Chloe Wilson is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne. Her first collection, The Mermaid Problem, was published by the Australian Poetry Centre in 2010and will be launched this Thursday 1 July at the Wheeler Centre. Her poetry has appeared in The Age, Blue Dog, Wet Ink, Voiceworks and is forthcoming in Going Down Swinging. In 2009 she won both the Poetry and Youth categories of the Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Awards and the Page Seventeen poetry prize. She is a former poetry editor for Voiceworks.

Chloe Wilson

Writing: necessity or luxury?

I suppose that technically I’d be alive if I didn’t write, so it’s not a necessity, and I hate the idea of writing as a ‘luxury’, like we’re all swanning around in bathrobes eating bonbons and twirling our pens, occasionally jotting down the odd pithy observation about ‘life’…I suppose I look at writing as work.

Your collection of poetry is called The Mermaid Problem. So, what’s the problem?

As the beau said when trying to explain it to someone who speaks English as a second language: ‘Well…a mermaid is very beautiful…but what does the gentleman do when he gets her home?’

You were poetry editor at Voiceworks until last year. What did you learn from editing other poets? Did the job have an impact on your writing?

Don’t make me all nostalgic for the good old days of Voiceworks! It’s getting misty all of a sudden. I learned so much from being poetry editor. You have to not only pick up on what’s not working in a poem, but learn to articulate it, and think of ways to improve a piece without stampeding all over it. I think it helped me see my own work more clearly, and think of new/better ways of editing it.

The internet: friend or foe? Discuss.

Is this a joke? The internet is my life. I google everything. A lot of my poems have been the direct result of factoids garnered from the bosom of the interwebs. Seriously.

As part of the Australian Poetry Centre’s New Poets Series you did a residency at Varuna. What goes on there? Blissful retreat, collaborative shindig or massive bore?

Actually, a lot of really good food. There was a cook who came to the house and made dinner every night. It was pretty much the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. What else…on the day we arrived there was a heinous storm, and a tree next to the house was struck by lightning. Which caused a gas leak – gas was bubbling up through the ground. Then there was the sound of chainsaws roaring through the house the next day as they chopped the tree down – you could see where the lightning had travelled along the roots, because all the grass and soil was ripped up. But the worst thing was – it disrupted our internet connection (gasps). Can you believe it? I was google-deprived. It was traumatic. And I had the ‘main room’ and managed to convince myself it was haunted…creaking doors etc…how embarassing. But seriously, Varuna was amazing, and all of our manuscripts were so much better for it. Our editor/mentor (Ron Pretty) was incredibly generous.

If you could read anyone’s journal or raid anyone’s hard drive, through whose would you?

I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to do it. I’d be worried about being smote from above.

Have you ever hit a cane toad with a golf club? Could you?

Can’t say I have. I’m a volunteer in an RSPCA shelter, which means I pretty much can’t condone whacking any living thing with a golf club. Here, I’m going to allow you to select your own exception joke: choices include Tony Abbott (topical!), Shane Warne, Wayne Carey, Andrew Bolt or anyone who broadcasts on MTR…you get the drift.

What happens when you turn 25? Any strange growths or odours appear?

Yes, your ‘cool’ organ shrivels up and dies, but in my case it didn’t make much of a difference.

The Mermaid Problem

  • http://www.toothsoup.com phill

    So it’s okay that I’m addicted to the Internet? Oh! Happy days! Thank you, foxy Chloe Wilson, for justifying my horrific downward spiral of meme and Maru. 😀

  • http://fenwickabernathy.wordpress.com/ Fenwick

    i tried it on with a mermaid once. she just kept yelling, ‘i’m a dolphin, i’m a dolphin!’ or something.

    last time i go to Sea World for my long weekend.

    great interview.

  • http://trojanhermit.blogspot.com Adolfo Aranjuez

    Oh, Chloe. Your ‘cool’ organ may have shrivelled up but you’re still incredibly funny to me. Looking forward to reading The Mermaid Problem.

    And Fenwick’s right — great interview, Jodie!

  • RBS

    Damnit – how did I miss the connection between ‘foxy’ and ‘Chloe Wilson’? I feel like La Perouse. At least I’m still able to clutch at the ‘machine that lets you smell passing objects when you’re playing a simulated computer game’ dream. No ones got that one yet, right?

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