Frances Carleton is a Canberra based counsellor, Lego mini-figure enthusiast and poet. After years of writing only business reports and essays, she is now focusing her creativity by writing down the thoughts that cross her mind when she’s out bush walking with the dogs. She works mostly in Tanka but throws in a free-form to confuse every now and then. Her poems have appeared in Eucalypt (a Tanka journal), Atlas Poetica: A Journal of World Tanka, and ‘Poems to Wear’ edited by Amelia Fielden.

What’s your first poetry memory?

As a child I saw Pam Ayres on the television and loved her accent. She made me laugh and she really made me want to look after my teeth. She’s still my go too when I need a chuckle.
Richard Scarry was my other influence. I loved his books ‘A story a day: 365 stories and rhymes’ and ‘Best Story Book Ever’. For years I believed every poem should rhyme. This led to problems when I took a poetry class at university.

What gets you writing?

All sorts of things end up in my poems. For my Tanka though I get most of my inspiration when I’m out bush walking with my dogs, FeFe and Toodle. The sunset (I’m never up for sunrise) through gum trees, the peeling bark, my dogs having fun, flies having an orgy, so many things inspires me in nature. That’s not to say nature is the only thing that get me writing. To use the words of Geoffrey Chaucer in ‘A Knight’s Tale’ (2001), “I will eviscerate you in fiction”. The guy that road raged me, my grandmother; the nitwit at work…the list goes on.

Do you have a favourite poem?

E.E. Cummings, ‘she being Brand’.
Cummings’ use of language, the slight twisting of the meanings of words is stunning. It’s about such a mundane subject and yet it has the power to leave you breathless.
I first saw it performed in the movie Plain Clothes (1987). After hearing him read this poem as a school assignment on metaphor, I had a massive crush on Arliss Howard and an insatiable urge to read more of E.E. Cummings work. I was 15 and my Muv, the holder of the cash, didn’t understand my sudden desire to buy poetry books. Over the years the crush on the actor faded, by my love of Cummings and poetry never did.

What do you do when you’re not performing poetry?

I work in an office pushing paper as my main job. I’m also a counsellor that specialises in sexual health and grief and loss. I’m working at transitioning away from corporate and government work as my main source of income, as it stifles my creativity too much. Counselling using the narrative method and incorporating artistic expression, gives my clients scope to express themselves in ways they didn’t know was possible and it inspires reflection in me.

What inspires you?

I think this is best expressed in a brief and succinct list poem:
1. I am inspired by the rainbows at 40 degrees
2. I am inspired to trust by the thought of being alone
3. I am inspired by the idea that today has to be better than yesterday
4. I am inspired to write because I like being the center of attention
5. I am inspired to get out of bed by the dog standing on my bladder
These are a few of the things that inspire me, today.

Thanks Frances


Next Stop: Frances will be performing at the Poetry Gala for Sids and Kids.


Poetry Gala for Sids and Kids

10th of October, Smiths Alternative

Entry $10