Interviewed by Jade Raykovski

Recently I was lucky enough to be interviewed on Jade Raykovski’s blog. Jade is a talented writer and budding author, currently working on her first children’s novel.

I talked about why I write and what I like to write and what I hope to achieve in the future. Find the original publication here and check out Jade’s blog. She writes and shares many interesting things aside from focusing on her own work so signing up for her newsletter would be a valuable exercise.

Here is the transcript of the interview:

Tell me about your blog, Poignant Things. Why did you decide to start it and for how long has it been running?

I created it about three years ago while I was still in University. There were a few major reasons: it would persuade me to write more regularly, it would test the waters to see if a diverse range of readers liked my writing, and it would provide me with a good outlet to vent my sadness, frustration, happiness, or whatever else it may be. It was a way of telling people close to me how I was feeling without really ‘telling’ them.

‘For those who read with music in their ears’ – where did the blog’s tagline come from?

This stems from what I draw a lot of inspiration from. Music is a big influencer on me. I seem to be very sensitive to the tones and moods that music can convey. Often, I’ll listen to an instrumental track and from that, a whole idea for a poem or story will come to me. Usually I’ll begin writing in that very moment, responding to the flow of the song. It’s the same when I’m reading. Commonly I’ll have music on while I’m reading and the passages, be they dramatic or melancholy, will be heightened by certain songs, similar to what happens in films. The right music in a film can turn a good scene into an iconic scene. So, the tagline is saying this blog is for people like me, and I hope people can find the right song to listen to while they read each poem.

What motivates you to write, particularly poetry?

Mostly I write for my own self-interest. I doubt there’d ever be a huge audience for the poetry I write. A lot of the time it’s to process my thoughts and dump my stress onto the page and out of my body, but also it’s to help anyone who’s reading it who may be struggling with similar emotions. It’s quite normal in teenage and young adult years to experience a lack of direction, frustration, and depressive emotions because trying to sort your life out is very hard! Sometimes, people think they’re alone in what they’re feeling but it simply isn’t true and I hope people realise this when they read some of my pieces.

On the other hand I write to get better so I can one day become a published novelist. At the moment, I write poetry because it’s such a good medium for the emotional venting I spoke about and I find it quicker to craft a poem than a story because poetry is so fluid, there’s no real rules or restrictions. Any style of poetry can work if executed well. I also love the ‘snapshot’ element of poetry. It captures single moments, specific images that can hold a lot of weight and there’s something comforting about staying contained within smaller scenes.

Are there any other projects you’re working on, apart from the blog?

Yes, I would dearly love to publish an illustrated collection of poetry one day. I’m in the process of trying to get enough good poems together and I’ll submit some of them to journals or competitions to hopefully get some feedback and guidance on their quality. As for the illustrations, if you know any fantastic pencil illustrators send them my way! Beyond this, I have two or three novel ideas which I’m quietly confident will work if I’m good enough to write them well (a big if!) They’ll all have a strong foundation in family, relationships, the environment, and morality. Oh, and they’ll probably all be fairly dark/moody.

What was the first piece you had published? What did that feel like?

I might go back further than that and talk about when I first received recognition for writing. In high school, I won the senior poetry competition for NAIDOC week. The principal read my work at the school assembly and even on a local radio station I think. Obviously I was very pleased with that and it was the moment when I thought to myself that perhaps I could pursue writing further, both creatively and professionally. It also taught me more about myself. I was obviously relieved to find out I was someone who could show compassion for others, balance cultural sensitivities, and see things from a perspective completely different from my own. It may sound strange, but up until then I wasn’t sure if I understood these things. Now, I have a few little pieces published and am motivated to achieve bigger goals. I’m also writing for a living as a copywriter so I’m extremely happy that I’ve been able to do what I love and get something out of it.

Do you have any advice for other emerging writers, particularly those who are just starting out and may not have anything published yet?

Hopefully they’re already avid readers but if they aren’t they should start working on a reading list. Read as much as possible and try to encompass a diverse range of writers. Reading widely is great for learning, vocabulary, and inspiration. As for writing, regularity is key. Write as often as possible in conjunction with your reading and you will get better. Also, it’s important to find your niche. Find what inspires you and find what excites you the most when writing. For me, music and film inspire me and I really enjoy writing pieces strong in imagery and emotion. For someone else they may find they’re inspired by the study of history and adore writing fantasy. But that’s the important thing, write what you enjoy and never be afraid to submit your work to the numerous competitions and publications that are still very much alive in the industry. Know one thing for sure; rejection will happen and more than once. This does not mean you’re a bad writer.

spontaneous thinking

I step up,

I step down.

The beat in my ears compels me,

every step is an ensemble.

Sometimes I pause.

I try to stay in limbo,

on a different plane

where the only thing that exists is atmosphere,

for as long as I can.

I sense kindness

coming from the rail,

I pick up notes rising through my body,

they say the journey’s worth it.

My skull vibrates in a way

I cannot say,

I suppose it’s joy.

Like the smiling face of an animal

or the happy routine of nature,

the constant,

the stable presence of mother.

I have many faces

for all the different places I appear,

it can be hard to know if I’m truly there.

I convince myself I’m being real

but it’s not always true.

I think about what to do,

I listen to music.

There’s education, there’s advice,

there’s pleasure, there’s motivation.

When I hear it,

I want you to know what I’m thinking,

I want you to know what I’m feeling.

The euphoria I get from every piece of life

does not equal the times

when I see your eyes aligning

with mine.

Even if I can’t meet them for long.

When I thought

what I thought

about you,

I wasn’t wrong.

Tangible, Invisible

I wish our lives had a soundtrack,

a song for those important moments.

I know what I would pick

for a lingering stare

or a heart attack.

 

That girl there,

she needs noise above her head.

It would be good if you understood

the euphoria, the dread

when I look upon your face

in a place

where there are only instrumentals.

 

We would all see

what happens on the inside.

Don’t get scared of me

if you see something stick, or grind

in the machinations of my mind.

And don’t trust someone

just because they seem well oiled.

If they appear level be careful

of what they’ve got coiled up

deep down,

waiting to unbalance them.

 

Most of all

love who you love.

Make choices automatic,

instinctual not manual,

and think about who you think about

when you listen to music.

Mood Music: Episode 5

I recently discovered a band that have been around for a while but were completely new to me. I’m so glad I did because I think they’re fantastic. If you haven’t heard of Wild Beasts, I suggest you check them out. I went through their whole discography in a weekend and cherry-picked 20-odd amazing songs to download.

The wonderful thing about this band is that the more you listen the better they get, there’s a great dynamic between their two vocalists and the music can be quirky, dark, and moving but always interesting.

The song that hits me the most is one called ‘Daughters’. I love how this track is so deep and dark and the way it builds is euphoric. Listen below.

Mood Music – Episode 4

This time I want to talk about a band I had the pleasure of interviewing recently, Big Scary. I was lucky enough to catch up with frontman Tom and it was fantastic to hear his insight about their music.

I have always had a strong emotional connection to their songs, so much heart and soul is within in them and if you want to embrace your emotions, I suggest you give them a listen. Whether you are feeling up or down, in love or out of it, if you long for something or take pleasure in already having it, Big Scary have a song for you.

Tom and Jo combine everything in their music that I like. They’re creative, ambitious, tender, and energetic. Each album has been an evolution without betraying their roots.

This song is one of their more early offerings but one of their most beautiful. It’s dreamy and melancholic but it makes you feel good at the same time. As the title suggests, it is a song that makes you think about a particular person in your life. Someone you may be missing, or desiring.

Mood Music – Episode One

So I get a lot of inspiration for my writing from listening to music. My writing is usually instigated by a particular mood or emotion that is influenced by what I’m hearing. I listen to the music and words just start to form, on the back of the music itself or a particular lyric that grabs me.

With that in mind, I’ll be posting some of my go-to music for getting me going. The artists I share will all be big catalysts that have inspired my writing at one time or another.

First up, we have Scottish band Mogwai. I could list so many of their songs that work for me. Mostly an instrumental post-rock group, they are masters at injecting emotion into their music. They craft songs so, so beautifully and I can listen to them all day without getting bored.

This particular song, ‘Auto Rock’, is just one of many I love by them. It was also immortalised in a scene from the film Miami Vice. I adore the way it builds and builds and it speaks of both melancholy and sincerity.

If you don’t already know Mogwai I urge you to check them out.

 

British India – Nothing Touches Me

3.5/5

British India lose a little of their edge in an album which is too contrived.

Nothing Touches Me is British India’s fifth full-length release. It seems not too long ago when their debut Guillotine was unleashed. Since then they have delighted with their raw but well-crafted rock. The band has recently stated this album feels the most like a studio album they’ve ever had. It sounds like it too and it’s not necessarily a good thing.

The record begins beautifully with Spider Chords, a great slow-then-fast opener which will have classic British India fans cheering. Suddenly is a perfect single to blast while driving down the highway but we hit some roadblocks with Angela and the aptly named Wrong Direction. Angela is way too main-stream for an alternative band like British India; it feels disconnected with anything they’ve previously released. Wrong Direction is an example of why the studio influence is bad for BI. It is excessively formulaic and smooth and falls flat despite Declan’s desperation on the mic. Nothing Touches Me, the title track restores the faith however. At five minutes long it takes us on a journey of all the bands strengths. The rest of the album undulates pleasantly, still uniquely BI but with a new pop rock ballad approach taken on some tracks. The songs are good, with the exception of the soft boiled Lifeguard. The record finishes strong with Right By Your Side, This Is How It Feels and Departure Lounge with a return to traditional BI.

The main issue with the album is that it sounds too planned out, too uniform. The rawness that has made BI so great is missing most of the time. This album doesn’t have the energy of Guillotine, it doesn’t have the song writing of Thieves or Avalanche, and it doesn’t have the emotion of Controller. Trying new things is never a bad idea and this album is still a good album and no doubt it will be great fun live. It just isn’t their best.

Highlight: The short and sweet Spider Chords ties with sing along favourite Suddenly.

*Update: It gets better with multiple listens so add half a point.