Poems have weird jobs when they show up in movies. Sometimes they have to make up for a broader lack of meaning, or frame the theme of the movie in just a few seconds. Almost always, they’re positioned as something only a chosen few can truly understand.
I first encountered Liam Ferney’s poetry on an afternoon trip to Hill of Content. I liked his book so much it made me jealous, so I didn’t buy it (nice). In this chat we talk about everything from what can’t be a poem to writing from within a dominant community, masculinity, complicity, the pageantry of public opinion, and how Liam sometimes feels like he’s in dialogue with this very podcast.
Speaking to me from Alyawarre Country in the Northern Territory, Michelle Cahill shares how this new environment is shaping her poetry and her thinking. We talk colonialism, cross-cultural writing and the flowering of POC voices in Australian poetry. We also touch on what the writing life asks of us as people and some of the challenges that have been brought to the Australian literary establishment recently.
Gayatri Nair is one of the many women of colour who are part of Sweatshop—a literacy movement out of Western Sydney that aims to empower ‘culturally and linguistically diverse communities through reading, writing and critical thinking’. We talk about how a community like this can support new writers, why critical feedback on your work is important (even at the early stages) and hear Gayatri read some of her poems for the very first time from Sweatshop Women Volume Two.
Sweatshop Women is funded by: The Australia Council for the Arts, The Packer Family Foundation, Crown Resorts Foundation, Red Room Poetry and Information and Cultural Exchange Centre and Campbelltown City Council.
I discovered Hilda Morley and her poem ‘Song of the Terrible‘ while hunting for something else, but this was exactly the poem I needed in the moment I found it. It reminds me of one of my favourite sayings: ‘Relax. Nothing is under control.’
Every interview I do for this show offers its own rewards. Speaking with Antonia Pont, I got to hear a message of truly radical gentleness that helped me turn the corner out of a recent stretch of darkness. We also ate whiskey cake.
Antonia’s stunning new book, You Will Not Know In Advance What You’ll Feel, gave us the starting point for this conversation that covers themes like eroticism, resisting neoliberalism, building and dismantling the self, and ‘steadiness, laziness, pleasure, kindness’.
The other side of having a border collie brain is, occasionally, having to look after ‘the black dog’. In this episode I look at the persistent myth that being a poet is somehow connected to poor mental health.