Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's in the eyes - a conversation with Ashleigh Young (tomorrow)

I haven't interviewed any short story writers for this blog for a while, but I have branched out. I've interviewed a poet (cum-essayist-blogger-editor). And to further my branching, the interview is going to be posted on the fledgling online litmag, Three Islands Magazine.

Apart from that, my interview with Ashleigh Young conforms to my usual 'email conversation' format.

I'll post a link to the full conversation when it's online tomorrow, but until then, here's a taster:


Me: You mentioned your blog (, which you maintain in addition to being a crack essayist and poetHow distinct are these forms for you? When you have an idea, do you instantly file it away under ‘Essay’ or ‘Poetry’ or ‘Blog post’? Do these forms ever invite each other round for nachos?

Ashleigh: They're not really on speaking terms. I have what feels like a different brain – or set of eyes – when I'm writing a poem as opposed to an essay or a blog post. 

If there's a subject I want to explore fairly rigorously, a subject that needs a wide landscape, it becomes an essay. But poems often have very uncertain beginnings. They start as fragments - usually single images or scenes, and can go through lots of different translations. 

Blog posts almost always start with me thinking, "Bloody hell, I haven't done a post for a while" and then trying to cobble something together. A few posts come from wanting to voice something that's been nagging at me for a while. A blog has a useful immediacy about it. But it does feel like an indulgence, sometimes, like something that Jonathan Franzen would hate, and I worry a bit about wearing out my welcome. I will try to cut it short before that happens.

[Update: You can now read the whole shebang here.]
If you're in Wellington tomorrow (Wednesday 1 Nov), Ashleigh's debut collection, Magnificent Moon, is launched at Unity Books on Willis Street at 6pm.

While we're treading these waters, it's worth mentioning the other great online arrival with an NZ/literary bent in 2012: The Pantograph Punch. They're producing consistently interesting stuff and managed to scoop me by a full 24 hours by posting Hera Lindsay Bird's interview with Ashleigh Young this morning. It's equally worth a look.

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