The Next Big Thing: Andy Jackson

Standard

This is the next post in my ‘Next Big Thing’ series, featuring current or forthcoming books by exciting Australian Poets. This entry showcases Andy Jackson and you can read Andy’s work and follow his adventres at http://www.amongtheregulars.wordpress.com.

What is the title of your book?
“Unhomely”

What genre does your book full under?
Poetry.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A new collection of poems about the strangeness of home, the consolations of alienation, our familiar bodies and their otherness – poems that are moving, questioning and beautifully inconclusive (if I don’t say so myself).

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The “idea for the book” was really in retrospect. I’d written a series of poems on medical tourism, a kind of not-quite-fictional loose verse novella. This became the contrast with the poems I’d written between 2010 and 2012, which had no real theme apart from my usual – how we get on with our bodies. “Unhomely” appeared one day as a word that would hold all the poems together.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Two years.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Time spent in India. The people I love. Reading about medical tourism. Artists like Berlinde de Bruyckere, Bill Viola and Ron Mueck. Years of writing about myself that created a desire to look outside. And yes, Coburg.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’ve talked with two publishers, but who might put it out is still unconfirmed.

What other books would you compare this book to in your genre?
Other people would probably be able to answer this question better! I’ll just say who I’ve been influenced by while I wrote these poems – Tu Fu, David Constantine, Adrienne Rich, Kerry Leves, Ryokan, Jeet Thayil and Nicholas Powell.

What actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie rendition?
Ooh, that’s not easy. All I know is I’d hold the camera and do the voice-overs, but the audience might not ever see me in focus.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I think these poems have many doors and many windows.

Hope everyone who reads this is well!

The Next Big Thing: Susan Austin

Standard

My last post on this blog recorded my answers to the ‘Next Big Thing’ questions, and over the next week or so I’m going to share the responses from writers I invited to respond, in order to keep the idea rolling. Here, Hobart-based poet Susan Austin talks about her exciting first collection, Undertow. Enjoy…more to come soon!

What is the title of your book?
Undertow
What genre does your book full under?
Poetry.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
It’s a collection of poems inspired by my travels, my relationships, my work and my glimpses into the poignant moments and deep emotional undercurrents of other people’s lives.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
After I filled up a 220-page exercise book with poems written from between the ages of eight and twenty-five and had numerous poems published in journals and other publications, I started to believe that I might be able to see my own poetry book published one day. When I carefully put together a collection of my favourite and most polished poems, and sent them off to the IP Picks competition and received a commendation and some great feedback, I knew it was a project that was worth pursuing.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The poems were mostly written over the last ten years, so I guess you could say it took a long time! And each poem had generally been edited many times by myself, then work-shopped with my poetry group or in a poetry course. Gina Mercer was kind enough to work with me on some final polishing of many of the individual poems as well as refining the collection as a whole. We worked together over a two-month period and Gina was particularly helpful when it came to sequencing the poems so that there was a somewhat cohesive flow throughout the manuscript.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
People. The book is largely about people and how they relate to each other. How they flirt, play, yearn, disappoint, hurt, love, miss and grieve for each other. I’ve always experienced emotions very intensely and found poetry to be an essential way of processing life. The book is inspired by challenges and events in my own life as well as in the lives of others. If you asked me to choose between writing a poem about a blue fairy wren or a poem about how someone feels when they are being driven home by their drunk boyfriend, it’s an easy choice for me. Maybe it’s because I work as a therapist and deal with human emotions and behaviours all the time or maybe I just gravitated towards that work because I find people so fascinating. Even the travel poems in the book are about the ways that the traveler interacts with local inhabitants of the places they visit, rather than being about the places themselves.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Ralph Wessman has kindly taken the plunge and published Undertow as part of his impressive Walleah Press catalogue. Since I moved to Tasmania and started getting involved in the literary scene down here, Ralph has been a great supporter of my work, particularly through his previous project, Famous Reporter. He has helped me bridge the divide between being an ‘emerging’ poet and a published author. Although maybe I’m still ‘emerging’ – I feel like I have a bit of work to do to reach audiences and readers on the other side of the Bass Strait.
What other books would you compare this book to in your genre?
This is a hard question for me to answer! As I have only just had my first book published I don’t feel as though I can compare my book to those of the more established poets whom I admire. What I can say is that I really enjoy the poignancy, fluency and character/ emotional depth in books like Jane Williams’ City of Possibilities, Gina Mercer’s Handfeeding the Crocodile, Louise Oxley’s Sitting with Cezanne and Liz Winfield’s Too Much Happens.
What actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie rendition?
I think there would need to be a lot of actors as there are a lot of characters in my book! Although I wouldn’t complain if Nicole Kidman and Orlando Bloom turned up on set to play some of the key ones
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I have had stacks of positive feedback from people who have bought and read Undertow, with quite a few contacting me to order another more copies for their friends, so that bodes well … and I was chuffed with the review by Lucy Alexander in Verity La http://verityla.com/deftly-anchored-in-experience-susan-austins-undertow/
People have said that my book is easy to read and makes writing poetry look easy, which suits me just fine as I don’t like clunky, obscure poetry that mystifies the reader. People don’t need to know how many hours were spent slaving over each word, line or stanza to create that impression.

The next big thing…

Standard

This post continues a project commenced by poet Ivy Alvarez, whereby writers are tagged to answer questions, as below, about their current or next writing project. I’ve been invited to participate by Queensland poet Vanessa Page, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the 2012 Queensland Poetry Festival. I’ll contact five of my literary fellow travellers and ask them to continue the ‘dasiychain’.

What is the title of your book?

I was lucky to have two chapbooks published in 2012, although essentially they are volumes of the same book–Private Conversations. Volume 1 was published by Graham Nunn at Another Lost Shark Publications, and Volume 2 by Ralph Wessman at Walleah Press. I was grateful for the opportunity to publish both volumes, as many of the poems respond to each other in different ways, so that the two volumes represent two voices in a conversation.

What genre does your book full under?

Poetry.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Not sure I can do one sentence…I’ll try! I’ve looked back over my shoulder at seminal moments in my past and crafted poems around them, so that I converse with particular elements of those experiences. And as I said earlier, some of the poems connect with each other. So it’s about retracing my steps, in some ways, and marking the way with poems instead of breadcrumbs.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

For a long time, I had a bunch of poems in search of a connection. They were written over several years and finally during 2011 I started to see common threads emerging; aspects of experience, such as loss and fatherhood and finally abandoning what I’d always considered an artificial sense of faith. Once these ideas started to gel, I started to develop more poems that aligned neatly with these or similar concepts. Until right at the end, though, when I knew I had interest in publication, there wasn’t a lot of explicit thinking about this project. It simply grew.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

For reasons I just mentioned, this is difficult to answer; until I actually placed the poems together for publication, they hadn’t really existed as a manuscript. But, off and on, the poems were written over a period of 3-4 years, here and there, between working on a novel and other ideas, and other less essential obligations like work. I sent a clutch of them off to Chris Mansell, actually, at PressPress for assessment, and her feedback was excellent–her insight helped me hone my poetic senses, I think. I revised a lot of what I had written after that.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

There is no one specific person or event with which I can asnwer this question; I love the demand of poetry, I love the different framing of language it requires,  but I still think I have a lot to learn about it. Prose is my first love (and indeed I am hard at work now on another long-form prose project, as part of a Masters in Creative Writing). So I guess I wanted to see what I could do with the wealth of forms available in poetry, and of course there are some things that happen to you that are difficult to express any other way. This isn’t a very good answer, sorry.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’ve been fortunate to have the support of two perceptive, generous and inspiring men, in Graham Nunn and Ralph Wessman; I’ve very grateful for their support.

What other books would you compare this book to in your genre?

Again, difficult. Many of the poems explore my influences; so there’s a noticeable Philip Larkin  bent to some of them, although I would never compare myself to him. (I’m generally pretty happy, for one thing.) I also read Alex Skovron’s Autographs towards the end of working on my collection and again I would never compare my work to his but the finesse and quiet strength of his work is something I aspire to.

What actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie rendition?

What an odd question. I think, though, that I like the approach of the people who made I’m Not There, the movie about Bob Dylan in which he is played by a variety of different actors. Experience is reinvented in some ways in my book, and the saying goes that writers taste life twice, so I think I would draw on a very small troupe of actors and have them play all the roles. I don’t know who, though; other poets perhaps. I wonder if David Stavanger is  busy…?

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Many of the issues I write about are universal–being in love, losing someone very close before their time, regrets, parenthood, and so on. I would hope that people could find something in Private Conversations that they could relate to. I also like to think the title is a bit enticing…almost like encouraging readers to eavesdrop. I give my full permission.

[Volume One is available online via Another Lost Shark publications and at Fullers Bookshop, Tasmania. Volume Two is also available at Fullers and online via Walleah Press.]