An Interview with Hera Lindsay Bird

Britain’s previous poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, heralded New Zealand poet Hera Lindsay Bird as “the most arresting and original new young poet,” and we couldn’t agree more. Her poetry is comprised of words that only a genius could put side by side to produce sentences with so much wit and humour, as seen in her original poetry Keats Is Dead So Fuck Me From Behind and Bruce Willis You Are The Ghost.  

Hera’s latest collection of poetry, Sincerity/Irony, is a collaboration with designer Klim Foundry and experiments with their unique type designs. Between them they “talked about a number of different things for the project, but this idea seemed like it had the most design potential & gave me the chance to use a forbidden number of exclamation marks”.

Hera is also my friend and colleague and interviewing her was as fun as waking up to a fluffy white kitten sitting on my face.

What does a day in the life of Hera Lindsay Bird look like?

Boring. Like an episode of Midsomer murders without the necessary element of crime to drive the narrative forward.

What’s your wildest most memorable adventure to date?

Maybe the wild and the memorable are mutually exclusive? Personally, I don’t have adventures because I’m not the Hardy Boys. I did go travelling last year, but that was mainly egg sandwiches and art galleries because I’m a very, very old woman.

What’s your earliest memory of realising you could write poetry and do you remember what your first poem was about?

We were all forced to write poetry at school, and mine were the perfect trifecta of dolphin, horse and moonlight imagery so as you can see, virtually nothing has changed. Do other people remember their childhoods? I don’t remember realizing anything ever, not even the big ticket items like Santa’s fictionality or the inevitability of death.

If Harry Potter whipped out his 11” phoenix feathered wand and said, “Hera? Dumbledore granted me permission to leave Hogwarts for the day to give you use of my wand”. What spells would you cast and on who?

My Harry Potter house is.. muggle. I’d sell his wand on ebay.

What were you doing when you thought up Sincerity / Irony?

Probably trying to remember what irony is. I still find it difficult to tell whether something is truly ironic, or whether it’s just general bad luck. Sometimes my boyfriend and I try and figure it out. Would it be ironic if I crashed the car into a panelbeating vehicle, or is that just bad driving? Klim Foundry & I talked about a number of different things for the project, but this idea seemed like it had the most design potential & gave me the chance to use a forbidden number of exclamation marks.

How do you set yourself up for a day of writing?

I make a cup of tea, a cup of coffee, a hot water bottle and write for an hour before I’ve had a chance to think about it. I used to be outraged at the idea of waking up early to write, but one of the best things about life is slowly learning to become the kind of person you always resented.

“It’s like having so much unprotected sex, you are somehow… preventing children from being born???” How did you come up with so much clever irony?

What can I say? I’m a gentleman and a scholar.

Hypothetically you’re only allowed one item of clothing in your wardrobe because the researchers aboard the Polarstern have taken the rest on their expedition to the Arctic. What item are you keeping and why?

Can I buy other clothing or are we getting into kaftan territory for modesty? Maybe my Harvard Sweater, which Freya Daly Sadgrove hand embroidered ‘What, like it’s hard?’ underneath. Can I just say that the researchers aboard the Polarstern are going to look fabulous in the Arctic.

Do you have a practice in place or a method of sorts that aids your creativity?

I did for poetry – Greg Kan made this app  an amazing text generator I love to play with. But otherwise I just read a lot and try and productively channel my professional jealousy.

If there’s one book everyone should read, which one is it and why?

I think people should read whatever they like. But I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love The Summer Book by Tove Jansson.

You’re having a dinner party for x6. Who’s there (and why)?

Family and friends. Maybe Barbara Streisand, just to see what she’s up to these days, besides cloning her dogs. I don’t think I’d enjoy a dinner party with my idols. As Guardian journalist Elle Hunt recently quoted her boyfriend as saying; ‘What if Frank Ocean has better things to do?’

You’ve just realised you’ve only got x4 dining room chairs. You have to uninvite two guests. How do you break it to them?

Jokes on you, I only own a rocking chair and an ottoman. Me & my brother can eat standing up.

For the aspiring poet where do you start?

Read a lot. Try on other people’s voices. Marry rich.

You can buy Hera’s poetry either in store at Unity Books or online.

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