Ep. 127 Liam Ferney: ‘Poetry is a galaxy’

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.

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Ep 126. Michelle Cahill: A flowering of voices

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.

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Ep 125. Letter from Melbourne

Mid-August, 2020. Some thoughts on energy, podcasting, poetry, the news, and why I dropped out of journalism school.

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Ep 124. Gayatri Nair reports from Western Sydney

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.

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Ep 122. Antonia Pont: ‘Pessimism is very imprecise.’

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.

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Ep 121. ‘Are all poets depressed?’

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.

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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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