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Posts from the ‘#AusReadingMonth’ Category


After the Count…should have won Walkley Award 2020



  1. When young and fit professional boxer Davey Browne died in the ring
  2. pummeled to death in front of his family and friends…
  3. it was the result of a perfect storm of
  4. …incompetence by members of the boxing fraternity.
  5. For journalist Stephanie Convery it hit home hard.
  6. She was beginning her own serious boxing training
  7. …when she heard the news.


  1. After the Count investigates:
  2. the title fight
  3. the aftermath of David Browne Jr’s death
  4. interrogates the culture and history of boxing
  5. its gender dynamics
  6. the visceral appeal of the ring and
  7. the inherent contradictions of a violent sport
  8. …that refuses to face up
  9. the consequences of that violence.



  1. Strong point: excellent ‘hook’ …hits you with a 1-2 punch
  2. Strong point: excellent introduction revealing the structure of the book.


  1. Strong point:
  2. The very personal perspective written by a woman
  3. ..boxing and trying to come to terms
  4. ..with the fear head injury and permanent brain damage.
  5. …this makes the book tremble
  6. …in my hands (pg 83-84) she must have a CT  and MRI scan.

  1. Strong point:
  2. Ms Convery alternates between x-examination at
  3. inquest (lawyer vs neurosurgeon) with her personal visits to GP
  4.  and hospital for CT scan.
  5. This makes for intense reading that keeps
  6. this reader glued to the page.


  1. Strong point:
  2. Ms Convery…adds her own questions to the narrative:
  3. How many deaths attributed to the boxing sport?
  4. How knocks to the head change the brain?
  5. What is the link between concussions sustained in
  6. contact sports and
  7. CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy)?
  8. This is a neuro-degenerative disease which causes severe and
  9. irreparable brain damage, as a result of repeated head injuries.
  10. Her research reveals the shocking facts.
  11. Eye-opener:
  12. It wasn’t unusual for boxers to break their hands
  13. in fights and to punch on regardless! (pg 76)


  1. Strong pointpg 253-261
  2. The reader follows Ms Convery during
  3. her Fight Night for her final grading
  4. as boxing student at Joe’s Gym.
  5. Just amazing listening to her thoughts as she
  6. prepares herself explaining
  7. ….that with all the knowledge she as
  8. learned during her research for this book about concussion
  9. as she tries to pull herself away from the sport…
  10. …it draws her back somehow.


Last Thoughts;

  1. What a powerful book….I am absolutely bowled over by
  2. Ms Convery’s investigative research, her coverage of the death inquest
  3. and most importantly her conclusions in the last chapter.
  4. Sometimes the shorlisted book is BETTER that the prize winner!
  5. This is the best non-ficton read of 2020!
  6. I guess I’ve saved the best for last!
  7. #MustRead


Books read:


#AusReadingMonth2020 Wrap-up


  • It has been a long November
  • filled with politics
  • ….USA election and  a
  • …President who is living in a fantasy world!
  • Luckily I had my books as a means
  • …to escape “the Maddness of King Trump”.
  • I  posted 20 books.
  • I tried to complete 3 bingo cards
  • ….and failed in all of them.
  • It is very difficult finding authors in
  • …NT (Northern Territory), TAS and ACT.
  • Thanks to Brona for hosting my favorite challenge!
  • List of Challenges 2020
  • Monthly plan
  • #AusReadingMonth2020  @Bronasbooks
  • Here is my reading list:

  1. Nganajungu Yagu  – C.P. Greene (WA) – (poetry)
  2. Hazelwood – Tom Doigt (VIC) – NF
  3. Pearly Gates – Owen Marshall (FREE SPACE) New Zealand author (novel)
  4. Argosy – Bella Li  (VIC) (poetry)
  5. Fallen – Lucie Morris-Marr (VIC) – NF
  6. We Can’t Say We Didn’t Know – S. McNeill (WA)
  7. Fall On Me – Nigel Featherston (TAS)  (novella)
  8. Comrade Ambassador – G. FitzGerald (TAS) – NF
  9. City On Fire: The Fight For Hong Kong – A. Dapiran (FREE SPACE) – NF
  10. Dolores – L.A. Curtis (novella)
  11. Simpson Returns – W. Mcauley (VIC) (novella)
  12. Icefall  – S. Gunn (WA) (novella)
  13. Girl Reporter  – T. Roberts – (novella) (TAS)
  14. Waiting for the Past  – Les Murray  (NSW) – (poetry)
  15. An Item from the Late News – T. Astley (QLD) (novel)
  16. Empirical – L. Gorton (poetry) (VIC) – (poetry)
  17. Ruby Moonlight – Ali C. Eckermann  (SA) – (poetry)
  18. Things I’ve Thought To Tell You Since I Saw You Last  – P. Layland  (ACT) – (poetry)
  19. Penny Wong – M. Simons (SA) – NF
  20. The Altar Boys – S. Smith (NSW) – NF


#AusReadingMonth2020 Les Murray

  • Les Murray  landscape…
  • Murray’s work helped raise Australia’s  poetry to a level of global importance.




  1. Note: Murray’s poetry is deeply interested in memory
  2. the past catching up.
  3. Note: Les Murray favors sound-patterns over strict rules of form.
  4. …through repeating patterns of alliteration and assonance, consonance.
  5. Note: I liked Murray’s explanation: prose is narrow speak…poetry is wide speak!
  6. Note: Of course the moment you read a poem influences your reaction to it.
  7. We are now in quarantimes …
  8. Murray’s first two stanzas in his  poem  ‘Self and Dream Self’
  9. .struck a  “corona” nerve:

Routines of decaying time
fade, and your waking life
gets laborious as science.

You huddle in, becoming
the deathless younger self
who will survive your dreams
and vanish in surviving.


  1. The Black Beaches
  2. This was a poem I would never have understood without some help.
  3. What is peat? What is coal?
  4. ….what is Murray trying to say?
  5. Important to understand more about
  6. peat —>> coal in order to understand the poem!
  1. Theme: different lengths of time
  2. Very slow geological time to form coal
  3. 24 hr time….sun returning from half hid forest
  4. Instant time…frost disappears in a “sugar lick”
  1. Peat is not actually coal, but rather the precursor to coal.
  2. Peat is a soft organic material consisting of
  3. partly decayed plant and, in some cases,
    deposited mineral matter. When peat is
  4. placed under high pressure and heat, it becomes coal.
  5. Peat is the first step in the formation of coal. 
  6. In order to be turned into coal,
  7. the peat must be buried from 4-10 km deep by sediment.


  1. When Two Percent Were Students
  2. Murray tells us how felt, what he saw
  3. …when he returned home after university:
  4. “when rush hours were so tough…a heart attack might get stepped on”
  5. “widows with no facelift of joy…spat their irons”
  6. “Host of depression time and wartime….hated their failure…which was you.

  • Poem:  Dynamic Rest  (…all about these little birds, terns.)
  1. Dynamic and Rest
  2. Just a very simple poem…about birds, terns.
  3. It is one of my favorites.
  4. Murray’s power of observation is the key to his poetry.
  5. A simple bird, the wind, the sand and he weaves it all into perfection.
  6. Title is an oxymoron.
  7. Birds facing a ‘brunt wind’
  8. …the wind affects the birds on the ground.
  9. Their ‘feet have to grip the sand’.
  10. There was constant movement ‘terns rising up through terns’.
  11. The poem illustrates there is constant movement
  12. ….in this attempt of rest.


  1. The Care
  2. Touching poem introduced and read by the poet himself
  3. …in his gravelly Australian voice: LISTEN


  1. The Last Hellos (…again title is oxymoron)
  2. Beautiful elegy for his troubled father..
  3. “Don’t die Dad, but they die….”
  4. “People can’t say goodbye / any more. They say last hellos.”


Last  Thoughts:

  1. How do you read a book of 64 poems?
  2. The best thing to do is  Google each poem before reading it.
  3. Get the feel of the poem…some insight. Then read the poem
  4. That is what I did.
  5. The poems are all under a page or two in word length.
  6. Perfect for reading and re-reading in
  7. order to gain maximum pleasure and understanding.
  8. Of all the articles I read…The New Yorker presented the best
  9. article written by Anna Heyward.
  10. She gives an excellent  description of who Les Murray was.
  11. If you read Les Murray in the future…start
  12. with this link:  The Homegrown Language of Les Murray
  13. Absolutely blown away by Les Murray’s words
  14. …he is as Aussie as a billabong by an old gum tree.
  15. So glad I took the time during #AusReadingMonth2020
  16. …to discover this Australian national treasure, Les Murray.
  17. #MustRead
  18. Score: A+++++++


#AusReadingMonth2020 Thea Astley


Summary content:

  1. Wafer saw his father blown apart by a bomb in the second world war.
  2. He seeks to spend his middle years in a place of solitude.
  3. Wafer arrives  in the town of Allbut.
  4. It is scarcely a dot on the map in the vast Queensland outback.
  5. But Wafer’s peace-loving ways are not understood by the locals.
  6. When the final blast comes (Wafer’s fear of a nuclear bomb)
  7. …it is not the one he expected.
  8. The locals suspect Wafer is depriving them of a fortune in sapphires
  9. by hiding the source of his ‘find’.
  10. This lump of mineral that he keeps hidden may not even
  11. …be precious!



  1. Predictable
  2. .…Wafer may not walk away from this town
  3. …”a speck on the world’s glassy eye” (pg 1)…alive!
  4. Ms Astley fills the book with metaphysical ideas
  5. …and I thought, oke…this could be something:
  6. Time:
  7. ….we are the second hands. we are the movers.
  8. …60 seconds to the minute means nothing. (pg 2)
  9. …perhaps I’m not the only one fighting clocks. (pg 11)
  10. …we don’t reach forward when we’re down. We reach further down,
  11. trying to beat the swing of the wheel
  12. …here Astley means the balance wheel in a clock
  13. …that creates the ‘tick’ sound.
  14. These ideas never were developed.
  15. I still don’t know why the narrartor
  16. Gabby was fighting clocks!


Nihilism:  Wafer’s unfortunate fate….

  1. Moral nihilism is view that there is no morality whatsoever.
  2. For example, the ‘locals’  would say that killing someone,
  3. for whatever reason, is neither right nor wrong.
  4. The word ‘NOTHING’ was mentioned 42 times.
  5. Wafer: “Oh, the pointlessness of the struggle to be…” (pg 144)
  6. Narrator: ” There is nothing outside that town. Is nothing.
  7. Can nothing be walled by nothing?”
  8. This entire theme was depressing….and I just lost interest.
  9. There was not s smidgen of joy in the book.


Characters:  bland, uninteresting, and unsympathetic.

Title:   An Item from the Late News

  1. This is a reference  to a hostage situation in a foreign country
  2. that was heard on the ‘late news’.
  3. Wafer feels he is ‘held hostage’ in Allbut.
  4. “Oh, truly  here in Allbut we are hostages as much as those 50 Yanks…” (pg 139)



  1. At the start I thought, even though the book was
  2. moving at a snails pace, I would give Thea Astley the
  3. benefit of the doubt.
  4. I let the plot develop and hoped it would make a good story.
  5. That was the high water mark for my experience with this book.
  6. Ms Astley has never disappointed me
  7. …but there is always a first time.


Feedback to @WhisperingGums (Sue)

Sue, you know if i can find anything good to say about Thea Astley I will.
I just missed her classic ‘catholic church bashing, snarky descriptions of women in her social circle, lyrical metaphors about music and her constant main character the weather…. it just wasn’t in this book. Ms. Astley left me a cryptic sentences that I thought would go somewhere: “Move forward, return to go. Move backward, to go. Move forward, to go. Return to one.” Oke, I imagined a chess game of life…but she didn’t dive into that thought of mine! I still have a few of Astley’s books to read…so I just consider this a speed bump in the road of her literary work!
Thanks so much for commenting!


Feedback to @ANZ Litlovers LitBlog (Lisa)

LOL we’ll have to agreee to disagree on this one!
as we did on blogpost 24 April 2019
#Ockham NZ Awards Shortlist Lloyd Jones!


#AusReadingMonth2020 Empirical (poet, Lisa Gorton)



  1. Empirical  means  relying on observation.
  2. Book cover: Statue of Aphrodite as a symbol of the ‘beauty of the world.
  3. Goal book: Teach us to appreciate a different beauty no longer in its original form.
  4. Inspiration/timeline:
  5. Ms Gorton started Empirical  in 2014.
  6. She had learned that the Victorian government planned an
  7. 8-lane highway through Melbourne’s Royal Park.
  8. Ms Gorton researched the colonial history of Melbourne
  9. …a young city on ancient land.
  10. She tries to understand how a feeling for place originates.



  1. Part 1:  Empirical I-VII document the poet’s walks
  2. through the Royal Park  where an eight-lane motorway
  3. through Royal Park is to be contructed.
  4. Part 2: Crystal Palace: poems that include meditations on t
  5. he Great Exhibition’s antiquities and exhibits.


Empirical I

Summary: (believable…)

  1. Poet walks in the mounds of rubble and shattered concrete
  2. dumped in 2-3  near a factory, train line.
  3. Poet describes the weeds and grasses that have
  4. taken root in these mounds: head-high fennel,
  5. milk thistle, dandelion and tussock
  6. Note: New Zealand’s native grasslands are tussocks –
  7. grasses that grow in the form of a clump.
  8. The tussock shape protects the plant, and helps it survive fire and drought.)
  9. Poet feels she is in an abyss and the weeds, grasses,
  10. mounds of rubble give the scenes a sense of place.
  11. It is a wilderness to itself, closed.




Empirical II

Summary: (strange…)

  1. Poet continues to walk in the acres of rubble and grasses.
  2. She ‘vanishes into my life again’ (imagination)
  3. …with thoughts of this place as it was centuries ago.
  4. She asks the reader if we see the figures among the stones
  5. ….their worlds covered in rubble.
  6. Poet sees fragments of vases or urns and imagines Caesar gesturing…


Empirical III:

Summary: (again….very strange)
These words in Empirical I-II-III have NO emotional effect on this reader at all!

  1. Poet discovers a concrete table and chairs on the edge of the field
  2. She imagines the table set with various items: plates, cutlery, napkins in their rings, long stemmed
  3. glasses under a hanging lamp and a lion-footed salt cellar.
  4. Poet imagines ‘we’ (reader and poet?) sit and eat…..and ‘they’ (imaginary others??) vanish.
  5. The ‘others’ retreat and the ‘dining room’ is seen disappearing into a vanishing point, Droste effect.
  6. This effect represents the poet’s dream of landscape enclosing yet another dream of landscape .


Droste effect


Empirical IV:

Summary: (…it is not getting any better)

  1. Poet again describes grasses, seedbeds, and thistledown.
  2. She looks at the ‘front of now into the unreal scene out back’ and compares it to a
  3. drawing in perspective with lines shooting as far as the eye can see.
  4. Drawing on Empirical I the poet again refers to a factory, train line and envisages them
  5. ‘where your acts naturalise as monuments’.
  6. She compares them to a broken statues that ‘lies engulfed in grass’
  7. The entire scene is ‘a ruinable strangeness’
  8. that leads back to where she is sitting in head-high grass.


Empirical V:

Summary: (…the poet is speaking in circles with emphasis ‘grasses’)


  1. Tussock, rattling fennel tendrils from the root
  2. speargrass with a rain wind and the grasses moving many way like shivers.
    Poet invents a landscape (imagination)
  3. …a ruinable see-through drawn into the plan in thought.
  4. Again the poet goes on about grasses:
  5. …in head-high grass, its pale seedbeds….
    …the grass untidy, touchable, steeply its slant
    …going in through leaf-clatter, corner branches out to where—
    privet (note: evergreen shrub) and the green palings (note: fences)
  6. Finally a lucid thought I can cling to:
    “…the road will come through here—“






Empirical VI:

Summary: (…bizarre…completely out to touch with previous 5 poems)

  1. This is the only poem with a dedication : for Skye Baker
  2. Poet describes:
  3. cloud that is approaching and its shadow moves over
  4. (…of course more grasses)
  5. grasses, seedhead, tussock, milk-thistle and dry stalks of fennel.
  6. a cloud of ink and charcoal.
  7. The last words of the poem….baffling!


  1. “Battening over the hospital and the children’s prison—numb,
  2. ignorant rain falling (what is that?) from it without a
  3. sound the way it falls through mirrors.” (Huh?)
  4. “…She cuts the page in strips, pins them to a wall, would have them stained with hands”
  5. Note:  I give up!
  6. …this book better improve considerably in part 2
  7. …or I’m tossing it in the bin!


Empirical VII:

Summary:  (off-the-wall attempt for a ‘sense of place’)

  1. Poet describes:
  2. storm water piped down a gully filled with weed tracks.
  3. water flows to a standing pool
  4. water is pumped up to the golf course
  5. …that sometimes floods the creek
  6. a factory is surrounded by a cyclone fence.
  7. smoke from the furnaces moves upward
  8. rains….a screen on an leafless evergreen shrub, furze (aka gorse)
  9. I read that poetry is the best words in the best order.
  10. Ms Gorton seems to just scatter words willy-nilly
  11. making no sense of place  at all!
  12. Ms Gorton tries create her own inner land- and time-scapes… but THIS reader is left
  13. unsatisfied….and now thirsty.
  14. Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink!)
  15. It just feels like prose with line-breaks added.

Furze (aka gorse)


Royal Park  (longest poem in part 1, huge disappointment)


  1. This is a helicopter view of Royal Park’s history from 1835-1956.
  2. Ms Gorton uses 95% text from various historical documents
  3. mixed with 4% of words from the
  4. previous Empirical meditations and
  5. 1 % new thoughts captured in the last 100 words.
  6. Snippets about  the original people
  7. involved in the history of Royal Park
  8. — descriptions of the map
  9. — descriptions of a watercolour painting
  10. An Escape from the First Gaol
  11. … all these snippets/descriptions
  12. do not make Royal Park a poem by any stretch of the imagination!


Watercolour painting: An Escape from the First Gaol  (Tullamareena burning prison)


Part 2:  Crystal Palace

Aphrodite of Melos (poem)


  1. Ms Gorton has used information that can be
  2. found on Wikipedia and filtered it through a poet’s eyes.
  3. No harm in that. She mentions where and who found the statue etc.
  4. The poet describes the statue “drapery falls from her thighs like folds in water” or “
  5. …golden earrings in the shape of flowers…”.
  6. Now I’m no poet….but these comparisons
  7. sound like they are lacking in imagination.
  8. The object most mentioned is the mirror…3 x in the poem.
  9. I was not impressed with this poem, c’est la vie.


Aphrodite of Melos


  1. Rimbaud’s Cities I, Imperial Panoramas
  2. Summary:
  3. This is nothing else but
  4. Ms Gorton’s translation of Illuminations – 19 – Villes
  5. L’acropole officielle by Rimbaud.
  6. Rimbaud’s Cities II, Imperial Panoramas
  7. Summary:  Again….just a transltion of Rimbaud’s poem.


Crystal Palace (poem)


  1. Ms Gorton lets her poetic mind roam while
  2. contemplating the history of Crystal Palace.
  3. The first half of the poem is a lyrical
  4. description of the building and
  5. a large part of the second half of the poem
  6. …is a list of 14 bizarre images a reader might
  7. see in the clouds that pass over the glass
  8. windows of Crystal Palace.
  9. Again….I am not impressed by this poem.
  10. I cannot find many poetic features
  11. that can highlight tone and mood
  12. (e.g., repetition, rhyme, alliteration, metaphor).
  13. It feels like a regurgitation of facts with a whiff of imagination.


Crystal Palace


Mirror, Palace (poem)


  1. Again a poem that is based on the writing of Coleridge:
  2. Kubla Khan: or, A Vision in a Dream
  3. Note: Ms Gorton uses documents, quotes a few lines then
  4. gives her own interpretation of other unquoted lines….
  5. Marco Polo wrote: ‘…which he gives to his hawks…
  6. Ms Gorton wrote: “… carcasses for his gyrfalcons..”
  7. Last line of the poem sums it up:
  8. “I have annexed a fragment’ is a quote by Coleridge
  9. …..and that
  10. describes what Ms Gorton has done.
  11. I’m starting to sound like a broken record:
  12. Again….I am not impressed by this poem


Life Writing  (poem?  text?)
Of Coleridge’s Kubla Khan


  1. This is a confused text that I had to skim
  2. It was exhausting and after having read 95% of this book
  3. I did not have the mental energy to read this carefully.
  4. I stumbled on references to:
  5. King Arthur and the Round Table ( How Morgan Le Fay Tried to Kill King Arthur ) “…Arthur had
  6. gone to rest for he had fought a hard battle, and for three nights had slept but little,”
  7. Extracts from the Excursion: [Mist Opening in the Hills]
  8. By William Wordsworth “…The appearance, instantaneously disclosed,
  9. Was of a mighty city..”
  10. …and many quotes from other writings that I had no desire to read.
  11. Again…this  was a jumble of quotes, facts and God knows what else!
  12. …not impressed at all, sorry.

Landscape With Magic Lantern Slides  (poem)


  1. The poet uses words that have appeared in
  2. previous poems to give this poem a ‘bookend’ feeling:
  3. factory, landscape, train lines various forms of grasses and shrubs, statues.
  4. Ms Gorton quotes ‘You’ve seen the hands of statues that men have set by gateways”
  5. (note: quote De rerum natura On the Nature of Things.


Last Thoughts:

  1. I am at the end of this book and glad I can say…
  2. I did read EVERY word even when I felt
  3. like throwing the book in the bin.
  4. Ms Gorton is a very well-read scholar but is she a great poet?
  5. Perhaps I have been spoiled after reading 64 poems by Les Murray.
  6. The difference between Ms Gorton and Murray…is stiff and stark.
  7. My advice? Read Les Murray…



#AusReadingMonth2020 Simpson Returns (novella)



  1. Main character:
  2. Jack Simpson – ghostly World War I hero soldier
  3. …not everyone can see him, apart from those who helps
  4. Helper: Murphy, his donkey
  5. Quest: Jack is in search for an inland sea in the center of the country.
  6. Majority of the tale:  deals with characters he meets along the way
  7. teenage runaway
  8. refugee
  9. Vietnam veteran
  10. single mother
  11. deranged ex-teacher,
  12. Setting:  Australia
  13. Theme:   Jack tries to help others but sometimes fails….
  14. Jack  defends his actions by claiming the
  15. …intention is more important than the result.



  1. Backstory: Shrapnel Gully – bullet in the heart – Lasseter’s vial – the Inland Sea.
  2. Characters:  Sad stories
  3. …that could not spark a scintilla of  pathos in me, sorry.
  4. While the first half or so of the book
  5. …was interesting (Jack and Murphy) it became repetitious and tedious.
  6. Each section had the standard line to a character:  “…tell me your story.”
  7. After 61% of the book….
  8. I decided to approach it from a different angle.
  9. With the help of KINDLE flashcards
  10. I noted ONLY the dialogue of Jack
  11. …and filtered out the tragic stories of the other characters.
  12. I flashed the cards
  13. ….and had a rolling conversation with Jack.
  14. I just wanted to salvage anything from the book.


Last Thoughts:

  1. Perhaps I’ve have been spoiled
  2. …after reading Nigel Featherstone’s
  3. stellar novella Fall On Me.
  4. Page turner? Only when I was turning
  5. …a few pages at a time hoping it would get better.
  6. It did not.
  7. #ReadAndDecideForYourself

#AusReadingMonth2020 Girl Reporter (novella)



  1. I just loved this novella!
  2. Tansy Roberts just nailed it with the ‘new vocabulary‘ for the
  3. networked, connected, vlogging, livestreaming, vid, twitter feed generation.
  4. Friday Valentina (#SuperheroSpill reporter) made me laugh:
  5. There’s something beautiful about the perfect hashtag.
  6. Truly, the hashtag is the epic poem of the 21st C.”
  7. Have  some fun and enjoy Tina (mother), Friday Valentina
  8. Solar, Astra, The Dark and many more characters.
  9. This book is full of snark and satire!
  10. Strong point:  snappy dialogue
  11. Tansy Roberts’ dialogue:
  12. develops the plot
  13. reveals characters’ motivation,
  14. creates an cyberspace experience for reader
  15. makes an average story extraordinary.
  16. #MustRead
  17. #MustLaugh



#AusReadingMonth2020 Ruby Moonlight (poetry)


Absolute gem !!    …64  pages, you can read it in 30 min, time well spent!



  1. A verse novel that centers around the impact of colonization
  2. in mid-north South Australia around 1880.
  3. Ruby, refugee of a massacre, shelters in the woods where
  4. she befriends an Irishman trapper.
  5. The poems convey how fear of discovery is overcome
  6. by the need for human contact, which, in a tense unraveling of events,
  7. …is forcibly challenged by an Aboriginal lawman.
  8. The natural world is richly observed and
  9. Ruby’s courtship is measured by the turning of the seasons.



  1. This poem (novel in verse) is a short read
  2. …but don’t confuse length and density.
  3. Ruby Moonlight was a delight to read!
  4. Ms Eckermann has used all her poetic skills that make a poem
  5. that is a a joy to read out loud: sounds linked by
  6. alliteration, internal vowels and final consonants.
  7. I read this poem to my cat…and he loved it!
  8. The characters come to life in simple language
  9. …and a love story you will not forget.
  10. #MustRead
  • Ruby Moonlight  (the lubra, aboriginal woman)
  • Miner Jack
  • Spear maker
  • The old dancer and two warriors
  • The mob
  • Kuman
  • Man with no music






#AusReadingMonth2020 Penelope Layland (poet)


  • NOTE:  After having read all the poems
  • I finally discovered the impact of the title.
  • Ms Layland’s skill in exploring mourning, grief and loss is captured in the
  • Things I Thought To Tell You Since I Saw You Last
  • #Bravo to a great poet!



  1. This book contains 64 short poems…very readable!
  2. The poet gives us poems dealing with:
  3. quizzing memory
  4. understanding the concept of time
  5. deep human connections
  6. exploring mourning and loss


Future anterior – very good, cleverly done!

  1. I start by investigating the title…future anterior.
  2. …an action/event that will be completed ind the future.
  3. Ms Layland cleverly writes a poem about trees
  4. mentioning the Huon (Pine)
  5. If you read about the tree that only is found in Tasmania
  6. before you read the poem  you will discover
  7. the poet’s skill  jusing the Huon as as an example of ‘future anterior’!
  8. Huon Pine….the oldest tree in the world!


In Miss Havisham’s Garden – …description of garden after owner is gone…


  1. Very good!
  2. things that must be done after death of loved one,
  3. poem will linger in my mind.


A modern offer

  1. I found this a strange title. What does ‘modern’ mean?
  2. occuring in the present
  3. recently developed style
  4. characteristic to the present-day
  5. ahead of its times
  6. This was a difficult poem to understand.
  7. The poet speaks of a ‘harp-and-cord version’
  8. …then compares it to  a ‘contemporary rendering’ (version)
  9. Words like corporeality, merging of essences, eternal life
  10. …made me think Ms Layland was making a case to accept a
  11. ‘Modern offer’ (cremation) instead of a burial death (….harp-and-cord version).
  12. I would love to hear if somebody had any thoughts on this poem
  13. …it was a hard nut to crack!


Rising of the Lights (London 1665)

  1. It took time to figure out the layout…
  2. …poem is just an summation of dreaded  historic diseases.
  3. Depressing….not lyrical content at all!
  4. Now, what happened in London in 1665?
  5. The Great Plague, lasting from 1665 to 1666,
  6. was the last major epidemic of the bubonic plague to occur in England.
  7. Structure: shape and visual rhythm is the first thing I noticed.
  8. Title: The disease “Rising of the Lights” was a standard entry on
  9. bills of mortality  in the 17th century.
  10. Lights is an old name for lungs.
  11. The poem is 6 stanzas with 1 or 4 word sentences.
  12. This has a staccato effect to impress on the reader
  13. a list of  diseases that competed with the Bubonic Plague!



  1. Aubade, a poem or song evoking the daybreak, greeting the dawn.
  2. This is a 10 lines poem that radiates beauty!
  3. Dawn ” thread of incadescence”
  4. …that “ruptures into morning”.
  5. I watch with a ‘indrawn breath’.
  6. This is exactly what happened when
  7. I watched many sunrises this summer during a pandemic lockdown!!
  8. Leeuwarden, The Netherlands,  July 02 2020

Several more poems….quickscan:

  1. Irregular –  average...poem of 10 lines….no impact on me
  2. One Tree Hill average...poem of 13 lines….no impact on me
  3. By Request – average...poem of 12 lines….refers to flowers at a funeral, prefer poppies.
  4. Breath – Relief stunning…..poem of loss and how a breath, sigh, relief can alleviate the grief.
  5. Pearl –  Ms Layland says it is NOT  love poem, but I disagreeAbsolutely beautiful….
  6. Cowries – ….the sea shells of New South Wales. Description of shell: an almond unzipped”.


Cold zeal (strong feeling of eagerness)

  1. This is a poem about aging.
  2. We read “eyesight fails
  3. ….the “compass of the immediate world shrinks.”
  4. Ms Lalyland with her power of observation
  5. ….reminds us of the beauty that is there to see:
  6. ice etchings on a fence
  7. oily swirl  on a river’s current
  8. brief looks of interest from strangers
  9. — complexities of  mist.
  10. This is one of the poems that will linger in my mind, exquisite.

Last Thoughts:

  1. Poems of loss, grief just go straight through my heart.
  2. pg 21 “Pre-Ceremonial“,  pg 24 “This Loss.
  3. Grief never leaves you…it alters you.
  4. Ms Layland has given me some excellent poems to read
  5. and expresses her grief and mourning in very short 1-page poems.
  6. How does she  compress so much emotion in 10 – 20 lines?
  7. Yet, these poems do not leave you downtrodden
  8. …but strangely lift one’s spirits up.
  9. Grief is part of life.
  10. I cannot discover is she has lost a husband, child or parents
  11. …but  no one can write about loss and grief as she does
  12. …without out experiencing it.
  13. Please, if you never read poetry
  14. …give this 68 page book a chance.
  15. It will alter you.
  16. With poetry… don’t have to go through a windshield to
  17. ...realize that life is precious.
  18. Poetry keeps tapping you on the shoulder with that same message.
  19. #MustRead….and #MustRe-Read

#AusReadingMonth2020 The Altar Boys



  1. My goal of reading the shortlist of the Walkley Award 2020
  2. is almost completed. There was just one more hurdle to jump:
  3. I did not think I could bare yet another book about sexual abuse
  4. in the Catholic Church.
  5. Having read Cardinal (Louise Millligan 2017) and
  6. Fallen (Lucie Morris-Marr 2020)..I had had my fill.
  7. Now, The Altar Boys….seems to approach
  8. the subject from a VERY personal angle.
  9. Ms Smith decided to write her book after
  10. …a dear friend Steven Alward
  11. committed suicide January 2018.
  12. She spent six years investigating the
  13. …Maitland-Newcastle diocese in New South Wales.
  14. She developed strong personal connections with
  15. …several abuse survivors.
  16. one was even an ABC television colleague.
  17. In her new book  The Altar Boys
  18. Ms Smith focuses on one heroic whistle-blower priest.


  1. I tried to take notes….but was immediately
  2. drawn into the book that I forgot time and place.
  3. Ms Smith raises new questions about the suicides
  4. of three former victims of Catholic clergy child sexual abuse.
  5. In her book, Smith details what happened
  6. …in Glen Walsh’s life after his abuse,
  7. when he became a priest himself in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese.
  8. What more is there to say? 
  9. This is just heartbreaking to read.
  10. One justice during  a priest’s trial summed it up:
  11. the inside top  of 3 Marists Schools protected the brothers/priests
  12. who taught young vulnerable children,
  13. It was “an organised criminal activity.”
  14. Now having  read three books about sexual abuse by
  15. clergy in Australia I can conclude this book was the most confronting.
  16. Many children endured violence and abuse in silence
  17. Thanks to journalists, psychologists, law enforcement
  18. ….the veil of secrecy is slowly being lifted.
  19. Many Catholics don’t go to Church now because it
  20. is rapidly losing its credibility, but many still keep their beliefs.
  21. #ExcellentJournalism