"An apricot seems right?"An interview with Emily Crocker
Emily is the author of Girls and Buoyant (Subbed In, 2017). Photo by Tiyan Baker.
hen and why did you start writing?
Emily Crocker: I guess I always found phrases and words interesting. As a kid I would write down words or images or ideas that intrigued me and string them together into these meandering poems that went nowhere. I think I really I wanted to write lyrics, but am not musical so that didn’t come together. Eventually I flopped into the poetry slam community (shout out to Enough Said in Wollongong!) and that gave me a place to go, something to write for.
What does poetry mean to you?
I’ve been thinking a bunch lately about why people, other than poets, read poetry. I think it’s because poetry is consoling. It’s always had that meaning to me. Even poetry about vulgar things is consoling. If we accept that poetry works by using a specific image to convey a general truth, that means that in even our most particular and unique experiences there is always something that is knowable by others. A general truth. We are not alone. It’s as if poetry is always whispering “Yes, me too, I’ve seen that too”. I find it astonishing.
Writing-wise, there’s also something thrilling about pulling words together that haven’t occupied the same space before. And chasing that newness is the biggest motivator for me.
If the year consisted of only one season, which would you choose?
Summer. Definitely summer. As many daylight hours as possible. Sunlight is such fuel.
When writing poetry, where do you start?
A long internal conversation to convince myself to actually sit down and get on with it. And then it usually starts with some image that’s been kicking around the back of my throat lately. I’ll take a few jabs at it to see where the image can go. It feels very exploratory – seeing what sticks, what can occupy the same space as the original image. After a bit of that I usually figure out where to land the punch.
If there isn’t an image already niggling away, then that’s a different situation. Then I’ll usually try and arrange a palette of images that correspond with an idea or theme I want to write about, then mix those things together, see which can occupy the same space as each other, which resonate together, which disturb each other.
If the core of the Earth had to be one giant fruit, what fruit would you want it to be?
An apricot seems right?
Can you describe a time when you broke something expensive?
One of my very first jobs was a in a gift shop. On my very first day I dropped and smashed a $90RRP ornament.
Complete this sentence:
_ yoghurt __ wind ___ verandah party.
I was sitting in the front yard, trying to enjoy my yoghurt, when a sudden gust of wind swept in a baby sea lion from last night’s verandah party.
What are the first three animals that spring to your mind?
Gazelle, Whale, Tapir
Outside of social media, what is your most visited website?
Does Bandcamp count as social media? If not then Bandcamp. If yes, then transportnsw.info.
In terms of writing and art, what are you working on at the moment?
I'm chipping away at a new body of poetry, in half-hour slices of time, usually over a coffee before I clock on at work. At the moment I'm working on trying to find my way back to the un-self-conscious exuberant playfulness that I wrote with as a teenager, with a few more technical skills. And I'm trying to put myself in more positions where I just have to churn a poem out, rather than treating it like some fraught thing that needs slow and tender attention. For example, writing a poem during each Enough Said event, derived from audience prompts, to read at the end of the evening (check us out, last Thursdays of the month, at Town Hall Chamber in Wollongong). Recently, I've also been working on a performance piece responding to ideas of queer listening, with Campbelltown Arts Center - keep your eyes peeled for the event in September.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from writing so far?
That things take the time they take. And that embracing faith over certainty is extremely liberating.
Recently I’ve also had to come to terms with the fact that part of being a good artist is refining your taste. But, because of that, chances are your taste is always going to exceed your skill level (or, at least with where I’m at in life/my career). So, a big one has been learning to be ok with producing the best work I can for now.
How do you know when a poem is finished?
When every line/image is pulling its weight – when I can’t slice anything else off it. Then I’ll usually edit for consistency of voice. Once the texture is right it’s good to go.
What’s the best or worst advice about writing you’ve ever heard?
“You can’t edit a blank page” - look I don’t know who said this first, the internet is trying to tell me it was Jodi Picoult, but let’s not get too caught up on that fact. Truth is, I say this to myself every time I catch myself procrastinating over an empty document. I’ve also had some extremely valuable reminders that most of making art requires zero talent, it’s all work ethic and attitude and social skills.
About the author
Emily Crocker writes and performs poetry. You might have seen her at BAD!SLAM!, Noted Festival, Loose Leaf Literature, Unspoken Words, or Word in Hand. Emily can also be found arranging workshops, encouraging young folks to give poetry a crack, or scribbling a quick audience-inspired poem whilst manning the door at Enough Said in Wollongong. She is learning to bake bread and always enjoys a hug if that's your thing too. Girls and Buoyant is her debut book of poetry.
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