Quintette of Questions: Jennifer Mackenzie

Today I’m asking Jennifer Mackenzie 5 questions about her latest book!

1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how hard was it to pick a title?

My book is called Navigable Ink. It came to me quite early in the process of writing the book. It is a poetic image combining the themes of ocean voyaging, of distances travelled over the waterways of the Indonesian archipelago, and of the writing process itself.

2. What three main things inspired you in writing these poems? 

My book was inspired by the life of Pramoedya and the quality of his writing. I find his example of standing up to his persecutors, and being true to himself to be very moving. I also wanted to have the challenge of writing a collection which would in many ways hold a mirror up to history, as Pramoedya’s writing does, and present important political and environmental themes. I was also inspired by some young environmental activists in Indonesia and have included poems dedicated to them.

3. What five words best describe your story?

Immersive, sensuous, tragic, heartbreaking, defiant

4. Who is your favourite fictional team/couple?

The narrator and Albertine in Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past

5. What song reflects a theme, character, relationship or scene in your book?

The sound of a Javanese gamelan as you approach it from a distance

About Navigable Ink

Navigable Ink is a homage to the Indonesian writer and activist, Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Pramoedya spent most of his adult life in jail, imprisoned first by colonial powers and later by Indonesian governments. This poetry collection is a response to his life, and the beauty of his writing and of the Indonesian natural environment.

Buy Navigable Ink

About Jennifer Mackenzie

Jennifer Mackenzie is a poet and reviewer, currently living in Melbourne. Her first visit to Java and the Buddhist temple of Borobudur inspired a lifelong interest in the Asian region. She regularly attends writers’ festivals and conferences there, including the Ubud, Irrawaddy and Makassar festivals. Her previous collection, Borobudur was also published by Transit Lounge, and by the Lontar Foundation in Indonesia.

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So many book launches and author talks have had to be cancelled, I’ve decided to run as many Quintettes as I can to share some great upcoming work – and let you stock up on things to read while we’re all self-isolating.