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May 6, 2019


#AWW2019 Winner Victorian Lit Award 2019 Poetry

by N@ncy

  • Author: Kate Lilley
  • Title: Tilt
  • Published: 2018
  • Genre: poetry (38 poems)
  • Cover: 1948 photograph of Luna Park lighted windmill, Sydney
  • Title:  Tilt….express the feeling of being off-balance
  • Trivia: 2019 Victorian Premier’s Award for poetry – winner
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019
  • @AusWomenWriters



  1. Just finished reading 38 poems:
  2. TILT by Kate Lilley.
  3. Her talents…are mentally exhausting
  4. …and I mean that in a good way.
  5. Time for aperitif #Heineken.
  6. Poetry is hard work….more so than a novel!


What did I learn about just by reading these poems?

  1. Queen Christina – cult scenes in the movie with Greta Garbo (Poem: Femme Forte)
  2. Taboo subject unheard of in polite circles 19th C Edinburgh
  3. …The Drumsheugh Gardens School scandal 1810 (Poem: Children’s Hour)
  4. Slice of life of forgotten 1970s queer strip in Sydney (Poem: Tilt)
  5. Lillian Hellman’s 1934 production of Children’s Hour
  6. ….(see scandal Edinburgh) (Poem: Children’s Hour)
  7. La Maupin 17th C French swordswoman who caused
  8. havoc in a convent trying to escape with
  9. …her lesbian lover (OH!) (Poem: Children’s Hour)
  10. Kate Lilley’s 10 autobiographical poems (part 1) #heartwrenching
  11. I learned about Greta Garbo’s post showbiz life as recluse in NYC
  12. ..this was a poem-essay (Poem: Garbo at ‘Wits End’)
  13. Corporate talk “If you need me get in touch, backchannel me”
  14. (Poem: Coda)sense of closure with first poem Tilt
  15.  Poem for lovers in a transnational/digital world (Poem: Weather Channel)
  16. I learned why Lilley wrote an elegy for her father (author)
  17. …Merv Lilley (Poem: Her Bush Balland [Bourke St Elegy])
  18. …but not for her mother (poet) Dorothy Hewett (Poem: Memorandum)
  19. Lilley asks the question: (social issues)
  20. Why send a ship to sea unseaworthy? (refugees, mandatory detention)
  21. ..offering care to cargo
  22. …rather than care for people (Poem: In Harm’s Way)


Strong point:  autobiographical poems

  1. Poetry tells us the history of the human heart.
  2. If you only read these 10 poems (pg 11-30)
  3. …than my mission is accomplished to encourage
  4. more readers to pick up a book of  poems.
  5. I dove into TILT cold turkey.
  6. I thought:
  7. I speak English, the poem is in English
  8. and I still have no idea what it  all means.
  9. Then I started to research Kate Lilley’s
  10.  dysfunctional family.
  11. There are issues in the autobiographical poems
  12. …major issues!
  13. Kate Lilley was immersed (involuntarily)
  14. into the Bohemian lifestyle of her parents
  15. Merv Lilley and Dorothy Hewett in 1970s Sydney.
  16. Both Kate and her sister were being
  17. …abused by friends of their parents, predators.
  18. Lilley has suffered for years trying to put her life  back together
  19. …after living with a mother who’s mottto was: ”Boys Will Be Boys”.


First lines of autobiographical poems: set the scene, setting

  1. This is a seductive device
  2. …dangling a setting in front of the reader.
  3. It does not make too many demands
  4. of there reader at the beginning.
  5. That will come later.
  6. The first couple of stanzas takes the reader
  7. …by the hand and guides him into the poem.

First lines…

  1. Fonzies Fantasyland at 31 Oxford St nows a disappointing IGA [SETS SCENE, A SETTING]
  2. One morning walking down Bourke St I hear my father’s voice  [SETS SCENE, A SETTING]
  3. Mystic Rainbow cuisenaire rods (math learning aid)
  4. The first man who put his hands on me ( Oh, we are curious)
  5. Sounds quaint but in those days… [SETS SCENE, A SETTING]
  6. Winter White crepe maxi (…don’t know where this is going)
  7. At the Australian Society of Authors Xmas Party ( …we are curious)
  8. Conversation meant listening to adults (…been there, done that!)
  9. We were all there (…who is WE? …where is THERE?)
  10. He appears in the doorway [SETS SCENE, A SETTING]
  11. The girl I sat next to in maths at high-school (…we are curious, what about her?)
  12. Pushed up against the metal rim of the shower (…feels aggressive, [SETS SCENE, A SETTING]
  13. Overhead on the street [SETS SCENE, A SETTING]
  14. For her to die like that nobody there (…who? ) [SETS SCENE, A SETTING]



  1. 38 poems
  2. 3 parts:
  3. Tilt (autobiographical and confessional poems)
  4. In Harm’s Way (based on events and experience in psychiatry)
  5. Realia (facts) – (poems related to Greta Garbo, and many ‘list poems’)
  6. I liked 65% of these poems
  7. ….pretty good return on investment.


  1. Unique: Kate Lilley writes list poems (…completely new for me!)
  2. By listing words Lilley wants to create a sense of what this book
  3. is about: dysfunctional family – therapy, hospital – Greta Garbo
  4. by just listing carefully selected words.
  5. List poems are puzzles!


Last thoughts:

  1.  A poem is like a diary
  2. ….without the lock and key.
  3. Poetry is not difficult.
  4. I’ve read 5 different collections in the past weeks
  5. …and EVERY book was enthralling!
  6. I never get this buzz after reading a novel…never!


Collections read:

  1. USA – Jericho Brown – Anisfield-Wolf Award 2015
  2. IRELAND – Gerard Fanning – Winner Rooney Prize Poetry 1993
  3. NEW ZEALAND – Therese Lloyd – Shorlist Ockham Prize 2019   (prize 14 May 2019)
  4. AUSTRALIA – Kate Lilley – Winner Victorian Premier’s Award 2019
  5. NEW ZEALAND   – Cilla McQueen – Shorlist Ockham Prize 2011


6 Comments Post a comment
  1. May 6 2019

    Her sister, Rose, also published a book recently, discussing in her own way, their dysfunctional childhood – thought you might be interested –
    Their brother, Tom Flood won the 1990 Miles Franklin award with Oceana Fine – a book I know next to nothing about.


    • May 6 2019

      Thanks so much for the link.
      Amazing author, Kate Lilley…her poems
      made a lasting impact.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. May 7 2019

    The book Brona mentioned is the one I mentioned to you somewhere else? Where was that? Never mind, Brona’s given you the title which is good.

    I agree that poetry is harder than a novel. You think, “oh, it’s only 100 pages, I can whip through that!” No way, José! But a great poem can stay with you forever. I’m impressed that you’ve read and reviewed this.


    • May 7 2019

      I like to compare poetry on a line from
      perfectly clear reading on one side (cookbook…add a cup of sugar is a cup of sugar)
      to the other side of the spectrum poetry (….ambiguous, ambivalent)
      Gerad Fanning’s (Ireland ) Poem: Everything in Its Place: first line stumped me
      “I glance down the windy canyons, where all the metal flow…”
      After 2 cups of coffee I discovered the poet is looking out of a tall building (skyscraper) at all the cars in the street! That is the challenge that poetry brings…that’s what I like!


      • May 8 2019

        I’m impressed -you are really putting your mind to it. 2 cups of coffee – love it. I could need two g&ts!

        Liked by 1 person

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