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Alice Godliman sits in front of a decorated wall

Fierce. Feminist. Fluid rhymes and fascinating lines - that's Alice Godliman in a nutshell. Weaving absolute magic from nothing but words, her work has a deep and interesting strength; it is both other-worldly and boldly relatable. 

Her debut chapbook, The Book of (Seeing Past the) Shadows, is a beautifully-curated collection of poetry in the form of spells, encouraging the reader to reflect on the existence of magic in the most mundane of places.

We sat Alice down for a chinwag - get to know a little more about her below!

Can you describe your work in five words?

  • Haunting, sexy folklore;

  • Gentle magic


Your chapbook references a ‘book of shadows’, and your poetry often takes the form of spells. How does witchcraft tie into your personality and wider work?


I think all forms of quiet ritual have magic at their heart: witchcraft, tarot, prayer, meditation, journaling, art. And poetry. It’s all a way of understanding ourselves and the world, whether you think that’s through communion with yourself or with something larger. It’s magic. These processes are really important to me, even if it’s just a quick morning tarot pull, to have a moment of quiet reflection. To me, the act of writing a poem is indivisible from the process of creating magic; it is casting a spell as we attempt to write our way into understanding.  

Can you give us a whistle-stop tour of your writing career so far? 

I can’t begin to discuss my writing career without giving a huge shout out to For Book’s Sake. That’s What She Said in Manchester was my first open mic, back in 2018, shaking with nerves in the crowded basement of a gay bar. It was far less scary than I feared and I haven’t stopped since. Since that point I have flitted around the spoken word nights of the city, submitting pieces for publication here and there, and collecting the requisite rejections amongst my acceptances! I’ve performed in London, at the Edinburgh Fringe, and I’ve featured on BBC Upload.  


Who influences your work? 

My first answer would be Mary Oliver. Her voice is so soothing and unique, and I’ve been head over heels for her work since the first poem of hers that I ever read (When Death Comes). But more than that, local poets - more than I can even remember, especially given the number of spoken word nights I come home from absolutely buzzing with inspiration. Among them: Rosie Garland, Jane Claire Bradley, Loll Perkin, Rebecca Phythian, Lisa O’Hare, Benjamina Albanese, Alicia Fitton. But I’m finding new people to be inspired by at every open mic I attend.

Why poetry? 

Something I love about poetry is how it’s not linear, just like how our thoughts and internal monologues aren’t linear. Sometimes it’s not about telling a story or conveying a coherent opinion so much as it is having a discussion with yourself, or getting across a mood. An idea I heard recently is that you can understand something with your brain and you can understand it with your heart. For me, poetry is more that ‘heart’ understanding. It can recreate those undefinable things inside of us. 

(But also, I can’t write a plot to save my life, so poetry suits me!)



What is, in your opinion, your best poem and why? 

For performance, I have a piece called Woman Army that I can’t get enough of performing. It’s also very malleable- I change it so often in reaction to things in my life or wider events. 


However, for a poem on the page, there’s one in the chapbook called Waterproofing Charm that I can’t fail to love. Re-reading it makes me feel small and strong all at once. 

How have you found it, starting out in the Manchester scene? Any advice for newcomers and those reluctant to share their work? 

The Manchester scene is incredible. There are so many nights to choose from and the people who are involved in the scene are fantastic. Occasionally, I’ll step back from performing for a while because I’m overwhelmed, and I always worry everyone will have forgotten me while I’m away. But they never do; the people are kind and supportive and truly want to listen to whatever you have to say. 

My advice would be just go for it. You’ll find the kindest crowds at Manchester poetry nights, and they’ll give you the space and the time to find your voice. And you have a voice that people want to hear.

Complete this phrase: Chips and… 

An absolute ocean of vinegar. 

Sorry – I’m originally from the South and nothing shows this more than my taste in chips. I want them drowning in vinegar. And salt.  
Don’t disown me please, beloved North. I like gravy too! 


What can we expect from your upcoming chapbook, The Book of (seeing past the) Shadows?


Hopefully magic. Definitely too much of my inner life strewn onto the pages. Maybe some spells you’ll want to cast yourself.  

The Book of (Seeing Past the) Shadows is available for purchase now. 

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