Cindy Keong: Image courtesy of the artist
When did you start writing poetry?
Does winning a poetry prize about a shipwreck at the school fete in 1981 count?? The serious answer is I have always written, but most of it is not fit for anyone’s eyes. It has really only been in the last two years on becoming connected to a poetry community I have taken another look at writing poetry and learning about the craft. So much to learn and so little time!!
How do you go about writing? (Do you need five coffees, a new pencil and a quiet spot? Do you write in cafes or on a laptop? Do you carry around notebooks? Do you write in the morning or in the evening? etc.)
I love the invention of laptops, as I am an appalling hand-writer when committing my thoughts to paper. If I relied on pen and paper I would never be able to read back anything I wrote.
In terms of writing inspiration I would have to say I need to attach my ideas to some kind of theme to organise a sense of purpose in the poetry I am trying to write. Much of my inspiration comes from people watching one of my favourite pastimes and from my adventures experimenting with photography.
As well as being a poet, you are also a photographer. Do you see poetry, perhaps like photography, as a way to document your experiences and the world around you?
Poetry and photography is another way we can look at life, relationships, concepts and ideas with a fresh set of eyes. Photography for me is similar to carrying around a notebook to record your ideas for possible poems. Much of my poetry is triggered directly and vicariously by the photographs I have taken.
A few months ago I heard you read some poems based upon your experiences in Tanzania. Can you give us some background to your travels there and the impact on your poetry?
Last year was a year filled with opportunity, most significantly was the opportunity to work as a volunteer in Arusha; Tanzania for Food Water Shelter. This not for profit organisation is a project providing a hand up for vulnerable women and children in a rural area known as Sinon. My work there certainly provided many photographic opportunities and the inspiration for a small collection of poems I will be performing this year at QPF called “Same Sky”. Together, my photographs and poems create a narrative that explores the physical and cultural landscape through the eyes of a westerner (Mzungu), they connect us to universal hardships and celebrations that we all experience under the same sky.
Catch Cindy at the Queensland Poetry Festival in Image Back to the Word - Saturday 27 August / Theatre Space / 2:45