Coastal themes strong in Two Rocks poet’s work

One of Two Rocks poet Shey Marque’s work references the suburb’s cray fishing history and wondering whether fish underwater are laughing or screaming. Picture: Anita McInnes

FORMER haematology and research scientist Shey Marque, who has a Master of Arts in creative writing and was coordinator of The Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre, has had her second collection of poetry published.

The author of Keeper of the Ritual said she always wanted to push the boundaries of style to obtain a freshness with each new poem, so her favourite constantly changed.

“Usually the favourite at any given moment is the one I’ve written most recently,’’ she said.

“In this collection, the most recent poem would be ‘Patternicity’, a poem with a coastal theme which is always a strong influence given I live beachside.

“I like to see the links between two apparently separate things, in this case it’s the swarming and sting of beach sand likened to bees.

In her poem The Settling of Wrecks she says “Folk here are of salt and lime, one eye always drawn to water. If they turn away too long they won’t notice traps set by the sea and Two Rocks beach can be lavish with treachery and strays.”

Ms Marque said the lines refer to the identity of Two Rocks as a cray-fishing town.

“There are other treacheries too, such as a couple of tragic drownings which I’ve alluded to in separate poems, and the huge swathes of seaweed on ‘dog beach’ which you can sink into and disappear especially if you are a small creature like a dog for example.’’

She said the first lines of the last stanza In a Wood Wind “sometimes when the water’s still you can hear the fish laughing – listen.” refers to an old saying by fishermen and the last lines “Under water I always found laughter indistinguishable from a scream.” refers to herself as a child feeling not so sure about the laughing.

“As I say in the last line, to me laughing sounds the same as crying or screaming when you are underwater – after a childhood experiment with friends in the backyard pool.

“Made me wonder whether those fish may be screaming.

“Not happy about catching the poor things, which I find very conflicting since I do eat them.’’

Marque started out writing fiction while doing her Master of Arts in Writing in 2011.

Two Rocks poet Shey Marque.

“One of the units was writing family history, which didn’t excite me, so I decided to make things more interesting by writing it as a novella in verse.

“It was set in Victorian London about my family who owned a music hall, The Evans Supper Rooms, in Covent Garden.

“Straight away I was hooked on the imagery and versatility of poetry and what you can achieve with it and I’ve never regretted making the shift.

“I’m currently rewriting that novella as a new poetry collection about the inheritance of memory.

“It examines the personal connection with ancestors.’’

She writes mainly at home and always during the day.

“I find I need my space to be quiet in order to actually write.

(But) I do attend three writing groups, two of them dedicated to poetry, but these mainly serve as critiquing sessions with other poets rather than writing something new.

“The writing desk in my office is overflowing with articles, literary journals, drafts of poetry manuscripts and poetry books.

“It’s literally impossible to move in there now so I’ve taken over the dining room table where I’m set up with my laptop, exercise books and reference books.

“I still write my first drafts on paper then transfer to computer for editing.’’

She said each new poem only starts after a period of researching ideas.

“Sometimes I tell autobiographical anecdotes as I remember them, other poems might come from interaction with my surroundings, and others from interesting pieces of information I might hear from others or read on the internet.

“Often, inspiration will come to me while reading the work of other poets.

“I’ve always bought the books of other poets who are successful in publishing and competitions because you know these are quality poems and then I study them for their technique.

“Most of my writing time is actually reading, studying and researching and editing – a lot of editing.

“Yes, good writing is hard work, but worth the effort.’’