Ep 120. Ellen van Neerven: Love poems, comfort and writing ‘Throat’

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.

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Ep 119. Hypochondria vs Poetry

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.

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Ep 118. Alison Whittaker on First Nations poetry and unanswerable questions

‘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.

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Ep 117. David Stavanger on community, self-care, burnout and dog minding

‘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.

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Ep 116. Daniel Swain: Straight men, tarantulas and institutional absurdity

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.

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Ep 115. Michael Farrell & the swimming pool of poetry

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.

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We touched on these books of Michael’s:

Ep 114. On publication

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.

Ep 112. Laurie Duggan: ‘Fragments, fragments, thefts and blunders.’

I had the chance to talk with Laurie Duggan at the end of 2019 on a smokey day in Sydney. We began with the Malley poems (what else?). From there we covered how Laurie gathers and shapes his poetic material, what the Sydney poetry scene was like when he first arrived (and how he sees it now), his relationships with contemporaries, how his poems are received, and why he feels it’s important to be ‘a poet among poets’.

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Ep 111. Poems that got me through 2019

I’ve keep these poems within reach all year. Here are my 2019 go-to poems and the reasons why they’ve been so important to me.

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