Where to begin summarising the work of Christian Bök? He’s a Canadian poet, the author of the bestselling experimental poetry collection Eunoia, a founder of the poetic school of Conceptualism, and most recently, Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne. In this interview Christian talks about what it’s been like to move between poetry worlds over the years, where he’s at with his mammoth project The Xenotext, elements of playfulness versus priestliness in poetry, work he’s envious of, and the moon landing.
Open Bella Li’s collections Argosy or Lost Lake and you’ll immediately be struck by the beauty of her imagery. In this chat, recorded on a rainy Melbourne afternoon, I check in with Bella after the year that was. We discuss how and why she works with the materials she does, her relationships to both poetry and genre, and get a sneak preview of her new collection.
I got to speak with Justin Clemens—Melbourne poet and academic—in person in mid-February 2021. Melbourne had just come out of a five-day hard lockdown, Facebook had recently wiped news in Australia, the tennis was still happening…what a time to be alive! We go everywhere in this conversation, from Justin’s book The Mundiad to the work of contemporary poets, then all the way back to 15th century France.
Describing Michael Aiken as a ‘poet’ only tells a tiny part of his story—Michael’s creative interests span everything from fiction writing to video games. Last year, all those interests came together in Sydney’s Newtown, where Michael now runs Garden Lounge Creative Space. We talk about what it’s been like to get Garden Lounge up and running (and to keep it going during 2020), along with the bigger issues surrounding this kind of work when it comes to gatekeeping, inclusivity and diversity.
If you haven’t yet come across Anne-Marie Te Whiu‘s writing, you’ve definitely felt the ripple effects of her work in poetry. She co-edited UQP’s Solid Air, Australia and New Zealand Spoken Word, co-directed the Queensland Poetry Festival from 2015-17, and this year we’ll see the publication of Whisper Songs by Tony Birch, which Annie also edited. In this episode we talk creative side-hustles, building genuine relationships, the value of the slow burn, becoming a ‘no’ person, and hear about an exciting new project coming mid-2021.
Fiona Wright’s work resists classification in the best way. Through some magic combination of essay and poetry—by both zeroing in and staying open—she reveals the beauty, grief and absurdity that makes up our lives. In this episode we talk about her latest project, the recurring themes in her work, how she thinks about narrative, and the fact that she’s actually hilarious.
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.