Astrid Lorange is a poet, teacher, book-indexer, researcher and occasional home-brewer from Sydney. She is currently finishing a doctoral thesis on Gertrude Stein, experimental poetics and twentieth-century philosophies of science. She is the author of Eating and Speaking, Minor Dogs, Pussy pussy pussy what what, and a mistly spray of poems, essays, reviews, and objects. She recently contributed commentary on Sydney poetries to Jacket2 and guest-edited a Sydney-themed issue of Cordite Poetry Review. She teaches visual and material culture at UTS, poetry at UWS and works a day job as a researcher of contemporary urban sociolinguistics.
Kind of Healthefforts to recognise lino cut a mirror plate mid-sized scuttle one-one adds a third and three dogs to the script, efforts to house loose from harbour raking on a silo one-two loses it, moves city, finds a suitably tooth pet fern and lobs fruit one is short for otherwise fiction where four dogs find a plate for mirror drag (too boyish) or itch two tight ankles. one reads psych five out on the deck as the ferry wheels and makes a triangle of plums, face to face wracking some bomb fantasy boys up on middle harbour once an analysand; never once plug for trump open chalk slung off a smallest finger narrowest inlet pin
Who are you reading now and why do they turn you on?
Since I am in the final throes of the thesis, I am reading mostly my own critical prose writing, which is terrifying. Also, of course, and always, I am reading alongside and around and with Stein. Recently I’ve been majorly turned on to Leibniz, in particular, his monadology, and I have been rereading everything with a mind for constructive-eccentric concepts and captures. I always read my friends and peers closely: Eddie Hopely, Sam Langer, Joel Scott, Aden Rolfe, Corey Wakeling, Michael Farrell, Sam Moginie, Fiona Hile, Tim Wright, Ella O’Keefe, Duncan Hose, Nick Keys, Tom Lee, Oscar Schwartz, Peter Minter, Kate Fagan, Stuart Cooke, Gordon Faylor, Lanny Jordan Jackson, John Paetsch, Kieran Daly, Andy Sterling, Cecilia Corrigan, Trisha Low, Steven Zultanski, Josef Kaplan. And many more. Then there’s a whole glut of regular obsessions: Harryette Mullen, Mina Loy, Bernadette Mayer, Leslie Scalapino, Joan Retallack, John Cage, WCW, Jack Spicer … the list goes on. Mostly I prefer to think of ‘reading’ as my constant mode of thought.
How often do you write? Do you have a writing practice?
I write every day in very different capacities. When I teach I feel like I am ‘writing’ a network of extemporaneous essay-flakes. When I write emails I consider them a critical pursuit, for the most part. When I write my thesis I do it in silence, in the library, with a clenched jaw and fucked posture. When I write poems I write them while eating, drinking, cooking, talking, singing, and sifting through texts. I write with about fifty windows open on my computer and an A4 piece of paper to sketch little charts on. I write until sunset and then usually I can’t write anymore; after sunset is time to make and eat dinner and talk.
When you think of Australian poetry, do you see an elephant in the room? If so, what is it?
If there’s an elephant in the room of Australian poetry, it’s the elephant whose absent-presence validates the very category of Australian poetry in the first place. Nations are structurally problematic and so too are identificatory processes and claims. I’d prefer not to talk in terms of Australianness, but at the same time, there are obvious and actual geopolitical, cultural, postcolonial, and historical reasons for why texts emerge in a particular space of time. The thing that I’m opposed to is the weird framing of poetry (here in Aus but by no means exclusively) as a kind of civic prosthesis: as if it is some thing that can be sewn onto public and official events as an aesthetic adornment with no critical conversation about its modalities and formalities. Poetry these days seems to be something you shove on a program, not something that is taken seriously in the context of pedagogy, history, philosophy, etc. I think the questions of what Australian poetry is or is not are less important than discussions of poetry as a mode of thought and as a methodology for thinking-through realities of language. If poetry was taken up in this way, we could better think about how language functions to actually produce and maintain things like nationhood and citizenship.