What is your practice?
I call myself a “performing writer” because I write and perform all of my own work which includes poetry, plays, monologues, stories and songs with my band.
How did you first start & why?
I started because I was a young queer girl of colour, living in a semi rural area, going to a school I hated, living with parents who just didn’t understand me. Writing was like my life jacket because my life felt like the worst storm at sea. It helped me weather everything. Later I discovered spaces where people could perform their work and it was a revelation to me – to finally have a voice, to finally be heard. I can’t describe that sensation. It had nothing to do with ego and everything to do with survival.
What keeps you going?
The belief that we can change the world through art – in fact that in this current awful climate, it may be the only thing that can; the innumerable people who write to me and tell me the effect my words has on them; the understanding that writing and performing for me is like frantically paddling to stay afloat (now that I’ve outgrown my life jacket) and stopping would mean drowning.
What is the last dream you remember?
That’s hard for me to pinpoint actually. I do have reoccurring dreams a lot though. Tsunami’s that I can’t escape; trying to save the world from attacking aliens; being at the airport to get on a flight and realising too late that I’ve forgotten my passport.
Do you have any rituals?
I do – I have many. I often clear out the energy in my studio by burning sage; when things are getting really tough or I’m particularly unwell, I burn incense and say a few words to my Frida Kahlo shrine; before a show I gather my band together and hold them and tell them how grateful I am for them. These are just a few and if I don’t do them I feel very, very unsettled.
What are your creative outlets?
Mostly just writing and performing to be honest, though I occasionally work on more visual pieces. I’d like to do a full exhibition eventually. I nearly have enough pieces for one.
What is the hardest thing about your practice?
That I need to know when to turn my brain off and just stop. Just. Stop.
What has been the most significant moment for you creatively so far?
There have been so many! One or two times when I’ve written something I know is going to be one of my masterpieces for ever; opening for my idol Ursula Rucker at the Sydney Theatre Co; performing at the Sydney Writers Festival; being asked to do the key note speech for Amnesty International’s Youth Conference. That’s just a few, but I feel so grateful my hard work and complete dedication to my art have offered me so many amazing opportunities.
What motivates you?
The need to combat the loud voices which spread hatred and encourage violence; my absolute love for people – for humankind; the want to be better, always striving to improve and evolve as both human and artist.
If money were no object, what would you do?
This. I’m doing exactly what I want – it’s a vocation really, a calling. I get to travel and do what I love, all over Australia and the world. And believe, money is no object because I barely ever have any of it! ha! Being a poet, even one that gets to travel, means being poor pretty much all of the time!
What do you see yourself doing, when you are say… 50?
Exactly what I’m doing now! Though I do hope to have finished my novel before then. That’s it actually – by 50, I hope to be a published novelist as well as what I do.
What are you currently working on / what’s coming up for you?
My band and I are launching our newest album “Birthing the Sky Birthing the Sea” at the Red Rattler in Sydney. Our live shows are pretty incredible – we’re high energy performers, all of us – my band are a bunch of show ponies and the infamous sex clown Betty Grumble is part of our performance collective. We’re a genre bending crew and our music moves through funk, experimental, rock, hip hop and poetry. This is a one minute video of us at The National Folk Festival, where we just did our official launch and debut (that was a mind blowing experience! We played three packed out shows to the most beautiful and open humans who danced their hearts out).
What revives your creative spirit?
Spending time with good friends; going bush for a couple of weeks; seeing an amazing exhibition or performance; a good cup of tea.
What does Create or Die mean to you?
It’s the mantra I live my life by – I know for a fact that if I don’t create, I will die. And so I create. I am a creator who refuses to be an imitator. I create with every fibre of my being – so that when I *do* die, I’ll know I gave as much as I received.