Centre for Stories
Short Talks – Siobhan Hodge
October 26, 2019
So many good people interact with us online and walk through our doors at the Centre for Stories, and so we’re pretty proud of the little community we’ve grown. Collaborations often turn into comradeships and patrons become friends. Short Talks is a series of interviews highlighting the remarkable people who have connected with us at the Centre for Stories. Some are writers, poets, and storytellers, and others are arts workers, community leaders, and small business owners.
We invite you to get to know our friends a little more. Today, we feature Siobhan Hodge–an editor and writer with a PhD in English Literature. She is currently the Co-editor of Writ Review and her work has been published in a range of places, including Overland, Westerly, Southerly, Cordite, Plumwood Mountain, Axon, Peril, the Australian Poetry Journal, and the Fremantle Press Anthology of WA Poetry. Her chapbook of Sappho poems, Picking up the Pieces, was part of the Wide Range Poetry Chapbooks series, sponsored by Cambridge University in 2014. Her latest chapbook, Justice for Romeo, is available through Cordite Books.
In this interview, she speaks about the importance of poetry for her, she collaborations with the Centre for Stories and what makes a compelling story.
What brings you to the Centre for Stories—what are your
motivations or ambitions for your continued collaboration with us?
The Centre for Stories is a fantastic hub and locus for creativity in
all forms here in Western Australia. From the richly engaging series
of workshops, launches, readings and other activities that take place
within its walls, to the warmth and character of those walls
themselves, I find the space both inviting and inspiring. I run the
monthly Poetry Workshop, with the aim of engaging with a range of WA
poets at all stages of their writing, editing and publishing journey,
with the intention of contributing to what I feel is the Centre for
Stories’ best feature: its supportive nature. At the Poetry Workshop, anyone is free to attend and present their work for whatever
level of critical engagement they wish – whether it is simply to
share a funny piece that they wrote for themselves, or to polish a
poem suitable for international publication – as long as they are
willing to offer the same consideration and support to the rest of the
What will you take away from your experience here?
The opportunity to run the monthly Poetry workshops has been immensely
good fun, and I hope to continue for a while yet! The opportunity to
engage with a diverse range of established and emerging poets has been
massively inspiring. There is nothing quite like hearing about the
motivations and creative intentions behind every single piece, and
then offering suggestions on how to better celebrate these features.
It’s these moments that I enjoy the most, and the Centre for Stories
has been exceptionally generous in providing this space for on-going
What does storytelling mean to you—and why is it important?
For me, storytelling is the ability to share small, significant
moments in a way that makes them intimate and immediate to whoever
hears them. Storytelling is both act and artistry. It is the ability
to measure and share information, then layer it with emotion, imagery
and tangible fragments that make it unforgettable. Storytelling is
important because it is one of the best and most lingering ways to
make contact with another person. We can impart much of our own values
and encode their importance via the form.
You host our Poetry Workshop events and have your own poetry
published—what do you enjoy about writing in this form?
I love writing poetry for a range of reasons. Primarily, it’s
because for all of the formality of the form, there is still a massive
amount of leeway for personal expression. There’s a battery of
techniques available to efficiently layer meaning into what is
otherwise an innocuous, short series of lines. From a more pragmatic
angle, poetry can be comparatively “short and sweet” whenever I am
particularly pressed for time, but still have the urge to engage
creatively with something I have seen that day. Poetry can be
massively accessible, or alternatively, densely referential, depending
on what messages need to be shared. It’s this inherent flexibility
to the form, as well as its potential for truly beautiful shifts in
language, that continues to draw me towards poetry and poetics.
How have your experiences as both an editor and writer influenced
you when finding, or telling, a compelling story?
I find that I am more selective with details when it comes to writing
my own stories or reading those of others. I tend to think “What is
it that will most grab someone’s attention?” and “Why is a
detail so important? How can I best highlight it in a way that is
memorable rather than laboured?” My poetics background also means
that I can put a lot of focus on imagery and sounds within a story,
focusing on how, as well as what, is being told. I particularly
enjoy finding a story that is generous with its details – not
overpowering, but keen to engage with the senses and connect these
back to memories and emotions, giving a richer experience for the
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