‘I write as a way of understanding’- Angela Gardner
Not Thinking About the Circus, at the Circus
I am shiny, towing an absence of sound through a tunnel. Holding
wrappers of the world I’ve arranged with head dead and disengaged
as tumble and throw subside. High wire step through the empty ring
of the moon. Its four quarters quartered inside, arms strength,
arm grasp, spin, climb and fall.
………………………………….AA door slams, a body slams.
It’s important to rebuff distraction. Self-violence works on the body
with near misses, forcing confidences to strangers: that gift
of unburdening. I listen: her in tangles of herself sometimes messy.
And it all looks fine to start with: doll-witted within a thing, within
an overbalance. It’s an edge she licks, for its bloody taste, hidden
from any clean-up crew.
A hard surface, oh yes but then there is ballast that sweetens the acts
in icing sugar. Access is a problem. She knows he sees what he sees,
in a dismount, to kiss or breathe.
……………………………………….IIt all hangs on the tethered wrist
or ankle: The idea of the real, companion to that personal copy we each
separately hold. That interval between possible worlds, the hinge
it all hangs from.
Z.T.: Tell me about the way you write and what themes are particularly important to you.
A.G.::I write as a way of understanding and there is plenty to puzzle about! My main subjects in recent years have been the interaction of human and the natural world either with nature/culture (pastoral) or eco-poetic concerns. I’m also interested in science in particular the interface between biological and synthetic intelligence, but really because I’m trying to understand human consciousness and I love the language of these disciplines. But a number of poems come in response to visual art or theatre. I always take a notebook to exhibitions or will sit in the dark scribbling while, I watch physical theatre and modern circus. I just went to see Bangarra’s latest work and it felt odd to have lost my notebook (temporarily) and not [to] be writing while watching.
Z.T.: I’m interest in your work at the intersection between poetry and visual art. How has it developed, where has it taken you and who have you collaborated with?
A.G.: I trained in visual arts in Wales, then at Queensland College of Art, and my practice now revolves around drawing, printmaking and artist’s books. I work on collaborative artist’s books with [the] NightLadder Collective and am in group shows with them. At the end of September, I go to Ottawa on a travel bursary to be part of a panel discussion regarding artist’s books at Library and Archives Canada. I’m really looking forward to being able to attend the opening of the exhibition Open Books, that I have a work in, and also having time while I am over there to start another book of words and watercolour drawings. I have a number of collaborations with artists Caren Florance and Nicci Haynes which sees me go down to Canberra at least once a year. Caren is currently using a poem of mine Pleasure/Demolition as the basis for an artwork.
I keep up a correspondence with poet G.C. Waldrep (USA) and we will often recommend poets and poetry to each other. Whenever I am in London, I go to exhibitions with poet and art critic, Cherry Smith and Laurie Duggan, the Australian poet currently living in Kent (UK). There was a period of a few years when I caught the same train as Nathan Shepherdson and we would use the journey to talk poetry and art (his father is the painter, Gordon Shepherdson so, he is quite immersed in the world of visual art).
Z.T: What inspired you most about the Café Poet program and how did your residency at GOMA affect your poetry?
A.G.: I was inspired to become a Cafe poet because I really wanted to hang out in an art gallery. Who wouldn’t, they are amazing places! I completed an ekphrastic poem, ‘Unplanned Centaur’ that was published in my latest Shearsman collection, The Told World, [with] research in GOMA’s behind the scenes library. Lisa Gorton also selected ‘The View from GOMA’ for The Best Australian Poetry 2012 anthology. I mostly hung out in the cafe writing but there were some great exhibitions on at The Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art while I was there so I got to have some really in-depth time with the artworks. The residency at GOMA also led to another opportunity as Australian Historical Society‘s artist in residence for their ‘Conflict in History’ project supported by UQ Art Museum and the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classic.
Z.T: You’ve published the thirteen issues of foame:e! What have you achieved so far and where do you want to take foam:e in the future?
A.G.: The online poetry journal foam:e (www.foame.org) … submissions window [is currently open, from] September to November. This year Carmen Keates is joining me to share the editorship. It’s a chance to work with people (Jonathan Hadwen has just finished a three-year stint) and to really think about what is happening in poetry in Australia through interviews, reviews and poems. I’d like to see more women send in their work, the scales are tipped towards the men in submissions and that has showed some years in what we publish. It’s an annual publication, so it is part of the rhythm of the year but it’s always a thrill to find a new poet starting out and be able to publish their work among more established voices. I’d like foam:e to publish a print anthology sometime – poems from the back catalogue but also new, invited poems from contributors.
Angela Gardener’s first poetry collection, Parts of Speech (UQP, 2007) won the Thomas Shapcott Arts Queensland Poetry Prize in 2006. Her most recent collections are The Told World (selected poetry) Shearsman Books UK and Thing & Unthing, Vagabond Press, Sydney both 2014. She is also a visual artist and edits at http://www.foame.org/. Angela Gardner was an Australian Poetry Cafe Poet in Residence at QAG/GOMA (Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art) in 2013.
Submissions to foam:e are by email addressed to email@example.com from 1 September to 30 November 2016. Include up to six poems in the body of the email and the name of the journal, foam:e in the subject line.
Read foame:e issue 13
More about Angela Gardner
Featured Writers Part 2: Past Australian Café Poets- Curated by Zalehah Turner
Read about the Australian Poetry Café Poet Program (2009-2014)
Zalehah Turner is a Sydney based critic, writer and poet currently completing her Bachelor of Arts in Communications majoring in writing and cultural studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. Zalehah is an Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review: https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2016/02/09/welcome-zalehah-turner-rochford-street-review-associate-editor