Friday, February 02, 2024


Well here we are the day after St Brigid’s Day — how many Brigid’s crosses did you weave? Me? None. But I’ve got myself ready for a celebratory luncheon at the Canberra Irish Club in Weston Creek tomorrow, Saturday, February 3. 

It’s a program of dance, music, song and poetry and it’s going to be fabulous. The four poets are myself, Jenni Kemarre Martiniello, Moya Pacey and Kimberly Williams. We are Irish or have a bit of the Irish in us and we all have published rather grand poetry, if I do say so myself. 

I’ve also watched the quite fascinating show Finding Brigid broadcast by RTE. Siobhán McSweeney — y’know — the droll nun in Derry Girls — goes searching for the real St Brigid. I encourage you to visit: 

Brigid is more than a good match for St Patrick and now she too has her own public holiday in Ireland. In contemporary Ireland, St Brigid’s Day is increasingly used to celebrate the successes and achievements of women. I know this is last minute, but hope to see you at the Irish Club. Here's the link: $25 or $20 for Comhaltas members. Many thanks indeed to Mary Collier for the invitation.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023



When you look out the kitchen window and see a distinctive golden glow to everything, that you can't quite describe and find yourself thinking it's the exact gold — pink-gold/brassy gold/amberish gold/slightly blood tainted gold as — and take your own word for it and dash outside and sure enough! The neighbouring land is a rainbow spot. This is possibly the longest bow I've seen stretching from neighbour on the left to neighbour on the right, some distance. I haven't heard who got the pot of gold. 

(Speaking of gold, there is bound to be a tube of paint with just the right name ... ) More views with and without in the changing light. And now for some haiku — I hope.

Sunday, October 22, 2023


What a great afternoon at Tyger Gallery in Yass (Saturday, October 22). Inspirational talks by four of the Canberra artists — Josie Cosgrove, Karyn Fearnside, Liz Perry, Monique van Nieuwland — on show in Textured Earth from the mainly Canberra-based group Networks Australia

Vivid photographic works suggesting texture and planets by multimedia artist Josie who has a passion for science and art; a close focus on banksias and the ‘placid’ natural world as a rest from her more usual political world by Karyn; a journey through the earth in layers with earth-based colourings including desert sands by Liz; and a walk through buried/composted fabrics recycled into weaving by up-cycler Monique. Stratification in so many senses. All fascinating. 

Thanks to Deborah Faeyrglenn, Networks Australia member (not in this particular group show) for drawing this exhibition to my attention.

Photo 1: Josie Cosgrove describes the creative process behind her planet series (microscopic photography, inkjet print on wooden panels with matte laminate) — and shows samples of merch which include dresses (see Josie) and bags.
Photo 2: Karyn Fearnside with Volcano Banksia and River Banksia to her left and shares the story behind her mixed media (includes ink and eucalyptus dyes) drawings also on exhibition and (Photo 3) wool and other yarn tapestry samples.
Photo 4: Liz Perry describes the stratosphere of her work Terra Firma and the range of materials used including woven raffia, paper, cellulose, wool, cotton wefts, with earth pigment dyed cottolin warp and bone.
Photo 5 & 6: Monique van Nieuwland talks about the upcycling and composting of fabrics prior to weaving Stratification II (recycled cloth as a weft, dyed naturally in mud and compost and marked with rust).

Background: Tyger is a non-profit gallery with proceeds going towards future exhibitions and fifty percent towards local charities. New exhibition: Life Needs to Move paintings by Laura Prochowski — showing until November 12.

By the bye Tyger Gallery is in the space which for many many years was the Yass Youth Centre. The last Yass Youth Worker was Binalong’s Wyatt who held the position for eight years until his premature passing (RIP), and prior to that Bill Murphy (my late husband) for eighteen years. As Wyatt would tell you himself, Bill mentored him in his early years in the position. But more to the point, Bill had an interest in music and photography and Wyatt was a graduate of the Canberra School of Art (now ANU) with a big focus on screen printing — circles. Canberra artists exhibiting in Yass — more circles and  connections. 

Sunday, September 24, 2023


Getting back into the spring of things-poetry with A Brush with Poetry today at 2 pm and That Poetry Thing tomorrow night. 

If you feel like a country drive — and the weather is perfect for it — join us at Café on Queen, Queen Street, Binalong. You’ll find us in The Hive out the back but go through the café itself and order your coffee, wine, snacks first. They will be quietly delivered to you during the reading. It’s an open mike and everyone is welcome to share a poem or two. You’ll hear an array of poetry voices and styles. Music and song also welcome. Coordinator Robyn Sykes is in demand on the festival scene and this weekend is performing at Folk by the Sea (Kiama) so we’ll be celebrating twelve years of Brush without her … maybe we can keep it going until the next one (end November).  A Brush with Poetry is a Binalong Arts Group event. Free event but donations welcome.

Well known ACT weekly event That Poetry Thing That Is On At Smith’s Every Monday sees the launch of a new anthology of poems celebrating birds. Edited by Canberra’s Penelope Layland and Lesley Lebkowicz and illustrated by Canberra artist Fenja T Ringi, The Book of Birds will be launched tomorrow night from 7 pm with readings by some of the Canberra and national contributors. 

This month’s Manning Clark House Poetry night is on Thursday 28th at 7 pm. Award winning Barkindji poet Paul Collis is the feature. His latest book (and first poetry collection) Nightmares Run like Mercury was published by Recent Work Press in 2021. Book and pay ($10) at — you can pay cash at the door ($10/5 concession).

Taken near Binalong from moving vehicle — had to crop mirrors and thumbs. Enjoying wide open spaces after high-hedged wriggly roads in rural Ireland. Both beautiful. Apparently Paul Collis was in Ireland earlier.

Saturday, August 19, 2023


Delighted to be included in the latest Eat the Storms podcast edited by Dublin’s Damien Donnelly, tomorrow 5 pm Irish time (2 am Australian EST). Of course, as a podcast it can be accessed any time after on most platforms. Also featured: Roisin Smith, Simon Maddrell, Roger Waldron, Isabela Basombria Hoban. Isabella’s book Rain Love Death Poets will have its Irish launch at the Ennistymon Book Town Festival Saturday August 26 - see you there Isabela. 

Thursday, August 17, 2023



The fairies oblige us but only up to a point ... We collect presents on the way. Ruby thinks my one sycamore (?) leaf and two blackberries is a bit sad compared to her colourful selection of meadow flowers and leaves. 

It’s a ten minute walk but as the forest is in full summery glamour it’s maybe a half hour or more before we find what we’re looking for. Up this track then that track. Brambles, leafy carpets, low young limbs, a bounding squirrel. Walk along that outer edge of the forest. Find another track from another direction. Peer into the forest for the distinctive shape, peer in for the surrounding pole markers. Google Maps telling us we are one minute away every time we check. Aroona — giftless (hands and head full of clues and phone maps) — eventually picks a lime green leaf. Bingo (the fairies are happy). Before us, the Belvoir Oak! Part of Ireland’s living history. All the more magnificent for its ageing. (500 years.) The front half of its eight metre girth broken away, the remaining half carved and etched, cloaked with lichen, ivy and ferns — AND — I’ve just read — a rare fungus. It’s thick foliage surprises me — I thought it was mostly beyond that. There are new acorns.

Thank you fairies — but you did it again. Sent us in the wrong direction afterwards, again — tampered with Google Maps, again — teased us with incorrect advice from walkers, again. Brought us out at the lock gates this time, yet another half hour from the entrance we used. At last, sound advice from extremely fit extremely sweaty forest runners. (The trainer can run the forest in the dark!) We are confident. Still somehow go slightly off course. At least it’s a main road this time. Wth a hotel. Coffee, chips … taxi to our car …


Our first pilgrimage to the Belvoir Oak — it only took three attempts to find the actual tree — was in January 2022, mid-winter. I’ll see if I can find that post — also our first encounter with the fairies!


Maybe the fairies just wanted us to have the extra scenic views?

I said I’m fine but next time I see a log I’m sittin for a bit — and even better — a tree stump appeared! With wood creature.


Links that may be of interest:

Belvoir Oak nominated for Tree of the Year —


Woodland Trust —

Tuesday, August 15, 2023


Such a great night at Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts in North Belfast (Friday, August 11). Fascinating novelists Michelle Gallen, Tony Macaulay, Michael Magee read from their books and took questions from the audience, expanding on points raised and talking about their experiences as authors and living in Belfast. Also me. Chair, Marnie Kennedy (Reader in Residence) clearly knew all our books intimately, asking interesting questions herself and facilitating the whole event superbly.


The  Duncairn is a 174 Trust strategy. Established in 1983, the Trust is celebrating forty years of building peace and promoting reconciliation.


I was honoured to be invited into the program and fully enjoyed meeting the other authors and the audience. I especially appreciated the response to my poem War Zone Tours which, in part, looks back at my own experience of the Troubles and later as a migrant watching the Troubles from a safe distance. (The tour aspect is from another country altogether.).


Afterwards a couple of us (daughter Aroona and a lovely friend) went to Cassidy’s where the service is still of the days when my (late) husband Bill was a barman/manager — orders taken from and back to your table, payment and change at your table, orders remembered for the next round, everything a pleasure — you just can’t wait to go back again. At the end of the night — after last orders — I’m introduced to a local: this is Lizz she’s a poet; response — an on the spot rendition of a poem he wrote when he was eighteen years old. It gave a particular and powerful insight to the Troubles.

Photo (top): Tony Macaulay (left), Michelle Gallen, Michael Magee, me wearing a light shade and host Marnie Kennedy. 

Photo (below): My first ever reading in Ireland.

Sunday, August 13, 2023


I’ll be reading tomorrow night at Scribes at the Duncairn with Tony Macauley, Michael Magee and Michelle Gallen, 7 pm, Duncairn Arts Centre, Duncairn Avenue, Belfast. I’m excited. These authors sound awesome. I’ve started reading them with Michelle’s novel, Factory Girls — hilarious, dark, hilarious from page one. I’m excited. My first poetry reading in Belfast. Thank you to Marnie Kennedy (Chair). More information at

Later in the month I’ll be talking in the Ennistymon Book Town Festival in Co Clare.

Photo: in the upstairs theatre of Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts, North Belfast (for a performance by John Spillane)

Saturday, August 12, 2023


I’m so pleased to have an e-zine published in the Axon: Creative Explorations — Text/Page/Art issue edited by Caren Florance. It’s just a 12 pager talking briefly about my creative process involving collage and found text, and responses in poetry followed by responses through small paint on canvas works. It features a series of the latter. Hope you like some of them.

Climbing Back up your Own Silk Screen is one of five downloadable zines. There are also essays, photo and visual essays, essay-poems, stories, poetry, memoir and images by about thirty writers and artists. Go there.

[Breaking in a new iPad so no images yet and some dubious editing.]

Sunday, May 28, 2023


Celebrate the beauty of the Ngunnawal region through the Griffyn Ensemble’s performance Tracks — a weaving of film, live music, poetry and storytelling, tomorrow May 29, 12.30 pm at the National Arboretum in Canberra. It's Reconciliation Day. Events are being held from 10 am to 3 pm beginning with a smoking ceremony and including Djinama Yilaga Choir, Project Dust Dance, Microwave Jenny, Johnny Huckle, language workshops, and a portrait exhibition. 

Michael Sollis (mandolin) and Kiri Sollis (flute) from the Griffyn Ensemble will be joined by two special guests: accordionist Emily-Rose Sárkova and cellist Rachel Johnston. The Tracks presentation includes recorded poetry by Jenni Kemarre Martiniello, Jen Webb and myself, just some of the members of our art & text collective Postcards from the Sky who collaborated with the Griffyn Ensemble on field trips in the Canberra Region last year. 

Locations included Strathnairn Lookout, Ginninderra Creek, Umbagong Creek and Weereewa/Lake George plus studio sessions. One of the most amazing experiences of my creative life. I’ll find photos. 

Meanwhile Michael Sollis says: ‘We’ve taken a birds-eye view from Canberra to Weereewa (Lake George), guided by Ngunnawal custodian Richie Allan. Join us, and experience the significance of Ngunnawal country to indigenous and non-indigenous Canberrans.’

Photos; Okay I'm running off to A Brush with Poetry now. Tell you more later :)


 C'mon — it's warm in the car and warm in the venue ... there's wine ... there's coffee ...

Another open mike and it's on today. A Brush with Poetry this afternoon 1.30 for 2.00 pm (or arrive when you can). It's warm as toast and so is the welcome and Café hosting. Bring a poem (or a song) or just come to listen. It's serious, it's fun, it's moving. Something for everyone. Bring a friend. New and experienced very welcome to share the open mike. Binalong poets, Yass poets, Canberra poets and other neighbouring regions. It's in The Hive at the back of Café on Queen, Queen Street, Binalong. Enquiries to Brush Coordinator Robyn Sykes robynsykespoet[at]gmail[dot]com Emcees are Robyn with Greg Piko.

Above: Robyn introducing the popular Janne Graham from Canberra. Below: 1. art & text with Kate O'Connor (Binalong), 2. Sandra Renew winner of the ACT Writers Notable Awards for Poetry 2021 for her collection It’s the sugar, Sugar (Recent Work Press), 3. Jenny McCallister and John Ward — haiku, song and music.


That Poetry Thing That Is On At Smith’s Every Monday Night
is holding its Big Open Mike this coming Monday, May 29. Starts at 7 pm. That Poetry Thing is one of my favourite gigs and I get over to it as often as I can. Hats off to the team of poets who keep this event running week after week with featured poets, open mikes and special theme nights. 

I was sorry to miss Mother Tongue last week but made it to the recent Tree Week special organized by Sarah St Vincent Welch, coordinator of the Kindred Trees Project (also a Thing committee member). It featured poets who have written the latest tree poems on the Kindred Trees website and a tree themed open mike. If you love trees, love poems, love tree poems, visit There is also beautiful tree photography — occasionally by the poets but mostly by Dylan Jones.

Above: Smith's Alternative — atmosphere plus; Sarah St Vincent Welch welcoming poets and audience. Below: 1. Asefe Abedini 2. Robyn Sykes 3. oh that's me 4. Fiona McIlroy 5. Sarah thanking everyone.

Sunday, April 23, 2023


April 16:
Here I am in Queensland somewhere west of Chinchilla (Burncluith area) and beyond a dingo fence. I feel I’ve really gone bush. I’ve said hallo to the cows including Sweet Pea, Baked Bean, Boogers and Aniseed from the other side of the fence (cows are big); had a bush walk along the east fence, the west fence, the north dam, the new fences, the new gates, the creeks; photographed native wild flowers; did a tour by truck of the back paddock (2-3 hours), into the spotty gum country, down along the Wild Dog fence, jumping in and out to examine and photograph trees in all their colours and hear about ‘old timer things’ like how they used to log on this place. There are koalas but we didn’t see any and birds but it was too hot for them. A frog called out just once but loudly. In a few days I will head to Brisbane for the Queensland Poetry Festival. It's important to get around poetry/literary events even if you are not performing ... don't you think? Be the audience they need; see what's going on where, what other poets are writing where, what the issues and trends are there ...

Ooops that's not me although it is a ginge ... hang on ... 

There I am. Me and a big sky. 

Me and a little brother called Stretch.

Sunday, March 26, 2023



Gallop in to A Brush with Poetry this afternoon 1.30 for 2.00 pm (or arrive when you can). Bring a poem (or a song) or just come to listen. It's serious, it's fun, it's moving, it's a bit silly, it's bush, it's contemporary, it's story, it's bloody good poetry. Something for everyone. Bring a friend. New and experienced very welcome ... poets/performers that is as for the friends that's up to you. It's in The Hive at the back of Café on Queen, Queen Street. (This is a photo of the Binalong Mechanics Institute this morning — not to confuse you — just to show you a typical Binalong day. There's a time when that might've been me! Seriously.)

I'll tell you about the amazing Jacqui Malins installation Wrack and Salvage later. Today is the last day. Take a trot (groan) over the Belconnen Arts Centre if you can't get to Binalong. Cheers.

Saturday, March 25, 2023


Heading into Canberra to Belconnen Arts Centre today to see Wrack and Salvage by Jacqui Malins. I’ll be joining friends to visit this installation (closing tomorrow), the associated drop-in (10.00 am –– 3.00 pm) postcard workshop (you know we have an ongoing fascination for postcards) and Jaqui’s artist talk at 3 pm. I just have to remember to vote before I leave NSW for the day! 

Tomorrow is Binalong’s well-known Brush with Poetry coordinated by Robyn Sykes at The Hive behind Café on Queen starting at 2 pm. It’s a shared mike event with all styles of poetry and sometimes music and song. All welcome. It’s a mix of new and experienced poets and other lovers of poetry. We recommend arriving about 1.30 to get your coffee, cake and wine orders in or why not have lunch. You know you love a country drive and the village is so beautiful.

It's a veritable weekend art & word fest.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023



This Saturday March 11 I'll be part of the Indelible Stencil Roving Poetry Performance at Boorowa with local poet Margaret Berry and Yass poet Jane Baker. 

Join us at the Rotary/Dr Kelf Park, Brial Street, Boorowa at 11.30. We will take you on a short river walk to see the three poems installed as public art along there, read poetry to you, then ply you with light refreshments before reading more poetry and inviting others to perform during the open mike session.

This is a Southern Tablelands Arts (STA) and Hilltops Off the Beaten Track (HOBTRACK) art trail event. HOBTRACK is cracking out a whole range of art and cultural events from March 8-22. Full program here.

Margaret, Jane and myself are three of ten poets commissioned to write micro poems for Poetry: The Indelible Stencil a poetry as public art project I instigated a number years ago. It is a partnership between myself, STA and eight Local Governments. Over twenty poems cut into large steel plates have been installed across the STA region — from Queanbeyan right up to Picton. It is still unfolding. You can see the map, poems and authors on the STA website:

You can meet Margaret briefly online in the latest STA Stories from the Studio here: Jane talks about the Yass Valley Writers, a group she has been coordinating for many years: I read from my latest book The Wear of my Face But come along on Saturday and meet us in person, hopefully along with many others.