Sam van Zweden: a poem and an interview

Editor Daniel Young interviewed Sam van Zweden for Issue Eleven of Tincture Journal. Sam’s poem ‘Fountain’, reproduced below, is also available in the journal. Please support our work and buy a copy today!


by Sam van Zweden

The stranger things we wished with—

A single-serve Jäger bottle,

A sock,

A final notice from the electricity company.


We threw them in hoping for better,

For more.


I flung tiny pieces,

almost unnoticed offerings

but enough—

Hair tie. Fork.


Bowing before the idol of the fountain like a cross.

Like a violin, fruit tree, falling baby cradle.


Later, I tied myself to the sacrifice—

Hair dryer. Microwave—

went whole-body-in on my bargain

begging water, please.


I didn’t realise that all I wanted was to give myself up.

Under was enough.


Eternity with the debris of other people’s wishes.




Sam van Zweden, interviewed by Daniel Young

DY: Hi Sam. You keep yourself very busy, so I’m not sure where to start! Could you tell us a bit about your background and the writerly things you’re working on at the moment?

SvZ: Hi Dan, thanks for interviewing me!

I’m a writer and editor from Melbourne. I grew up on Phillip Island, which is a beachy tourist destination about two hours out of Melbourne. I came to Melbourne as soon as I finished high school, and pretty quickly got involved in the writing community here. I started out writing short fiction and spoken word, but while I was studying creative writing at RMIT I fell in love with creative non-fiction. This is what I write the most often now—creative non-fiction and poetry.

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Issue Eleven Editorial

Issue Eleven is now available from our website.

The astronaut made me cry. She made her way across the stage with a perfect mock-zero-gravity space-walk. Smoke rushed out of the door behind her; the other actors arranged rectangular blocks in circular patterns around her. I’m still trying to work out why this particular scene brought on the tears. But anyway: the astronaut made me cry.

I’m talking about the recent Sydney Theatre Company production of Love and Information, written by Caryl Churchill. The fact that I cried is a testament to the power that seemingly-unconnected vignettes can have, as long as they are carefully constructed and arranged to highlight their underlying themes. I was thinking about this when trying to arrange this issue’s submissions into a coherent and satisfying order. It’s never easy, and it’s not—despite what you may think—about picking favourites from what are already our favourite pieces out of a very large pool of submissions.

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Issue Eleven Table of Contents

Issue Eleven is now available from our website.


  • Editorial, by Daniel Young
  • The Clicker, by B.J. Jones
  • In the moments Worker A spends thoroughly washing a jam jar in the communal kitchen on the twenty-fourth floor, by Tristan Foster
  • Terrain: An Exploration in Two Parts, by Rory Kennett-Lister
  • A Sydneysider in Adelaide, by Heather Taylor Johnson
  • Cubbyhouses, by Jemma Payne
  • A Funeral Year, by Omar J. Sakr
  • At Arm’s Length, by Jodi Cleghorn
  • Fountain, by Sam van Zweden
  • Interview with Sam van Zweden
  • Burning the Green, by Ariella van Luyn
  • The Last Train, by Justin Lowe
  • A.B.C.D., by Kate Elkington
  • Suburban Songs, by Kathryn Hummel
  • Panic Hour, by Danielle Spinks
  • Hoa Hakananai’a, the Easter Island statue at the British Museum, speaks, by Lisa Brockwell
  • Forest Girl, by Laura McPhee-Browne
  • Train to Quakers, by Rico Craig
  • The Visit, by Melissa Goodes
  • What a Roo Does, by T.J. Robinson
  • Mourner’s Kaddish, by Magdalena Ball
  • A Cloud Withdrew, by Magdalena Ball
  • Final Shot, by Brian Rowe
  • Plum, by Gemma Mahadeo
  • Honey, by Ally Scale
  • Slow Napalm, by Daniel Lynch
  • Summer Rain, by Katelin Farnsworth
  • Yes, No, Maybe, by Kailash Srinivasan
  • Stay As You Are, by Stephen Koster
  • Ringo, by Cindy Matthews

Nothing by Mouth, by Cindy Matthews

Cindy Matthews has worked as a chamber maid, potato peeler, data entry operator, teacher, and vice-principal of special education programs. She writes, paints, and instructs online courses for teachers in Bruce County, Ontario, Canada.

This creative non-fiction piece, “Nothing by Mouth”, was shortlisted in the 2014 Event Magazine Non-Fiction Contest. Cindy’s non-fiction will also appear in Issue Eleven of Tincture Journal in September 2015. Find more of her work at


In the bathroom garbage Muti’s toilet paper sat like ghosts wearing lipstick. Those bloodied tissues compelled me to nudge her to get a bowel scope. After Dad died, Muti reluctantly tolerated my meddling. When I asked about the blood, she said, “Oh, don’t make a huge deal. The doctor said stop straining.”

“You’re constipated? Since when?” I asked.

There were multiple conflicting bowel symptoms. Muti had gone from pushing until she cried to bouts of unpredictable diarrhoea. Then, a few days before Christmas she called. “I need a drive to St Mary’s. For a colonoscopy,” she told me. “Pencil me into your busy principal schedule.”

“Vice-principal. Remember, I’m dead against promotion.”

On the day of the scope, a check of the bathroom garbage shows it’s empty. Muti never flushes toilet paper unless she wants the septic to back up. Drained bottles of Fleet and plastic containers of Wink are tipped into the basin. Before washing my hands, I rest the empties in front of the trash receptacle. They stand like proprietors on a street of pawn shops.

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The Third Bolaño, by Robin Reich

Robin Reich lives in Ulladulla, NSW and is a trained primary school teacher. His first published work was ‘The Trout’, which can be found in Issue Seven of Tincture Journal.


In homage to Roberto.

The Part About a Death

Joseph Ratu, who was never a chief and possessed no such regal ancestry, dreamt his home island in the Pacific had been abandoned by the human race, a race that long ago genetically engineered humanity and had dispensed with many of the traits he possessed, namely pride, integrity, and humility. During the dream Joseph became aware that he had died more than six centuries ago and he lucidly discerned he was thousands of kilometres away from his homeland-bound twelve-year-old daughter. Then he awoke, pained, to a sound from another universe. In the freezing pre-dawn hour he heard a knock, then many knocks, on the door of the unpowered caravan he shared with his nephew, who stirred above him. The knocking sounds continued, some at the same time, from all around the shell of their abode, from the rows of grape vines in the isolated farming area outside, from the rest of the world that had been so far away.

Joseph’s nephew got down from his bunk and opened the door. Narrow beams of light made their way into the caravan. Joseph fearfully remained in his bed and couldn’t see who had so uncannily interrupted his sleep. Then he heard a woman speak, as if she read from a script. The soft female voice slowly calmed Joseph as he tried in vain to hear exactly what she said. After a few moments Joseph’s nephew implored him to come outside. They both cautiously exited the caravan and were temporarily blinded by flashlights. Joseph understood, from what seemed a far-away void, that the people who surrounded him were immigration officers who held a warrant to search the area. Joseph was promptly separated from his nephew, then silently escorted away by five officers toward a fleet of vehicles that were parked on the nearest road, a few hundred metres away. Joseph was bewildered as, in turn, he looked at each of his captors. He thought he may have been in another dream, a dream of bad luck. Then they arrived at a grey Volkswagen van and Joseph was instructed by an officer to sit in the side door well. He was advised that a statutory interview would be conducted to determine his present and future immigration status. Joseph spoke his first words of that day when he told the officers he would not talk while he was apart from his nephew. First light appeared, the air became colder, and the officers tried without success to interview Joseph.

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David Stavanger and Anne-Marie Te Whiu​, Co-Directors of the Queensland Poetry Festival

Tincture’s editors Stuart Barnes and Daniel Young interviewed David Stavanger and Anne-Marie Te Whiu via email. David and Annie are the co-directors of the Queensland Poetry Festival.

The 2015 festival will be held at Brisbane’s Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts from 28th – 30th August. For the full program head to the Queensland Poetry Festival website.


1. Annie and David, your Rolodexes must be bulging: for at least a decade you’ve both worked for, among other organisations, the State Library of Queensland and Woodford Folk Festival. This is your first year co-directing Queensland Poetry Festival, now in its 19th. How is it dis/similar? Tell me about working together, some of the joys and challenges, and your team.

Decades is phonetically very close to decay, which fortunately doesn’t apply in our case—the enthusiasm and joy we get from working in the arts is enough to sustain us. Co-directing QPF is similar in that between us we have produced spoken word and poetry at Woodford Folk Festival for ten years, created and directed community festivals such as Home and Zillmere Multicultural Festivals, and set up and coordinated the Queensland leg of the Australian Poetry Slam. The big difference with QPF is that we are now combining our spirits and aesthetics, to create an artistic vision that represents both of us, cohesively.

In terms of working together, we are both Aries, so there is much fire, which means we are driven by passion, but also need to get into the ocean regularly. We are ardent believers in being Artistic Directors rather than Arts Administrators, as is the current trend in so many places today (Belgian Frie Leysen’s closing speech earlier this year at the Australian Theatre Forum sums up much of our thinking—‘we urgently need the courage back to pick up this role of disturbers’).

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