tea-break with: CAITLIN ELLIS

Caitlin Ellis is an emerging writer and poet from Boorloo, Australia. Her work examines the mundane and the morbid, candidly dissecting concepts of identity, growth, trauma, and transformation through gothic lyricism and visceral imagery. Ellis’ poems have been featured in both local and international poetry anthologies, including those by Sunday Mornings at the River, WA Poets Inc., and Beyond the Veil Press. Worm Food and Bone Sand (2022) is her debut poetry collection and is a tender and unflinching exploration of the awkward beauty that lies within the loss of innocence and the evolution of self.

You can see Caitlin perform some of her work at our poetry night on this Friday the 19th January.

tell us a bit about yourself and what you do:

Hello! My name is Caitlin, I’m a writer, reader, and hopeless ruminator, and I currently call Perth/Boorloo home. I released my debut poetry collection, Worm Food and Bone Sand, in 2022, and regularly write for my Substack newsletter, Ruminations. My work tends to examine the mundane and the morbid, candidly dissecting concepts of identity, growth, trauma, and transformation with a passion for highlighting that which is curious and beautiful.

When not scrawling down the tail ends of half-formed thoughts, you’ll find me lost in a book or film, whistling to my pet birds, out in the garden watching things grow, or tending to the many alarms that haunt my shifts as a Registered Nurse.

how did you get into writing and what do you like about it?

Writing wasn’t something I ever got into; writing has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember and I can’t see it any other way. There’s something so freeing and forgiving about a blank page. It asks nothing of you, other than that you fill it up.

Writing has been many things for me over the years, including an outlet, a refuge, a tool for experimentation and a gentle hand to hold as I grow. I’ve learnt most of what I know about myself through the act of writing, so the process has become somewhat sacred to me. The fluidity of the creative process and the sheer abundance in opportunity writing creates continues to draw me back to the medium time and time again.

what are your favourite things to write about and how would you describe your style?

I like to think of my writing as modern with a gothic (and often existential) twist. I’m still growing into my style, but I always return to quite visceral imagery with a touch of body horror that I think stems from my work as a Nurse in the ICU. I’m leaning into quite an experimental stage and find myself writing more often about the female experience, our relationship with nature and time, and the importance of connection in an era of distraction and disconnect.

is there any advice you would give to emerging writers just starting out?

Begin! Please! Writing can feel like an attempt to communicate with the void, but I assure you there are people out there waiting for your work to enter their lives. Every doubt, every moment lost to the imposter, to fear, is the opportunity for your work to reach who it needs lost.

what inspires you?

Greenery in all its leafy, mossy, brilliant forms. Mundane moments spent quietly in solitude. Mundane moments made magical with company. The bravery and perseverance of humans. Our ability to empathise with inanimate objects. Kindness. The countless pieces of art and
literature and music that have come before me. Growth.

“That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” – Walt Whitman

are you working on anything at the moment?

Yes! Ruminations is undergoing a small but significant change in the coming hours?days?weeks? which I am beyond excited about.

I may or may not also be toying with larger ideas.

Keep your ears pricked.

what was the process of self-publishing your poetry anthology like?

Life changing. Difficult. Incredible.

Worm Food and Bone Sand is very much a time capsule of my teenage years and an ode to all the struggles I faced during that time period. Combing through my old work and transforming the pain, the confusion, the angst, and the rebelliousness into a tangible collection was challenging, but incredibly rewarding. Going on to then release the finished book into the world felt so very vulnerable and I’ll never forget how terrifying it was to officially Let Go. In the end, it was by far the best decision I’ve ever made.

I also recently released a long reflection of my self-publishing journey on Ruminations which you can find here!

do you have any long-term dreams for your writing career?

Absolutely – too many to count. I’ve always dreamed of going back to university to study creative writing and truly deep dive into the craft – and I can finally say that dream is coming true! This February I begin a Master of Arts in Creative Writing and I’m simply over the

what do you like to do in your free time?

Bake sweet things. Create aesthetically pleasing Pinterest boards to no end. Watch youtube or movies. Show up as often as I can to my local yoga studio. Connect with friends and family. Go on adventures with my partner. Lose myself in nature when I remember to stop doomscrolling. (Doom scroll). Read. Write write write.

Interview by: Cailin Dumma

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