The Stella Interviews: Eunice Andrada
Congratulations on being shortlisted for the 2022 Stella Prize! What does it mean to you to be included on the list?
It’s exciting for poetry to be elevated in this way, and I’m happy that more people can find my poems through this honour. Beyond this, I’m hopeful that more people may see what poetry can bring to our cultural and political conversations.
Your shortlisted book, TAKE CARE, has been described by Thuy On as “a feminist reckoning”. What would you say are some of the central ambitions or themes of the collection, and how long did it take you to write from concept to completion?
The collection explores how rape and other acts of violation function within larger, interconnected structures of patriarchy, capitalism and imperialism. Inspired by the writing of So Mayer, I wanted to explore how rape itself is a structure, not only an interpersonal act.
The earliest poem of TAKE CARE is from 2019 and the last poem is from 2021, but my obsession over these themes predates the writing by many years.
What is it that draws you to the poetic form?
I’m forever reaching for language, trying to arrive closer and closer to what I mean. Poetry gives me space for this reaching.
I think and recall in a messy way, so I like that poems don’t need to rely on linear, coherent narratives or a strict adherence to the rules of English grammar. It feels like poems are a safe space for me to reach and search and remember.
As a reader, I love the way poems make language feel strange and new, how reading poems demands the whole body’s attention, and how emerging from a poem can change the way I move through the world.
Can you tell us a bit about how you write (where, when, on what)?
It’s different depending on the day. I write a lot of fragments on my phone during walks and work commutes. When I have quieter moments in the evenings and weekends, I journal and write longer fragments and several drafts of poems, and map out shapes for visual poems.
Then after a while I’ll transcribe everything from my notebook into a word processor (usually a Google doc because I’m paranoid about losing files), or InDesign for visual poems. This is where I continue to edit the poems.
Is there a particular book you’ve discovered through the Stella Prize that has had an influence on your own work, or moved you in some way?
I recently read Mandy Ord’s When One Person Dies the Whole World is Over after seeing it on the 2021 shortlist. I read it during my commutes, alternating between the world of Ord’s eye and my own, looking out the bus window. It made me feel grounded in the moment in a different way, having our seeing in conversation with each other.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
I am moving from poem to poem. I don’t know where they will lead me.
Find out more about Eunice Andrada’s 2022 Stella Prize shortlisted book, TAKE CARE.