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Interview with Ana Sampson - @anabooks

She is Fierce is one of the bestselling books in our shop. At Christmas time, I was both happy and amazed to see how many people chose to gift women's words and the hardback version is often out of stock due to the high demand.
    So I was really excited to see that a new paperback version was launched and many more people could have access to this gem! 
      As soon as I heard about the book we stocked it on the website I also started following Ana and fell in love with most of her book recommendations (and the dinners she shares sometimes!), so I am beyond delighted to be interviewing her today and getting to know her a bit better!

        Who is, in short, Ana Sampson?
          I have two jobs, both bookish - poetry anthologist and book publicist. 
            Why Poetry? You have edited six books of poetry anthologies, how was your journey to fall in love with it?
              I have to confess to not really enjoying studying poetry at school! It crept up on me later, when I learned to enjoy it rather than feeling I had to analyse it.
                How would you convince people to read more poetry? Where should they start?
                I think so many people are put off by the idea that poetry is difficult or high-brow, but I would say that they just haven't met the right poem yet! I would always recommend starting with an anthology (well, I would say that - I'm an anthologist!) as it's like a buffet you can pick and choose from - there will, hopefully, always be something to take your fancy.
                  She is fierce is an (amazing!) collection of poems from different women through history. How did this project start?
                  Thank you! Really, it came about because I decided I wanted to buy an accessible collection of women's poetry that would include a real variety of voices, from the ancient world to the present day, and I couldn't find one. So it was a rather longwinded way of filling that gap on my bookshelf, and it became a real passion project once I realised how many terrific female poets there had been whose work I'd never read. It became my mission to give these women a wider audience.
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                    And now our Feminist questionnaire to discover a bit more about her feminist journey!
                      What is feminism for you?
                        The belief that we should all be treated equally and nobody should be disadvantaged because of their gender.
                          Which "everyday sexism" really bothers you?

                            There are more pressing issues facing us - from domestic violence to sexual harassment - but on an everyday level, women still do the majority of unpaid caring and domestic labour which is an enormous load to carry. I worry this pandemic will set career equality back as women are more likely to be furloughed or lose their jobs as they struggle to homeschool children too. We still have so far to go.

                              Do you remember when you start identifying as a Feminist and why?

                                I certainly already identified as a feminist at school in the 1990s - it feels as if it was always a given, to be honest. There was a time around a decade ago when I was shocked to hear younger female colleagues say they weren't feminists and I am absolutely delighted that there has been such a flourishing of feminism since then.

                                  Who is your biggest feminist role model?

                                    It's too hard to choose just one. I included biographies of each poet whose work appears in She is Fierce, because I discovered so many of these women had incredible stories, facing repressive regimes, critical scorn, mental and physical illness and prejudice but writing despite all this. Pauli Murray, California's first black District Attorney and Mary Leapor, a kitchen-maid who pursued her literary dreams are among the many women whose stories I found deeply inspiring.

                                    What is your proud feminist victory?

                                      I am very proud that She is Fierce has, I hope, brought the work of some ignored, undervalued and forgotten women to new readers. And - it's a work in progress - but I hope my young daughters grow up with a strong sense of their own value and the confidence to take up space in the world. 

                                      What is your feminist recommendation? 
                                      • Book

                                      In non-fiction, Nell Frizzell's forthcoming The Panic Years (now publishing February 2021) helped me make sense of a mad time in my life. She says so many important, infuriating things about the ways our world traps women and what needs to change. Also, The Mother of All Jobs: How to have children and a career and stay sane(ish) by Christine Armstrong is a book I wish I'd read before getting pregnant - wise, hilarious and essential.

                                      In fiction, I loved Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner and if you liked that, look out for Love Orange by Natasha Randall (published in October) - disclaimer, I am working on the publicity but it is every bit as smart, darkly funny and furious.

                                      • TV show

                                      At the moment I'm watching Ozark - it has some brilliant roles for women, stunningly played - and, for light relief, Working Moms.

                                      • Film

                                      I just watched Greta Gerwig's Little Women with my six-year-old and had to try and explain why I was weeping about copyright!

                                       

                                        What is your feminist call of action to whoever is reading?

                                          Read diversely! We need to hear the voices of women, and we need to hear the voices of women who live different lives to our own. 

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                                            If you want to know more about her and get direct recommendations have a look at her website and subscribe to the newsletter https://www.anasampson.co.uk/ or follow her on Instagram 


                                             

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