Performance poet Carrie Rudzinski talks about her “personal and honest” relationship with the medium.

When poet, adventurer and self-confessed ‘anti-socks activist', Carrie Rudzinski performs her work, she doesn't just bare her feet to the world, but the innermost crevices of her being as well.

While in Chennai to participate in the recent ‘Poetry with Prakriti' festival, Carrie Rudzinski shared her thoughts on the therapeutic nature of the medium and its importance in an increasingly visually-driven world.

You often talk about how poetry “accidentally” became your primary occupation. Do you find that this gives you more freedom to explore?

Poetry happened “accidentally” for me in that I did not go to university to study writing or performance: it's a love that became important and real through passion and hard work.

There is a freedom I've found in that I'm playing the game for fun more than anything else, but I am still very much playing the game.

My career ambitions don't actually have much to do with performance poetry but with film production, so I think that has alleviated a lot of pressure and allowed me to have the freedom to be myself.

A lot of your poems deal with relationships. What is your relationship with poetry?

My poetry has been confessional since I began writing poems when I was 12 and has functioned like therapy since I started performing when I was 18.

Of course there is craft, work, time, and editing that is poured into this art form, but above all mine is still one that is a personal and honest relationship.

Some of your work seems to consciously problematise fixed notions of gender and femininity. Would you call yourself a feminist?

It's often difficult to step back and put a label on our beliefs but as feminism is a movement promoting and defending equality, yes I would say I am very much a feminist.

It's an important part of my life and my work that I am currently still exploring, but especially after my recent travels, I think it's incredibly important for me to delve deeper in my work regarding gender stereotypes and women's rights.

How would you define your own personal politics and how does it influence your creative process?

I don't actually define my personal politics. But I do support progressive decisions that promote equality, education, and the arts. I think my work will get more opinionated and reflective of my personal beliefs as I push myself as a writer. All of my work is a direct reflection of what's going on in my life and I often only write when it's necessary to work something out inside me.

You have stepped out of the comfort of a page in order to collaborate with artists involved with different media. How do you perceive the connections and what sort of energies do collaborations create?

Collaborations are so exciting because they are surprising! It's wonderful to see what art inspires other art. The energy that comes from collaboration is unexpected and beautiful regardless of the end product because it is the joining of two minds: neither individual could have completed the same end product without the other.

A lot of students in India asked if I planned to incorporate my own films with my poetry and I would like to, but I view the two mediums as different expressions of myself and have to find some way to have the two parts collaborate.

In an age where the visual medium has almost taken over as our primary mode of communication, what do you think is the importance of the spoken and written word?

I think it's incredibly important as the way we're communicating and thinking is changing with the computer age. There's a fear that children aren't going to be taught to write in the coming years but instead taught to type. It seems absurd but at the same time emphasises how important it is to continue to read, write, and share our work out loud. There is privacy in reading a poem in a book that is still present when you perform it out loud in front of a group of strangers. I believe that intimacy and beauty will always be there as long as we want it.

How does one find one's own voice amid the cacophony that surrounds us?

Practise. Read everything. Listen to dozens of other poets. Be honest. Write what is necessary. Write for no one but yourself. Write for an audience. Perform in front of a room full of strangers. Perform in front of your mother. Perform only for trees. Weep. Write a hundred love poems and realise you've never been in love. Fall in love. Practise.

This was your first trip to India; how was the tour?

The tour was amazing. India was a great finish after touring in New Zealand and Australia. It pushed me the most and was the most difficult: I did five performances in three days. Each show required so much energy and a surprising amount of explanation. I learned a lot in that brief period of time, most of which I am still processing and reeling from! I'm excited to begin writing and unravelling my thoughts. I think I walked away from India with life buzzing in my ears: everywhere I looked there was absolutely nothing but LIFE.


Sunday MagazineJune 28, 2012

Arts, Entertainment & EventsMay 14, 2012