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MLF Chapter & VerseMLF Chapter & Verse

The Manchester Literature Festival Blog

From One Geodesic to Another by Alicia Sometimes

Alicia Sometimes is an Australian poet, writer and broadcaster. Her poetry collections include Soundtrack and Kissing the Curve, and her poems have been published in Best Australian Poems and Best Australian Science Writing. She is Director and Co-Writer of the art/science planetarium shows, Elemental and Particle/Wave. She is currently a Science Gallery Melbourne ‘Leonardo’ (creative advisor) and is a 2021 City of Melbourne Boyd Garnett recipient. She was appointed by Manchester Literature Festival and Manchester City of Literature to one of our first Virtual Writer in Residence posts during Manchester Festival of Libraries.

Alicia will premiere the work created during her residency in a joint event with our other Virtual Writer in Residence, Anna Polonyi, during #MLF21 in October. Today, to mark the end of her residency at Central Library, Alicia travels through time and space.

Time travel is possible. At least, it is through the Manchester City of Literature and Manchester Literature Festival virtual writer residency that has taken place during the Festival of Libraries. For this residency, I have been lucky enough to peruse the collection online at The Portico Library and speak to well-versed librarian Thom Keep about its rich history and culture. I have delved into nineteenth century books on the subjects of time and light and astronomy. I have imagined myself drinking tea under the dome as I read one of the many books on Polite Literature. I have had the luxury of strolling back through time.

I have been creating poetic time capsules of what someone could have reading in a nook at the library all those years ago. To imagine Manchester all the way here from the footsteps of Melbourne. What drew me to The Portico Library was the collection, its heritage and the legacy of the library. It felt like a kindred spirit to the State Library of Victoria here in Melbourne. They both have trams stopping by their doors, stunning domes lighting the room and diverse readers from all over, wanting to pour themselves into the many distinctive books housed on their shelves. It is with libraries that we feel we are citizens of the world, able to travel anywhere in an instant. Libraries are places that transcend time.

It has been a remarkable experience to be able to ask so many questions of a librarian and request information about the intimacies of a space. It is especially unique to do this virtually. At the moment, I am finishing the poems on the incredible books I have read and I hope to capture Melbourne as well to share with you.

This process has made me fall in love with Manchester and I am so grateful to know more about somewhere I’ve never been. I hope to visit one day, and you’ll see me, at The Portico Library with many books open writing notes about places, and time.