Writers Talk — Hinemoana Baker

Posted on Aug 14, 2013 | Comments Off on Writers Talk — Hinemoana Baker

HinemoanaIdea — which comes first — subject, form, a line? Or other?

I try to let language lead me into a poem, rather than having an ‘idea’ to write about. Often the idea comes about anyway, but it usually has more wisdom or surprise if I can let the words lead me rather than bossing them around too much.

Planning — do you plan your entire poem before you write a word?

Nope. That said, I do enjoy writing to an exercise, or a set of constraints, sometimes. Write a poem which includes these five words…or write a poem with ten lines and no word is allowed to be repeated… etc.

Rituals — are there any riutals you like to observe before you sit down to write?

I wish I could say ‘yes’ to this, but to be honest, I just grab time whenever I can. Often it’s when I’m on the train. I don’t even write in a consistent kind of journal. Some poems I type my first and subsequent drafts, some are all hand-written till the last minute. Nothing is repeated, ritual-wise, from poem to poem, I’m afraid.

Rejection — how do you handle rejection?

I certainly handle it a lot better than I used to. That’s because I’m more confident about my own work, I guess. Also, I understand what it’s like to be an editor now, and I know that I sometimes get fantastic work sent to me that I’ll still say no to only because it doesn’t fit well with the rest of material I’m curating for that particular project. Nowadays I crave honest, even brutal, feedback more and more, so rejection can be really valuable on that level: like a very short and to-the-point critique (depending on how much respect I have for the opinions of those giving it).

Success —  and where were you when you learned your first poem had been accepted for publication?

I was about 24, I think, and it was to be published in a literary journal, and I was chuffed. I was doing a creative writing course at Vic, just a one-semester thing through the English Department with Bill Manhire. It was a poem about my friend Kate, who had visited my flat when I was out. When I got home I found she had left me a dozen red apples. Perhaps I’ll dig up that poem for you next time, Renée 


Please do Hinemoana, R