First Chapters Q&A with Andrew Brion
Andrew Brion came to writing poetry later in life. Andrew has published in various Melbourne magazines and has also been active in Spoken Word poetry. His writing broadly covers themes exploring our philosophical, emotional and intellectual relationship with the world; themes of travel, and contemporary themes including politics. He grew up in the north of England and now lives in Melbourne.
Andrew will be reading for us at First Chapters on Friday 1 March from his first book of poetry Soul Moves.
We asked him a few questions to get to know him better. Here's what he had to say.
1. Brunswick Bound has asked you to read a piece from your published work. Tell us what we can expect from the piece you have chosen?
I’ll probably read some poems from my book, Soul Moves. I expect to read some poems on the theme of migration. These would largely reflect the tensions and loves of the emigrant/immigrant which push and pull between two countries.
2. How would you describe the kind of poetry that you write?
I actually write a wide variety of poetry. I think most poets do. The common themes in my poetry are primarily threefold: existential ones exploring our philosophical, emotional and intellectual relationship with the world; travel; and contemporary issues including politics. Most of the poems in Soul Moves fall into the first category.
3. What was the first book that you read (or had read to you) that left an impression on you?
I genuinely can’t remember that long ago! An old favourite is certainly The Prophet by Khalil Gilbran. A book I really loved in slightly more recent times is The Time of Our Singing by Richard Powers.
4. Do you believe that books should answer life’s big questions?
Not necessarily, though wouldn’t it be nice! I think books serve a multiplicity of purposes from philosophical ponderings to crazy entertainment. But I do think they need to take you to a different location, beyond your everyday experience, into another mind, place or time. To hear another mind tick, and another storyline unfold.
5. Do you have any writing quirks?
I do like playing with traditional poetical forms. My favourite is a sestina though I’ve yet to write a really good one (I have one about Northcote and another called Childhood Chills about the scariness of a dark bedroom at night!). Villanelles are fun too.
6. What is your favourite word or phrase?
There are some lines of Rumi (in translation) that I love and, in particular, “Flare up like a flame / and make big shadows I can move in.” It captures in a sentence that marvellous tension between lightness and dark in life.
7. What have you found most surprising about publishing a book?
I’ve self-published, and I think I was surprised both at how easy and how difficult it was. Easy in the sense that computers mean that you can do almost everything yourself these days, without having to buy specialist software. Difficult in the sense that there are a multiplicity of balls to juggle. Luckily friends and colleagues are very helpful too – and I’ve been surprised to find such a helpful community of writers and poets.
8. What is the question that you hope never to be asked in an author Q&A?
Probably this one – and I’m guessing that isn’t a very original response!
9. What question do you hope you will be asked and why?
I like to be asked about my writing journey. Because I came to it as an older man never having done much more than write technical reports and briefings previously: and that it is now almost a way of life for me – but not in any sense a commercial venture. It’s given me a whole new way of being in the world and a new dimension in which to express myself.
Writing is about community. About life. About expression. You don’t need to do it - but you absolutely do!
10. Which author that you have read do you think should be better known or more widely read?
In terms of fiction, I’m always amazed how few people know of Richard Powers. Particularly in Australia.
If we’re talking poetry I reckon there are surprisingly few uniformly good poets, perhaps because it is such a demanding discipline and there are so many poems. And I’m poorly read though trying to catch up! But I recently read Earth Hour by David Malouf – who knew what a tremendous poet he is?
You can find out more about First Chapters on the Brunswick Bound website.