inhabiting pubs with an in-house catfish

zine: Inhabit Journal, issue 2 (Nov 2016), curated by Kiara Lindsay

drink: The Doctor (6.5% ABV, half-pint, draft) brewed by Sawmill Brewery (Auckland, NZ)

venue: The Catfish, Fitzroy, Melbourne

So for the Emerging Writers’ Festival this year, I’m involved in a couple of events and totally not panicking at all, noooo, not me! I know it’s really uncool to admit it, but it’s always going to mean something to me to be programmed in things because…I’m uncool and grateful that way, and part of me doesn’t ever think the working my overachieving Asian arse off will ever translate into actual success.

For research, I ordered Inhabit Journal’s zines, given I’ll be writing (most likely a poem) an ekphrastic response to an exhibition as commissioned by this year’s EWF. Today, I’m working with a poet friend at the Catfish (which I might add, I have a very soft spot for, because the staff NEVER mansplain my beer choices to me, and the Sparrows Philly cheesesteaks are also fucking amazing).

Anyway, the beer: why the hell are there still so many sours around when it’s winter proper in Melbourne? Please (white cishet)mansplain this to me! I went for a dark beer first up. Given how many bloody (quite literally, given the whole premenstrual dysphoric disorder goregrind show) doctor and health specialist appointments I’ve had in the last three months, I guess it’s kind of fitting to drink a beer called ‘The Doctor’?. It tastes like subtly roasted coffee, and isn’t too alcoholic (or hides its ABV well?), and kind of feel I should’ve ordered a pint of it instead. Trying to be a responsible adult is so boring.

Now is probably not the right time to admit that ekphrastic poetry absolutely fucking terrifies me. Perhaps it’s the direct involvement with a videogame that means it’s less terrifying writing a tribute (ie. videogame ekphrastic poetry) to it, but srs visual art? Gulp.

(Patreon beer notes photo appearing here)

Anyway, about the zine. All poems that appear in this zine are inspired by or mention at least one visual artwork by Fergus Binns. Some of the poets do mention more than one of the artworks (‘Erotic Fibers’ by Pauline Rotsaert, and ‘Rescued for Friendly & Honeybird’ by Shona McCarthy).

I feel it fair to mention that the following works I’m quoting from are not necessarily the ones I thought were the ‘best’ because kind of mindset is shit when it comes to art – these are examples of the ones that moved me and made me all excited about being a poet.

Natalie Briggs’ ‘Gigantic Blue’ had some lines that stole my heart:

and we rearranged the furniture, and I’m so careful with my words now.

Hot water asking my skin to give up / what my doesn’t dare to. The hot water knows / I never fought for you.

Or Natalie Gilmartin’s ‘paint gives the appearance of being fixed’:

a clearing is not a landscape, it becomes one


from something more fluid / with a steady hand and repetition

as if it doesn’t move or change or wilt or die / or carry the scars of colonisation


to the right music, a subject can confuse / a convention

Kern Mangan-Walker’s ‘being sunburnt but that’s okay i guess’ has lots going on. You should read the whole thing if you have the chance (I liked it as someone who isn’t white who appallingly burns in Australia…where are the benefits of my extra melanin?)

everything has its freckles, scars and blotches / history, geography, institutions, nature, among others / someone once said that these make our world beautiful


I live in greyscale


when I wake up next Spring / I won’t have to colour my own drawings.

I really hope I don’t let down EWF or Inhabit Journal, or the visual artists.

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