‘Watching Six Seasons of the Nanny While My Long-Term Relationship Slowly Fell Apart’, a collaboration between poet Hera Lindsay Bird and artist Rachel Ang, was featured in Going Down Swinging #38. We spoke to both contributors about their artistic process, New Year’s resolutions, and burning civilisation to the ground.
You can view the animated poem here.
HERA on RACHEL
Do you have a favourite spot to sit and write?
My favourite writing spot is in bed, which is just as well because I don’t have a fancy desk with a nice view. My writing spot looks directly into the recycling area outside, and also the toilet.
Can you describe your piece in three words?
Disappointed gay catastrophising? Homosexual fatigue syndrome?
Did Rachel pick up on anything in your piece that surprised you, or that you hadn’t thought about during the writing process?
The thing I really liked about her interpretation was she changed the pace and the mood. When I read that poem it’s like a seven-year-old throwing a fit at their own birthday party after eating too much cake. Her interpretation gives it a bit of cinematic moodiness which I’m not capable of. It also changed the flow of the poem. I want all my poems to be comics from now on.
What was your initial reaction to Rachel’s response?
I loved it! I still love it. Even though the poem is emotionally one note, she’s brought little subtleties of expression to each line through the character’s facial expressions. Also I want to lie on the back of a horse next time I’m having a break up.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished Jenny Offill’s The Department of Speculation, and I’m about to start Chris Tse’s new poetry book He’s So Masc! I’m also re-reading the entire Anne Of Green Gables series, which was I loved as a child because it was so morally overbearing and filled with descriptions of beautiful looking ponds, but only for the nostalgic factor.
RACHEL on HERA
Can you describe your illustration style and how you found it?
I’d describe my style as ‘Sad Share House Noir’. I have had a quite consistent style from my childhood to now, just developed over time, just observing and drawing a lot. I’ve stuck to drawing a lot of the same things my whole life.
When you were first asked to respond to Hera’s piece, you had no idea what you were about to read. Can you tell us about your first reaction to the poem?
I had read Hera’s work before and was a fan, and I saw her on a panel at Melbourne Writers Festival last year. She kept referring to reptiles. I thought she was very funny and charming, so I had an inkling of what to expect. And I had a feeling that we’d been curated together because we had some similarities in terms of tone and humour. I loved the poem as soon as I read it. I read it out loud several times to kind of ensconce myself into the rhythm and vibe of it. I laughed out loud at a lot of it, the anger and regret and final defeat of it really spoke to me. But my absolute favourite part of the poem is:
The present has overflowed and turned the whole past bad
Ancient Greece, art nouveau, the entire Italian renaissance
I, too, want to cry all over Western civilisation. Then burn it the ground.
What were your New Year’s resolutions and how are they going?
My New Year’s resolution was to go to my room and practice being single. It’s going very well.
What are you reading right now?
The Lebs by Michael Mohammed Ahmed. It’s fantastically scary; I highly recommend. Argosy by Bella Li. Very fun to read. Bottled, a graphic novel by Chris Gooch. I truly believe Chris is one of the best young cartoonists in the world. Very few people can both draw and write so well and so movingly. So It’s Like This, a zine by Ur Big Frog. Check them out – they’re one of my fave young comics creators at the moment. I’m not too sure how to describe their work but it makes me feel odd.
Hera Lindsay Bird is a poet and bookseller from Wellington. Her debut self titled collection ‘Hera Lindsay Bird” was published in 2016 with Victoria University Press and Penguin UK. Her chapbook ‘Pamper Me To Hell & Back’ came out with the Poetry Business in 2018. She has an MA in poetry from the International Institute of Modern Letters where she won the 2011 Adam Prize and is an Arts Foundation New Generation Award recipient.
Rachel Ang is an artist from Melbourne, Australia. She is best known for making comics, a creative practice she embarked on around 2015. Her stories are about human relationships and behaviour, but particularly how bodies relate to each other in space, and particularly the lives of girls and women. She is interested in ideas of fiction and autobiography, wakefulness and dreams.
Want to hold a poem in your hands? Buy a copy of Going Down Swinging #38 here.