GN: I know that the language of water is something that you are drawn to. With the live GIBBER project, I was fascinated to see you gargling water on stage and wondered whether this was an attempt to replicate its unique cadence?
a.r: Certainly, there was a tie-in to inviting vast ocean-bodies, river-bodies, lake-bodies and weather-bodies into my own body during the GIBBER performance at the Queensland Poetry Festival. Raising awareness of our dependence on water (and within this, the many critical issues regarding shortage, potability, pollution) is integral in this global moment. This directly informs my interest in listening to water sources and my mindfulness of the water I consume. Exploring my own bodily sounds – which resulted in a collaboration with water – became an interest within GIBBER after visiting the Avery ranch in Longreach and learning about waterways and accessibility within that dry region.
GN: Heraclitus famously said that, ‘You cannot step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.’ I wondered if you felt that in the same way? Are the recordings you made of the Coral Sea at Arcadia Bay, Magnetic Island a one-off language spoken that day, never to be repeated?
a.r: Absolutely. And I want to reflect here on Gertrude Stein’s assertion that there is no such thing as true repetition. We are always shifting our experiences and our immediate knowledge-sets, so it’s impossible to hold an identical engagement with or interpretation of anything we encounter. Sensing is ephemeral; we are never the same person twice. If we attempt to replicate or re-present through print, archive, documentation, we arrive to that archive each time with subtle alterations that inform our interpretation.
GN: Now that you have left our shores, what experience had the most impact on you as a poet and performer during your stay?
a.r: To know that I don’t know.
GN: And how will the language of this landscape – its flora, fauna and human inhabitants – continue to influence you?
a.r: The Oz dreams have begun. First, the Julian Assange human shield squad prior to my departure. Then, Michael Phelps in a platypus fantasia upon arrival home. The language, no doubt, has set down roots in my subconscious. Anticipate influence via The Dreaming.
You asked earlier if there are similarities between the landscape conversations I’ve engaged with in Iceland and Queensland. My guess is that your question will arise again, as I move through and with other entities and reflect on Queensland’s many bodies – their counterpoint, our interplay.
It’s such a revelation to reach the end of this residency gift, feeling the urge to craft love letters. Three months of residency has felt as full as a year; my body’s beyond exhaustion but has tapped into bliss and is blessed despite the marathon. Thank you, Glossalalians, Scrabblites, QPFers, BWFers. Thank you, sand-bubbling crab; love you.
My heart glows worms in choir, mates! Love to you, platypi. Bless, Moggill Creek. Love you, mangroves. Gratitude, Magnetic Island. Helen in Longreach, bless. Oh my heart, gibber. Thank you, birds. Love you, land.