Saturday, September 19, 2020




Back again. COVID-19 got to me (and family health stuff) — scatter-brain scatter-gun skitter-scatter — but somehow a manuscript eventually off to a publisher and a new manuscript concept hovering. Still visiting that lake (in Belconnen) watching the birds. At home (Binalong) recording and identifying frogs. No I don't normally capture them — this little fella just wandered inside. Quickly returned to the outers.

A couple of events:

That Poetry Thing is now a hybrid, live at Smith's Alternative/Zoom event. Triple launch — Dolan, Smith, Strange on September 21. Go to their FB and website pages for bookings advice (strict seatings) and Zoom links (do duck in). Congratulations and thanks go to the dedicated and persistent Thing Team.

A Brush with Poetry will Zoom on Sunday September 27 at 2 pm. Shared mike open style event. Zoom link on the Binalong Arts Group FB page. Congratulations and thanks go to the dedicated and persistent Robyn Sykes, Binalong's champion bush/spoken word poet.

Friday, May 29, 2020


[Poetry in the air]

Don't Be Live Poetry Deprived 5: Sunday May 31 at 2.00 pm. Even tiny Binalong is joining the international poetry zoom craze thanks to Coordinator Robyn Sykes, with the support of Southern Tablelands Arts. A Brush with Poetry is an eclectic mix of poetry styles, readings and recitals from free verse to tanka to traditional Australian narratives. Music and song also welcome and sometimes that happens. Usually at Café on Queen (currently takeaway only) on the last Sunday of odd months Brush is taking to the air. See you there (and back at the Queen post-pandemic).

Go to the Binalong Arts Group Inc Facebook page on Saturday for the Zoom link.

(Zoom is quite easy. Download the app on to your computer or other device from At the scheduled time just click on the link supplied which will take you to the Brush 'meeting.' You'll see a message telling you the host will let you in asap. Then suddenly — voila!)

Sunday, May 17, 2020


Stepping across the way to New Zealand for a moment — many thanks to the NZ Poetry Society for their list of online NZ and world events and opportunities.

Here’s a couple of events: 

TODAY! Wairarapa Word's online open mike is on Sunday May 17 at 3 pm NZT. You will find the Zoom link here. Seems to be an open invitation.

Poetry at Your Place (includes poetry, spoken word, music, art) from Wellington on Zoom and Facebook. Sundays 7.30 pm NZT. Poetry Slam at Your Place on what might be alternate weeks I think. 

The House is Open (music, theatre, poems) from Wellington on Zoom Fridays 8 pm NZT. Cost $10 (family/household) ticket to help pay the NZ and OS artists. See Facebook for event details. 

NB Go to the event's website or Facebook for more information including where to find the Zoom link for the individual online happening — it's a new link each time. The link will take you straight there and the host will click you in as soon as they get a chance. 

Check out the NZPS international poetry competition while you are in their website. Closing soon. 


Watching the lake changing Ripples Bird wing shapes Diamonds like leadlight window panes Now short dashes the lake hyphenating reeds and rocks on its foreshore I am directly opposite a tree on the far shore its multiple trunks silver smooth against the dark of the trees behind It's a surprise to me my eye usually drawn away by walkers following a different track The ducklings are thriving how they love water can’t wait to get back into it (May 15)

I am glad for disinfected shopping trolleys and petrol pumps wiped eftpos machines people not walking up your back in shopping malls men not standing shoulder to big shoulder blocking every path and view

Wednesday, May 06, 2020



If you missed the Cultivating Voices — Live Poetry Open Mic on Sunday May 3, the good news is that recordings of the featured poets are still on Facebook. Well worth a visit as it includes a number of Irish poets not only reading their own work but celebrating the late and great Eavan Boland. Just wonderful. 

More good news is there will be another Open Mike on May 10. Please visit Cultivating Voices’ Facebook page for times (BST — GREENWICH MEANTIME+1 — er no I don’t understand that from an Australian perspective yet) on the Thursday before. You’ll also find instructions there should you wish to sign up to read. In the meantime you are welcome to post on the FB page and be part of an ongoing dialogue. 

Hosts are Elizabeth Ann Yannone and Sandra Yannone whose debut collection Boats for Women is published by Salmon Poetry. I hope to be there one day. The growing  interconnectedness of poetry online in response to COVID-19 is heart warming and exciting. Great thanks to all those poets organizing live streams through FB, Zoom etc.

Sunday, May 03, 2020


LIVE STREAM VERSES Monday May 4 via Melbourne
Monday seems a popular night for readings. Live-Stream Verses: an MSW live-streamed open mic is on Monday, May 4 @ 6:00 pm and every fortnight, via Zoom. It is broadcast to Twitch TV @ Register here to perform: Melbourne Spoken Word says: MSW wants to bring the spoken word community in Melbourne together and bring them to the rest of the world during this period of self-isolation.

BUSBOYS & POETS Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday via Washington
Online open mic & poetry slams three times a week 8.00 pm-10.00 pm on Instagram thanks to Busboys & Poets. The focus is poetry but musicians, visual artists, comedians, readers & listeners from all walks of life welcome. Find them @busboysandpoets

Busboys & Poets is: a space for art, culture and politics to intentionally collide ... we believe that by creating such a space we can inspire social change and begin to transform our community and the world. The founder is Andy Shallal. A mural artist among many other things Andy has instigated Paint the Storefronts paying artists to add positive messages to the windows of shops closed due to COVID-19.   


[Just a couple of lines]

Yes there is still poetry! Poetry and trees! That Poetry Zoom celebrates trees on Monday May 4. Includes readings of poems written for trees in Hague Park, Canberra as part of the Hague Park Experiment Heritage Signage project. [Mouthful.] Shane Strange will fill you in, followed by the poets Faye Brinsmead, SubhashJaireth, Asha Naznin, Melinda Smith, Martin Dolan, Gemma Nethercote-Way, Penelope Layland, Kerrie-Anne Nelson, Zoe Anderson. 

THE ACT'S Tree Protection Officer, Samantha Ning will speak briefly about Tree Week, followed by readings by Robert Verdon, Lizz Murphy, Judith Nangala Crispin, Kate McNamara and (tbc) Jenni Kemarre Martiniello organized by Sarah St Vincent Welch.

There’s an open mike before and after the tree poetries — sign up when the virtual doors open at 6.30 pm. Event starts 7.00 pm with Sarah St Vincent Welch as emcee. If you are not already on their email list you can find out about it on Facebook where the Zoom invitation link is also posted just prior to each event.

Also on Monday it’s a special Voicebox Fremantle launch of Letters to Our Home hosted by Vivienne Glance at 7 pm. Readings by Michael Williams, Liana Joy Christensen, Allan Padgett, Tara Hurst, Deanne Leber, Natalie D-Napoleon, Jackson, and Allan Boyd. There is also an open mike. Virtual doors open at 6.45 pm. This project was conceived during the Australian bushfire crisis. The Zoom link is here:

Self-serve Open Mike
Voicebox is currently running the Self-serve Open Mic — Alex Chapman’s brainfart he says — where you are invited to post a poem on their FB page during the normal meeting time-slot. Can be text, audio, video. Great idea. Founded in 2004 by Desmonda Kearney, Voicebox normally meets on the last Monday of the month. Time?? Website:

A rare opportunity. That Mother Tongue Poetry Zoom featuring Thandi Katase, a storyteller from the Makwayi clan of the Xhosa tribe from South Africa. Thandi will tell stories and share her original poetry in Xhosa and English. She might introduce everyone to Imbongi praise singing. Share a poem in a language other than English — or a mix of languages. Email: mothertonguemic[at]gmail[dot]com to sign up in advance, or sign up on the night. Limit 4 minutes. Thank you That Poetry Thing committee member Jacqui Malans.

Watch for Binalong's first Brush with Poetry Zoom, May 31, 2.00 pm.

Writers tip: 
Cut your performance teeth on Open Mike opportunities but be considerate of your emcee, your fellow poets and the audience and follow the rules — one poem is one poem, three minutes is three minutes and one minute is one minute, etc. Have your poem ready. If it's in a journal bookmark it (preferably with something that won't flutter to the floor just when you need it); if it's on a device make sure your poem is on screen ready to go. Currently on Zoom we all also have to remember to mute when listening to other poets and unmute when it's our turn :)











Update: That Poetry Thing is now a hybrid live-in-venue/Zoom event. Triple launch — Dolan, Smith, Strange on September 21. Go to the usual pages for bookings advice (strict seatings) and Zoom links (do duck in). Congratulations and thanks go to the dedicated and persistent Thing Team.

That Poetry Thing That is on Monday Nights at Smith’s is currently That Poetry Zoom thanks to COVID-19 and of course the great committee of poets making that happen. [Er did that sound like I was giving poets the 'credit' for COVID??!!] Poets shall not be stopped. I’m 100k from Canberra so don’t get to That Poetry Thing as often as I’d like, but I’ve now been to That Poetry Zoom three Monday’s in a row. That’s exciting. Love seeing everyone on screen and hearing poets read including from interstate and even overseas. 

You can blur out your background or insert a photo as your backdrop but I don’t know how to do that yet. So … at the table? No. Too much de-cluttering in progress one way and reno-stop-starts-mostly-stops the other way. You know how it goes. I prop in front of a door. Safest bet. Other poets have rows of books, original art and crochet bed throws behind them. There are embroidered cushions and sometimes plump pillows — it can be very cosy participating in a poetry zoom. 

And yes I am a bit of a voyeur. Years ago we would drive around new suburbs watching the builds in progress but also enjoying the room décor thanks to curtainless windows. So now you’ll be glad to know you can also opt not to have your video on. You will just be a name in a black square but we will still hear you. Most of us slurp tea and wine (always with our audio turned off of course — ditto putting wood on the fire) and nibble at whatevers, while one night we watched a poet prepare a healthy meal with her device propped on the kitchen bench. (I'm so catching up on this — I've even started using the term 'device.')

That Poetry Zoom 7.00 pm Monday nights. If you're not already on the email list you can find the Zoom invitation link posted on Facebook just prior to each event. Next one May 4. Of course we do look forward to the regular and fabulous venue Smith's Alternative re-opening its doors — all the very best to them.


There she is again
That woman
What’s she doing out there
That woman
Who is that woman
Standing by the lake
Just standing
Just standing there
One hand on the post
The other
on the small of her back
What's she doing
Just standing there
Just standing there
Then the other hand
on the post
Gloves on
One glove off
There she is again
That woman
What’s she doing out there
That woman
Who is that woman
Standing by the lake

Saturday, May 02, 2020


[Minimum 1.5m or 1 dirt road]

Social-distance walking in Binalong recently — lucky to live in such a picturesque area where it also isn’t hard to avoid people. A combination of country space and everyone doing their best to keep one another safe. 

In the village centre the butcher’s open as normal and we can still get newspapers and staples from the wee shop but the Post Office currently closes at 1 pm and the pub is only open (takeaways) lunch time and tea time. The Old Produce Store in total lockdown has reeled in its gay buntings and model sheep, while the old General Store, between jobs so to speak, solemnly awaits a new future. We can still have takeaway food from said Hotel Binalong Wed-Sat with the new luxury of home delivery Saturday dinner times, takeaways from Café on Queen on weekends and The Binalong Community Club on Sunday evenings (also alcohol). The Royal Tara Motel has introduced takeaway Tuesday Chinese and Tuesday Curries. We are tiny but we are creative. There is the added bonus of saying a socially distanced hi if you arrive at a similar time to other locals treating themselves — that’s nearly as exciting as distance waving to one another in the bigger town supermarket.

Our small village is far from a bustling metropolis at any time but now it can be coronavirus eerily quiet. Driving through, say on a mid-week afternoon, reminds me of country towns in rural decline and how this is what Binalong could look like permanently if it didn’t have its active community. We worry about businesses (whether shops, farms or freight) surviving the pandemic, but Binalong will do everything possible to flourish. 

In another life I worked in regional arts development and would hear a lot about rural town decline. The most common refrain from the communities was: ‘How can we get our young people to stay?’ Let them go out into the world I say — think about how to bring them back. In Binalong we have fresh air, clear skies, birds, space, animals, sticks to collect in the paddock, family fun, community activities, art/artists — lifestyle. Young people are returning to start their families and we have the delight of that generation plus babies and toddlers everywhere. 

And even the CORVID-19 cloud has a silver lining — it's called Zoom — I have never 'been to' so many poetry events in such a short space of time! Watch for news on a Brush with Poetry thanks to Coordinator Robyn Sykes. Thanks also Robyn for the photo and the walk.

Friday, May 01, 2020


It rains muted greens water pouring at angles 
on the windscreen zigzagging tree trunks the rough 
of peeling splitting bark Swamphens solo walk 
everyone else in weather lockdown 

— from April 2 I think

Tuesday, April 07, 2020


At Bargang Beach a solitary elderly returns to his car ski walking  then standing in front of the car  he twists and holds  twists and holds  side bend hold  side bend hold  Breathe in hold tucking chin in  breathe out shoving chin out A Eurasian Coot does bottoms up dives  chin out swallow  chin out swallow  bottoms up dive several times then move on A Purple Swamphen practises ‘Flying like a Crane’ from Five Animal Qi Gong standing on one leg stretching her other leg and that wing backwards slowly with perfect balance massaging her heart and lungs The kayaks return to shore gliding in like orange and white swans Other couples cycle and walk Soloists jog or stand still contemplating lake or life 
The white Hilux is back we are neighbours again I’ve also seen that ute before realize he’s the pissing fisher guy dub him The Slasher A small green bird lands on the mirror that sharp black line of beak a black outline edging the folded wing the white strip under the dark of eye He flies off (I moved) I take a call discuss workshops online once just an option now the new world for all of us and I have so much to catch up on Three resident swans mooch by legs paddling underwater bills tangerine against their black heads and bodies the tips catching light three floating stars On my other side a passionate young couple have to exercise control

Sunday, April 05, 2020


There is evidence from the other side of the world that even DIY fabric masks help control the spread of COVID-19. Almost no-one else in Binalong wearing them. Some in Canberra but not a great lot. How to get the word out? 

[I wander lonely as a masked bandit …]
Here are some links you might like to visit:
1. A message from the Czech Republic about the importance of everyone wearing face masks. There is also a demonstration on how to make your own and the story of mass mask-making for the community is inspiring. Please note surgical masks should be saved for medical staff as these are in short supply everywhere.

2. Background information and how to make a face mask by recycling a T-shirt. Pros: Absolutely NO sewing. Cons: stuffs the T-shirt.

3. How to make a few different NO-sew face masks:

4. Another for the sewers (and by that I do mean people who sew ... not … well you know) — a great way to use up all those colourful remnants. Only takes ten minutes:


[Bargang Beach ACT March 31]

The lake is in a mood this morning tides and clouds have split it into dramatic geometrics it’s effecting everyone birds honk and complain tear up the surface This is the quietest I’ve seen it here no more (small) gatherings not even spread out tree to tree no children in the play areas (I wondered about that) there are still solo walkers or couples An occasional grandad with a small child A bent man with a kayak They need extra bins everyone coming to the lake to eat their Takeaway Only (Take the packaging home with you!) The dialysis clinic is already in lock down — patients only — I now drop off and run away Today the whole health centre is in lock down we are screened by Security before being allowed into the carpark Fair enough good job I misunderstand his hand waving and get shouted at We’re ALL stressed mate 
[Note the rarely seen 'bandy-legged watercoot' bottom right]



[Cloud Zero]

Someone has turned up to fish Ugg boots and light beers Relaxed 

No more café admin and writing for me (or Tai Chi groups for that matter) Enjoying the picnic brunches and writing by the lake though It’s more silver now and the clouds are lightening shaping up to amuse themselves

Snooze time Lie back watch the clouds listen to This Working Life on Radio National [aired Monday March 30 at 5.30 am; repeated today] Colin James remote conferencing guru among other things Such good advice as many of us take our gatherings online First you'll hear about feelings of grief due to COVID-19

Oh mannn the fisher guy is standing there urinating off the bank! Really?! He saunters back to his fold up chair as if he’s done something clever A male voice from behind: Hey dickhead there’s a toilet just up there – no need to piss in the lake! Good on him 

— from Tuesday March 31, 2020