Tag Archives: The Empty Page Blog

Enter: The Writing (and Reading) Room

The lovely Lisette Ogg at The Empty Page has currently asked a bunch of people to post a pic of the place where they write as part of a QWC Blog Tour. So here’s a glimpse of my current favourite writing space… I mean, you can’t go past a big old button back chair with footrest big enough for Peter Rabbit (that’s our lovely grey cat) to sleep soundly on.

I say current, because I have a number of spaces that I flip-flop between… my other favourite is on the floor beside my bed. These two spaces are favourites of mine because there are always piles of books nearby. In that teetering pile you see in the photo you will find Robert Adamson’s – The Goldfinches of Baghdad, Chris Abani’s – Hands Washing Water, Lidija Cvetkovic’s – War is not the Season for Figs, Toh Hsien Min’s – The Enclosure of Love, Yasunari Kawabata’s – Snow Country, and the latest issue of Blue Dog and paper wasp, to name a few.

For me, a writing space must be inhabited by books, have access to music and at the same time have the capacity to be a place of silence, have enough space to accomodate a cat and its purrs and have good access to light and air… this one ticks all the boxes.

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QWC Blog Tour stops by Another Lost Shark

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.

Tonight
Dubrovnik burning
& one time Lhasa, London in the blitz
& last year in the Gardens of Babylon, just wilted
women’s shawls
widowed with ash, with atoms of a daughter, son
fresh-weaned from this breast of a planet
left hanging

  & the war?
the war is as good as won
  & the brain?
the brain is a smart bomb
  dance

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.

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2009 Arts Queensland Poet-in-Residence Announced

On Monday, Premier Anna Bligh announced that acclaimed New Zealand poet, musician, producer and teacher of creative writing, Hinemoana Baker would take up the position as Queensland’s 2009 Poet-in-Residence. Here is a link to the media release:

http://www.qwc.asn.au/Resources/TheEmptyPageBlog/EntryId/85/INTERNATIONALLY-ACCLAIMED-POET-BEGINS-QUEENSLAND-RESIDENCY.aspx

So in my excitement, I sent the lovely Hinemoana a few questions about the residency and of course asked her for a poem.

 

Hinemoana Baker performing at QPF 2006

Hinemoana Baker performing at QPF 2006

 

As Poet-in-Residence what are you most looking forward to?

I am most looking forward to visiting the Maiwar River again (I think this is the indigenous name for the river that runs through Brisbane…?) It really made a big impression on me last time and I am looking forward to spending time with it again.

 

Do you have any specific projects that you plan to work on?

Specific projects – well, I have been working for a while on my second book, which touches on aspects of evolution, fertility, grief, state terrorism… but not on purpose. At the moment its working title is ‘I’m sick of this place let’s get back on the canoe’ – named after a painting by an incredible Maori artist, Star Gossage.

A fantastic part of the residency is that I am encouraged to leave behind a ‘legacy item’ – ie to actually produce something creative during the residency. So I’m also planning to do some field recording as I get around the place. I’d like to leave an audio object of some kind, featuring text and the sounds of these places. I’m thinking here of the sounds of the land/buildings/river/vehicles rather than people. For some reason Australia as a land strikes me as having a lot to ‘say’, though possibly not entirely through language.

 

What do you hope to achieve in the role?

I want to make good, solid connections with fellow poets/writers/artists/lore-breakers. I want to learn a lot more about the aboriginal story in that part of Australia. If I leave there having made/written something with integrity, excellence and/or sex appeal I’ll be thrilled. But mostly I want to be present to what your part of the world has to say to me.

 

I, Muttaburrasaurus langdoni (excerpt)

One morning my love woke
questioning her fragile health.
She was straight awake

no languid scratching
and stretching
but tremors of uncertainty

in the muscles of her face.
I looked to the sea
waves folding in without foam

or spray, oily. We ate
fruit, as usual. We didn’t
get this big on foliage alone.

*

Feel the floating walkway
rise and fall under your feet.
with the wake

of the river catamarans
ferrying the people
 to the city.

The wake makes the walkway
sigh. Inside themselves
the people liquify.

*

In the deep sea around this land
lives a fish, head big as a stone
Stare at it through this glass

so thick it bends
the reliable light, remember
your childhood bed

the blue candlewick
spread, the upholstered
piano chair.

A gellulose gooseberry
makes its movements.
You chant

Australia
Australia
Australia

in the mind behind your eyes.

*

This small boy
thinks he is in New Zealand.
We’re going to the Newzealand today.

There’s a dinosaur skeleton in the Newzealand.
With his small hand
he reaches up to the fork made of pearl

shell, so white, how smooth it must feel.
Do they all eat this way
here in the Newzealand?

*

No-one could have predicted
the turn of events
everything we knew

turning away from us
by degrees
the trees withholding

first their fruit
then their leaves
their company.

 

 

About Hinemoana:

Hinemoana Baker is a multi-talented artist who works in the
fields of music and language.

She has published, produced and performed as a poet and
singer-songwriter since the early 1990’s in New Zealand
and overseas. She writes lyrical poetry and folk-based
acoustic music, as well as experimenting with sonic art and
new music forms. Hinemoana has also edited two Anthologies
of New Zealand poetry.

Hinemoana’s first book ‘matuhi | needle’ was published by
Victoria University Press in Wellington and Perceval Press
in the US. Her writing has been published in many New
Zealand and international anthologies, including the
respected literary journals ‘SPORT’, ‘Turbine’ and
‘Best New Zealand Poems’.

As a musician and producer, Hinemoana has produced four
albums and sometimes works as a features producer for Radio
New Zealand.  As a writer, she is a graduate of the Masters
in Creative Writing programme at the International Institute
of Modern Letters, at Victoria University of Wellington.

Hinemoana has performed in many national and international
festivals, including the New Zealand International Arts
Festival and WOMAD. She has shared stages with a range of
well-known performers and writers, from poets laureate Bill
Manhire and Jenny Bornholdt to iconic New Zealand musicians
Don McGlashan, Mahinaarangi Tocker and Kiri Te Kanawa.

“I feel my varying creative pursuits are really just
story-telling, coupled with a passion for sound: whether
it’s the sound of words, music, waiata tawhito
(traditional chants), my diving gear, whatever. It’s just
the delivery mechanism that changes,” she says.

Hinemoana lives in the Kapiti Coast seaside town of
Paekakariki, in New Zealand’s North Island. She says her
inspiration comes from her mixed Maori and Pakeha heritage
– Ngati Raukawa / Ngati Tukorehe, Ngati Toa Rangatira, Te
Ati Awa / Ngati Mutunga, Ngai Tahu, Ngati Kiritea (Europe);
and her love of language and languages.

Currently Hinemoana is in the final throes of completing a
new collection of poems which, at the moment, is called
‘I’m Sick Of This Place Let’s Get Back On The Canoe’,
which touches on a range of subjects: grief, state
terrorism, fossils, fertility.

TheHer musical duo ‘Taniwha’ has just released an album
– their first – called ‘Snap Happy’, due to be
launched in May 2009.

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