.