Sunday, July 31, 2022



ACT Writers announced their first ACT Notable Awards on Friday Night. Celebrating the Canberra Region's writers was a grand way to bring everyone together after the hiatus of the last two years.

I was thrilled to be shortlisted in the 2021 Poetry (Big Press) category with the amazing Omar Musa. I am even happier to tell you that I won that category and Omar went further and won the 2021 Special Book Award which was the pick of that whole year's books across all categories. Hearty congratulations to Omar. His book is Killernova (Penguin Books Australia) and he is currently in London doing the UK launch. If you've been here before you will know my poetry collection is The Wear of my Face (from the not so big Spinifex Press).

I can't access a full list of winners yet (I might get some wrong if I rely on memory) but here is the rest of the poetry — congratulations to all:

2021 Small Press Winner — Sandra Renew It's the Sugar, Sugar (Recent Work Press): Highly Commended — Sarah Rice Text/ure (Recent Work Press) and Sarah St Vincent Welch chalk borders (Flying Island Books).

2020 Small Press Winner — Penelope Layland Nigh (Recent Works Press); Highly Commended — PS Cottier Utterly (Ginninderra Press). No Big Press shortlist.

Back to Special Book Awards — very pleased to tell you Craig Cormick and Harold Ludwick, co-authors of On a Barbarous Coast (Allen and Unwin) took out the big overall 2020 award.

The June Shenfield Poetry Award was also announced and this was won by Rosa O'Kane for her poem If I Put It In A Poem.

I'll provide a link to the full results once it's available.

Photo: Here I am with good friend Sarah St Vincent Welch. 
Thank you Dylan Jones for the photo.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022



If you have any interest at all in Irish poetry — and who hasn't! — you might like to visit the Irish Poetry Reading Archive, Ireland's only curated digital collection where the voices of Irish poets, both North and South, doing readings, scholarly masterclasses, and in conversation, along with digital copies of poetry related materials (anthologies programmes posters) are preserved for future generations. If you're in Dublin, you will find the archives in the James Joyce library at the University College of Dublin (UCD) otherwise you can jump online and find them here

Poets include everyone from Nuala Ní Dhomhniall and Mary Dorcey to Theo Dorgan and President Michael D Higgins to Andrew Jamison [related by chance?? — nee Jamison here] and Michael Longley to Medbh McGuckian, Maíghréad Medbh and Christine Murray. You will also find Australian poets Anne Casey, Robyn Rowland and myself, all part of the Irish diaspora. This is just a sampling — all the poets are fascinating. 

I must thank and thank Anne Casey who put the Archive in touch with me. It was such a great experience to visit the James Joyce Library and to meet co-founder Ursula Byrne and her team — great thanks indeed to them. It was fun too, travelling from Belfast to Dublin on the train with daughter Aroona Murphy and testing the Guinness at a couple of venues before the return trip. 

Here are my eight recorded poems, including links: 
A Woman’s Work (after Jenni Kemarre Martiniello) from The Wear of my Face (Spinifex Press 2021) 
The Weight of Tomatoes from Two Lips went Shopping (Spinifex Press 2000) 
$600 from Six Hundred Dollars (PressPress)  
Departure from Stop your Cryin (Island Press)  
Felt from The Wear of my Face (Spinifex Press 2021) 
Out of the White from Walk the Wildly (Picaro/Ginninderra)  
Brown Hills from Two Lips went Shopping (Spinifex Press 2000) 
Syria’s Children from The Wear of my Face (Spinifex Press 2021) 

Photo: A Dublin afternoon in January

Wednesday, May 04, 2022


There are always amusing or special moments from changing skies to kangaroos and foxes giving you a nod or low-flying ducks or hawks swiftly passing your windscreen.

So grateful to have an interview in The Monthly arts journal published online by Community Arts Partnership (CAP) in Belfast, Ireland. They’ve also provided links to five of my eight readings filmed at the James Joyce Library at University College Dublin (UCD). Worth visiting for the range of poetry interviews from Scottish-Australian poet Ali Whitelock, to Scottish poet Magi Gibson and Canadian poet Catherine Graham. There are videos of Seamus Heaney reading Digging and Sinéad Morrissey talking about her poem inspired by the painting Titian, and spoken word music, podcasts and links to International Page and Stage online events, just to mention some.

Great thanks to Ali Whitelock for connecting me with The Monthly and to Gordon Hewitt, editor, for the opportunity.

Photo: Oh aye — wandered past this plaque in Dublin 

for the UCD readings but we were too late for Seamus

Sunday, May 01, 2022



If you’re writing about Antartica here’s a new opportunity to be published. Send up to four poems (of up to two pages each) to Griffith Review 77: Real Cool World (published in partnership with the Australian Antarctic Division) by May 13, 2022. Real Cool World will explore Antarctica as a place and as a canvas for imagination. This vast, dry continent drives much of the Earth’s weather, part litmus test for change at the world’s extremities and part canary in the coalmine...

Island Magazine — premium literary magazine of fiction, poetry, nonfiction and arts features — open to submissions from Australian and New Zealand writers until May 15. Island pays a fee of $125 (less cost of Island subscription if not currently subscribed). The current issue includes the winning entries of this year’s Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize. 

The Australian Centre for Leadership for Women (ACLW) is calling for prose and poetry submissions for a fund-raising anthology titled Prose and Poems for Ukraine by Women of the World. Deadline: May 22. 

Rabbit is currently accepting submissions of nonfiction poetry for Issue 36: the ART Issue. Think not: what does 'non-fiction' do to poetry; think: what can poetry (+ art) do to non-fiction? What do poetry and art bring to one another? How does one open and enlarge the field of the other? How do they enliven the 'real world'? More information here. Deadline: May 31.

Photo: Mini snowman by granddaughter Ruby (Belfast, January 2022)


Monday Night

Just call me Twiggy — oh but that name is already taken!— and I’m not that build any more! — just that I can’t wait for tomorrow night’s Canberra Tree Week/Kindred Trees reading, with a grand posy of poems from prodigious poets Samia Goudie, C E Collins, Tony Steven Williams, Jacqui Malins, Amanda McLeod, S. K. Kelen, Shezhad Hathi and Jen Webb (and myself) and more tree themed treasures from the open mike. It’s a Monday night so of COURSE it’s at That Poetry Thing that’s on at Smith’s Alternative on Mondays, Alinga Street, Canberra. Huge thanks to Sarah St Vincent Welch for her exceptional ongoing Kindred Trees project — visit Kindred Trees online for superb tree poems and photographs.    

Thursday, April 28, 2022


Saturday’s Poetry Reading 

There is a sense here of a poetic intelligence looking sidelong, as one looks to the night sky to see objects of beauty — even when the subject of the poet’s focus is something concretely calamitous. 
Thank you, Penelope Layland (Panorama/The Canberra Times), for your deeply thoughtful review of my latest poetry collection The Wear of my Face (Spinifex Press). 

I will read from The Wear of my Face at The Yass Book Store on Saturday at 3 pm. There’s an open mike and a chance to mingle and have a cup of tea with us poets. Host is Yass Book Store owner Joanna Hicks. Joanna has lived in Yass since 2009 and is thrilled to be able to share her love of books and reading with locals and visitors. 

The Yass Book Store is a treasure chest of current books on wide-ranging topics, regional art and craft and bric-a-brac. You should visit. Take your purse. You will definitely need your purse. Do people say purse? Wallet. Take your wallet. You will definitely need your wallet. Every time I go in I find something totally irresistible. 

RSVP to or phone 0408 654 911 or click here to register:

Photo: Don't be frightened — it's just a poet. Well actually, 
it's a bad-weather/possum on the aerial pixelated photo of a TV screen.

Monday, April 18, 2022


Here’s an interview I did for the Belfast Telegraph one of the main papers in my hometown: ‘Place is belonging and writing about place can be a search for belonging' (October 16, 2021). I slipped it in before life went pear shaped. The first poem in The Wear of my Face is not about pears for nothing. However, with floods and wars, other people’s lives are currently even more peary. 

This is what I was thinking at the time: ‘I sometimes think I write to find solid ground in a story of loss, migration, colonisation and class. For me, place is belonging and writing about place can be a search for belonging – an attempt to understand one’s own displacement or the displacement of others and what that must be like.’

PS OK so the photo was actually taken in Dublin (January this year) rather than Belfast.

Thursday, April 14, 2022


What a blast it was reading with Marion Clarke (Northern Ireland), Amy Louise Wyatt (Northern Ireland), Kiri Piahana-Wong (New Zealand) and Makyla Curtis (New Zealand) in the International Page and Stage (IPS) Rites of Women Zoom event on Sunday night (my time). Great thanks to Gordon Hewitt for the invitation and Susan Millar DuMars for hosting the event.

The poetry was varied and evocative, rhythmic and striking and as someone else said — just sumptuous. These events Zoom and FB livestream, then remain on the  International Page and Stage Facebook page to be accessed at any time afterwards. Now that I have discovered it I am working my way through previous events and enjoying poets from all over Ireland and from all over the world.

Thank you friends/colleagues Deborah Faeyrglenn (Canberra), Curt Linderman (US) from The Cool People, The Night People FB group (Billy Collins followers) and Victoria McGrath (Yass NSW) for being there on Sunday. Thank you also to Jenni Kemarre Martiniello whose capturing glasswork was the inspiration for my poem A Women's Work which was of interest.

I've provided links wherever possible to everyone's online presence or examples of their work, and here is the link for Sunday night's Rites of Women recording:  Watch the IPS Facebook page for new events.

Saturday, April 09, 2022



The charismatic Moni McInerney of the Belconnen Arts Centre (BAC will do me the honour of launching The Wear of my Face (Spinifex Press) at the sensational Smith's Alternative on Monday April 11 at 7 pm. The equally vibrant Sarah St Vincent Welch is MC representing the also sensational That Poetry Thing that's on at Smith's Every Monday. (See leaflet below.)

That's neither of them in the photo by the way. Thinking about BAC's lake setting reminds me of my days during the first Covid lockdown. My isolation/social distancing was not as active this person's — you did notice the pic is taken from within the car, right? Laptops, books, flasks of tea, chocolate biscuits ...

I'm one of two launches on the night. The inimitable Kit Kelen is the other with his Book of Mother collection. Short open mike. Free admission. Pass the word on, eh.



Friday, April 08, 2022


I’m a guest poet this Sunday April 10 in the first of two International Page and Stage Zooms on the theme The Rites of Women from Opposite Ends of the Earth (Northern Hemisphere) —
 a very exciting invitation. I join Marion Clarke (Northern Ireland), Amy Louise Wyatt (Northern Ireland), Kiri Piahana-Wong (New Zealand) and Makyla Curtis (New Zealand). Times are: Ireland and UK — 10.30 am; Binalong and Canberra — 7.30 pm, New Zealand — 9.30 pm. Visit the International Page and Stage Facebook page for information on Zoom links and the FB live streaming of this plus more events happening very soon. 

International Page and Stage is part of a New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership (CAP). It’s a wide-ranging arts program with everything from poetry in schools and drama to public art and — not surprisingly — spray art festivals (Belfast is renowned for its gable-end street murals). There is also a lot of great content in their online journal The Monthly.

Many thanks indeed to Gordon Hewitt who among other things is the Editor of The Monthly. Visit the March Poetry and Spoken Word edition for poets from Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Jamaica, US.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022


A poem for Bill (excerpt) published in The Wear of My Face (Spinifex Press 2021).


Photo by Séan Hicks


2021: Up and down. In and out. Bereaved. Scarpered.

City Hall Belfast

Arrived in Belfast on New Year's Eve. Here we are whizzing by the City Hall on our hunt for open (as advertised) Covid testing clinics on the required day. No luck. Isolation extended from 2 or 3 days to several days. No worries. Plenty of 'essential supplies' plus daughter's good friends made welcome-back door drops. Ironically, just after completing our iso' the UK gov ditched that requirement!


Did I mention it has snowed on and off? Rain of course in between. This is the view from my January bedsit. Rubbing shoulders with Cavehill. You can see all of Belfast from the top. The outline of Cavehill is likened to the profile of a sleeping giant and is said to have inspired Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. And oh yes, sunset is around 4.30 pm.

Saturday, October 30, 2021



One of two ancient trees left on our patch. I think it's a Eucalyptus melliodora (yellow box) but would have to double check (I used to know). Really this is me trying to resolve some Blog loading problems. I would like to write a poem for these survivors though. Just read that the flowers come in groups of seven. Fancy that.

Oh by the way there was a review of The Wear of My Face (Spinifex Press) in The Canberra Times recently. Great thanks to Canberra poet Penelope LaylandThere is a sense here of a poetic intelligence looking sidelong, as one looks to the night sky to see objects of distant beauty - even when the subject of the poet's focus is something concretely calamitous. You can read the whole review online here.

Thursday, October 07, 2021