Between the Covers with Susie Anderson

Else Fitzgerald  

Susie is a writer, multimedia artist and descendent of the Wergaia & Wemba Wemba people from north western Victoria. Her practice is concerned with the distances between place and people, themes she explores through poetry and media based works. Based in Sydney she works as a digital producer at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

We spoke to her ahead of her appearance at the Between The Covers event with Maquarie University on March 23.

What have you been working on lately?

I’ve been working on my piece for this reading! I went to a workshop with Ellen van Neervan at Blak & Bright festival in February where we started talking about ‘the language of home’, so I’ve been following the things that came up during that session. I’ve also been putting together and mailing out a little chapbook, a collection of prose poems I wrote last year. Plus I just did an event with my friends in the sociocreative trust, a performance dinner called ‘Speak Easy’ that we presented at Festival of Live Art in Melbourne.

You work across several different platforms. How do you adjust your style from creating and writing poetry to more digital based works?

I guess I’ve never thought about it before. I don’t necessarily adjust my style, it’s more about utilising the medium to tell the story or convey the feeling in a different way. I see it as a way to create a more experiential piece of work. With video or audio you can enhance the original intent, really immerse the listener/reader/viewer.

On reflection it seems like.. normally best to let the content suggest to you the best way for it to be realised, whether that is audio, video, text or a few different platforms. Square peg round hole etc.

How do you engage with Sydney’s writing community? How do other writers influence your work?

Sydney is kind of fragmented. There’s lots happening across the city, but in different pockets. I’ve been to (and run) backyard readings, literary festival events, comedy/theatre readings, album launches with readings. all sorts of things are going on. It’s been interesting coming here from Melbourne, where the Wheeler Centre and its awesome resident organisations drive a lot of this stuff, and the community around it generates events and publications in its periphery. Sydney’s CBD doesn’t have a beating heart like that and it’s really cool seeing a literary scene thrive regardless.

Well to be honest sometimes I find the influence of other writers kind of distracting. But let me explain!! For a while I felt like I wasn’t getting enough time to work on my own writing, that I was organising readings or other projects and not allowing myself (possibly out of fear) the space to make work. It eventually became a massive anxiety spiral about whether I’d ever have enough time to work on my own stuff, read other people’s, know what journals there are any more, have energy to go to events, or get past that stage where you’re writing and just emulating other people’s style.

However, in saying that, I have a lot of friends who write, in Sydney, in Melbourne and overseas. Talented, generous and supportive writers who are willing to look over my work, and I am always ready to do the same. I love to edit collaboratively (sup Voiceworks).

I’m interested in seeing how I can let my ‘professional’ career (lol) in the contemporary art world influence my work, because to be honest I’ve been finding myself at a lot more art events than literary in the last little while.

The theme for this year’s performance night at the Between the Covers event is ‘Writing Home’. Can you tell us a little more about this theme and how you interpret it?

So I’ve been following the line of thought that I started at Blak & Bright, where we developed a word that encapsulated some of the broader themes about our homes. I couldn’t think of mine during the session and came away feeling perplexed about the fact that I couldn’t find this one word. But then I realised the disconnect was actually what I was looking for, so I returned to a word I’ve become familiar with through an exhibition I did with sociocreative trust last year: elsewhere. The reason that relates to home for me is that I have always felt a lot of distance from a normal idea of home, psychologically, physically, literally. I’m still teasing it out, and it could go any number of ways at the moment, but I’m really excited to share what I’ve been coming up with.

What have you got coming up that you’re excited about?

To be absolutely on theme, I’m really ready to leave Sydney for a few months, go back to hang out with my mum and make her a new website for her bookstore in my hometown.

And lastly, have you any advice for emerging writers/creators?

Remember to make time or space for yourself. If you’ve got time after that, read.