We were excited to have the opportunity to interview Australian award-winning poet Dr Quinn Eades for the Milligram blog!
Dr Quinn Eades is a queer transmasc writer, award-winning poet, academic, and editor. He is the author of Rallying and all the beginnings: a queer autobiography of the Body, and is currently working on his third book and related theatre show, an autobiography titled Transpositions.
Credit: Jamie James
This year he’s part of the Melbourne Writers Festival kicking off the new #MicroPoem project – 280 character poems, sponsored by Moleskine. Find out below how you can win a set of the 2018 MWF Moleskine customised notebooks each day!
Q — You are an award-winning poet published nationally and internationally. Where did your love of poetry originate?
When I am asked where poetry (or my love of it) comes from, I can’t not write or speak about the poetry that comes before me, the poetry that is with-me now, and the poetry that is yet-to-come. There is no one particular origin point, but there are place-times where my practice became less muddy and more certain (although I don’t think we can say that poetry, or being a poet, is ever certain).
Some of the place-times I’m thinking of are: listening to my grandmother recite her dead husband’s poems by heart (John Quinn, taken by his own hand when my mother was 15), her eyes out of focus, her body tall and still, her voice full and laced with what suicide leaves behind; writing my first poem at the age of four; reading Sylvia Plath’s Ariel for the first time; reading Audre Lorde’s Diving into the Wreck for the first time; writing a book of poetry (titled yokeless because I felt the heavy weight of a thick wooden yoke across my shoulders always, and because I had no yolk, no centre, to wrap myself around) at 19 and reading many of them aloud in a smoky Newcastle pub; trying to not-write poetry for most of my twenties and failing; being gifted Hélène Cixous’s Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing in my early thirties and knowing the feeling of being woken by text; birthing and breastfeeding two babies and knowing that my poems are always waiting, full and pushing, behind the first line that lands in me somewhere between breastbone and bellybutton…
Q – Your book, Rallying is a collection of poems that concerns itself with the body and, as the media release portrays, is ‘the ways in which we create and write under, around, without, and with children, this collection will resonate deeply with anyone who has tried to make creative work from underneath the weight of love’. How did this collection come about?
Has this been a life-long culmination or one you put together in a shorter period of time?
I wrote most of Rallying while I was writing my PhD and first book, all the beginnings: a queer autobiography of the body, at La Trobe University. My children were two and a half and six months old when I started my PhD, and I had no idea I was writing two books instead of one—I did know that poetry was sometimes the only form I could manage, because I could speak poems into my phone as I walked my babies endlessly along Merri Creek (neither could sleep more than forty minutes without continuous movement), or into a notebook while I waited for them to wake up from car naps, or into my phone when I was breastfeeding in the night.
So early drafts were all motherpoems, but when Terri-Ann White at UWA Publishing accepted the manuscript (after two years and six knock backs) I asked if I could send more material, and she very graciously said yes. In those two years of trying to get Rallying published, I had come out as a transmasc non-binary person who was starting to write from a place of transition, so it was this work that I sent her (along with a couple of cheeky additions from my Newcastle Poetry at the Pub days).
The final result is a trans body nestled around and holding a motherbody and I’m now very glad it took so long to find a publisher.
Q — Writing from Below, which you founded, invites submissions from a broad range of disciplines as well as work that cannot be easily placed. Where did the origins of this peer-reviewed journal come from and what made you feel it is was important for these voices to be heard and published?
I founded Writing from Below in 2012, at a time when the Gender, Sexuality and Diversity Studies program at La Trobe was under threat.
My co-editors Stephen Abblitt and Nicholas Cowley were also postgraduates at La Trobe and the three of us were producing non-standard, genre-bending academic writing, but finding a place to publish this writing, or to have it ‘counted’ as scholarship, was pretty hard.
We could all see that hybrid scholarly work needed a platform, and particularly for postgraduates and Early Career Researchers, needed to be peer reviewed so it could be recognised as scholarship.
Q — How did you come up with and decide on the name Writing from Below — did you have any other interesting working titles you’re able to share?
Writing from Below came from a keynote delivered by Carol D’Cruz at La Trobe University titled Contamination from Above:
The life stories of extraordinary, ordinary and common people have been finding pathways to be heard, while at the same time we learn the importance of letting certain silences ‘speak’ themselves. I think all of this qualifies in some way or another as writing from below…
The journal is open-access in order to trouble the ways that most academic output lives behind paywalls, and peer-reviewed so that practice-led researchers can have their research counted by universities.
While Writing from Below has been in a hiatus for the last twelve months, we are about to publish three new issues in the next three months, and have a new editor, Amelia Walker, who will take us into the coming years.
Another title I’m very excited about is Going Postal, which will be published by Brow Books in November this year, in time for the anniversary of the marriage equality postal survey announcement.
Combining serious scholarship, humour, manifestos, and simple tales of childhood, readers are flung into the emotional melting pot that constitutes a definitive turning point in Australian queer histories. These feelings are sticky and sometimes traumatic, but there is also catharsis in this compilation.
Going Postal also a counter-archive, one that consciously amplifies some of the voices that were drowned out by dominant campaigns, including those that questioned the value of marriage as a patriarchal institution or resisted the ‘we are just like you’ discourses that obscured complex families and queer ways of loving.
Q — You’re a spoken word performer — do you ever get nervous when you get up on stage? Any inspiration or tips you’re able to share about facing a crowd and enjoying the experience?
I always get nervous when I’m up on stage! When I was younger, my knees actually shook and my voice wobbled. Now I just sweat. A lot.
The techniques I use are probably pretty standard but here they are: wear black shirts/t-shirts if you’re like me and you sweat a lot, find the people in the audience who are with you – they will be leaning forwards/unwavering in their attention – and makes those people your focus points, don’t be afraid to read from paper/device – I’d rather read smoothly because I have my words with me than stumble because my memory has failed me, bring friends to your gigs so there are people cheering you on, read more slowly than you think you need to – nerves speed us up, breathe deep, then deeper still. Speak. You’ve got this. Speak.
Q — Do you have a particular writing process you follow? Any advice for aspiring writers in the Milligram community?
Shut Up and Write is my number one, hands down, favourite writing process. Writing in cafes in a group, doing twenty-five minute blocks, means I don’t get lonely/distracted/can’t procrastinate (the dishes stay undone). All you need is one other person, a place to write, and a way of measuring time. Then the words come…
Q — Who are you most looking forward to seeing at this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival?
Q — What’s at the top of your to-read pile?
Maria Tumarkin’s Axiomatic, Chris Kraus’s After Kathy Acker, and Jacques Derrida’s Spectres of Marx.
Q — Do you make writing-related notes on paper or only your computer?
Both/and – always my answer when I’m presented with an either/or question! I carry notebooks and my laptop with me pretty much everywhere I go. If neither are with me I’ll write on my phone – poems are invitations and if I don’t accept them when they arrive, they tend to disappear.
Q — Now, we have to ask — do you have a favourite notebook?
Trick question?! Of course I love Moleskine notebooks but I haven’t always been able to afford them. My notebook at the moment has a sky blue rubbery cover, selected for the colour and the way it feels under my fingers. I am a compulsive notebook buyer, and always have more than I need, but I love the feeling of empty pages around me, waiting to be filled.
Q – And maybe a favourite pen or pencil?
Thick black pens that ink flows easily from are always my favourite to write with.
Q — Finally, what can we expect from this year’s MWF #MicroPoem project?
MWF’s #MicroPoem project reminds us that we can find poetry anywhere, in tiny pockets of time and space – that small things are worth treasuring and holding and remembering.
Be sure to catch Dr Quinn Eades at this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival.
Moleskine is sponsoring the #MicroPoem project at the Melbourne Writers Festival, which runs throughout the festival: Friday 24 August to Sunday 2 September. If you get involved and flaunt your poetic prowess by posting a poem, you could win a set of the 2018 MWF Moleskine customised notebooks — a winner is announced daily on the most creative and unique poem!
Remember to include the #MicroPoem and #MWF18 hashtags!
Find out more about Moleskine and their involvement in this year’s Melbourne Writers’ Festival here.
Read an interview with Boede Carmody who is also headlining the 2018 #MicroPoem Project.