Alicia Morgan: selected writer of ‘A Room of One’s Own’ writing residency at Dragon Hall
90 years ago, Virginia Woolf published ‘A Room of One’s Own’, a ground-breaking essay positing that to be a writer, a woman needed money and a room of her own. Woolf considered the numerous women whose everyday lives remain unrecorded in the literary canon for want of space, time and support:
“…the majority of women are neither harlots nor courtesans; nor do they sit clasping pug dogs to dusty velvet all through the summer afternoon. But what do they do then? … all the dinners are cooked; the plates and cups washed; the children sent to school and gone out into the world. Nothing remains of it all. All has vanished. No biography or history has a word to say about it. And the novels, without meaning to, inevitably lie.”
To mark the 90th anniversary and to continue to try to redress the imbalance identified by Woolf and to shine a light on those stories, we joined forces with the Royal Society of Literature to offer a paid residency opportunity to a woman writing today.
We had a brilliant and horrendous time trying to choose just one writer, but, after much deliberation, we got there!
Peggy Hughes, Programme Manager at the National Centre for Writing said:
“We were truly staggered and excited and energised by the volume and extremely high calibre of the entries we received, and would like to thank everyone who applied for their time and energy. We had a brilliant and horrendous time trying to choose just one writer, but, after much deliberation, we got there!”
Alicia Morgan is a poet, playwright, performer and culture maker now based out of Norwich, UK. She was an active part of the 80s/90s vibrant underground New York punk and metal scenes, where she played in bands and contributed to several underground musical and political publications.
Her more recent projects include The Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art’s Writing the Walls where her work was performed, hung in the museum, and published in their yearly anthology series (2012-2019). She was an invited poet at FABnyc’s Typewritten Tales for NYC’s Lower East Side History Month (2016-2019). She co-directed 2018’s Dreams Start Here, a short film about the Peekskill (NY) Youth Bureau. In 2015 she founded the successful Peekskill Film Festival. This is what Alicia had to say about the residency, in her own words:
“I have lived a nomadic, complicated, and rather exhausting life. Born and raised in the USA, I bounced around — NY to NOLA, London to Lunacy — the girl with the stories, the notebooks, the interviews, the microphone, and a frenzied, razor-thin nature that makes it difficult to stay still. Finding the time or place to write came secondary, if at all…
“It’s time to face my own demons, perform the exorcisms necessary to move on, and start my life in this City of Stories.”
“In April 2019, after years of visiting, I made Norwich my home. I am entranced by its vibrancy, its history, it’s dynamic energy, and have spent my days wandering the streets, seeking its secrets. I’ve spent countless hours in the Millennium Library, researching Norwich’s women of the past, particularly those who may have had difficult lives. Who were they? What choices were they forced to make, under what costs? What price freedom?
“I am using my time at Dragon Hall to embark on a project which ties these themes together, to write about seeing Norwich through a new immigrant’s eyes, every cobblestone, wall, and alleyway giving up a new tale, entwining my story of how I ended up here — the determination and drive that it took me to shed my (several) old skins and leave the old world behind — with theirs…
“I learned of the women who worked on the top floor…”
“To be able to research and write in Dragon Hall, under 600 + year-old hand-hewn beams, is a massive inspiration. While living in New Orleans in the 2000s, I started documenting my fellow entertainers on Bourbon Street, interviewing and photographing them for a special project. In researching the history of Dragon Hall I learned of the women who worked on the top floor and during a tour saw the burn and fairy marks made by them. What lives did they lead? It is these details I strive to capture as I tell my own tale — and imagine the stories of the women of Norwich who came before me — the ones whose stories were never told.”
We are working to make the spaces we have here at Dragon Hall open to writers for creation and collaboration, so do watch this space. For information on upcoming residencies both in the UK and overseas, please keep an eye on our residencies page and sign up to our newsletter.
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