8 June 2015
NYWM Poetry: Romy Durrant
Week 2 of National Young Writers’ Month sees us throwing the spotlight on Poetry, with an interview series of young poets by Izzy Roberts-Orr.
What do you do?
I write, primarily.
How would you describe your practice?
I just try and sit down and write. I don’t really set a word count, I just get myself into the zone.
What kind of stuff do you write?
A mix of poetry and memoir; it’s emerging as a strong trend at the moment with young writers.
Do you have any rules for writing?
Just write. And eat and sleep and balance the three. Just getting to it and trying not to make excuses. I guess I like to sometimes have a shower when I feel stumped, or gofor a walk, or eat. My number one piece of advice is that whenever you’re in a bad space and feel like getting out of it, write first.
Do you think there’s anything in particular you get stuck on and procrastinate instead of writing?
Yeah, pining for someone. Yeah, actually, it probably drives it more than anything else. It’s probably a good thing.
How did you pull ‘Love Poems’ together?
I just started with a couple of different poems and then I tried to pull them together into a narrative. Just kind of filling in the gaps with it.
Do you think about structure before you start writing, or does it happen organically?
A bit of both.
Are you finding your own ‘process’ through your Creative Writing studies at RMIT?
Yeah…I guess more so through reading and just writing in general. To be honest, I’m more focused on my writing outside of the course. The routine itself does drive me, does help me to write.
Have you built a sense of community through your course?
Yeah, I have. My most recent tutor was Ronnie Scott, so that was really good. Yeah, most of the people are just in my course, like my friends. We’re all kind of in the same scene and have the same interests so that helps.
What is that ‘scene’?
We sit and write a lot together. We workshop together as well, which is pretty good. A lot of my most recent writing that I’ve worked on and have then submitted I’ve sent to my friends beforehand and got their advice on them as well as some more nonfiction, memoir-type stuff.
Where have you been published?
I’ve got two poems on a website called electric cereal. There’s a few smaller American zines. And I self-published an ebook called ‘Love Poems’, which is on Scribd and it’s free and you can also find it on my Tumblr.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I figured that I’d just start somewhere. I had kind of pitched it to some different people in the beginning – that was earlier this year – but that kind of fell through, so it was kind of just sitting on my laptop for a few months. I guess I decided the easiest thing was to just do it. It’s had a pretty good response, so I figured that this is free and people read it, so they’re more likely to pay for my next one. So that’s the plan.
You mentioned that you have some work in overseas zines – what inspired you to submit to them?
I just like the idea of having Melbourne on the map a bit more, especially overseas.
How did you find those publications?
Just on different Facebook pages I’m a member of and I guess just on Tumblr and Twitter and through other writers I like doing callouts.
Do you get to meet the people you interact with and connect to online?
Yeah, definitely. I did a reading recently for Susie Anderson and Dan Hogan’s reading season ‘Subbed in’ in Sydney. Lots of the writers there that night I just met online through this small Facebook group we have going and I guess also on Twitter. There’s lots of connections to be made.
How do you know when something’s ‘finished’?
Or like ready for publication? I guess when I feel like it’s achieved what I wanted it to achieve. Or when everything’s on the page that I wanted to get out. There’s a certain sense of inner completion as well that’s not easily described but it just kind of looks right on the page and feels right when you read it. Even if there is more work to be done.
Have you had to deal with rejection? How do you handle it?
Yes I have had to deal with it, I think everyone deals with it; especially in the beginning. I – what I’ve done, I’ve created some folders in my Hotmail – I think just like ‘yay’ and ‘nay’ or something, and I just select each response and move them to each folder. So if I get something published, I move them to ‘yay’, and if I don’t then to ‘nay’ or whatever it is. It’s kind of silly but it just, I don’t know – it’s just kind of nice to see that number next to the ‘yay’ folder and to be like “well, I might have had this number of rejections but at least I have these successes”.
Besides that I guess it’s just down to not taking it personally – a lot of it has to do with the publication and what they’re publishing and it doesn’t mean that your work it shit. It just might mean that it needs more work or you’re just not in that place just yet.
Do you have any tips for being edited?
I guess just be open to their suggestions and their edits. If you feel like something they’re doing is really wrong for your work then you should probably say so. Hold onto your integrity, or more kind of just your voice.
What if you don’t know what ‘your voice’ is yet?
I think you will very soon hopefully! If you keep writing.
What kind of stuff do you read?
I read stuff online a lot, across different websites. A lot of it I just discover through this Facebook group, which is kind of secret.
Where can we find your stuff?
‘Love Poems’ ebook on Scribd
‘Thursday night phone call’ on The Bohemyth
‘one poem’ on Electric Cereal
‘Early memories of sex and nudity’ on Electric Cereal
Can you recommend some reading?
Goth Ryan by Chelsea Martin
‘Young Tumblr Grrrl: Feminism and Internet Culture‘ An Anthology of Poems and Short Stories by Marie Darsigny
Takahē by Stacey Teague
Keep your eyes out this week. Coming up, we’re talking to Broede Carmody, the Voiceworks Editorial Committee, Lia Incognita and Oliver Mol.