Cher Chidzey, interviewed by Daniel Young

Daniel Young interviewed Issue Four contributor Cher Chidzey to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Ken’s Quest (Threekookaburras).

This interview can be found in Issue Eighteen of the journal alongside a chapter from Ken’s Quest. Please consider buying a copy to help support our work.

DY: Thanks for being part of our interview series and congratulations on the publication of your latest novel Ken’s Quest. Could you start by telling us a bit about your background and how you came to writing?

CC: I am the youngest of nineteen children, twelve girls and seven boys. My father Huat was born at the end of the Qing dynasty in Shantou, a fishing village.

Father and his three wives, four sons and eight daughters migrated to Singapore when the Japanese invaded China. I was born in a household of over thirty people, in a house built on stilts. Father relocated shortly after with my mother and her two sons and six daughters to a simpler dwelling in Serangoon Gardens, the stomping grounds of Australian and British military personnel.

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Stuart Barnes, interviewed by Daniel Young

Daniel Young interviewed our poetry editor Stuart Barnes for Issue Sixteen of the journal to celebrate the release of his debut poetry collection Glasshouses.


DY: Thanks for being a part of out interview series, and congratulations on the recent publication of your debut collection, Glasshouses. Could you start by telling us a bit about your background and how you started writing poetry?

SB: Thanks very much, Daniel. Chuffed to be here, chuffed that Glasshouses is out in the world.

I was born and grew up in Hobart, where as a kid I met poet and librettist Gwen Harwood, who encouraged me to read and to write poetry. In 1996 I moved to Melbourne to study a Bachelor of Arts at Monash University (I majored in Literature). Towards the end of 2005, severe anxiety and mild manic depression peaked; my boyfriend at the time gave me several notebooks in which, at his suggestion, I wrote everything that dropped into my head—none of it poetry. I started to write poetry seriously, i.e., confidently, ambitiously in 2009. I moved to Rockhampton in 2013, which is when I became Tincture’s poetry editor (thanks!), with three close friends who grew up here. In 2015 my manuscript The Staysails won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, resulting in the publication of Glasshouses (UQP, 2016).

DY: Can you remember when and where your first poem was published? What was it about?

SB: 2009, in MCV (Melbourne Community Voice), in Letters to the Editor. It was a criticism of a very short-lived club that drew, in my opinion, a very pretentious gay crowd; somehow the men who established it monopolised Melbourne’s best house DJs! In 2007 the very long-running, diverse and inclusive Q&A (Queer & Alternative) closed and, much to my horror, Melbourne’s queer scene’s golden age disintegrated. In 2000, a kind of poem (three lines, not a haiku) accompanied my then-boyfriend’s RMIT assignment. In between this and 2009, I penned lyrics for an electronic ballad written by a friend of that boyfriend and me.

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Michelle Cahill, interviewed by Daniel Young

Daniel Young interviewed Michelle Cahill for Issue Sixteen of the journal. Michelle’s short story collection Letter to Pessoa was recently published by Giramondo and includes ‘A Miko Coda’, an earlier version of which appeared in Issue Seven of Tincture.

Michelle Cahill

DY: Thanks for being a part of our interview series and congratulations on the recent publication of your short story collection, Letter to Pessoa. Could you start by telling us a bit about your background and how you came to writing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to pursue, or something you came upon at a later point in your life?

MC: Thank you Daniel!

I remember when I was in primary school escaping into other worlds, aware of a ‘narrating’ voice that was not quite myself, though it was an intimate aspect of my experience. Growing up through cultural transitions, class and race anxieties, over the years, through books, across countries and interruptions, I guess that voice became writing. I wrote stories and poems in my adolescence but started writing seriously much later in life. At one point, I had wanted to become a musician; now I realise that writing is also an instrument.

DY: You’re a published poet. Have you always written short stories as well, or has this been an evolution from one creative form to another? Indeed, your prose is highly poetic, in terms of both rhythm and imagery. Does this come naturally as you write or is it layered into the prose through editing and re-drafting?

MC: I have been a prose writer for many years, experimenting in forms. Poetry and fiction are distinct processes. When I sit down to write I know whether I am about to write a poem or if it is going to be fiction, but I suppose my language is poetic; that is my natural style. The editing is not really layering but more about correcting the flow (as well as attending to plot and character and focalisation; the many technical aspects of fiction). The composition, the rhythm and auditory texture can allow variations, semantic liberties for the writer as well as malleability for the text. Of course, there is a place for stark, uncluttered sentences and there are passages like that in the book, for instance in its opening paragraph.

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Two poems and an interview: Alison Whittaker

These poems are from Alison’s debut collection, Lemons in the Chicken Wire, and are reproduced in Tincture Journal with thanks to Magabala Books. Interview questions by Stuart Barnes and Daniel Young.

The interview and poems also appear in Issue 13. Check out the full table of contents here and consider supporting our work by buying a copy.


O, Eureka!

A scalp-scab burnt and straw-haired woman

spoke to me a revolution

that roared within my belly, only once it were ate

after years of pushin’ it round the plate

and when I realised what she knew

and what I missed—O, Eureka!

Nan sliced her finger on a crossword

and wrote with that a dissertation, then she

browning, spoke to me

her contested trinity

the messianic, and the self, and the

blades of grass that pierce the pulp

of weedy toes, that the world should meet you

and wound you as you wound it

made Descartes wrong about that split

O, Eureka!

And O,

the first time I said

a long white theory word

she yarned stiff to impress me

like, with that word

came authority, and with it, fear

that she had been misunderstood

her praxis clumsy or unheard

O, the weaker!

And then, at every drawn goodbye

like a choir, leaning each to the other to hold a clap

my nan clasps my hands and whispers to me

decolonising epistemology, and

critical autonomy, and

affective phenomenology.

And what she says is:

remember yourself, and call me once a week

on which I ruminate

O, Eureka!

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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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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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Julie Maclean, interviewed by Stuart Barnes

Our poetry editor Stuart Barnes interviewed Julie Maclean for Issue Ten of the journal. Julie’s poems ‘Abandoned Bodies on’, ‘Being Burden’ and ‘Rough Trade On’ can also be found in the journal.

Stripes Head and shoulders

SB: For how long have you been writing poetry, and what or who inspired you to begin?

JM: I come from a line of independent women and very kind men who taught me the value of reading and the power of education. When it comes to language I have always been a sponge and I have to thank my father for that. He would sit for hours first reading to me, then listening to me read and taking me to the library on a Saturday morning. I could read when I was four thanks to him. I loved the way pictures of dogs and children came alive in a simple, repetitive narrative. The much maligned Janet and John graded readers gave me a super power. I loved the sound of words and the force they could wield at my core. When I wasn’t skipping and playing Hide-and-Seek, I was playing Libraries with Lesley from the council flats.

From then I loved words and building a vocabulary in competition with my dad, triggered by the stalwart of all 1950s homes, the Reader’s Digest. When I got to secondary school I adored French (and my young, cool French teacher), but to my eternal disappointment felt that Latin was pointless and fuddy-duddy. All those battles and references to Sparta and Troy bored me to death. If we’d taken a field trip to Pompeii or Rome it might have been a different story. I gave it up in Year Nine and have been too lazy or scared to take it up since.

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Michele Seminara, interviewed by Stuart Barnes

Our poetry editor Stuart Barnes interviewed Michele Seminara for Issue Nine of Tincture Journal. Michele’s poems “Epistle to My Paedophile” and “Dear Ottla” can be found in the journal.


SB: For how long have you been writing poetry, and what or who inspired you to begin?

MS: I’m a baby poet—or maybe a toddler—I’ve been writing poetry for only three years or so.

But I’ve always written—even as a kid it was my passion. When I was six I announced I was a writer and asked for a special pen and writing pad for Christmas. And I wrote my first novel at eight! I wish I knew where that was. It was called Other Worlds and involved a hole in the wall that sucked you into, well, other worlds! I had an old Olivetti typewriter that I used to bash away on. I wish I knew where that was too!

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Matt Hetherington, interviewed by Stuart Barnes

Our poetry editor Stuart Barnes interviewed Matt Hetherington for Issue Nine of Tincture Journal. Matt’s poems “Basket Case”, “Any Inconvenience Caused” and “Pack of Lies” can be found in the journal.

SB: For how long have you been writing poetry, and what or who inspired you to begin?

MH: I’ve been writing poetry or song lyrics (with no music!) since I was eight though truly seriously from twenty on… Bowie and The Beatles, Michael Dransfield’s Drug Poems, and Sylvia Plath were probably my first major influences. I think when I started writing, it was, like Walt Whitman, to celebrate myself. As simple and joyous as that… and maybe it’s all I’m still doing now anyway.

SB: When and where was your first poem published, and what was it about?

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Looking for Links, or: On Imagining What I Would Talk About If I Met Stuart Barnes

Our poetry editor Stuart Barnes interviewed Elizabeth Allen for Issue Eight of Tincture Journal. Elizabeth’s poems “Post-mortem” and “Delicious” can be found in Issue Eight.


SB: For how long have you been writing poetry, and what or who inspired you to begin?

EA: I have been writing poetry since I was around thirteen years old. I think it was my English teacher who encouraged me to begin—she was very passionate about poetry and used to get us to write poems for class. I think I was very fortunate throughout high school actually to have English teachers who were really excited about poetry, rather than being afraid of it and avoiding teaching it. Their enthusiasm was quite contagious—they got quite beside themselves with excitement over Robert Gray and Philip Larkin and Dylan Thomas and Robert Frost. They opened up the world of poetry to me and were valuable models to have.

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