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Posts from the ‘Australian Women Writers’ Category


#AWW2019 ‘My trip Down Under’

Green Island Reef, Carins Australia

  1. It is time to turn off NETFLIX and
  2. ….get back to reading!
  3. I’ve made a list for
  4. ….my literary trip Down Under
  5. reading some great Australian female authors.
  6. It’s summer down there so here I come!
  7. List of Challenges 2019
  8. Monthly reading plan
  9. #AWW2019 
  10. @AusWomenWriters


My List:

  1. Everywhere I Look Helen Garner – READ
  2. A Kindness Cup – Thea Astley – READING  – paperback (…need magnifying glass!)
  3. Drylands – Thea Astley – audio book
  4. It’s Raining in Mango – Thea Astley audio book
  5. True Stories – Helen Garner – audio book
  6. Wild Sea: A History of the Southern Ocean – Joy McCann – Kindle
  7. Say No To Death – Dymphna Cusack – Kindle
  8. The Timeless Land – Eleanor Dark – Kindle
  9. The Man on the Headland – Kylie Tennant – Kindle
  10. The Commandant – Jessica Anderson Kindle
  11. The Torrents (play) – Oriel Gray – Kindle
  12. Highway of Lost Hearts (play) – Mary Anne Butler – Kindle
  13. Transparency (play) – Suzie Miller – Kindle
  14. SHIT (play) – Patricia Cornelius – Kindle
  15. Honour (play)Joanna Murray-Smith – Kindle
  16. The Dead Still Cry Out: Story of a Combat Cameraman – Helen Lewis – Kindle
  17. Danger Music – Eddie Ayres – Kindle
  18. Dr Space Junk vs The Universe: Archaeology and the future – Alice Gorman – paperback
  19. An Item from the Late News – Thea Astley – paperback



#AWW2019 Mary Anne Butler (playwright)



  1. Some plays should not be analyzed…they just have to sink in.
  2. Mary Anne Butler
  3. …has written a phenomenal script.
  4. It is intimate, realistic and breathtaking drama.
  5. Three characters weave their story
  6. ….criss-crossing their lives with each other.
  7. I read the play 4 times:
  8. 1 x reading the role of Ham (man driving on desert road)
  9. 1 x the role of Ash (female in car accident)
  10. 1 x Mia (Ham’s wife…home alone after a great loss).
  11. Now I was ready to read the play
  12. with the voices echoing in my mind.
  13. This is THE best play I’ve read in a very….long time!
  14. Strong point:
  15. Stellar example of dramatic construction (dramaturgy)
  16. and …inventive dialogue!
  17. #MustRead….really a must!


#AWW2019 Selina Tusitala Marsh Poet Laureate NZ


Selina Tusitala Marsh:

  1. Selina Tusitala Marsh is of Samoan, Tuvalu, English and French descent.
  2. She was the first Pacific Islander to graduate
  3. with a PhD in English from the University of Auckland and
  4. is now a lecturer in the English Department, specialising in Pacific literature.


  1. Oh, reading these poems with many
  2. Samoan words/references
  3. is going to be a challenge.
  4. Thank goodness….
  5. Ms Marsh has added a glossary for words the reader
  6. probably won’t understand.
  7. Thank you, poet laureate!


My notes on a few poems….


Googling TusitalaVery good…and clever!
Marsh has listed the choices Google returns
when she googles ‘Tusitala’.
Last line is the clincher that brings a laugh:
‘The tusitala bookshelf in
— there’s no wrong way to eat a rhesus.”
(BookCrossing is the act of releasing your books
“into the wild” for a stranger to find via the website)

Not Another Nafanua Poem – good
First I have to look up nafanua!
— Nafanua is the Samoan goddess of war

Afaksai (half-caste) – very good, rich with Samoan words!

Calabash Breakers – good

Hone Said – so-so..too cryptic…see glossary!

Things on Thursdays
Very good… should sound familiar to all struggling
female writers balancing family, work and writing!

Song for Terry – good…intriguing because I cannot discover who “Anne” is!

Langston’s Mother (very short poem…)

absolutely stunning because this poem led me to Langston Hughes’ poem
Mother To Son….breathtaking.

Mother to Son   (Langston Hughes)

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

(…if you don’t get ‘skin shivers after reading don’t have a pulse!)


Cardboard Crowns – very good
Sum of Mum – good, very clever!
Wild Horses – …need help understanding this one
Three to Four – intense…memories of a car accident
Le Amataga – not able to find something in this poem by myself…need the glossary!
Spare the Rod – This poem brings to mind ancient rock engravings…. not easy to grasp
A Samoan Star-chant for Matariki – too cryptic

…need more knowledge of Samoan words/myth
(In the Māori language Matariki is both the name of the Pleiades star cluster
and also of the season of its first rising
in late May or early June.
This is a marker of the beginning of the new year.)

Circle of Stones – Poems don’t have to be just understood…they can lead you to other things. This poem put in in touch with the Fale Pasifika at University of Aukland. Fale is the name a a Samoan building, the center of the community. On You Tube you can watch History of the Fale Pasifika….just filled with spiritual meaning for this University to let all Pacific people know they belong.

Guys Like Gaughin – very good…clever!
Nails for Sex – very good! This is based on history and is worth reading about before you start this poem…then it all will make sense!

Wikipedia HMS Dolphin 

Mutiny on Pitcairn – average

Two Nudes of a Tahitian Beach, 1894 – good…based on this painting by Gauguin

Venus in Transit – poem mentions many well known connections to Venus in Transit…..but who is Rowan? The poet refers to NZ author Rowan Metcalfe’s book Venus in Transit (2004). This novel tells the story from a new and unexpected perspective, that of the Tahitian women who joined the Bounty mutineers and sailed away with them to make new lives.

Realpolitik (expansionist national policy) -…reflecting on Capt. Cook/crew,  who brought disease to Tahitian women.

Contact 101 – how different people (philosopher, scientist, anthropologist) see South Pacific women

Has the whole tribe come out from England? – Wellington has been overrun by the British

What’s Sarong With This – pun…”What’s Wrong with This?” – very good, very intense!


The Curator – …description of a poem reading (Ms Marsh?) in a museum, sharp-edged.

Hawai’i: Prelude to a Journey – very good, glimpse of all sides of Hawaii and visitors….also a reference to a Hawaiian deity Pele, goddess of volcanos “…Pele’s pen, her black ink lava ever pricking the night.” There is so much in this poem you could spend some time investigating many aspects of this poem!

Touring Hawaii and Its People – very good….looking for ?? with a flowering crown in a museum. ( of the Hawaiian monarchy?)

Alice’s Billboard – strange….can’t make head or tails of this one, sorry!

Fast Talkin’n PI – (title poem) – Oh, I think I finally found who “ANNE” is if the poem….”Song for Terry”!

Fast Talking PI (pronounced pee-eye) = pacific islander
reflects the poet’s focus on issues affecting
Pacific communities in New Zealand, and
indigenous peoples around the world
… including the challenges and
…triumphs of being afakasi (mixed race).



#Poetry Blakwork (title poem)

  • Author: Alison Whittaker
  • Title: Blakwork
  • Published: 2018
  • Publisher: @MagabalaBooks
  • Trivia: 2019 shortlist Victorian Premier’s Award Indigenous Writing
  • Trivia: 2019 WINNER Mascara Lit Review Avant-garde Award for literature
  • Trivia: 2019 shortlist ABIA Small Publishers’ Adult Book of the Year
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019
  • @AusWomenWriters
  • Trivia: Review:  poem  Cotton On   (pg 15)



  1. I was staring at the book  turning it front to back.
  2. Why the choice of a bird on the cover?
  3. Perhaps if you live in Australia  you know what it means.
  4. I had to find out more about the metaphor of a blackbird.
  5. Difficult to read….
  6. Origin of the term ‘blackbirding’:
  7. The term may have been formed
  8. …directly as a contraction of ‘blackbird catching’.
  9. Blackbird’ was a slang term for the local South Pacific indigenous people.
  10. It might also have derived from an earlier phrase,
  11. blackbird shooting’, which referred to
  12. recreational hunting of Aboriginal people by early European settlers


Title poem:      Blakwork  (pg 3)

  1. The sun rises 0530 am on this side of the world.
  2. No matter how hard I try…I’m wide awake at 0600 am.
  3. My eyes are not yet focused so I use a magnifying glass to
  4. …read the first poem in the chapter Whitework.
  5. Blakwork: 41 words that pack a punch.
  6. I didn’t realize that today (26 May) is #SorryDay in Australia
  7. This poem sums up the sentiment of
  8. …reconciliation from an other perspective.


  1. Type of Poem:  poet-in-conversation (present tense)
  2. Who is speaking?  Alison Whittaker the poet
  3. Who is ‘you’  in the poem?    White Australia
  4. Title:   Blakwork
  5. Australia’s slavery started because other countries abolished it.
  6. Aboriginal people were used in
  7. the pearling, sugar cane and cattle industries.
  8. They suffered terrible abuse and were denied their wages.



  1. There is an energy…tension  in this poem.
  2. I tried to discover the  starting subject and
  3. …then the discovered subject in a poem.
  4. There is always a door to be opened the
  5. will lead you down another path
  6. …in this poem a ” cynical path”.


  1. Starting subject:
  2. blakfella works –> payment callous hands –> profit to white Australia
  3. Door: words   “white guilt”
  4. Discovered subject:
  5. Blakfella works –> payment now bound by contract (indentured)
  6. profit –> white Australia can have “soothing” feeling of reconciliation
  7. “nine to five forgiving you.”
  8. #powerful




  • Fresh blakwork; industrial complexes
  • hands with
  • smooth and flat palm callouses.
  •      Soothing re —
  •                         –conciliation
  • That dawdling off-trend meme
  • white guilt. To survive it; well,
  •      it’s naff to say, but compul–
  •                       –sory to do. Indentured blakwork, something like
  • nine to five, forgiv–
  •                      –ing you.



  1. Words I had to look up for a clear meaning of the poem:
  2. industrial complexes – (self-interest ahead of the well being of the Aboriginal people)
  3. dawdling – wasting time, idle, trifle
  4. meme –  behavoir
  5. naff – clichéd, unstylish
  6. indentured – bound by contract



#Poetry Alison Whittaker “Blakwork”

  • Author: Alison Whittaker
  • Title: Blakwork
  • Published: 2018
  • Publisher: @MagabalaBooks
  • Trivia: 2019 shortlist Victorian Premier’s Award Indigenous Writing
  • Trivia: 2019 winner Mascara Lit Review Avant-garde Award for literature
  • Trivia: 2019 shortlist ABIA Small Publishers’ Adult Book of the Year
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019
  • @AusWomenWriters
  • Trivia: Review:  poem Blakwork  (pg 3) (title poem)



  1. This book consists of 15 chapters and 94 poems.
  2. I still am trying to learn how to read a poem.
  3. I am going to read a poem …then really try to figure
  4. …out what the message is…or what do I see in the poem.
  5. More of my reviews about these poems
  6. …will appear during the drips and drabs.
  7. These poems will take time to read.
  8. The author has put so much thought into her words
  9. …I don’t want to rush my reading


  1. Poetry does not need a story…that is not its function.
  2. That is why poems sometimes make people cringe!
  3. The reader speaks English, the poem is in English
  4. and still the  reader (me)  has no idea what it means.
  5. This will be my biggest poetry reading challenge.
  6. Just look at the way the poems sit on the page!
  7. I glanced through the book and see images, emojis,
  8. poems with unique shapes, punctuation and lists.


  1. I am not going to review them in lofty poetic terms
  2. …but just by asking myself some basic questions.
  3. What is the shape of the poem? Who is speaking?
  4. What images does the poet use? Allusions?
  5. How do they make me feel? Stumped or enlightened?
  6. I’m even going to read the poems to the cat
  7. …I need to hear the sound!


  1. Poems tells us the history of the human heart.
  2. All poets are struggling with the different things:
  3. loneliness, racism, gender roles, sexuality
  4. colonialism, family, class, history,
  5. …violence, culture, pleasure, joy.
  6. I’m eager to learn what Alison Whittaker….
  7. …is struggling with.



Poem:      Cotton On            (pg 15)


let’s compare hands              s t r e t c h


tendons wrists across            o c e a n s







here: a common                     wound.


Cotton On:

  1. My FIRST reading:  12 words  placed on the page leaving a 10×10 cm blank center page.  words describe hands ready for planting and harvesting. The key word is ‘oceans‘ referring to the overseas labor force that is used in this industry. The blank page could indicate a field that is planted with cotton seeds. TitleCotton On is perhaps a reference to seeds…starting.
  2. I then contacted the poet via Twitter:
  3. “I’m just starting to read poetry and I admit I don’t understand it after a first reading…so I re-read alot. Reading: Cotton on (pg 15) in Blakwork. May I ask…why the big open space in the poem? What am I missing! Thank you for your time #justasking”
  4. Reply  from  Alison Whittaker:
  5. “I try to not be too prescriptive with the poetry, but in Cotton on, the spaces denote the physical space across the pacific between communities wounded by cotton, and the act of stretching out to touch. it’s whatever you make of it!”
  6. My SECOND reading: Then I put my thinking cap on.
  7. Who was wounded by cotton?
  8. USA the slaves on the plantations.
  9. AUS the aboriginals who see their sacred rivers drying up.
  10. The aboriginals say:  “If there’s no river, where’s our culture?”
  11. The landholders (cotton farms) are pumping all the water out
  12. for irragation and water management.
  13. Now I see the connection in the poem.
  14. The slaves and aboriginals are stretching their hands
  15. across the Pacific Ocean.
  16. Both wounded by cotton.
  17. “The last line “here: a common wound.

#AWW2019 Maxine Beneba Clarke



  1. I needed to share
  2. Maxine Beneba Clarke’s poem on my blog.
  3. There is something so rewarding in this poem
  4. if you are willing to
  5. let go of what you already know.



We’ll go cardboard-boothed

  to the primary schools

community centres

  and the churches to boot


and friendly neighbours

  ideologically opposed

will avert their eyes

  as they fold up their votes


Last thoughts:

You want a poem to unsettle something…

  1. Maxine Beneba Clarke has done it
  2. ..about Australian elections 2019
  3. There’s not a word wasted in these clean, spare lines.
  4. We could use this poem for elections all over Europe!
  5. You can read THE ENTIRE POEM  HERE
  6. Thank you @slamup 





#AWW2019 Lesley Williams

  • Author:  Lesley and Tammy Williams
  • Title: Not Just Black and White
  • Published: 2015
  • Genre: indigenous issues non-fiction
  • Trivia: 2016 Queensland Premier’s Award work of State Significance
  • Trivia  2014 David Unaipon Award Winner
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019
  • @AusWomenWriters



  1. This is a writing collaboration between
  2. mother (Lesley) and daughter (Tammy).
  3. Lesley Williams was forced to leave the
  4. Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement
  5. …at a young age to work as a domestic servant.
  6. Lesley never saw her wages.
  7. They were kept ‘safe’ by the government.
  8. This book relates her nine-year journey for answers:
  9. where is all that money she earned?
  10. Lesley confronts the government
  11. …in a judicial wrestling match!



  1. Mrs Williams describes her youth
  2. while giving the reader a clear mental image
  3. of the backdrop Cherbourg settlement.
  4. It was difficult to read about her life
  5. under  cruel Protection Act that uprooted
  6. thousands of Aboriginal people.
  7. because of her strong character and vision
  8. she was able overcome many hardships.


  1. There were several messages in the book that
  2. resonated to me:
  3. Williams feels a strong sense of Aboriginal community. (safety network)
  4. Williams struggles to fight injustice (racial, financial)
  5. Williams reminds all people who suffer racism…


  1. Best quote:
  2. “There are two ways to fight racism:
  3. — fight with your fists
  4. — fight with your talents and achievements”
  5. Nothing hurts a racist more
  6. …when they see you achieving


Last thoughts

  1. Good literature unnerves you…..
  2. …or takes you somewhere to consider things
  3. ….things that you might not have considered
  4. thinking about before.
  5. This book took me into the Cherbourg Settlement.
  6. It showed me the strength of family…
  7. that remained unbroken for Lesley Williams.
  8. It has only been in the last generations
  9. …that Aboriginal writers have been published.
  10. They now are  able to tell their stories, their truths.
  11. #ReadDiversity



#AWW2019 Nakkiah Lui (playwright)

  • Author: Nakkiah Lui (1991)  Gamillaroi and Torres Strait Islander woman
  • Title: Black is the New White
  • Published: 2019 (book)
  • Opening night: 10 May 2017 Sydney Theatre Company
  • Genre: play (romantic comedy)
  • Trivia: Indigenous issues
  • Trivia: 2018 winner NSW Lit Award for Playwriting
  • Trivia: 2018 shortlist Victorian Premier’s Award Drama
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019
  • @AusWomenWriters
  • @AllenandUnwin



  1. Young couple Charlotte Gibson and
  2. Francis Smith are newly engaged.
  3. But their fathers are political rivals.
  4. The Gibson and Smith families gather for Christmas lunch.
  5. Unexpected guests, sudden self-realizations
  6. …and family secrets disrupt their meal.
  7. Themes: land rights, politics, relationships, identity, class.
  8. Question: What is it to be Aboriginal and middle class?



  1. 7 scenes
  2. 8 characters:
  3. Engaged couple (20s)  Charlotte and Francis
  4. Their respective parents (50-60s) Joan, Ray, Maire and Dennison
  5. Daughter (nr 2) and son-in-law (30s) Rose and Sonny



  1. To speed up the pace Nakkiah uses overlapping dialogue.
  2. The idea was to write dialogue
  3. …the way people really speak
  4. …so that characters cut off the
  5. beginnings and ends of each other’s sentences.
  6. Full revelation of emotions is transformed into comedy.
  7. At times it feels like community (scene 3-4-5-6)
  8. ….and at times like chaos! (scene 7)



  1. To give the play a very culturally modern feel we read about a
  2. virtual reality mask, twitter, Michell Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton,
  3. Kim and Kayne Kardishan, Beyoncé and JayZ, Martin Luther King,
  4. Waleed Aly, Alicia Keyes,
  5. Netflix series House of Cards and the movie Cluesless.



  1. Lui uses a technique of the narrator to
  2. give the audience/reader the backstory.
  3. The narrator comments on action, adds insight
  4. …on characters, stage elements
  5. …developing a precise and complete character persona.



  1. I will not reveal any spoilers
  2. …..the play should be read with a clean slate.
  3. You will enjoy the unfinished battles
  4. …in the character’s public and private lives!
  5. We follow the maze from character to character….
  6. …with the climatic scene 7
  7. …which includes 15 ‘bombshells’ of information!
  8. In Black is the New White (title revealed in scene 4)
  9. …you meet 8 characters  who
  10. challenge stereotypes of
  11. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  12. With Nakkiah Lui’s  comic descriptions of
  13. their personal interaction and commentary
  14. …you have an unforgettable romantic comedy
  15. …and many life lessons.
  16. #MustRead   #MustLaugh

#Ockham NZ Awards MY CHOICE winner Fiona Kidman

  • Author: Dame Fiona Judith Kidman DNZM OBE (1940)
  • Title: This Mortal Boy
  • Published: 2018
  • Genre: historical fiction
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly reading plan
  • #AWW2019 
  • @AusWomenWriters
  • Trivia: 2019 Winner of The New Zealand Booklovers’ Prize for Fiction
  • Trivia: 2018 Shortlisted for the NZ Heritage Book Awards
  • Trivia: 2019 Shortlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards
  • #TheOckhams will be awarded 14 May 2019.
  • @PenguinBooks_NZ



  1. On 05 December1955
  2. …New Zealand’s second-last execution occurred.
  3. The victim was a young Irishman,
  4. Albert (Paddy) Black…a bog-trotter.
  5. He knifed a man, Johnny McBride…bit of a rough diamond,
  6. in a bar-room brawl 26 July 1955
  7. …called the “juke-box murder”.
  8. Public revulsion at his execution was a major force
  9. abolishing the death penalty in 1961.
  10. Black was convicted of murder and executed.
  11. Yet there were clear signs that his trial
  12. …was a severe miscarriage of justice.
  13. Main characters:
  14. Albert (Paddy) Black Irish, aka Shaun Donavan (killer)
  15. Alan Keith Jacques English, aka Johnny McBride (victim)
  • Setting change: 1955 Belfast Ireland
  • Flashback: Belfast, parents, childhood, WW II, sailing to life in NZ
  • Setting: NZ Aukland, Wellington, Auckland Parliament House
  • Mt Eden Prison NZ (arrested awaits trial),
  • Ye Olde Barn cafe (crime scene)
  • Setting: Station Hotel Aukland NZ (where jury is staying during trial)
  • Setting: Aukland Court house – jury’s decision (ch 19)
  • Setting: Mount Eden Prison…execution



  1. This story is based on facts that are in no way
  2. sentimentalized by the author.
  3. This Mortal Boy reads like a Greek Tragedy
  4. …we know what is going to happen in the last act.
  5. The platform on the gallows will actually be a trapdoor.
  6. The book is a stark report about a young boy who
  7. made a mistake and paid the ultimate price, his life.


  1. Strong point:
  2. Research
  3. Dame Fiona Kidman has studied the trial transcripts
  4. …read copies of Albert Black’s letters to friend his Peter
  5. ..and visited Ireland to research the public records in Belfast
  6. (births, marriages, deaths).
  7. Chapter  27  is and eyewitness report  of the execution by J. Young.
  8. (…a very confronting read)
  9. Trial witnesses, lawyers and members of the jury are fictional.


  1. Strong point:
  2. Kidman examines history with a fine tooth comb.
  3. She supports her story with references
  4. to Australian politicians, The Mazengarb 1954 (report on moral delinquency)
  5. …and  the hanging of Fred Foster July 1955 for the ‘Milk Bar Murder’.


  1. Strong point:
  2. The jury
  3. In chapter two Kidman takes time to
  4. …introduce the reader to the 12 men on the jury.
  5. At first I thought Kidman was being too detailed.
  6. But later I realized  why it is important to know the
  7. social class (job, education) of these men.
  8. Only then can we understand the decision making
  9. process about Albert Black:
  10. guilty or not guilty.
  11. Three jurors add doubt to the arguments for guilty.
  12. I was captivated and drawn in as these jurors  try to
  13. remain staunchly against a guilty verdict.
  14. You will read what happened
  15. ….that pushed the verdict to guilty!


  1. Weak point of audio book:
  2. The singing!
  3. I’d rather read that someone is humming or singing a song
  4. …than to actually hearing it. #Distracting.


  1. Strong point:
  2. Ch 14 –  Oliver Buchanan, lawyer
  3. We imagine that the case is open and shut but…
  4. Buchanan works tirelessly to help his client
  5. …avoid the death penalty.
  6. There is something missing  in this case
  7. …but he cannot find the piece.
  8. Buchanan is interested in
  9. what happened before Paddy stabbed Johnny
  10. …that can prove that this crime was based on an accident.
  11. Buchanan quotes Thomas Hardy:
  12. “…for every bad..there is a worse.”


Last thoughts:

  1. Capital punishment…is such a contentious issue.
  2. While reading this book I was forced to think
  3. about the consequences of this policy.
  4. #Heartwrenching
  5. MY CHOICE to win Ockham 2019 for Fiction.



  1. Juror – Arthur university lecturer discusses… life? or death ?
  2. “…are you all so far beyond reproach
  3. that you have a right to make this decision?
  4. I’m not sure that I am.”


#AWW2019 Winner Victorian Lit Award 2019 Poetry

  • 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