“I take my inspiration from observing the world around me and I learn through the process of experimentation. For me to experiment is to discover.
The art that accompanies my poetry is a type of abstract expression of the theme and/or emotion that the poem conveys. The final art piece may be the accumulation of three or four attempts painted over each other. However, it is the “mistakes” that are ultimately the guiding light that contribute to the formation of the end result.”
Camille Barr, poet
Language is an innate human characteristic to inform, convey and pass on information and ideas. Poetry uses language to critically examine ideas, present abstract concepts, tell stories, form an understanding of the constructs of society and like other forms of art can enable us to keep in check the direction we are headed.
Poetry accomplishes this in a way that is memorable through its musical tone, draws a picture in our minds eye through descriptive imagery, resonates emotional understanding through metaphors and it does all this in less words than other forms of writing making it much more accessible … Poetry is the artful way of using language to communicate big ideas in a way that can be easily understood. So why poetry? Because I search for understanding through critical thinking and poetry creates art from language so that abstract concepts may be explored.
Like many people I was first exposed to poetry at school and it captivated me in a way that nothing else in the classroom had until then (to be honest I had mostly been bored at school until that moment). I was 9 years old and we were given some instruction on how poetry was formed and from that we had to write a poem about ANZAC day. My poem was one of the ones chosen to read out at the school assembly, and from that I saw the impact that poetry could have on people. For me personally it gave me an outlet for all thoughts that were always going on it my head. Poetry allowed me to organise my thoughts and explore them in a deeper way.
Unfortunately, other than the occasional glance poetry isn’t given much time in school, so I mostly just continued to write it for myself. It was when I went to university as a mature age student that the opportunity arose to include a poem of mine in an assignment, it received very encouraging feedback, and this directed me back to what I really wanted to be doing and should have been doing all along. I finally realised that poetry was not just a hobby for me, and I recognized myself as a poet.
What inspires you?
Other poets, writers and artists inspire me to look at things through a different lens and I use this inspiration to then form my own ideas. I am always reading though usually more than one book at a time, more like 2 or 3 at a time. Books are probably my biggest source of inspiration and I find that I will lack material to write about if I am not exploring or being exposed to other people’s ideas through books. Documentaries can also provide the same sort of inspiration through their story telling.
The natural environment is also another great source of inspiration and a place to retreat to when I am stuck for ideas. The natural environment is a wonderful place for reflective thinking to take place. As John Keats wrote “The poetry of the earth is never dead” and I am constantly in awe and inspired by it.
Who inspires you?
There are many people who I am influenced by and feel inspired by. Noam Chomsky is probably one of the most notable people, from him I have gained a better view of “how the world works” (this is the title of one of his books) through his understanding of language and how it is used to influence the way we live.
Are you a perfectionist?
That’s a good question to which I must confess yes probably I am. My view on perfectionism is something along the lines of this it is both your best friend and worst enemy. By this I mean it pushes you to strive for your best at the same time as holding you back from ever being satisfied enough to put out there anything that you produce. To combat the inner perfectionist or at least pacify it I now tell myself that art is never finished it is always in a state of development, this way I can let it go (put it out there) and come back to it later and change it if when I feel I need to refine it. I deliberately hold back from putting full stops at the end of a poem to convey this sense of work in progress, they are never final as ideas continue to evolve.
How do you handle your inner critic?
Not particularly well at times unfortunately, although I am starting to accept this as part of the artistic process so now I know it will pass and I will feel better again. This way it doesn’t drag me too far down. I always share my doubts with my husband, and he is very good at giving me another voice to listen to one that supports me and believes in me. I think it is important to have strong supporters to help you evaluate your work, you just have to be careful that they have your best interests at heart so that the evaluation is constructive not destructive.
As a poet it’s not just my talent that I question it’s also poetry that I question as society has turned away from it or perhaps been turned off of it, my inner critic will try to tell me I am wasting my time. This is when I turn back to books and search to find why less people seem interested in poetry, with this knowledge I feel empowered and I can discard the inner critic.
Not sure that I could say that I am at the top of my game but perhaps I am not meant to be because it is always a work in progress. As for feeling most proud it was probably when I first started responding to the question “what do you do?” with “I am a poet”.
There have been many failures although I prefer mistakes to learn from as a way to think of them. Most were just things like publishing my first book firstly without reviews on the back then realising that was a mistake and asking reviewers to read my book so I could republish it with them. This turned out to be a wonderful mistake as I met another poet that I still correspond with.
Social media – yes or no?
Mostly it has had a positive influence as long as I remember that it uses algorithms to determine who may be presented with my work. It gives access to an audience that may have otherwise been difficult to find.
I am currently in the editing stage of my second book, the difference with this book is I will be including some of the paintings I have done to accompany my poems. Also, I wrote a couple of my poems as song lyrics and have composed the music for them so this will also be included in the second book. Poetry was the platform and art and music seemed the natural progression of my creative side, which has been equally difficult and exciting to explore.
“We have two choices. We can be pessimistic, give up, and help ensure that the worst will happen. Or we can be optimistic, grasp the opportunities that surely exist, and maybe help make the world a better place. Not much of a choice” (Noam Chomsky, Optimism over Despair page 196).
This encourages me to try even in the face of failure because it is actually your only chance at success. It also reminds me of the power of language to encapsulate ideas so that they are easily accessible.