Scott Wings talks to Amanda Anastasi about his Melbourne Comedy Festival show Colossi.
In Colossi, you draw on myth and fairytale, as well as a sense of play, to explore ideas on dealing with negativity, anxiety and strength. What, in life, is your ‘troll-resistant armour’?
I was talking about this with an artist friend of mine the other day and how all our friends are artists. My troll resistant armour is my non-artist friends. The ones I play video games and go fishing with. The ones who don’t care about the “industry” or the perils of it. And while they ask how I’m going and enquire about my career, I can share my life with them. It quickly becomes bad puns, mum jokes and a conversation about the new X Men movie. We make a bonfire and smoke a blunt and just chill the fuck out, ya know? You need that. Hanging out with artists too much quickly becomes an “inmates running the asylum” scenario. It’s not good for me to constantly have. So my mates are my grounding and the ones I turn to when I need to remember what life is actually about.
Tell us about your childhood imaginary friend.
Ironically I didn’t really meet Jack until I was working on this show. I was raised a single child and you’d assume I had one. But nah. Me and my ninja turtles toys got along just fine. But I was talking to a lot of people who had imaginary friends. One of my Brisbane friends had an imaginary friend who would cop the blame for all of her bad behaviour. Until she had to kill her imaginary friend so they “died in a fire.” Seriously. People’s brains are amazing. Now that Jack and I get to play a lot in COLOSSI I think often of how he would handle situations. Jack helps a lot. He’s handy to have around. Adults need more imaginary friends I think. As long as it’s not crazy for you.
Colossi would appeal to the child in all of us and is so refreshingly imaginative. It is
(Alternate Title: Part Two of the MSW article A Guide To Behaving Poetically Correct, in case you clicked on it but didn’t actually read it.)
The poetry gig convener is both a revered and detested breed of poet on the Melbourne poetry scene. He/she/they are a poet turned event manager, for little to no pay. We are somewhat saint-like creatures, really. We are the wheel that keeps it all moving, organising a night of poetry that is not our own (though that doesn’t stop some of us from making it about us. We’re only human…)
Often we don’t know if you’re being friendly to us because you genuinely like us, or because you’d like a gig. As poets, we are astute observers of the intricacies of human behaviour and see through your faux charm immediately. We simply smile through our tears, and soldier on. For poetry.
However, we would rather the slightly exaggerated interest in our work and chit chat that wouldn’t otherwise happen, to the unsubtle “How do I get a feature here?” or “I would like to feature here.” It’s like requesting sex without taking us out on a date or at least exchanging a few niceties. It’s a bit frightening for us. If we could afford security, we would call security.
The convener then feels uncomfortable. We are quite sensitive, you know. We’re poets. We wrote about our feelings in a notebook since we were six. If the convener does not want to feature you for some reason (which would be a perfectly reasonable one, be assured), they are now in a position where they must either reject you directly (not advised) or reply with polite excuses. Awkward. Contrary to your intention, it is not helping your career. It will only make the convener walk in the other direction when they see you. If the convener was intending to feature you already, you will never know that you were about to be asked. You will think you got the gig because you asked for it…and you are kind of missing out on the thrill of
Nathan Curnow talks to Amanda Anastasi about The Right Wrong Notes.
In That Afternoon Room, you are “still the boy turning the handle” and “still the boy waiting quietly”. What is it you are now waiting quietly for?
Audience burn out Death by karate chop The end of McDonald’s An ant bite between the toes Kanye’s new album Wonder and a fresh salad sandwich
The falling and opening of curtains is a recurring image in your book. How much is life like a stage for you?
Life used to feel a lot more like a stage than it does now. Growing up in a public family we were always aware of the eyes upon us, and we worked as a team in many ways. We were an everyday troupe of bible belt players. It wasn’t dishonest, it was just us in a spotlight week to week, a normal extension of the performance gene we were born with. It was sometime later that we began to challenge that script in our personal lives.
These days it’s in my writing where life feels like a stage, particularly in the poems that seem confessional. I present parts that are true while other parts distort the truth in order for the piece to work successfully. The poem demands it. It’s like an actor who draws on lived experience in order to portray a believable, fictional character. So the writing is a pose, but an honest one that’s completely setup.
In this sense I’m interested in filling the spotlight so that the spotlight shines for all.
Do you erect a Christmas tree and how much tinsel is on it?
Yes, it’s a ratty plastic tree that needs to be thrown out. Santa leaves a note every Christmas morning that says, ‘more tinsel :(’, but he keeps coming.
In Reply, you express the idea that a poem is about more than its subject. How much must a poem be about the reader?
It’s about the reader as much as the reader is about the poem, which I realise is a very annoying answer. It’s about the interaction of t
Amanda Anastasi talks to Jennifer Compton about Now You Shall Know.
This collection contains observations about family and the various people you have encountered. There is the woman at Flinders St Station, the Dutch widow, a Frankston masseur. Has anyone recognised themselves in your poems?
No. I am thinking of going down the road though, and showing the Dutch widow her poem. I would have loved to have been a photographer. I should have been one.
The subtitle of your title poem Now You Shall Know mentions an aria sung by Maria Callas. Were you listening to this piece while you were writing this poem? Do you listen to music while you are writing?
I wasn’t, and no I don’t. There are enough sounds that surround us. I can’t take too much noise these days.
The Name Of The Street refers to Hope Street in Brunswick, where Jill Meagher was murdered. What kind of response did you receive to this poem.?
Interestingly, there has been more interest in this poem overseas.
If you could choose the name of the street you lived in, what would it be called?
Bridge Street. I used to live in Bridge Street. The bridge between Australia and New Zealand, the bridge between page and stage, between men and women, between young and old. I like to be in the middle.
In Four Lines By Ezra Pound you touch on plagiarism. How difficult is it to be original?
It is difficult not to be original.
What is your favourite word?
Emeraude, a word I must have misread years ago in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, because I can’t find it in any of the versions now. I thought I read – ‘as green as emeraude’.
Name the poetry collection you have kept referring to.
Selected Poems by Yevtushenko, in the Penguin Modern European Poets series.
A poem I have read many times is Auden’s September 1, 1939.
Poetic self-portrait: in no more than seven words, describe Jennifer C
Matt Hetherington talks to Amanda Anastasi about For Instance: a haiku & senryu collection.
Many consider a three line poem with any reference to human life to be traditionally a senryu, rather than a haiku. However, your poems seem to be a combination of the two poetic forms. Do you find this merging of human nature and the world of nature inevitable?
Everything is inevitable.
Why the title For Instance?
I think haiku and senryu are essentially about capturing something of an instant in experience, as an example of events in the world that are beautiful/sad/humbling/funny/poetic/enlightening etc…so they are all dedicated to the instant[s].
Have you ever started writing a poem of length and ended up reducing it to a haiku, or vice versa? If so, is this a frequent occurrence?
No, but I’ve sure written plenty of very short poems. And not very many long ones. I think the odd early haiku of mine might be a bit long, too. I have a different attitude when writing haiku/senryu than other poetry, more based in the senses, and envision them as a kind of snap-shot, which is why the first part and third part of the book are written overseas – I purposely didn’t take a camera, in order to write them about what I observed. It’s also a really nice way to remember those things, and in a way makes the memory of them more vivid than a snap-shot with only a camera would.
Ants feature a lot in your poems. And snails…but mostly ants. Why?
Someone once asked some old Zen master, ‘Where is Buddha?’, and he replied ‘In the ant.’ I just really love insects, and ants are easily observed, maybe…Grant Caldwell writes about ants a lot, too.
Which one of your haiku do you most want people to read, if you had to choose one?
Notice how I chose TWO…I think my favourite overall might be
a snail begins to cross a highway
and from For Instance, maybe:
drunk again the m
Amanda Anastasi talks to David Stavanger about The Special.
Your collection is divided into five sections, Axis I-V, an axis being an imaginary line about which a body rotates. It strikes me that The Special is full of imagery of the body and opens with a poem (Optimism) containing the image of freefalling from a plane. What experience in your life came the closest to freefalling?
Two things come to mind. The first time I fronted the band I used to work with, Golden Virtues. Actually, every time. Not being a singer and not having a song, I felt a total lack of control (not the Tom Petty version either). It was like tripping into an abyss. Live performance always has an element of that for me, the fall in.
The other was last week riding a motorcycle in Bali without a helmet at night having never ridden one before.
What is a headline about yourself that you would like to read?
EAT PRAY BRAKE: Cult Singer killed on scooter near Ubud after hitting Julie Roberts body double.
One of my favourite lines in the book, from the poem The Future, is “danger is a door.” What else is a door?
The body. Travel. Sleep. Ovens. Music. Poetry. The Doors. Pretty much anything that opens and closes (except for mouths, they are more windows)
“My son walks a dead dog” is another line that stuck with me. Which line in the book are you the most glad you wrote?
These days, the last line ‘I wake up living’.
What is your favourite word?
Name the poetry collection you keep returning to.
The Wrecking Light by Robin Robertson
Poetic self-portrait: in no more than seven words, describe David Stavanger.
Cult Singer killed on scooter near Ubud.
David Stavanger will be featuring at La Mama Poetica on Tues, 24th February 7.30pm @ the La Mama Courthouse Theatre, 349 Drummond St, Carlton. His book ‘The Special’ is available at Readings bookst