Anna Krien is one of the feature poets at the first QLD Poetry Festival event for 2009, Poetry on the Deck to be held at Riverbend Books on Tuesday February 24 (full details below). Her poem ‘The Last Broadcasters’ won the 2008 Arts QLD Val Vallis Award. So let’s take a look at where the words come from…
Perhaps my greatest influence was my primary school teacher Miss Buffham. She noticed that I had somehow managed to sneak through without learning how to read (this was in a fairly hectic and full state school). She quickly bundled me off to this little old lady who made animal brooches out of FIMO and taught me how to read. The next few years were a blur – with a FIMO rabbit brooch and a whole new world opened up to me I simply disappeared into books.
Roll out of bed crack o dawn if possible. Coffee goes on the stove simultaneously with the laptop being turned on. I have a rule (that constantly needs reinforcing) no internet until 1pm. Then with a coffee in hand (white, two sugars) I keep working on whatever is at the forefront of my mind. Because I write in different areas – essays, journalism, short stories, poetry – I have to organise my weeks as to what I am focusing on. My life is a sticky-note. But most of my work, no matter how separated they are, tend to bleed into each other. I guess my ultimate goal is to one day write and publish something that is everything – poetry, fiction, journalism, philosophy, essay, and not give a damn about what genre it is ‘supposed’ to be or how vexed bookshop owners are going to be when deciding what section to put it in.
On a good day I’ll work through to 1 or 2pm, allow myself to check emails, and then start arranging interviews and stories and meetings and read the papers, magazines and a few chapters of a book. Then get ready to waitress at night, or go for a swim, or whatever. On a bad day, well, I get frustrated, feel like a failure, am lonely, and slip into bad habits.
There seems to be a lot of driving in my poems. I’m a bit of a poetic petrol-head. When I was little I loved the drive to somewhere. I never really wanted to get there. We had this old orange Leyland P76 that was like being inside a whale as it steered along highways and up apple peel shaped mountain roads. Dad had a collection of dusty melting cassettes and there was one album amongst the Dire Straits, Carly Simon, Roy Orbison, and Pavarotti that used to send me into a kind of spell. Oxygene by Jean Michel Jarre – perhaps one of the first electronic music albums produced. When it played I’d stare out the window and imagine I was outside the car, running alongside it. When the Leyland finally died after a lifetime of overheating and being pushed uphill, my parents bought another P76. Can you believe it? Lime-green this time.
News stories also tend to creep in and out of my poems – tiny in-briefs of affecting truth and alien voices coming out of transistor radios. I like real poems – which is not to say that all the others are fakes, but I personally like poems that startle me with recognition. It’s the journo in me, no doubt. There is also a lot of curiosity and wonder about how things got to be a certain way. The strangeness of science, awkward adaptations between people and their surroundings, the decay of creatures and the environment.
How my feelings have changed about poetry
Is it wrong to say I’m not a fan of a lot of poetry? Probably – but I’ll say it anyway. To be concise, I think there is an excess of bad writing out there posing as poetry – coughed up linguistic fur-balls that are confusing and cryptic, as well as the indulgent self-fascinated bird droppings that are cathartic for its author and painful for the rest of us. Perhaps I am so acutely pained by this because I have my own share of bad writing posing as poetry hidden somewhere in a milk-crate in the garage. At the National Young Writers Festival in Newcastle one year, a few of us organised a Teen Angst panel where we read out the miserable poetry we had all written back in the day and laughed ourselves silly. It was wonderful. I think if a poet can’t laugh at him or herself, chances are their poetry is going to be a pain in the arse.
Some Poems that Stayed With Me
Broken Land by Coral Hull is quite possibly my favourite collection of poetry. Out of print, of course.
David Berman’s Self-Portrait at 28 and How I Met Your Mother
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S Eliot
A Small Mistake, Kevin Brophy’s poem about the class pet hamster.
Electricity Saviour (page 21 of this link) by Sharon Olds
Josephine Rowe’s collection, Asynchrony
Charles Bukowski’s collection The Night Torn Mad With Footsteps
Sarah Holland-Batt’s The Art of Disappearing
The Well Mouth by Philip Salom
A short poem….
Inside his iron lung
he had sticky-taped
an old poster of the Geelong Cats.
When I mention
the team captain had
left a seventeen-year-old girl
in a hotel room choking
on her own vomit,
he shut the cabinet door
to his chest
and asked me to leave.
Anna Krien’s writing has been published in The Big Issue, The Monthly, The Age newspaper, Best Australian Essays 2005 & Best Australian Essays 2006 – published by Black Inc, Griffith Review, Voiceworks, Going Down Swinging, COLORS, Best Australian Stories 2008, and Frankie magazine. Her poem ‘The Last Broadcasters’ won the 2008 Val Vallis Award. Once she had a neurological cat scan, which came back saying she had an unremarkable brain.
Find out more…
Poetry On The Deck:
Join Anna on the Riverbend Deck alongside exciting new voice, Jessika Tong (Anatomy of Blue, Sunline Press), award winning poet Felicity Plunkett (2008 Thomas Shapcott Award) and global traveler, Alan Jefferies (Homage and other poems).
Date: Tuesday 24 February
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine. To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at www.riverbendbooks.com.au
Spaces are limited so book early to avoid disappointment!