An Interview with Geoff Lemon:

Words: Matt Siddall

I can confess, I’ve never attended a poetry reading. However, I was excited to get the chance to review the final Ships in the Night event for 2015, held at the Rosemount Hotel’s eclectic FourFiveNine bar. I was also intrigued by the opportunity to interview Geoff Lemon, who flew over from Melbourne to present segments of his work at the showcase.

Lemon, a Melbourne-based freelance writer and sports journalist, edits and organises spoken word events for the Australian online literary journal titled Going Down Swinging. The journal publishes content created by writers in any literary medium, who have previously struggled to get their work published elsewhere.

Lemon is an imposing figure - a six foot plus giant with a stocky frame who delivered a firm handshake upon introduction. But what immediately struck me was his warm demeanour and soft-spoken tone of voice. How did the embodiment of sports journalism find himself in the world of poetry I wondered?

It turns out that the answer lay in the way he approached sport. We started off talking about his passion for cricket - a sport that I know next to nothing about. Lemon explained that its slow, undulating rhythms made it a “more philosophical” sport, giving time to meditate on his thoughts.

I hadn’t previously taken the meditative potentiality of sport into consideration, so this idea definitely took me by surprise. The stereotype of a romantic, brooding poet typically doesn’t invest much of their time into sport, yet Lemon manages to defy this.

Lemon immersed himself into writing and storytelling due to the emotional immediacy and intensity that he receives from the audience.

Personal connection with the audience is paramount, however I do believe that a high number of poets feel that writing a poem with a high level of emotion makes it automatically great. With my work, I aim to combat this.
— Geoff Lemon

The exact reason why Lemon got into writing is hard to decide; yet he wholeheartedly enjoys the expression of sharing something of importance to himself, which also holds relevance to others.

Lemon has also worked with big names in the Australian hip-hop scene such as TZU and Urthboy, influencing the formation of his creative content.  He likes to combine words with music, using rhythms derived from hip-hop to rebel against traditional poetic rhythm structures as a way to distance himself from the crowd.

I decided to question Lemon about the comparisons between the Perth and Melbourne literary scenes out of curiosity. Lemon has seen a level of dynamism in the Perth literary scene in the last couple of years, despite the creative brain-drain that Perth has witnessed recently. However, Lemon believes that Perth’s unique quality of isolation is now an over-used trope due to the proliferation of the Internet, leading people to form opinions of Western Australia through previous subjectivities based on over-used stereotypes.

I finally asked Lemon about some advice for young writers looking for freelance work, and the first thing that came out his mouth was “Don’t”. Despite the challenge of financial hardship, he believes that young freelance writers should ignore expectations placed on them and work hard for the purpose of defining oneself against the crowd. In saying this, Lemon laughed, and noted that he was hesitant in giving advice as he never followed the advice given himself.

After leaving with some worthwhile insight into the creative mind of a poetic visionary, I was excited to see him perform the following night.

Read the review of Ships in the Night here.