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We are pleased to welcome poet, writer, scholar Dominique Hecq, co-author with Eugen Bacon of Speculate: A Collection of Microlit. Dominique grew up in the French-speaking part of Belgium and now lives in Melbourne. Her works include a novel, three collections of stories and ten books of poetry. Hecqís poems and stories have been widely published in anthologies and journals. Often experimental, her work explores love, loss, exile and the possibilities of language. Speculate (2021), Kaosmos (2020) and Tracks (2020) are her latest books. Among other awards such as the Melbourne Fringe Festival Award, the Woorilla Prize for fiction, the Martha Richardson Medal for Poetry, and the New England Poetry Prize, Hecq is a recipient of the 2018 International Best Poets Prize.



You are quite an accomplished award-winning poet, writer, scholar! If someone were just getting started on exploring your work, what are three books / poems / works you would tell them to try first?

Iíd say start with Tracks (2020) because it retraces my love affair with Australia and paints a candid picture of what Iím like as a person. Go on with Hush: A Fugue (2017) to know me better as a woman and a poet. Then toss a coin. If youíve liked the weird woman, read Out of Bounds (2009). If you want more of the weird text, read Kaosmos (2020).

When did you first know you wanted to be a poet/writer?

Iíll try not to lie (downóit could be a long answer). Letís just say I might have been six or seven. It was my second year at primary school. I wrote 94 stories over the year, unprompted. I suppose I knew I wanted to write, but couldnít articulate it.

What has been your favorite poem to write? Do you have a least favorite?

ĎFire relies on the leaves of gum treesí was great fun to write. You can find it online in a number of locations, but hereís the opening:

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I find commissioned poems harder to write, though once into the swing of things, there is pleasure, too. There are poems I wish Iíd never written. ĎLips that lapseí, from Good Grief (2002) is one of them. Consider:

Lips all aquiver you wish you never
wished to speak again, for you wish
the shadow could suck you in instead
of your sticking to the shadow for
lack of words that wither on the
fringe of it all like tacky flowers
wilting on the tip of this tongue
mummified in its own swathing of lip
slapping learned saying.

Donít you think itís untidy? Just look at the repetitions, the odd images and awkward line breaks. Yuck.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Less is more.

What is your artistic process? Is there a part that is most difficult?

Now that Iím a free woman, I write every day. Free, as in I hurled my day job as an associate professor to the cinders, and decided that writing poems and stories, rather than point scoring scholarly articles and constantly battling managers who made teaching a chore, was more fulfilling.

Consider it like a day at the office. Iíll start with a short paragraph in the morning. It comes with a feeling, a rhythm, an afterthought, an image or simply a word. Sometimes it grows into a poem or a prose poem. Sometimes into an essay or a story. Sometimes it wilts and I must let it go. But once Iím onto something Iím unstoppable. Iím like a Jack Russell that wonít let go of a bone. Thatís true of short pieces as well as longer works. My children call it the zombie zone because Iím there physically, but not mentally, and I often apologise for not listening properly.

So youíve guessed the most difficult part is to stop. That and the lull between finishing a piece and editing it. I love the editing part, but you canít rush it. A text needs to rest. And during that resting time, doubt nibbles at me. I think I prefer the initial chaos of writing to this kind of limbo.

How long on average does it take you to write a poem?

Some poems come fully formed in a couple of minutes. Some take weeks. If Iím working on a collection, Iíll aim at one poem a day, starting with a fresh one in the morning, revising others in the afternoon.

Are there any experimental contemporary poets are you reading right now that excite you and why?

Iím reading Avant Desire, A Nicole Brossard Reader (2020) edited by Sina Oueyras, GeneviŤve Robichaud and Erin Wunker, which comprises stunning poems and prose poems as well as essays. I just love her work: there is no end to her experimenting with language. Thatís why I dedicated Kaosmos (2020) to her.
And Iíve just finished a collection by the Australian experimental poet Jill Jones, A History of What Iíll Become (2020). It excites me because Jones melds the mundane with the sublime to create surreal effects. Oh, and Iím rereading Gabrielle Everallís Dona Juanita and the love of the boys (2020), a book that rushes through the maelstrom of love. Ravishing love, rapturous, reckless, entrancing love. Mad love.

Speculate is described as a collection of microlit in the sub-title, and also prose-poetry. Can you give any of our readers unfamiliar with the format a short description of what it is?

Fab question! The term Ďmicrolití encompasses everything in the spectrum between flash fiction, sudden fiction, poetry and prose poetry. It deliberately blurs the distinction between forms and modes of writing. So, Speculate showcases flash fiction and prose poems, but also mini essays and fictional vignettes that take the piss out of the very notion of genre. Youíll feel the epic drive in lyrical prose and the brooding tone of anti-realist prose poems.

Tell us about the inspiration for your collaboration with Eugen Bacon on Speculate. When was the seed first planted and how did it grow?

Eugen and I are part of a prose poetry group and, at one point, we noticed that we were constantly responding to each otherís posts through fiction and feedback. So, it seemed natural to pursue the conversation between ourselves.

It is obvious from the back and forth in the work that there is a real chemistry between you and your co-author, Eugen Bacon. Can you tell us a little of how you know each other?

It started in what Eugen calls a master/apprentice relationshipóI supervised Eugenís PhD in creative writing. I was working as an associate professor at the time. The relation evolved to one of mutual respect. Weíve known each other for over ten years and have learned from each otherís stylistic differences. You could say it is precisely these differences that cement our relationship. It also energises our writing. In this project, we bounce off each otherís words and take the narratives to extremes.

Whatís coming next?

Songlines, a long poem focusing on my encounter with rock art in the context of postcolonial Australia, is slated for October 2021. Hopefully the French version, adorned with photographs by Rebecca Lejeune will sync in. Then, Smacked and Other Stories of Addictions is scheduled by Meerkat Press for 2023, which is exciting because Tricia Reeks always seems to come up with surprises.

2022? Not sure. I have a couple of manuscripts under consideration in Australia and in France. Iíve entered another in a competition, so who knows?

Eugen has just sold a work of black speculative fiction soon to be, if not already, announced by a publisher sheís most excited about. Watch her space on Twitter: @EugenBacon.

She also has literary speculative fiction, Mage of Fools by Meerkat Press, and black writing in magazines and anthologies planned for 2021. Sheís so prolific, itís ridiculous to try and keep up.

Is there anything we didnít ask that youíd like to share?

I love wild flowers and mushrooms. If there are, as Gustav Klimt reckons, three ages of woman, Iíll next be a sorceress. Given four ages, well Ö Thanks for putting me on the spot. Iím loving an American audience.




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SPECULATE: A COLLECTION OF MICROLIT

by Eugen Bacon & Dominique Hecq

GENRE: Collection / Prose-Poetry / Speculative Fiction


BOOK PAGE:
https://meerkatpress.com/books/speculate/

SUMMARY:

From what began as a dialog between two adventurous writers curious about the shape-shifter called a prose poem comes a stunning collection that is a disruption of languageóa provocation. Speculate is a hybrid of speculative poetry and flash fiction, thrumming in a pulse of jouissance and intensity that chases the impossible.

BUY LINKS:
Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Eugen Bacon is African Australian, a computer scientist mentally re-engineered into creative writing. Sheís the author of Claiming T-Mo (Meerkat Press) and Writing Speculative Fiction (Macmillan). Her work has won, been shortlisted, longlisted or commended in national and international awards, including the Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Australian Shadows Awards, Ditmar Awards and Nommo Award for Speculative Fiction by Africans.

Dominique Hecq grew up in the French-speaking part of Belgium. She now lives in Melbourne. Her works include a novel, three collections of stories and ten books of poetry. Hecqís poems and stories have been widely published in anthologies and journals. Often experimental, her work explores love, loss, exile and the possibilities of language. Kaosmos and Tracks (2020) are her latest books. Among other awards such as the Melbourne Fringe Festival Award, the Woorilla Prize for fiction, the Martha Richardson Medal for Poetry, and the New England Poetry Prize, Hecq is a recipient of the 2018 International Best Poets Prize.

AUTHOR LINKS:
Website | Twitter

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