On Tuesday August 20, 7.30-9, I’m really pleased to be reading some of my poetry with three other poets at La Mama Courthouse – Bella Li, Ross Donlon and Harry Reid. It would be fantastic if you could join us! Use the link below to make a booking.
It’s a great honour to be included in the most recent issue of Westerly. This poem takes me back to my own childhood, to long trips to Queensland up inland New South Wales roads – and the figure of my beloved father, always and still just at the periphery of my vision.
I was thrilled to be part of the amazing collection, The Sky Falls Down: An Anthology of Loss (Ginninderra Press), edited and lovingly curated by Terry Whitebeach and Gina Mercer. It was launched yesterday in Melbourne by Carrie Tiffany (having already been launched in Hobart).
The book is available through Ginninderra Press or at Readings in Hawthorn, where it was launched.
As Mary Oliver put it, ‘Loss is the great lesson:’ if we’re going to be open to loving we need to learn how to be open to and manage loss. The diverse contributions in this Anthology I think are all ways of struggling with this great lesson of being human.
My contribution was a poem about the ongoing experience of loss – written on the five year anniversary of the death of my father:
Five years – and still there are days when I want to pick up the phone and call you; time seeps by, and though grief loosens its cruelest hooks I remain bereft, perplexed – where are you?
Are you still sitting at your computer tapping out the stories of your life – the boy in the Queensland bush, the young man stationed in Darwin, poring over radar?
Or will I see you coming into the kitchen – a cup of tea in the offing – joining us around the table, the arc of your arms still wiry and strong?
And if I could get a line through to you – what would I say? The children are growing, beautiful, I left my job, the old cracks in the family widen and groan like lathe and plaster in the drought – I admit we are all diminished without you.
Most of all, unreconciled, I would ask you to come home – it’s enough now, please come back –
And here it is again: the persistence of that old, mad dream of restoration, when the patience of mourning, the gratitude for all the rich love you left amongst us – gives way to the shocking need for the miracle: the past intact and cupped in the broad palms of your sun-tanned hands.
I had great fun on the weekend reading at this festival event: thanks to a wonderful and receptive audience for making this such a enriching experience.
Here I am -in black and white and in colour – reading amongst some of the terrific art works!
I think maybe the most enthusiastically received poem was ‘Clothesline’ – a poem that comes from my book, Even in the Dark (UWAP 2013). It’s a little window both into the pleasures of doing laundry and the possibilities for that interstitial moment , when we see the ordinary in a different way:
Is there ever a straight path forward? What happens when we wander in the so-called weeds, a ramble of body and ideas?
I’ll be giving a poetry reading on Saturday July 6, 2pm at the No Vacancy Gallery in the QV centre, as part of the women, work and wandering festival. This is a free event, but you do need to register.
As many of you will know, it’s just recently been the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth – that amazing American poet of teeming cities, meditations on life and loving, and of course that great and terrible experience of the Civil War. My poem, selected for this celebratory collection, Endlessly Rocking (ed Stan Galloway and Nicole Yurcaba), takes as its point of reference, the figure of Whitman as he travelled to the hospitals of the Civil War, horrified by the scale of the suffering and spectacle and beauty of so many violently damaged young men.
The poem is dedicated not only to Whitman himsef, that ‘bewhiskered emissay,’ but to my friend, fellow writer and Whitman -o-phile, Lindsay Tuggle.