EWF At Home Residency Q&A: Luke Patterson

In 2020, EWF is proud to present EWF At Home Residencies, a program that supports emerging writers by offering time and financial assistance to work on their craft.

Luke Patterson is one of six writers selected for the At Home Residencies program undertaking a fortnight of creative work, supported by EWF, in November and December.

What project will you be working on during the Residency?

I’ve got a two-fold project on the go at the moment. The first part is a chapbook manuscript for Rabbit Poetry Journal. This is a kind of concept album I’m calling SmuttyPaperbark. I describe it as a poetic and archival psychodrama exploring the colonial enterprises of anthropological, anatomical and psychological research conducted on Aboriginal people in Australia.

The second part of this project I call The Wolli Sketches. It is an experiment in methodology and digital ethnopoetics. This draws on improvised spoken word poetry I’ve recorded while walking along Wolli Creek, Gadigal-Wangal Country. I noticed the way Country was shaping my breath, the flow of words, the colours of language. I started to understand place as a powerful interlocutor. Over the next two weeks, with the help of editors at the online arts platform Running Dog, I’ll be coding these audio sketches and transcriptions into multi-modal, multi-layered online content.

What do you love most about poetry?

Language, by necessity, is a kind of failure. It always misses its mark. With poetry, you kind of aim left of centre and somehow manage to get that little bit closer to the target. Kinda like the flight of a boomerang. In saying that, poetry can do the complete opposite, trickster that it is. Poetry also affords an opportunity for some straight talk, a direct way to speak back to those old white fantasies of Oz. I might just leave this question here for now because I’m stuck in verse and to my senses, everything rhymes with poem.

What drew you to creating SmuttyPaperbark and The Wolli Sketches?

SmuttyPaperbark is heavy, it’s heartbreaking, it’s a deep-dive into some of the most horrific stories never told in this country. It’s also a way for me to speak back to the settler soul and its colonial perversions, and to address my own privileges as a white-coded Aboriginal man. Conversely, The Wolli Sketches function, for me, as a kind of anti-venom, an attempt to bring about a poetics of healing. As a whole, I’m compelled to create these texts, drawing on my cultural knowledge as well as my educational experiences across music, linguistics, Indigenous studies and folkloristics as a means to weave together a new-ish mythology for this Country.

How do you fill your days besides creating and writing?

I tutor creative writing and essay writing to high school geniuses. Recently, I had them write some imagist poems. W. C Williams can eat his own heart out because they were brilliant. Can you tell I love inspiring kids to poem? I’m a research assistant at the University of Wollongong developing an online Indigenous literature learning tool. I’m a proud uncle and every spare moment is spent gently radicalising my nephews and niece’s sovereign hearts. I’m also on the hunt for some more permanent and stable work.

Thanks for your time, Luke. We can’t wait to read more of your wonderful work!