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’.
Listen with tea, wine or your favourite snack.
- Excerpt: ‘The Anatomy of a Trigger’ by Antonia Pont (The Lifted Brow, October 2019)
- The Writer Antonia Pont vs. Envy (Literary Hub, June 2019)
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.
Mununjali author Ellen van Neerven’s new collection Throat, just out from UQP, has incredible breadth. The book moves from themes of love, sexuality and gender to ideas like ecopoetry, queer elders and the exchange of power between writer and reader. In this conversation we touch on all those ideas, always returning to the question of comfort—our own and other people’s.
I used to be (still am?) a hypochondriac. When I read Anne Boyer’s new book The Undying recently, I was reminded of some long months (years?) spent trawling online health information for a sense of comfort—and not finding it. In Anne’s work, I saw again how poetry resists the flat, reductive language we read and hear when we’re trying to get well.
‘If this book can be a memory for us, then I would consider it successful.’ So says Alison Whittaker of the new anthology Fire Front: First Nations poetry and power today, just out from UQP. In this episode, Alison and I talk about everything that went into creating this new collection and why it was important to hold the reader’s hand a little more tightly than usual. We also discuss issues of audience, reception and the questions we need to keep asking—even if they can’t be answered.
- Feminist Writers Festival Q&A: Alison Whittaker
- ‘A means of resistance’: Susie Anderson Interviews Alison Whittaker
- Not My Problem: on The Colonial Fantasy — Alison’s review in the Sydney Review of Books
‘The poetry community is a living thing,’ David Stavanger says. With all in-person poetry events on hold when we recorded this interview, that statement has never felt more true.
David and I talk about his latest book, ‘Case Notes’, along with the joys and challenges of being a producer in the arts, the work of investigating and questioning accepted language (‘gig economy’, ‘sleep hygiene’ and ‘self-care’ to name a few), and why sometimes it’s important to remember that poetry isn’t saving lives.
- Case Notes by David Stavanger, UWA Publishing, 2020
- Solid Air: Australian and New Zealand Spoken Word edited by David Stavanger & Anne-Marie Te Whiu, UQP, 2019
- The Special by David Stavanger, UQP, 2014
- I Can’t Stop Watching Contagion by Folding Ideas (‘We remember January but it has as much presence in the mind as childhood.’)
Daniel Swain describes himself as ‘a gay man but also so much less than that.’ Self-depreciation aside, Daniel is just as funny and intriguing as the poems in his new chapbook You Deserve Every Happiness But I Deserve More. In this episode we talk about life in isolation, the absurdity of higher education, why straight men are funny/like tarantulas, self-exposure, and whether name-dropping in poems is an invitation or a way to shut readers out.
On March 19th, 2020 I sat under a tree with Michael Farrell – one of the most influential poets working in Australia today. We were meeting at a strange moment in history, but spent a lot of our time laughing. We discussed everything from One Direction to the role of Catholicism in Michael’s poetry, the processes he uses to create his work, and whether he’ll ever take on ABBA’s Dancing Queen as a poetic subject.
We touched on these books of Michael’s:
There are as many paths to publication as there are writers. Still, I wanted to share the process of bringing my first full-length collection, The Empty Show, into the world.
I’m not the best at discussing my own achievements, but I hope this episode is useful to those who want to see their own collection on a bookstore shelf one day.