Get to know the Metre Maids! E. Kristin Anderson interviews Amber Beilharz!
1. Who is your go-to writer when you’re feeling sort of bleh about writing?
It varies, dependent mostly on what state or phase I’m going through (you never ‘grow out’ of phases like they tell you in kid-hood). At the moment, the writer that has had a longstanding position in this phase has been Sonya Hartnett. If you’ve ever read OF A BOY you may understand why her work echoes so much my personal self and my creative self and I guess, has that same ‘appeal’ in the way I want to tell. Poetry has always been mostly Australian poets and strangely, all women: Robyn Rowland, MTC Cronin, Dorothy Porter and Sylvia Plath. On the masculine spectrum, I admire so much Phillip Levine, William Butler Yeats, Phillip Larkin, David Sedaris and the likes of the Beats. But as with writing, reading is such a fluid thing and I think this is also the reason behind why I could never get a tattoo.
2. Who were you reading when you started writing? Who are you reading now?
Well, this is highly embarrassing and I’ll preface it by saying that I wasn’t a feminist at the age of 8. I loved Enid Blyton, I wrote numerous stories involving squirrels that joined the carnival, fairies and girls that ran away from home with an essential backpack of peanut butter, a pen and a sleeping bag. There was something essential in her work that conjured up anything-possible story lines, bizarre characters with human instincts. I wrote ice cream stories that may have been left out of the freezer too long. I am now reading the likes of Chuck Palahniuk (what a departure), writing that still has a magic realism bent but is about the ordinary.
3. What TV show most inspires your writing?
I think no one TV show inspires me, but perhaps it’s more about the way that television ‘shows’ and translates moments of clarity, climax, tragedy via cinema, there’s always poetry in that for me. For example, The Walking Dead is one of my favourite shows because of the way it’s told and shown. It’s like watching small installments of a high budget film, but it has humanity to it.
4. If I came to visit you in Melbourne for a week, where would you take me? What would we do?
We’d definitely be going to a session at The Wheeler Centre, build onto the back of the State Library of Victoria, this houses most literary publications, presses and organisations but also hosts a range of engaging, thought provoking events. Melbourne’s literary heritage is internationally recognised as the world’s 2nd UNESCO City of Literature. The first city is Edinburgh, Melbourne town, Iowa, Dublin, Iceland. Anyway, enough city wankery. It’s also home to Voiceworks Magazine. I would take you to Abbotsford Convent that is now open to the public; it even has a Steiner school in it. But I’d take you there for Lentils Anything (make a donation to eat) and to sit on the lawns eating. I’d take you on a tram around Melbourne, because I love tram-travel. I’d take you back to my hometown, Warrandyte to sit by the river and eat freshly baked goods from ‘The Bakery’. It’s easy to fall in love here. It’s not even my birth place but it’s easy to want to stay forever and do so.
5. Take us through a few of your publication credits. Take us through them all!
My first ever paid publication (AUD $15) was a flash fiction piece featured online at www.onefifty.com.au. It was one of the worst pieces I’ve ever written, albeit I was 17 and I was still writing amateur based things. From there, published a couple of times in the community college journal, Avant New Writing. Then began the publication journey via Verandah Literary & Art Journal, Voiceworks Magazine, dotdotdash magazine, Hands Like Mirrors, Soundzine, ReadThis and Hunger Mountain.
6. What lit magazine do you most want to see yourself in? And what lit mag do you always buy even when you’re pinching pennies?
Going Down Swinging, Cordite and Meanjin. I subscribe to dotdotdash and I always get a Voiceworks Magazine, when I can I buy GDS and Meanjin, so I’m not very frugal with my pennies. Also, I’m very Australian-based!
7. If you were an all-powerful inventor of things, what would you invent to help yourself and other writers with the creative process?
I would bottle Muses. I mean, you might have to make a huge sacrifice to get hold of the bottle of goodness, but you’d have it right? This would probably backfire on me, and we’d all have great passions for things OTHER than writing.
8. Aliens are invading Earth and only your poetry can save us. But how?
You know how Superman’s weakness is Kryptonite? Do you see where I’m going with this? The Aliens I envision aren’t geared towards having the sort of capability of language and expression. This is how we will destroy them. Honestly, isn’t that the best idea? More exposure for poetry and saving the world one stanza at a time.
9. What do you have planned for next few months? Publications, projects?
There are always those looming creative deadlines to figure out what poems or prose pieces need to go where and of course, here at Metre Maids! It also looks like I’ll be structurally editing a couple of novels and also editing some poetry, you know… superhero stuff.
10. What’s your favorite dinosaur? Or, if you dislike dinosaurs, what’s your favorite cryptid?
Oh, I think I am obsessed with the notion and possibility that there could be ghosts. Even if they don’t exist, the way that they pervade cultures and the stories that evolve around them are awe-inspiring. I love scaring myself to death with stories, supposed sightings, researching, etc!