Saturday, December 14, 2013


Done and dusted. I hang up my microphone and put away my books for another while, for another year. In the Southern Tablelands in NSW, we’ve had poetry performances every Sunday afternoon in November, with NSW regional poets and Canberra poets travelling to four towns for poetry.

My own small village, Binalong, hosted A Brush with Poetry, its regular mixfix of contemporary and bush poetry, readings and recitations, music and song, at the Black Swan Gallery on November 24. We get up to 50 people at this event held every second month. Canberra supporters include Janne Graham who was awarded second place in the recent Feast of Poetry prize (open category) at Cooma, and Robert Verdon who has published a number of poetry collections and anthologies. Hazel Hall, School of Music cafĂ© poet and Chris Dorman who move between Canberra and Wallendbeen joined us for the first time, reading from Water (Scribblers). A number of regulars write original bush poetry, including John Peel (Tumut) and co-coordinator Robyn Sykes (Binalong) who performed entertaining pieces with modern rural themes. Yass harmonica player Jeff Brown was an extra highlight. Everyone went away happy … and some didn’t want to go at all. A Brush with Poetry will be back in March.

Canberra poet Kathy Kituai and myself have small books and poems to promote – Close Up (Wagtail #130, Picaro Press) and Portraits (PressPress) respectfully - so we teamed up to present No Small Thing in Boorowa and Goulburn. Sam Abotomey, coordinator of Miles Franklin Writers and Robyn Lance co-winner of the 2010 David Campbell Poetry Prize joined us on stage in Goulburn. The shared mike session included Victoria McGrath of Yass who was shortlisted in the 2013 Newcastle Poetry Prize, Sydney tankaist David Terelinck, Goulburn poet Jenny Burgess, award winning poet and farmer Russell Erwin from nearby Bannister and Canberra’s Robert Verdon. An added bonus was the dual reading of a responsive tanka sequence by Kathy and David. This event was held in the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium’s Paul Paviour Room on the 10th. Fabulous acoustics and flexible seating. It was the first poetry performance in that venue but it won’t be the last – poets and the Con’ are in conversation – stay posted.

Lizz Murphy (left) and Kathy Kituai talking about
small books in the Boorowa Courthouse

The Boorowa Courthouse on the other hand is a familiar performance space. The region’s poets (and artists and actors) have been using this historic venue for a good many years, with the audience sliding into the pews and the poets reading from the Witness Box. A number of local writers including Carmel Barnes, Margaret Berry, Rob Corkhill and Chris Hall, plus Robyn Sykes from Binalong came along on the 17th and shared free verse, prose poetry, bush poetry and haiku. Kathy Kituai writes in a range of poetry styles but tanka is a major focus of recent years. Boorowa writers were intrigued and plan tanka workshops with Kathy next year. Our thanks to Boorowa Council for supporting this event. No Small Thing will travel to Canberra in 2014.

Sisters in Rhyme is a group of three contemporary poets and one bush poet – Jane Baker, Victoria McGrath, Robyn Sykes and myself - who meet regularly to share poetry and catch up on what’s happening around the traps in poetry. On November 3 we gave a joint performance in the newly renovated St Augustine’s chapel in Yass as part of the annual Classic Yass/Arts Trail. Out of action for a long time the chapel with its stained glass windows and restored timber floors is one of the most beautiful venues I have read in. Sisters in Rhyme’s joint repertoire includes social issues and rural issues, world travel and world conflict, place and displacement, life in the bush. Our performance was rounded out beautifully by singer/songwriter Cecilia Pavlovic and elder Pam Bell. About 65 people attended this event and of course we benefited from the extensive promotion generated by the Classic Yass festival weekend and its Yass Arts Trail committee.

 Jane Baker performs during Sisters in Rhyme at the Yass Arts Trail

Many thanks to all the poets and poetry supporters who helped make these events a success. Great thanks to Southern Tablelands Arts (STARTS) for supporting poets and regional poetry readings. You can follow their activities here and on Facebook. 

Note: You'll find an extended version of this round-up including Canberra news at Australian Poetry Ltd's Sotto. Please click here.


  1. I'm exhausted just reading that Lizz!

    I'll need a strong drink before reading the longer version.

    Have a great Christmas and congratulations on all the above.

    1. Hi Penelope! Sorry for the delay in posting your welcome comment - clearly I was exhausted myself :) Hope you had a marvellous Christmas and new year. Looking forward to The Stars Like Sand in April (eds. PS Cottier & Tim Jones, Interactive Press).