The Random 19 with writer Louisa Adjoa Parker

Louisa Adjoa Parker is a writer and poet of English – Ghanaian heritage who lives in Dorset. Louisa has
been highly commended by the Forward Prize; twice shortlisted by the Bridport Prize; and her grief poem, Kindness, was commended by the National Poetry Competition 2019. Louisa gained wide local attention in the summer of 2020 with her poem Dear White West Country People.

1. What’s your relationship with the Blackmore Vale (the area, not us!)?
I have lived in West Dorset since I was 19 – North Dorset has always been the beautiful neighbour I can pop over and visit!

2. What was the last movie you watched? Would you recommend it?
People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan! People Just Doing Nothing is one of my favourite TV shows. I love the writing, the characters, the cringe comedy, even their story as actors. It was my first cinema trip for nearly two years, and it was a brilliant film. I’d recommend watching the TV shows first though!

3. What was the best thing before sliced bread?
Books and the printing press, without a doubt!

4. It’s Friday night – you have the house to yourself, and no work is allowed. What are you going to do?
Netflix and some prosecco! If we had a bath, I’d be in it, but we don’t at the moment. Soon, hopefully!

5. What would you like to tell 15yr old you?
Oh. Okay. Well I had a tough childhood and a difficult adolescence. We moved to Paignton to be near my grandparents when parents split – I was 13, and sadly within a few weeks my granddad died. It was a tough time, and I really struggled as a teenager – especially being mixed race in Devon. I saw no-one who wasn’t white. I struggled to make sense of myself, I got into drinking, smoking, all the typical teen things. So I’d say to 15 yr old me: “No matter what people say, you’re not fat. You’re notugly. Things will get better. Life is tough, it’s going to be challenging. But there will be lots of joy too. Hang in there, and just keep going.”

6. What’s your secret superpower?
Resilience. I’ve been through a lot of tough times, but I’ve learned to cope – and also to recognise when I’m not coping so well, and to look after myself.

7. What shop can you not pass without going in?
I do love clothes, I love to take a look at what’s happening with the latest fashions. Oh, actually I really love a good health food shop. If I see one I’m in.

8. Chip Shop Chips or Home- baked Cake?
Oh this is hard. These are hard! I like both. I’m trying to cut carbs (I know, I’m so boring), but I love to bake cakes at home with ground almonds. This is really tricky… okay, I’ll go for cake. No chips. No, cake. Chips. Cake! Then I can put what I want in it.

9. If you were sent to an island for a year and could only bring three things, what would you bring?
(the island has a magical power source and a laptop waiting for you) I’m going to choose a book, a duvet and headphones. But don’t ask which book. Far too hard for me to choose!

10. What in life is frankly a mystery to you?
Why humans do the things we do. I really really struggle to understand it. I think that we have this amazing capacity to do great things, to be so kind and compassionate; and yet so often that just gets lost, and we behave in awful ways. I really don’t understand why. Humans are imperfect, and make mistakes, but how do people turn on others so easily? Why don’t we learn?

11. What’s your most annoying trait?
Hmm. I talk a lot? Some people might find that annoying. Actually, it’s probably that I’m over-sensitive to noise, I’m sure that’s annoying to a lot of people. Especially my husband. Lots of noises irritate me – even someone eating can put me on edge. That’s probably very hard to live with!

12. The best biscuit for dunking?
I’m one of those mildly annoying people that’s given up gluten and refined sugar. I haven’t actually had a proper biscuit for years. But I can still remember how much I loved a chocolate digestive dunked in a mug of tea.

13. Who’s your celebrity crush?
Right now it’s going to be the entire People Just Do Nothing cast!

14. What book did you read last year that stayed with you?
A state of fear by Laura Dodsworth. She challenges the reader to think and interrogate what’s been going on since last March, and offers an alternative narrative which is incredibly well researched and beautifully written.

15. Your top three most- visited, favourite websites? Clothes sites including Cos and H&M. I’m trying to be more ethical and they seem committed to sustainability.
Netflix! I get involved with the comedies and dramas, I really escape into stories (probably why I became
a writer), I love choice, and I love binge watching!
Spotify – I have loads of playlists and love a wide range of music!

16. Favourite quote? Movie, book or inspirational – we won’t judge.
Oh. My favourite one is sweary, I can’t say that! Hmm. I think it has to be ‘This too will pass’. I know, it’s hippyish. But when I’m struggling, it’s good to be reminded this isn’t going to be here forever. I find it can be reassuring and powerful.

17. What’s the best evening you’ve ever had?
Recently I went to see a band called Laid Blak in Lyme Regis. It was just the most fun – being able to dance, in a room full of people, seeing young people having a good time, a couple of cheeky glasses of wine… Just being with people who are happy. I think all my good evenings have involved all those things; people coming together and having a good time.

18. Favourite crisp flavour?
Salt and Vinegar, without a doubt. (The first spontaneous answer in a year to this contentious question! Well done. Ed)

19. You have the power to pass one law tomorrow, uncontested. What would you do?
I would declare that everyone had to be kind. Just be kind to other humans. It seems to be something we’ve lost, and social media makes it easy to be horrible and not think about the consequences of our actions. So I’d pass the law to make everyone act compassionately and with empathy.

Louisa’s poetry pamphlet, She can still sing, was published by Flipped Eye in June 2021, and she has a coastal memoir forthcoming with Dorset’s Little Toller Books.

By: Laura Hitchcock

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