The Monthly interviews Australian writer and poet David Grant Lloyd – Part 1 – Developing a voice

How does writing become something you take seriously?

That is something I find a little difficult to recall. I did enjoy creative writing time at school, at primary school, just letting your imagination run wild and writing that down. But that was really just a way of filling in time.

It wasn’t until I reached adolescence that writing became a little more therapeutic for me. That was for various different reasons, going through the phases of adolescence, experiencing periods of psychological and emotional instability, things like that.

I found poetry to be extremely useful, reading American Goth poets, like Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe. Soon I discovered Raymond Carver and Charles Bukowski whose poetry I loved and could relate to even more. It wasn’t until much later that I got into Australian poets, like Rae Desmond Jones and Michael Dransfield.

Did you get support at home or at school?

Not really. I would get an occasional comment from a teacher; that I had written an essay well, or I had done well with a short story, but there really wasn’t any obvious support or encouragement.

Did you go on to third level education?

Now after I got my HSC (Higher School Certificate) I went to Wollongong University, and I did Creative Writing as my major. That is when I came into contact with Australian writers, John Scott and Alan Wearne and they had a profound effect on me, and on my writing.

Devil’s Hole (DG Lloyd from “Alive in Dubbo”)

Boys getting stoned and jumping off the cliff
into the deepest part of the river;
no one knows for sure how deep.
See you in Cobar! we shouted, as we drifted away downstream.

Flocks of cockatoos screeched as they flew over the slopes,
the dirt road and metal posts,
fallen logs and blue-green algae,
dead ryegrass undulating.

I nearly drowned fighting the current as I tried to cross back,
tussled in the willows, vines and throwing up.
Blistered and scarred for seven days.

Devil means Bunyip and Evil Spirit Dreaming.
The elders frightened the children with ghost stories
to save them from drowning near the bend in the river.
It’s a strange bed up north, said Gazza.

Jason and Craig saw a kingfisher on the fence,
You can tell them by their pointed beaks.
I spotted a pelican on the water’s surface,
It must be lost.

What happens then?

After I got my Bachelor Degree I also ended up getting a Master Degree. I kind of feel like I really wasn’t fit for anything else. Writing really has just stuck with me. I did try to get away from it for a while and did try other careers and lifestyles, but I think in the end you can’t get away from who you are deep down.

How did you develop your style?

I think style develops over a very long period of time. I started off using very traditional structures, Sonnets, Couplets, Villanelles, Sestinas, I used blank verse for a while. Those were good exercises, but I ultimately found them too rigid.

In the end I developed my own form of free verse, and I think there is something in the Australian vernacular which suits that approach poetry. I do think the way Australians speak, it is a unique dialect and it has a strong poetic element built into it.

Are you ever concerned about being able to travel your material?

I think sometimes certain aspects of my work might be very specific and maybe hard to get across to people who don’t live here, who aren’t familiar with Australian culture, I think that is unavoidable in many ways.

However, I am always striving for some kind of universality in my writing – consciously or subconsciously, I don’t know – and I think the themes of disenchantment, of resilience are inherently relatable for every human being, regardless of what part of the world you are from, and it should therefore resonate on some level.

Zhang Wei

The young man tore his stomach
along the barbed wire fence,
running fast through the canola crops,
fields of barley,
on the edge of town.
There are catheads in my eyes! he screamed.
His parents had been deported
back to Shanghai.
All the kids made fun of him
for shopping at Great Wall Supermarket.


You can find David Grant Lloyd’s book “Alive in Dubbo” at the link below

and more information at the following link –


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