Unlimited by Geography: Susie Anderson & Stacey Teague Interview One Another
SUSIE: Hi Stacey! For people who don’t know you at all, can you start by introducing yourself?
STACEY: Hello Susie + reader, I am 23 and I live inAuckland, NZ. I work with animals, write poetry and make zines. How would you currently describe your own creative output?
SUSIE: Creative output is a big sort of term … I guess I kinda write poetry from time to time, I really like baking and crafts though. Sometimes I feel like a bit of a housewife in terms of my hobbies but writing-wise, I made some zines about crushes a few years ago … and this year I’m trying to make enough poems/stories for a chapbook. What were your zines about? How did you transition from working with animals to writing poetry?
STACEY: The zines I write are mostly ‘personal zines’, and they help me to catalogue my life in a way. For example, I am doing a zine for every season, and in those zines I put bits of writing and poetry, drawings, etc that are loosely related to the season and/or that three-month period. The fact that I work with animals and write poetry have little to do with each other, although I suppose I have referenced animals a bit in my poems, so it’s not like the two things are mutually exclusive. They are two things I love, but I see working with animals more as a career and writing poetry more as a hobby. Do you think you could ever make writing into a career of sorts? What do you want to do as a career?
SUSIE: Hm, that’s interesting, I never would have thought of zines as not being personal. For me, at least, being personal is what makes a zine good. It’s just interesting to see the different sort of lifestyles that poets have and whether this is reflected in their poems or whatever. As for me/my career, I dunno. I really like doing communications (marketing/promo/social media) for arts things, whether that be festivals, galleries, websites or whatever. I like connecting people with creative stuff. Is that a career? Sometimes, I think it would be good to write a novel but I know I am a loooong way off ever doing that. What about you? You have been published on a whole bunch of websites, would you ever think seriously about trying to do the same in print?
STACEY: Well, I mean ‘personal zines’ are just one type of zine, there are a tonne of other types of zines to do with politics, feminism, music, art, etc. I see what you mean about poet lifestyle, for e.g. people who have actually studied English and want to be a writer or people like me who have completely unrelated aspirations. I don’t think I could make writing into a career because I enjoy not having to be pressured to write. Writing is a function of my body, it’s like an exhale of breath. If I had to write about specific things, deal with deadlines, etc, it would seem less natural to me.
It seems like nowadays the only time I submit to anything is if I am personally asked to, so I mean I don’t feel overly concerned about being published in print. I feel more interested in self-publishing my own chapbooks sometime in the future. Do you think there is more value in a poem being published online or in print?
SUSIE: That’s a real good question and it’s something that I sort of wanted to get at with the thesis I wrote last year. But I think the key word there is ‘value’. I mean there are so many types of poetry that appeal to people for varying reasons, so somebody might find that the type of poetry they like online, so for them a poem found online would be more valuable. But for others the same could be said of print. I think the ways that poetry is finding a home online, through online archives and websites like the poetry foundation, and then start up journals like All Write Then, Let People Poems, funded journals like Cordite Poetry Review, or other poetry projects that can only be done online (likestarlings, internet poetry, or RMIT poetry).
These, for me, are valuable, because they unite poetry with a new demographic/audience, unlimited by geography. Also, they provide relative anonymity and diminish a literary hierarchy that sometimes dominates print poetry. But having said that, I really like print objects and that was one of the reasons I thought it would be cool if we made Hands Like Mirrors. And also, I think online poetry influences print communities. But that is a bit of a different story. Can you explain your idea of the philosophy behind HLM? What did you like most about making it?
STACEY: For me, it seemed like there were no publications that featured predominantly young NZ writers, or at least, there were no publications that featured the kind of poetry and short fiction that I personally wanted to read. You felt the same to some extent, thus we decided to make a print publication featuring young NZ and Australian writers. The most exciting thing for me was looking for people to contribute to it. I did a call out for submissions but I also did a lot of research, talking to everyone I could and asking if they knew anyone who wrote, asking friends and friends of friends. We ended up with some really good content. How did you feel about the end product of HLM? What do you think could be done differently for the next issue?
SUSIE: I loved it. It was a really rewarding thing to do and is something I’m really proud of. Next time I’d like to make it bigger and try to get more artists involved so we can get more visuals in it. I also want to work harder on stocking it places so we can share the lovely words people wrote with more peeps. I’d also like to have a launch inMelbournenext time. It’s a lot to take on but I think doing the first one was a really good learning experience, so I’m looking forward to doing it again.
There are a limited number of the first Hands Like Mirrors journal still available. See handslikemirrors.tumblr.com for details and stay tuned for news about HLM 2012!