The Momus Questionnaire – Kirsty Logan

Kirsty Logan is a Scottish novelist, poet, performer, literary editor, writing mentor, book reviewer, and writer of short fiction. Logan lives in Glasgow. She wrote her undergraduate thesis on retold fairytales, and her work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Her most recent collection, Things We Say in the Dark, was shortlisted for the Polari Prize.

The Momus Questionnaire was created by musician Nick Currie, and is designed to identify the aspects of the subject’s personality which give them a positive self-image, or ‘subcultural capital’.

What does being shortlisted for the Polari Prize mean for you?

It means the potential of new queer readers, and I’m very happy about that possibility. Here’s the thing: I like to be a queer writer. Every writer wants their work to be read on many different levels. I want people to read my books and enjoy the stories, just on a surface level: be swept up in the narrative and transported somewhere else for a while. I’d also love if readers enjoyed the language, the nuance, the meaning – and yeah, the queerness. So I’m happy with that label, as long as I – and all of us – get to have a variety of other identities too.

Have you rebelled against someone else’s dreary expectations of your life, and become something more unexpected?

Luckily for me, no one ever expected me to be dreary. I’m the eldest child, the first grandchild in my family, and I was always expected to be something. No one really knew what, and I probably haven’t ended up quite what any of them wanted, but at least it’s something.

What in your life can you point to and say, like Frankie, ‘I Did It My Way’?

See above, I guess.

What creative achievements are you most proud of?

Living my life as a writer. Spending my days making up stories and writing them down and, sometimes, talking to people about them. Doing what I, as a child, always believed I could, but had no idea how to achieve. Just the whole ‘writer’ thing in general. It feels so unlikely and so flimsy. I enjoy it while it lasts, and hope it continues to.

If there was one event in your life which really shaped you, made you the person you are today, what would it be?

I’d like to say there wasn’t one, but I wrote a whole memoir about my dad’s death, so there’s that.

If you had to make a song or rap boasting about your irresistible charm and brilliance, how would you describe yourself?

I wouldn’t. My Glaswegian wife would laugh at me and tell me not to be a Billy Big Balls. Honestly I think every writer needs a Glasgow Wife. This person does not have to be from Glasgow or your wife, but they do have to love and support you utterly and think you’re a fucking miracle; while also keeping you right, not letting you get a big head or treat people like shit or think you’re better than others around you.

Despite being the whitest girl alive, I spent my adolescence listening to rap and hip-hop. I don’t think it was poetry or any book in particular that gave me my delight in wordplay and language – it was rap. I still remember the way my tiny mind was blown at the way the KRS-One song ‘Sound of Da Police’ merges ‘overseer’ into ‘officer’. Rap taught me rhyme, alliteration, performance – not stuff I ever thought would be useful in my life or career, just stuff I loved and found delight and surprise in. And now it’s stuff I use all the time.

Have you ever made material sacrifices because of your integrity?

Sure, hasn’t everyone? And I’ve also done it the other way round, chosen the low road instead of the high road; sometimes I regret that, sometimes I don’t. 

Describe a public personality who exemplifies everything you’d like to be yourself, then another public personality who incarnates everything you’d least like to be.

In all public situations I want to come across like Tilda Swinton as the White Witch – elegant, imperious, unruffled. But I fear I’m actually Gollum – cringing, apologetic, pathetic. I guess the truth, as always, is something in the middle.  I’m a sometimes-pathetic queen, or Gollum in a crown.

If you were an Egyptian pharoah and had to be buried with a few key objects to take to the next world, what would they be?

Books, coffee, wife (if she’s already dead). Don’t need anything else.

Do you have a favourite joke, quotation or proverb?


Knock, knock

Who’s there?

Europe

Europe who?

No, you’re a poo

What’s your favourite portrait (it can be a song, a painting, a film, anything)?

Jean Despujols, ‘La Pensée’.

Things We Say in The Dark by Kirsty Logan (Vintage, 2020) is out now in paperback. 

Things We Say in The Dark has shortlisted for the 2020 Polari Prize, the winner of which was announced on 15 October.