Salt Room interview: Jacqui Malins

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

For each edition of the Salt Room in 2017, our poetry curator, Andrew Galan, is asking performers a series of questions to provide some insight into their practice and themselves, as well as a short work they would like to share. Each of these questions has been found in the interviews of well-known poets.

‘Is there anything else you would rather have done than writing poetry? Because this is something, obviously, which takes up a great deal of one’s private life, if one’s going to succeed at it. Do you ever have any lingering regrets that you didn’t do something else?’
(1962, Peter Orr to Sylvia Plath)

Poetry is a newish obsession for me, so I have done a lot of other things besides. Some of those I have fleetingly regretted – I won’t tell which! Since I discovered poetry a few years ago, it has taken up a great deal of my private life, but that was willingly given.

‘What do you think of the label “confessional poetry” and the tendency for more and more poets to work in that mode?’
(1995, Drue Heinz to Ted Hughes)

I think each poet has to work in the mode that best fits their voice and their mind. Part of the risk, and hence the pleasure in poetry for me, is in sharing thoughts or feelings or fears, and trusting that other people will at least recognise them, if not share them, just because we are human. If that is confessional, I will wear it – but I hope to do more with my feelings in each poem than to simply confess them.

‘What sort of things did your mother read to you?’
(1960, Richard Poirier to Robert Frost)

I remember reading voraciously, but memories of being read to by my parents is pretty dim and distant now. That said, my Dad can still recite Scuffy the Tugboat by heart, apparently due to the number of repetitions I demanded. I now buy all the books I loved as a child, so I can foist these unfashionable relics on my unwilling nieces and nephews.

Silent Guest by Jacqui Malins

Photographs testify to

the silent guest at all our parties,

sometimes holding out a neat change of clothes,

in the flickering

light of years of cake

while candles and children multiply.

Begun by oversight, we later

got the ironing board out for fun

on purpose so the pictures would be



Jacqui Malins is a performance poet and visual artist. She was the ACT Poetry Slam champion and an Australian Poetry Slam finalist in 2015, won best walk-up poet at the Woodford Folk Festival 2015-16 and took second place in the State Library NSW Sonnet Slam 2016 to commemorate the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Jacqui has featured at Poetry in the Pub, Newcastle, and supported poets including Good Ghost Bill (Moran) and Candy Royalle at Word in Hand, Sydney. Jacqui is also the co-founder and organiser of Mother Tongue Multilingual Poetry events in Canberra.

Jacqui will be performing as part of the Salt Room alongside poets Sandra Renew and Shane Strange, and musician Paul Heslin, at 7:30pm on Friday 3 March at the Gorman Arts Centre. The Salt Room is produced by BAD!SLAM!NOBISCUIT! with the support of the Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres. Tickets $15 full or $10 concession available online or at the door.