Writers On Writing / Approaches to Poetry with Fiona Wright + Pip Smith


Ahead of Fiona Wright and Pip Smith’s course at Writing NSW—Approaches to Poetrywe had a chat with Fiona about her influences and inspirations for writing poetry.


What inspired you to begin writing poems?
I really came to poetry accidentally, in my very last years of high school. I’d been trying to write short stories—I still can’t write short stories—but kept coming up with very short but very rhythmic, sonic little pieces. It took me a while to figure out that they were actually poems—I knew very little about poetry at the time—but as soon as I started cutting them up and playing with their structures they started making much more sense, and I got really excited about the possibilities of the form.

Tell us a bit about your own approach to poetry. How do you go from inspiration to form—and then to final version?
I almost always draft poetry with pen and paper, rather than on screen. I think there’s something about the slowness and tactility there that I find useful. Sometimes the form comes right away, more often it’s a process of trial and error, and watching to see what different constraints enable. It usually takes me quite a few drafts to get to the final version, and quite a bit of reading the poem out loud.

Who are some of the poets whose approaches to poetry have particularly inspired or influenced you?
I love Judith Beveridge’s work for the way she’s able to combine really impressive formal control with fizzy and often visceral images and subject matter; and Ellen van Neervan who is able to pack real punches that are deceptively simple in her poetry. I also really admire Pip Smith, the other tutor in this course, whose poems have such imagination and energy and are often incredibly funny as well.

Fiona Wright is a writer, editor, and critic from Sydney. Her book of essays, Small Acts of Disappearance, won the 2016 Kibble Award and the Queensland Literary Award for non-fiction. Her poetry collections are Knuckled, which won the 2012 Dame Mary Gilmore Award, and Domestic Interior.

Approaches to Poetry with Fiona Wright + Pip Smith will take place at Writing NSW on Saturday 27 October, 10am-4pm. Book your spot here >

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