10AND5 CREATIVES is a spotlight series that seeks to highlight the best of what local talent has to offer, covering everything from the creation of local graphic novels to celebrating creatives who live fearlessly and authentically. 

This week we caught up with Caitlin Anne Tallack, writer and author of visual poetry collection – A Birthday Card in May. Tallack’s work is as engaging as it is breathtaking with memorable and relatable prose. Read the full interview below: 

Who is Caitlin Anne Tallack?  

Caitlin Anne Tallack is a 22-year-old engineering student and poet. I’ve always been excited about getting to  do both of those things. There’s this tradition of seeing the arts and sciences as binaries, but if I’m a good  engineer it’s only because I’m a good poet. A lot of my life has been made unique by having to balance being  clinically logical with having strong creative impulses. I’m happiest when I’m balancing the two,  precariously. I get excited about art and AI and minimalism and exorbitance and blind optimism and brutal cynicism. I think “Caitlin Anne Tallack” has become an exercise in balancing conflicting things. 

What is A Birthday Card in May about? What inspired it?  

In writing A Birthday Card in May, I just sat down with my own experiences and wrote them. I think in  being honest to your experiences, especially through art, you inevitably get closer to the things that make up  being human. I sat down with my experiences, and I ended up writing about hope and love and death and  loss and shame. I ended up writing something that other people relate to. I think what’s special about art is  making something that people recognise themselves in. I was writing about my 21 years, but we’ve all been  21 and we’ve all been in love and we’ve all experienced shame. I wanted to write to those shared experiences,  I did. 

What inspired your love for writing?  

I think, like most writers, my love for writing started with a love for reading. Then, as a really young girl,  maybe 7 or 8, I realised that I had words of my own. I had stories to tell. I liked how the words came out  because they always described exactly what was in my head. I think being young and discovering that you  have your own ideas, that there are things you want to make, that you have creative agency – words were  such a big part of building who I am and what I care about and bringing things into the world that I’m proud  of. I think my love for writing was inspired by this very early discovery of my own voice and building a  relationship with things worth saying. 

Walk us through your writing process.  

I’m a very structured writer. I have so much respect for artists who look at a blank canvas and are inspired  by vivid ideas in their heads or the people they love or the way the wind blows – I do most of my writing to  prompts. I also write every single day. My creativity is as much an act of discipline as it is an act of love. But  sometimes, I wake up with a poem in my throat and I can’t breathe right until it’s out – a lot of the spoken  word pieces on my Instagram are these types of poems. Creation always surprises me. I have a process, yes,  but my best poems are usually written just by living through them. 

You didn’t tell anyone about the book until you printed your first run – why?  

I wanted to own my risk and my discomfort and my fear of failure. Writing the book was a terrifying process.  It challenged me every single morning and wrestled with me until I fell asleep. It was a deeply personal  process. I knew if I could sit in my doubt and insecurities, sit alone in my experiences, sit at a table with no  one but my art – the book and I would both be better for it. I also just really like surprises. 

Why did you choose self-publishing vs working with an agent?  

I had total creative control over my book. I put a photograph on every other page and made the contents  page pink and left out the blurb and all of those things were my decision. I wrote the book that only I could  write. I gave up a lot for that creative control – the security of a professional editor, the coverage of a  publicist – but it was so rewarding to write my book. It’s authentic. It’s my making. 


Instagram: @caitlinannetallack

Purchase A Birthday Card in May here

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