(photo: Sean Malyon)
Alyson Hallett grew up in Street, Somerset. Her childhood was infused with the shoe factory where her father worked, the view of Glastonbury Tor in the distance and the lattice of rhynes that criss-crossed the Levels. She studied Comparative Literature at the University of East Anglia then went on to work for MIND in Norwich, the Iona Community on the Isle of Iona and the Richmond Fellowship in Glasgow. In 1992 she gained a distinction in her M.A. in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. In 2010 she was awarded a doctorate after completing practice-based research into Geographical Intimacy and poetry. She consistently publishes work in magazines, journals, sole-authored and co-authored books. She collaborates with artists and scientists, is interested in hybrid writing, writing poems on windows and having poems carved into stone. One of Alyson's poems was carved into Milsom Street pavement in Bath by Alec Peever. She has won competitions and presented lectures on her work at various conferences, festivals and universities both in the UK and abroad. In 2001 Alyson began working on The Migration Habits of Stones, an ongoing poetry and public art project that involves journeying around the world with a stone. This work began with an Individual Artist's Award from the Arts Council and has been featured on Radio 4. Alyson has since made journeys with five migrating stones and sited them in different countries around the world.
Praise for Alyson's work includes:
I will be an avid reader of Stone Talks and I'll tell my friends to keep an eye out for it. I love the way you travel.
Donna Haraway on Stone Talks
I LOVE her - she's fantastic, as fresh as anything, the voice just jumps straight out at you. And the poems make me laugh too.
Jackie Kay on the pamphlet Toots
These are powerful stories, written with spare eloquence, packed with tension, menace and longing. Alyson Hallett is a new talent to watch.
Helen Dunmore on The Heart's Elliptical Orbit
The Migration Habits of Stones is a project about how stones move around the world: it looks at migration, displacement, how we make kin with stones and rocks. Alyson has made journeys with five migrating stones with a line of poetry carved into them by sculptor Alec Peever. These stones are sited in Bristol, UK; Massachussets, USA; Kanahooka Park, Australia; Isle of Iona, Scotland and the fifth stone began an ongoing migration in Los Angeles after Alyson was invited to present her work at the Bellarmine Forum, Loyola Marymount University. After being contacted by Radio 4, Alyson created an audio-diary about her journey with a stone to Australia (edited by Sarah Blunt). She has given talks about this work at the Geological Society, UK and was keynote speaker at art.earth's symposium, In Other Tongues.
Alyson has undertaken many prestigious residencies. These include poet in residence at the Lyell Centre, Heriot Watt University; poet in residence at the Charles Causley Trust; she was the UK's first artist in residence in a geography department at Exeter University's Cornwall Campus with a Leverhulme Award; poet in residence at The Small School, Hartland; poet in residence for the Caravanserai Project; Visiting Writer at the University of the West of England; poet in residence for Arts Council England during the Year of the Artist. Alyson has taught at the Arvon Foundation with poet James Harpur and is a visiting lecturer at UWE and on the MA in Authorial Illustration at Falmouth Art School. Alyson offers mentoring through the Poetry Society and runs a weekly creative writing class through her own Guerilla College of the Free Arts.
Alyson has a long standing commitment to collaborating with other artists and scientists. In the early nineties she wrote and recorded poetry with composer Roger Mills for La Stanza Rosa, a dance performance at the Arnolfini, Bristol. Following this, she worked with Neil Jenkins to create poetry for an installation based upon the myth of Icarus at Cornershop Studios. Alyson has worked with Opus Glass designs and written text that has been acid-etched into stained glass windows for libraries and housing projects; worked with photographer Kamina Walton to create an exhibition, Hidden Images, a project that explores genetic disorders; collaborated with Annie Lovejoy by writing a poem for Bedminster Health Surgery, Bristol. Another significant - and ongoing - collaboration is with artist and bookmaker Penelope Downes with whom Alyson has made several artist's books. Alyson has also written co-authored books with walking artist Phil Smith; poet Penelope Shuttle; physical geographer Chris Caseldine. Work with sculptors includes having poems carved into a pavement and an installation of stones in Kew by Alec Peever; text on a companion stone in the Peak District carved by Amanda Wray; words carved into boulders by David Paton in Cornwall.
Alyson is a Hawthornden Fellow and worked for the Royal Literary Fund for 9 years as a Fellow and Mentor. She has received several Arts Council grants for her work and won first prize in the Scintilla Long Poem competition. Transformative moments include participating in a summer school run by the performance art group Goat Island and performance training/experience with desperate optimists and 3 or 4 composers.
Please contact Alyson with queries about presentations / exhibitions / readings / collaborations.