The End of the Pier, by Louise Slocombe

Louise Slocombe lives in Wellington, New Zealand, city of shaky ground, challenging topography and amazing views. She has been known to write fiction and has had work published in The Yellow Room and Takahē Magazine, but these days she writes mostly non-fiction about nature, places and journeys and how we experience them. She is currently writing about birds, both living and extinct.

This creative non-fiction piece first appeared in Issue 16 of Tincture Journal. Please help us on our quest to pay the writers and buy a copy.

Princes Pier, Port Melbourne, Victoria. All images by Louise Slocombe © 2016

You come to a pier.

Let’s say you’ve been strolling along a beachfront, somewhere you’ve not been before. You’ve seen it from a distance, an indistinct line over shifting water, and it has caught your attention. Your step may have quickened ever so slightly as you got nearer. Without consciously realising it, you’ve made the pier into something to aim for. At the pier you will be able to make a decision of some kind—a decision about your stroll, or the rest of your day, or—who knows?—even the rest of your life. But this thought has not quite crystallised in your mind. It does not need to, not until you reach the pier.

And now you are here. The pier is long and straight, a timber boardwalk, the boards bleached grey by sun and salt. It extends out over the water, narrowing into the distance, its length regularly punctuated by lampposts.

You walk along it. Of course you do. You have to.

You step from the footpath onto the boards. At first, the pier runs across the beach. As you walk, you can look down over the railings onto the sand. But soon enough you reach the beginning of the sea, where the waves break onto the shore. There are scattered shells, and tangled clumps of seaweed caught up in the constant surge and pull of the foaming water. And there are gulls standing motionless, watching, on the smooth wet sand that in patches reflects the blue of the sky. And then you are walking out over the sea. You are aware of it swirling giddily beneath your feet through the gaps between the timbers. There might even be holes where the timber has rotted and you can glimpse the barnacle-encrusted piles down below, and you wonder—but only very briefly because it won’t stop you going to the end—just how safe this pier is.

As you progress along the length of the pier, you can look back towards the land that you are leaving behind, or across the water at the boats, if indeed there are any boats out there. But most of the time you are looking ahead to where you are going, fixated on that sensation of heading towards an end point, that might even become a sensation of watching your destination move towards you, becoming ever closer and ever clearer, as if you are a participant in a movie of your own life.

And so we are drawn to the end.

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A Sequence by Timothy Ogene

Born and raised in Nigeria, Timothy Ogene has since lived in Liberia, the US, Germany, and the UK. He holds degrees from St Edward’s and Oxford Universities. His first collection, Descent & Other Poems, appeared this year from Deerbrook Editions.

This poetry sequence first appeared in Issue Sixteen of Tincture Journal. Please support our quest to pay the writers by buying a copy.

Every work of this kind is necessarily a cry of anguish—of the root extending its branch of coral, or corals extending their roots into each living hour; the swell of the silent sea, the great heaving dream at its highest, the thunder of splitting pods—the tears scatter, take root, the cotyledons broken, burgeons into laughter of leaf; or else rot into vital hidden roles in the nitrogen cycle. The present dream clamoured to be born a cadenced cry: silence to appease the fever of flight beyond the iron gate.

—Christopher Okigbo, from the introduction to Labyrinths and Path of Thunder

On chance occasions—

and others have observed this—you can see the wind,

as it moves, barely a separate thing,

the inner wall, the cell, of an hourglass, humming

vortices, bright particles in dissolution,

a roiling plug of sand picked up

as a small dancing funnel. It is how

the purest apprehension might appear

to take a corporeal shape.

—Geoffrey Hill, The Triumph of Love, No. IX

1

Sometimes, not sure what to say,

I sag my lungs, my vocal chords,

I count the bubbles on my tongue.

There’re words that thrust, roll themselves,

like tines of quick snakes;

those words I’ve heard, hauled,

held dear as joeys

in a pouch.

But this day, frail, I let them drop,

hit the ground. I hear them raising dust

as they race the streets

of this cold void.

2

I prefer silences and sighs,

have been made to prefer both;

for this caprice, what to say, where to start,

ensures a crash of the lungs,

of my vocal chords.

The flesh is avuncular, cut from the same sheet.

The fate of speech, spiced

or lacklustre, ends

with a putrid dash on granite floors.

If this then is hell, the worst of your youth,

this lash, unease,

why ask for rum

when you can run through woes

with your tongue?

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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.

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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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Issue Sixteen Editorial, by Kirby Fenwick

Hailing from regional Victoria, Kirby Fenwick is an emerging writer and editor currently studying at RMIT. Her work has appeared on Writers Bloc and SPOOK Magazine. When she’s not reading submissions for Tincture Journal you can generally find her on Twitter @kirbykirbybee.

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Australian literary journals live a precarious existence. They stand at the edge of the precipice, digging their toes into the soil in an effort to stave off annihilation. Staffed mainly by volunteers, running on the smell of an oily rag and dependent on the support of a community often hanging out near the edge of that very same precipice, they somehow still manage to produce excellent and exciting and thought-provoking and provocative and necessary work. They somehow still manage to nurture emerging writers and provide a crucial training ground for editors—have a look through any Australian writer or editor’s resume and you’ll probably find a literary journal or two. They also manage to contribute to our national conversation and participate in the creation of our continually evolving national identity. They are the little engines that could of the literary community. But there is something else that literary journals do that makes them increasingly vital. They offer space. Space for dissent.

In a session at the Small Press Network’s Independent Publishing Conference in Melbourne in early November, Adelaide writer, editor, critic and academic, Patrick Allington spoke about literary journals as a place of dissent. Allington put the idea to a number of editors of Australian journals—including our editor, Daniel Young—and there was a mixed response. Some not willing to enthusiastically embrace the lit journal as dissenter while others, like Daniel, more than happy to make that claim.

When I talk about dissent in this context, I’m not talking specifically about the taking of an opposite position. I’m talking about the very act of writing and publishing and doing so at the margins—close to the edge of that precipice. We dissent by simply existing. We dissent by embracing complexity and messiness and experimentation. We dissent by refusing to leave the conversation regardless of how close we are to the edge. We dissent by ensuring that there will be another generation of writers and editors and that they’ll be damn good at what they do. We dissent and we do so even as the soil stains our skin and buries itself under our toenails. And as the world becomes ever more complex, that dissent becomes ever more important.

I hope that you will find something of that dissenting spirit in this issue of Tincture.

Perhaps you’ll find it in the poetry of a.j. carruthers or Timothy Ogene or Mary Chydiriotis. Maybe you’ll spot it in the work of Alice Whitmore or Moll Green or Cameron Colwell. You might even see it in the two special interviews we have for you in this issue, one with our poetry editor, Stuart Barnes, and the other with Michelle Cahill, whose piece ‘A Miko Coda’ appeared in Issue Seven.

Wherever you find it, I hope you enjoy it.

Yours in literary dissent.

Issue Sixteen Table of Contents

Issue Sixteen is available now. Grab a copy from our website, Kindle, Kobo, Tomely or Google Play.

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  • Editorial, by Kirby Fenwick
  • re: flux, by Rob Walker
  • The End of the World, by Moll Green
  • Would Kill for a Massage, by Stu Hatton
  • Istanbul: A Tryptych, by Kelsey Dean
  • Interview with Michelle Cahill
  • Requiese, by Rico Craig
  • The Caves of Blanes, by Adam Ouston
  • Selected Landscapes (In Memoriam Robert Southey), by a.j. carruthers
  • Love Has Nothing to Do with It, by Alice Whitmore
  • An Autumn Stroll through Vigeland Park, by Eduardo Frajman
  • Two-Headed Lamb, by Ivy Alvarez
  • Counting Kangaroos, by Stephen Samuel
  • Interview with Stuart Barnes
  • Thirteen, by Cameron Colwell
  • The End of the Pier, by Louise Slocombe
  • Replanting, by Jane Frank
  • Examined Heads, by Mary Chydiriotis
  • Hector Fucking Katros, by Belinda Rule
  • Local, by Mark Ward
  • I’m Always Going Somewhere, by Joshua Baird
  • A Sequence, by Timothy Ogene
  • A House of Means, by Lucille Bellucci
  • After the Beep, by Adam Ford
  • Enormous Distance, by Simon Barker