Nathan Shepherdson's Literary Space – Emerging Writers' Festival special #4


Nathan Shepherdson says…

I don’t really have a particular place to write. 

I’ve lived at the Glass House Mountains since 1991. It’s about one hour north of Brisbane. It is farming community (parts semi-rural/residential) with a collection of small national parks. The main crops are strawberries, pineapples, macadamias, avocados and custard apples. (Pineapples used to be dominant, but are now in decline courtesy of imports). The landscape is dominated by the mountains themselves. They are in fact volcanic plugs (named by Captain Cook) which have a very powerful presence, very individual, monumental forms that protrude from a relatively flat landscape. Needless to say they are important within Aboriginal culture and mythology. Thankfully with the exception of one on the outer rim, they have maintained their indigenous names (Beerwah, Tibrogargan, Ngungun etc), and their story is worth reading, one based on pregnancy, fear, water, death, remorse and time. From certain angles Beerwah’s maternal outline can still be seen. (It is thought that Beerwah was a meeting place for Aboriginal women for thousands of years).

So what influence does all this have on my writing? In the metaphoric sense not much, but in ways physical and philosophical quite a lot I suspect. There are one or two painters who have done them justice, but generally they are caricatured in tourist galleries and on tea towels. I’m not discounting myself from ever approaching them as a subject, but as yet I’ve not worked out how to put 500m stones onto a piece of paper. An attempt to do this would seem insignificant, and when I can see Tibrogargan from my bedroom window I don’t feel I need to. But their collective presence does have an effect on me. I’m just a second in their pattern of time, but I still use that second where I can. I use their colossal nature in a practical sense, thinking and resolving many poems while walking on a number of tracks that surround them. I’m pleased to accept my particle disposition in their company. 

Nathan will be featured in a From Here to There session at the Emerging Writers’ Festival on Sunday 31 May at 1:45 pm, discussion his poetry collection what marion drew never told me about light.

Nathan Shepherdson has won the Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize twice (2004, 2006), the 2005 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Award, 2006 Newcastle Poetry Prize and 2006 Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award. His first book Sweeping the Light Back into the Mirror (UQP 2006) won the Mary Gilmore Award in 2008. His most recent book what marian drew never told me about light was published last year by Small Change Press.

See also in this series – (EWF) Stu HattonStephanie ConveryKirk Marshall, (and non-EWF) Charlotte Wood, Michael Gross, Paul Morgan, Damon Young, and Caroline Petit. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear from you… email contact in ‘About Angela‘.

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