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Festival, Interview, Music, Preview

ARTS: Queensland Poetry Festival

On Longing

HOLLY THROSBY to warm Brisbane from winter into spring, with appearances at QUEENSLAND POETRY FESTIVAL and BRISBANE FESTIVAL. ZENOBIA FROST finds out more.

ZENOBIA FROST: The clear images and personal themes of your lyrics have always resonated with me. How important are imagery and narrative to your songwriting?
HOLLY THROSBY: I think images are more important than narrative. Pictures tell their own story. And I have always related to imagist writers, but I like strong, simple things the best. I feel like it’s the way most people dream, and songs can be interpreted as readily as dreams can, so it makes sense to me to write in pictures.

ZF: Poetry captures the musicality of language. Is the intersection between music and writing of interest to you? In writing, is it the melody or the words that come first?
HT: I always write the melody first and fit the words in, which is a challenge sometimes because the melody determines the meter and the phrasing. It can take a while to get the words to sit properly. I rely on vowel sounds a lot to find the first words of a song, because some songs have a vowel sound attached, so I go from there. Sometimes they come out real — a whole song — and they’re always the ones I end up liking over time.

ZF: Have you ever appeared at a poetry festival before? What do you expect and what are you looking forward to?
HT: Nope, never. I don’t really now what to expect. I was a writer in residence at a university once — that was interesting. I gave a songwriting workshop. But I am not sure what to expect.

ZF: Your show for children, SEE!, features at Brisbane Festival. How has touring a children’s album been different from touring for (mostly) grown-ups?
HT: Oh, it’s great. You get up early, play two shows in a morning, and knock off with a beer by the afternoon. Plus playing to kids is so heartwarming. They just want to dance and you know they’re not kidding.

ZF: What are you looking forward to experiencing in Queensland, since we’re keeping you so long?
HT: I love Queensland — Brisbane especially. I have made some good friends there over the years. My friend opened up a new tea room called Southside, which is really great. I will go have a cuppa with her.

HOLLY THROSBY features at the QUEENSLAND POETRY FESTIVAL opening night at the Judith Wright Centre. QPF runs from Aug 24–26. Ph: 3872 9000 /

SEE! runs at BRISBANE FESTIVAL from Sep 26–27.


About Zenobia Frost

Zenobia Frost is a Brisbane writer. Her work has been published in Voiceworks, Overland, The Lifted Brow and The Guardian. Her debut poetry collection, Salt and Bone, is out through Walleah Press. @zenfrost


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