Q&A with Lu Quade

An image of Lu Quade beside and image of the Suburban Review #20 cover. Lu Quade has pale skin, an excellent brown beard that reaches down to the collar of a bright blue and green shirt. Lu is wearing a baseball cap and looking over the top of the camera with a neutral, relaxed expression.

LU QUADE is an artist from Newcastle upon Australia.

Our Associate Editor, Panda Wong, talks to Lu about ‘Stealing Coins from Mum’s Handbag’, published in #20: Handbag.

Your poem ‘Stealing Coins from Mum’s Handbag’ is a nostalgic take on the theme ‘HANDBAG’. I love its mischievous tone, and the vivid references peppered throughout it (love the Kangaroos throwback). Why did you decide to write this poem from a child’s perspective?

Thanks :) A lot of my creative work is a nostalgic jam with past ‘meez’—when I write I often picture myself writing stories when I was little (like six or seven). Because I have moved so much in my life—around 50 houses in 40 years so far—I can very clearly picture what house I was living in (and hence, my age at the time), when I travel down memory lane. I think that it also makes it easy to remember lots of vivid little details.

So yeah, a lot of the things I make are a conversation/collaboration with past versions of myself—sometimes playful like this one, or sometimes trying to find a way to deal with failure or loss of some type.

You’re not just a poet, but an artist, musician, writer, graphic designer and educator. I especially love some of your recent animations! Can you talk to us about how these different skills may overlap, and what your multi-disciplinary approach brings to the table?

Yes! I can. I love learning new things. Songwriting and poetry obviously interact strongly. I’ve only recently started to think of myself as a poet and to write poetry deliberately. I realised that many of the ‘failed’ songs I was writing—lyrical ideas that I was becoming frustrated with and throwing away were actually interesting observations, where they were sometimes too specific, sometimes too symbolic to fit anywhere in my songwriting style.

Teaching kids (I also have my own lovely eleven-year-old) has been a big influence on my art and writing and has also helped to keep in touch with those kid parts of me. I love stealing words and ideas from kids and combining them with my own!

Becoming a visual artist about ten years ago definitely made me observe the world very differently. Colour and shadow and silhouette came crashing into my eyes and face, and that changed the way that I remember and describe things.

What are some works or artists that have helped to shape your practice?

John Darnielle’s (of The Mountain Goats) words and music have had a very big influence on me over the last decade. Claire Albrecht has been a very big supporter of my poetry and encouraged me to read at her Cuplet Poetry Night in Newcastle (where I also live) and her poetry is all of the way up all of my alleys, ha