Artist in Residence | In Conversation With Poet and Artist Jazz Money

The critically acclaimed creator talks writing for Aje, the power of women and finding their path.

Jazz Money is a creative force to be reckoned with.

 

An award-winning poet and artist of Wiradjuri and Irish heritage, their works span poetry, performance, film and print—to name but a few—and have been published and performed internationally to great acclaim.

 

After penning the piece ‘Ember’ exclusively for Aje in celebration of International Women’s Day 2023, the Aje Report caught up with Jazz to learn more about the inspiration behind the moving piece, what compels them to create and finding their artistic path.

 

Below, read Jazz's piece 'Ember' and the Aje Report’s conversation with the poet herself.

'Ember' by Jazz Money

don’t tell me of the matriarchs by comparing them to kings
I want to hear that song with the gravel from your belly
about the worlds those women shaped from the molten rock
washed in the sweet water that collects between them thighs
did you see the way they raised homes from the wind
the way they carried our abundance as though it were honey
there are ways that this love makes and unmakes me daily
blessings that are the tender gift of responsibility
a community carrying embers to remind us
that to hold is to be held and so witness how it is carried
this care burning in the chest
since the first fires made us

The Aje Report: You are an accomplished poet and artist and have performed and been published globally. Tell us a bit about how your artistic journey began. What made you realise this was the path for you?

 

Jazz Money: I think I’m still on that path and am pretty sure that there will be plenty of twists and turns ahead. I’ve always been interested in story and narrative, and fascinated by how those things are used to construct our world. That led me to initially study and work in film, and then as an arts worker, amongst a million other small jobs.

 

I started writing poetry as a way to make sense of things, but soon began using it as a tool to communicate with others. During the first months of COVID, like a lot of people, I found myself reassessing the elements of my life and decided to quit my stable arts worker job to pursue a freelance career. I’ve been happily wandering down this path since.

 

As someone whose creative works span poetry, performance, film, installation, digital and print, what compels you to create with a particular medium when you are inspired? Do you gravitate more to certain ones than others?

 

My work typically revolves around the poetics of the story and the best way to serve that. I often begin a project with a deep dive into research, and in that process will come across details that inform what the final outcome will be.

 

Because of my training in film, I’m always curious about how that form can be pushed and pulled, but I also adore the tactility of books and print media. Generally, though, I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to work across art forms and outcomes.

'Ember' by Jazz Money, created for Aje.

Talk us through the inspiration behind your poem ‘Ember’. What images and feelings came to mind while you were writing this piece?

I wanted to write something that felt very raw and elemental, a sort of ‘return to the source’ of humanity. Care and community and strength are things I see in so many of the women in my life, and those teachings of matriarchal systems felt like an important thing to honour for a piece that was commissioned for International Women's Day.

 

It is thought that language and cultural values are intrinsically connected—for example, the way there are words in some languages that describe feelings that do not exist at all in others. Having written pieces in both Wiradjuri and English, do you find that your poetry changes depending on the language you are writing in?

The poetry and philosophy that are intrinsically imbued in the Wiradjuri language and knowledge systems inform my way of being in the world. Writing in Wiradjuri is so full of layered meaning that the English translations feel incredibly clunky and strangely overblown to explain something that Wiradjuri navigates so gracefully. It is a privilege and honour to be the descendant of such beauty, and something I try to balance in all parts of my life.

"I wanted to write something that felt very raw and elemental, a sort of ‘return to the source’ of humanity. Care and community and strength are things I see in so many of the women in my life..."

how to make a basket by Jazz Money

Lastly, what is next for you? What are you excited about?

This year I’m a resident artist in the Clothing Store program at Carriageworks which feels like a very exciting creative period for experimentation and growth.

 

I’ll be premiering my first feature-length art film at the British Film Institute in London later in the year which is pretty thrilling, and working on a number of exciting new projects (some books!) alongside navigating the other joys of life.

Artist: Jazz Money