In Northcote Suite you connect memories and incidents to three separate streets in that area. What role does place take in your writing?
Place is heaps more than just a setting. I think of it as more of a character in my work, or as a kind of shaping force, something external to the events of the story that both contains them and influences them, and is influenced by them, too. Places are marked by events, consecrated by them, and they carry those marks into new stories, the same way people do.
You are a self-confessed memoirist. What’s your process for translating your life to the page?
I keep a diary, but not like Judy Blume style. I think it’s really important to record little, intimate details I notice about people, places and things. A catch phrase, a weird laugh, a characteristic mannerism, a smell or a persistent background noise or the way light falls on something. My phone is full of this stuff, photos and notes, and bits and pieces of it find their way into my published work. Detail like this creates a fuller sense of authenticity, is loaded with poetic tension, and it often acts as a really great sensory trigger for recalling actual events, too, which is handy when you’re writing memoir.
High Street, the third and final poem of your suite, reads like a stream of consciousness Tinder profile. Have you considered loading this poem onto a dating site and seeing what kind of responses you receive?
Ha! I haven’t, but maybe I should try it out. It’s a pretty intimidating block of text, though. I don’t reckon it would get me many dates. Tinder profiles are so weird. I think my current one is super minimalist. It has this whole non-committal vibe, like I’m way too cool to tell you anything about me so you should probably date me to find out.
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