The good folk at QLD Writers Centre have set sail on a blog tour from October to December this year, stopping by a number of sites and asking the people behind them a few questions about what makes them tick. So here’s what this Lost Shark had to say when they came knocking.
Where do your words come from?
Quite literally, all over the place. I often think of myself walking the streets of Brisbane (or wherever I am) with a net, trawling through the multitude of images in search of the ones that will have a lasting impact. I am also hugely influenced by music. I have quite a large instrumental music collection – everything from the sprawling post rock of Godspeed You! Black Emperor to the more delicate sounds of Seaworthy. The way these musicians create narrative and visual images through patterns of sound really fascinates me. More often than not, I have music on while I am writing. Sometimes it stays in the background, other times it drives the creation of the poem. And while I am talking about music, I have to mention how much my work with Sheish Money influences what I do. He, more than anyone, has helped me find the music in my writing. My other major well of words are the conversations, stories and snippets of life that are shared between friends, family and loved ones. But most of all, the words come with their share of sweat. Capturing the idea is often the easy part, shaping it is where the real work is.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
Well I grew up in Mt Gravatt and live in Mt. Gravatt. In fact, I (unashamedly) live five streets away from our family home. My wife often says my history is contained in five streets. And that is true in many ways… I did however, spend several years in rural QLD in the mid-nineties and really loved it. My four years in the little township of Jimna (north-west of Kilcoy) was when I really started to develop a serious interest in writing. All that solitude, fresh air and leafy surroundings really centred me and gave me the time to work on my craft… and to read. There are times when I miss that slower lifestyle, but Brisbane is such an amazing city to live in and I love having family close by. I was really honoured when Samuel Wagan Watson dedicated the poem Tigerland (from Smoke Encrypted Whispers) to me. Mt. Gravatt (or Tigerland as it is affectionately known) is where I grew up and where I truly feel at home.
What’s the first sentence/line of your latest work?
I make a fish from an alphabet
What piece of writing do you wish you had written?
Dionysus & the Fire by Steven Heighton.
It opens with the Irish Proverb – Never arm a man who can’t dance.
& one time Lhasa, London in the blitz
& last year in the Gardens of Babylon, just wilted
widowed with ash, with atoms of a daughter, son
fresh-weaned from this breast of a planet
& the war?
the war is as good as won
& the brain?
the brain is a smart bomb
The words of this long poem bristle with energy (this is just the first stanza above). It is a poem I often read at open mics or as part of a live set. It’s the poem I read when I need a kick in the pants or I think the audience needs one.
What are you currently working towards?
I am working on putting together a new collection of poems titled Ocean Hearted. I have had this in the pipeline for a while now, but put it to one side to complete work on the CD The Stillest Hour this year. I guess like most writers… I am working toward having more time to write, although I think I do okay.
Complete this sentence… the future of the book is…
Safe. The sensory hit of holding a book is something that I firmly believe will continue to mesmerise us for eternity.
To follow the tour, visit Queensland Writers Centre’s blog The Empty Page.