A Bit About Me and My Work
My new collection Bearings is published by Nine Arches Press (4 April 2016) in the UK and Modjaji Books in South Africa (May 2016). Later in the year Nine Arches will also re-issue my earlier collections A Fold in the Map and The Tempest Prognosticator.
You can read more about these and other publications (like joint work on the sinking of RMS Titanic, The Debris Field) on this site, along with details of forthcoming readings, some poems and the odd snippet of news.
In August 2016, Mariscat will publish The Leonids, a pamphlet of poems about my mother, who died in 2015. I am also currently working on a collaboration with Scottish artist Douglas Robertson, inspired by DH Lawrence's poems in Birds, Beasts and Flowers. More detail and images can be found here.
Here's an interview by Alexander Matthews in online magazine Aerodrome, about my publishing work and my poetry.
If you like Twitter, I'm @isobeldixon, where I'll also occasionally share some news.
A Bit About My Life (so far...)
I was born in Mthatha in the Transkei region of South Africa's Eastern Cape province. There my Scottish father was Dean of the Cathedral, and a science teacher at St John’s College. My mother was born in Alice and grew up on a farm in the Bedford district, both also in the Eastern Cape. When I was three years old, my father's asthma forced us to move inland from the Wild Coast in search of a drier climate. So the Transkei’s misty hills and the Karoo semi-desert are both landscapes I love.
In Graaff-Reinet, my parents bought a rambling old house that no-one else seemed to want, but which was perfect for them, their four daughters – with a fifth soon to follow – and a plethora of books. I grew up there, my father and mother both died there, one of my sisters still lives there, and we have more books than ever.
I studied English Literature at Stellenbosch in the Cape’s wine country, before following my father's roots and heading to Scotland for postgraduate study in Edinburgh in 1993. In those days I thought I’d become an academic but sitting exams on Derrida on the day of South Africa’s momentous 1994 elections (having voted in Glasgow in the morning) made me realise I wanted to do something more creative, more 'grass roots'.
I did further study in Applied Linguistics, writing a thesis on adult literacy programmes in the new South Africa, intending to go back and work in the field. But my husband’s Masters and PhD study meant a move to London instead, and then on to Cambridge. I tumbled into publishing, and found myself perfectly at home, thrilled to be working with writers, among them several South African authors I had long admired.
Since the leap into publishing I’ve lived happily in two worlds, returning home to South Africa several times a year and commuting from Cambridge to London. The work I do is varied, absorbing and inspiring; there’s a bit of headspace to work on poems on the train (in between reading and editing manuscripts…) and London, well, who can tire of London? I love the city, its history and multiculturalism, and all the artistic energies and opportunities it offers. It’s here that I went to Michael Donaghy’s City University course for a couple of years, and met other poets with whom I have read, workshopped and published over the last decade.
All in all, I feel very fortunate.