Tag Archives: Interviews with Tim Sinclair

re:reading the dictionary: Talking with Tim Sinclair

The Countdown to QLD Poetry Festival has hit single digits… that’s right, just 5 days to go! So, make sure you have done the following things:

1. Bought your ticket to Of Rhythm and Rapture, QPF’s opening night extravaganza featuring Sandra Thibodeaux, Sawako Nakayasu, the 2011 Arts QLD P0et-in-Residence, Jacob Polley and acclaimed singer-songwriter-poet, Kate Fagan.

2. Caught up on your sleep (you are going to need it).

3. Got a copy of the program and started planning your festival experience.

4. Read this interview with Tim Sinclair!

I believe you have recently completed work on a new collection of poetry, re:reading the dictionary. I remember many days lying on the lounge room floor, flicking through the flimsy pages of my parents extremely large Websters and marvelling at the sheer volume of words that danced inside it, so the idea of a collection devoted to some of the words that may be facing extinction in the common vernacular excites me greatly. How did you go about writing, researching and putting together the collection?

I like how you say ‘research’ like it was something I consciously entered into! Makes me sound so studious and purposeful. The reality, of course, is a lot closer to what you describe. The lounge room floor approach – a lifelong serendipitous rummage in that ever-entertaining book, the dictionary. The Dictionary, with a capital D; The Book. The archetype, the blueprint, the begetter of all that’s begat, because, as has been pointed out before, between its covers it contains every single book ever written, and every single book that’s yet to be written. All you need to do is figure out the order to arrange those words in. Guess that’s what poets and authors and anyone who works with words are constantly striving to do. Just trying to find the right order.



a book printed at an early date, especially before 1501

Breakfast used to be hand illuminated. Newspapers were bard shaped, speech bubbles had punctuation, and everyone spoke in copperplate. Our tea poured with the sound of a waterfall, brass knobs were mandatory, everything was cranked by hand, and the dancing, when it happened, happened in the streets. We bathed in ink and rolled on vellum sheets, our retinas scanned with a seer’s crystal ball. It all came to pass in the days foretold, before the ones and zeroes scuttled into our lives. Behold.


You have also been hard at work on your second verse novel. I recently read an interview with 2011 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, Jacob Polley where he said:

Poetry seems to be the art of suspending a decision, of creating something that doesn’t quite commit to making complete sense, but rather rings or resonates with the truth of complex, lived experience and feeling. In a novel, you write something that, in the very writing, demands that decisions be made about characters and events, about plot.

 So I wanted to ask you, is it a completely different headspace you need to occupy when working on your verse novel?

The simple answer is yes. The longer answer, of course, is yes and no. This one I actually plotted out quite thoroughly beforehand, so I had a very definite structure I was working towards. The beauty of that, of course, and this relates to what Jacob Polley is saying above, is that in some ways, I had made all those decisions beforehand. So when it came to the actual writing, I was freed up to discover all the bits I hadn’t thought of, all the happenstance that occurs when you pull away from control and find out what it is you don’t know you don’t know.

It’s kind of like the best travel plans, I guess. It’s nice to know what city you’ll be staying in tomorrow night, but to have just that amount of structure gives you this glorious freedom to wander the streets randomly all day before you walk into your hotel in the evening.

You also recorded an album, Brothers of the Head back in 2004 which is an absolute trip! As a fellow poet/drummer, I wanted to ask whether you had any plans to head back into the studio and continue your sonic exploration?

No immediate plans, unfortunately. Most of my sonic exploration these days is language-based. Or tapping on the desk and driving people crazy… It’s definitely something I’m going to get back to one day though. I love what music lets you do; what it does to you. It’s so immediate, so visceral. So outside of rational thought.

Weirdly though, and as you’d know well, there’s nothing more mathematical and structured and precise than drumming – literally cutting time up into eighth notes and sixteenth notes – but within that extreme structure is the possibility for such fluidity. It’s something you can’t think about too much, because to the conscious mind it’s a paradox. But it makes perfect sense to the non-conscious mind. To that part that all of us connect to instantly when we sink into a good groove.

You have been part of the QLD Poetry Festival family before in 2008. What is it about the festival that makes it stand out from the pack and what are you most looking forward to about your return visit?

I love this Festival for its diversity, its delight, its inclusiveness, its surprises. I’m looking forward to all of that, and then some!


Catch Tim at QPF 2011:

Saturday August 27

Alphabet as Architecture, 1:30pm Shopfront Space, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. Entry is Free.

Sunday August 28

Onwards to Infinity, 7:00pm Theatre Space, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. Entry is Free.

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