The next big thing (for me anyway)


Ashley Capes invited me to continue a self-interview (started by Ivy Alvarez) to talk about my latest book/blog/writing. Cheers Ashley. You will find his own interview about his newly released book between giants hereI’ll now tag five other writers to talk about their writing so stay tuned to hear about them soon.

It thrills me to say that I do have a book to talk about (my first – launched in September this year) and Ashley was the superb editor for it

What is the title of your book?

That zero year – by Tiggy Johnson and myselfThat zero year

What genre does your book fall under?

pOeTrY

and Attempted-Parenting – is that a genre?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

It’s (almost) a conversation of poetic portraits touching on topics of birth, family, love, loss and grief from a husband and wife’s perspective.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The whole thing may have started halfway through a Speedpoets gig in Brisbane. I had just stepped down from the open mic (in fact I may have just read a version of On a hunt for my face) and Tiggy mumbled something about doing a project together.

We wrote the project through 2012 and performed the poems plus a few extras at the 2012 Queensland Poetry Festival, which is also where we launched the book.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

My poems range from early versions in 2010 through to the rigorous on-demand 2012 writing regime demanded by Tiggy, ‘You’ve got to write a response to this poem… now!’

Actually, Tiggy really taught me how to write intentionally on a given subject. That was foreign to me. It’s been a fascinating exercise working together on this project. The majority of work in That zero year is from the past 12 months.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Family.

The death of my son, Isaiah, in 2007 inspired me to start writing in the first place. Writing has been pivotal in helping me process the grief and pain of losing him.

My wife Rebecca, who I get to share this smudge and scream journey of parenting is also a major inspiration to me. And of course my boys, like all children, are able to show me the world through their tears or Tigger-leaping eyes. I love being a dad to Jonah, Isaiah, Noah and Josiah.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Independently published. You can get your hands on one by emailing myself or Tiggy.

What other works would you compare this book to within your genre?

My sister has just had her first baby so I’m sending her That zero year along with Graham Nunn’s The first thirty and other poems and Julie Beveridge’s Home{sic} as a Brisbane/Tasmanian taste of parent-oetry.

I’ve also got to mention Nathan Curnow’s The midwife from his latest book RADAR which is a contrast of (un)co-ordinated movements of his own wife catching babies. It’s a piece in praise of midwives, which I’ve also attempted in my poem The home midwife (see below).

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Steve McQueen – because sometimes parenting is sitting in a confined room and throwing a ball against the wall, while plotting escape.

Did I say that aloud? I didn’t really say that did I? Will family services come to get me?

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I love how Tiggy’s and my poems weave around a thin narrative from the vastly different perspectives of man and woman. There are topics like death of a child, home birth, marital frustration, burnt hands, hospital rooms, kids on flights, sewing and fishing with kids and breastfeeding at 2am. I hope you get your hands on a copy and enjoy something from it. Here’s The home midwife for you to get a taste.

 

The home midwife

She pulls up in a hatchback
carries a leather case swollen
with years in and out of waters

a little vial of rose oil
and herbs transferred through bellyskin
to help the body yawn.

She walks down a hallway
to brew a pot of raspberry leaf
fennel, stinging nettle

and chats between the heavy breathing
makes a joke about stir frying the placenta
but doesn’t laugh.

No phone code or knife sharpening
for spine on spine, head up bottom down
or umbilical wrapped around the neck

she has whispering hands;
chinese point massage to coach
an aquatic half somersault
and unfurl the ribbon.

She reads faces too
guides a father’s hands
to be in on the magic of catching skin
slippery as water

it’s a black art
to let a baby happen
in your living room.

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