Anna Kisby-Compton


authorpic2Im a poet based in Devon, with a professional background as an archivist. After growing up bookish in south-east London, I studied Literature and Film at the University of East Anglia, followed by a MA in English at the University of Sussex. I began and abandoned a PhD called Freuds Daughters: case studies of adolescent girls by female psychoanalysts. Its in a box in the loft. After this wrong turn, I happily trained as an archivist at University College London, working at the National Archives, Rothschild Bank, Brighton Design Archives and most wonderfully of all at The Womens Library in Whitechapel, London. My work led to publications online (and in Womens History Review), and I ran the suffrage oral history project Keep Their Voices Alive. Growing up, I was very attached to my grandparents, who made me feel that the past, and my ancestors, were close by. Being an archivist brought back this feeling.

A keen poet as a child, my writing was re-ignited by responding creatively to the archives of my day-job. I wanted to catch at something I found missing from the archive catalogues I was writing. My first published poem was about a Victorian nurse; my first poem to win a prize was voiced by a suffragette. Ive moved on: writing poetry about anything from Alice in Wonderland to my time selling cowboy boots in Massachusetts. But catching hold of the past remains a concern close to my (writers) heart.

In 2016 I won the BBC Proms Poetry competition, and my poem was performed on Radio 3. In the same year, I won mentorship through the Faber New Poets Scheme. In 2017 I gained experience in creative collaboration when I was part of the poetry performance Somme Suitea First World War commemoration. My pamphlet All the Naked Daughters(Against the Grain Press, 2017) circles around the lives of historical and imagined women. Most recently, I was included in the Forward Prize Anthology 2019. You can read a selection of my poems here.

Given my biography – my knotted interests in history, psychology and poetry – Creative Histories of Witchcraftis a gift of a project. I am dying to get started.