Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Poetry In Primary and High School

In the last few weeks of school, I was happy to take poetry workshops at both Randwick Public School for Year 3 and Sydney Girls High for Years 8,9,and 10.

As a writer and poet it is good to be in contact this way with students responding and writing their poems. It's always refreshing to hear students' points of view. At the Primary School, we were trialling part of a new educational program I am developing which is based on poetry. This helped give insight as we move towards an exciting publication.

Poetry Body Sculpture at Sydney Girls High Workshop

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Convivial Tasmanian Launch

On the 6th of November fellow editor Rachael Bailey and I were welcomed at the Hobart National Museum and Art Gallery by members of the Tasmanian Writers Centre, for the launch of Women's Work (Pax Press) to an audience of about 60 people. Dr Terry Whitebeach gave an insightful and amazingly detailed launch talk and eight Tasmanian poets read their own work after which much cake and champagne were enjoyed. We scored the social pages of The Mercury newspaper and an early morning interview with  ABC radio, all engineered by the energetic poet, Gina Mercer. We were ably supported by Hobart bookshop's presence on the night with plenty of copies. Not only that, staying at the gorgeous Art Hotel, Rachael shared a breakfast table briefly with Australian legend, cricketer Glen McGrath.

Gina Mercer and Libby Hathorn

Monday, October 28, 2013

Women's Work on Poetica, ABC Radio Sat 9 Nov

We’re delighted to tell you that after much effort (women’s work) to promote the collection far and wide, it has been taken up by ABC Radio National’s much admired poetry program Poetica.

It will air on Saturday 9 Nov at 3pm, and again on Thursday night at 9pm. We’ve learned that some 20 poems will be read by actors and with music specially composed. It should be a great program.

Do tune in!

 Click here to visit Poetica Women's Work webpage

BUY WOMEN'S WORK at good bookshops,
or email us direct at: womenspoetry@gmail.com

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tasmanian Launch of Women's Work Nov 6

Rachael and I are delighted to be visiting Tasmania for the launch of Women's Work organised so competently by Gina Mercer. We are extremely pleased that several of the poets featured in this collection are from Tasmania and will be reading their own work.

On the 7th November through the Tasmanian Writers' Centre, I will be giving a workshop to interested writers as a follow up and then exploring a little of lovely Hobart.

Launch Details
Launch of Women's Work: A Collection of Contemporary Australian Women's Poetry with readings from 8 Tasmanian poets. Free cake and champagne.
When:   Wednesday 6 November 6-7.30pm
Where:  Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in the Members' Lounge, Macquarie St entrance, Hobart.

Women's Work Reading at Live Poets @ Don Bank on Wednesday, October 23rd

Exciting to be making my first visit to Don Bank where Rachael & I will talk about the evolution of the poetry collection Women's Work, and several of the poets will be reading their own poems.

Click here for details

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Children's Book Week Visits

I spoke with Year 7, 8 and 9 at St Spyridon's, Maroubra early in the week about inspiration and a writer's life as well as the 'story' behind several of my stories. I mentioned my just finished ANZAC novel Eventual Poppy Day as my favourite of the moment, and encouraged students to write poetry as a creative effort leading to prose. A wonderful visit with enthusiastic staff and mature students.

Later in the week at Randwick Primary School, I spoke to a range of willing writers from Year 3 to Year 6; focusing on the ABC Book of Australian Poetry, and had actors transferring the sad Ballad of the Drover (Henry Kendall) into something of a comedy! Great actors.

Afterwards I talked to Year 1 in two groups about one of my first junior picture novels All About Anna. It goes down well as a drama and there was no shortage of willing actors there. A very happy morning!

A Luncheon with Maurie

I feel privileged as always in spending time with an old friend like Maurie Saxby, the person I consider to be the Grand Old Man of Australian Children's Literature. And I don't think he would mind the reference to age, as we were trying to track our friendship which goes back such a long way.

It's always good to exchange news of mutual friends, admire some of the newer writers as well as having a few good laughs.

Sunflowers have become one of our links over the past few weeks so here's my photographic effort, Wise Man with Sunflowers alas not a Van Gogh effort!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sangita's Singing Launch at Orange Public Library

After a wonderful morning at Orange Public School where Year 3 and Year 4 have been doing an intensive study of our latest book at Pax Press, Sangita's Singing set in Nepal and raising money for the Mitrataa Foundation, there was the launch at Orange Public Library at 4pm that afternoon.

What a welcome to walk into Orange Public School's own library to experience all the work students have done on Sangita's Singing and see the diverse and thoughtful artwork on several of my picture books: Way Home, A Boy Like Me a story about peace; and The Wishing Cupboard, set in Australia and Vietnam.

Two teachers, Lyndall Harrison and Phillipa Hughes, have done in depth teacher notes for Sangita's Singing, which resulted in some very sensitive writing and artwork from students as well as the Reader's Theatre and a spontaneous rap!

About 60 people attended the launch at Orange Public Library where we were delighted that a Nepali family was able to take part in the launch of the book. I have recently had news through the Principal Toni Macdonald, that the school will be sponsoring a Nepali girl's education through the Mitrataa Foundation. What a wonderful launch all round!

At Orange Public Library launching Sangita's Singing, 19 July 2013.

At Orange Public School with the enthusiastic Year 3 and Year 4 students.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Order Your Copy of Women's Work Here

You can order your copy of Women's Work: A Collection of Contemporary Women's Poetry by emailing us at womenspoetry@gmail.com

This week, we are happy to announce that Women's Work is also available online and in store at

Readings: http://www.readings.com.au/
Folio Books: http://www.foliobooks.com.au/
And is also available at:
Mindfield Books, Fullers Bookhop, and Matilda Bookshop, The State Library NSW shop and online.
and at Gleebooks www.gleebooks.com.au

Women's Work: address from Professor Elizabeth Webby

It is a great pleasure to be here tonight with so many women to celebrate International Women’s Day, and the publication of this excellent new collection of poetry by Australian women.  As you have heard, the call for women to submit poems dealing with the theme of work produced a bumper response, and I congratulate Libby and Rachael on all the work they have put into selecting and arranging the poems. One of the joys of compiling, and reading, an anthology is finding the way that different poems speak to each other, as I am sure you will all discover as you read through the poems in Women’s Work.

Almost since the beginnings of print culture in Australia in 1803 women have been writing and publishing poems though their work has often taken a long time to be recognised. Back in the 1960s when researching my PhD I discovered a poem published in a Sydney paper in 1838 by Eliza Dunlop, ‘The Aboriginal Mother (from Myall’s Creek)’.  This was a scathing indictment of the white stockmen responsible for the Myall Creek Massacre. Over the years the poem has been included in several Australian anthologies and last week I had an email from an American professor who is to include it in a new Norton anthology called Poetry of Witness. So Eliza Dunlop will now have an international readership.

There are many other women poets from nineteenth-century Australia whose work is still not as well known as it should be. During the 20th century women achieved more recognition thanks to the work of Mary Gilmore, Judith Wright, Oodgeroo, Rosemary Dobson, Gwen Harwood and Dorothy Porter, to name only the most prominent. Today there are many wonderful women poets in Australia – and sometimes they even outnumber men in contemporary anthologies!

Poems by 68 women are included in Women’s Work – some poets are represented by two poems, making 79 poems in all. As Libby and Rachael indicate, these poets come from a wide range of cultural backgrounds and different life experiences. Some of them have been writing for many years and their poems are to be found in all recent anthologies of Australian poetry: Judith Beveridge, Joanne Burns, Sarah Day, Susan Hampton, Rhyll McMaster, Gig Ryan. Most of the others have published one or more collections, though for at least one woman this anthology includes their first published poem. While most of the poets come from NSW and the ACT, there are also quite a few from South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. Though their poems come in very different styles and lengths – from a few lines to a couple of pages – all are vivid and passionate in their depictions of women’s work, both now and in the past.

Women’s work takes many forms, something naturally reflected in the poems in the anthology. Some deal more generally with the plight of women in different countries, as in Sue Clennell’s ‘ riddle’, a poem that is so appropriate for International Women’s Day, that I felt I must read it to you (p.10). There are however a number of other poems which celebrate giving birth as well as one which looks at the pain of trying to have a child without success. A perhaps surprising number of poems also celebrate different types of housework: cooking, sewing, washing, ironing, cleaning. In ‘Playing golf on Monday’, however, Hilarie Lindsay has some fun at the expense of the patriarchal system which decreed that women should always dedicate Monday to the weekly wash.
Many poems of course look at work outside the home. While some deal with traditional women’s occupations such as nursing, teaching, office and sex work, others give insights into a variety of other occupations, ranging from bee keeping and bean picking through to chemistry and dentistry. Others celebrate notable Australian women such as composer Miriam Hyde, artists Nora Heysen and Ellis Rowan, round the world sailor Kay Cottee. And others reflect on the work-filled lives of numerous anonymous women, whether in Africa, India, China, Puerto Rico, or, as in Cynthia Rowe’s ‘Fifty Cents’, Australia. As she notes ‘An estimated 300, 000 outworkers across Australian toil under Third World conditions.’

The poems in Women’s Work, then, bear witness to the governing principle of the lives of most women, in the past and the present, the work that is always with us, whatever form it may take. Thorough their efforts, the poets throw new light on the world of our everyday housework as well as giving us insights into the worlds of women very different to ourselves. I congratulate and thank all of them, as well as Libby and Rachael for thinking of this project and carrying it through to this highly attractive outcome.  And I urge you all to buy copies if you have not already done so.

Before introducing some of the poets who will read, I’d like to read a poem by Vera Newsom, a much loved Sydney poet who died in 2006. Vera was born in 1912 into an enlightened family who ensured that she went to university. She worked as an English teacher and school principal, and raised a family of five, so only began writing seriously after retirement. Her first poems were published when she was nearly 70. I had the pleasure of launching her first collection, Midnight Snow, in 1988. Four other collections followed, and she won a number of grants and prizes. So, as Vera’s example shows, it is never too late to start! Her poem is entitled ‘Woman at Dusk’ (p.19)

Our first reader Tricia Dearborn has published two collections of poetry so far, and her poems have appeared in many magazines and anthologies. She has two poems in this anthology and will read the first, ‘memo’ (p. 7)

Next Kath Copley, from the South Coast of NSW, will read from a sequence based on her travels to Africa, ‘waiting your turn’ (p.62)

Joanne Burns has been an acclaimed poet for many years, with her first collection published in 1972. Her satirical prose poems focus on many aspects of contemporary society, as in ‘banking on it’ (p.61)

Lesley Walter is a Sydney poet whose widely published poems often deal with the joys and sorrows of motherhood, as in the title poem of her collection ‘watermelon baby’, and the poem she will read, ‘Innocence and forgiveness (p. 47).

Barbara Fisher is another who came to poetry fairly late in life after working in many other fields. She has published two collections of poems, often with a focus on women’s lives, as in the mouth-watering ‘Cakes’ (p.36)

Susan Hampton, who joins us from Canberra, was co-editor of the first major anthology of Australian women’s poetry, The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets, published in 1986. She is also a prize-winning poet and fiction writer. She will read an extract from her long narrative poem, The Kindly Ones, which I had the pleasure of launching in 2005. In it, the Three Fates of Greek myth decide to come to the contemporary world for a holiday and end up in Sydney, one of them working at a Virgin call centre. It’s on page 94.

Brenda Saunders is a Sydney poet many of whose poems reflect her Indigenous ancestry. She has two poems in the anthology and is going to read ‘Innargang’ (p.53), which is dedicated to her grandmother.

Sheryl Persson is a widely published Sydney poet who often writes about works of art, as in her reflection here on paintings by Nora Heysen, ‘A Conversion between Portraits’ (p. 92)

Finally, Esther Campion was born in Ireland but now lives in South Australia. Her remarkable poem ‘Prison Transfer’ (p. 85) was inspired by her current work as a teacher of literacy and numeracy at Port Lincoln Prison. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Launch of Women’s Work: a collection of contemporary women’s poetry

International Women’s Day, March 8th at the NSW State Library was certainly a resounding success with at least 30 poets attending and an audience of over a hundred and twenty for POETRY!
Emeritus Professor Elizabeth Webby gave a thoughtful and inspiring talk about the collection, introducing the poets, many of them known to her through the poetry network.

What touched me most apart from hearing the actual timbre of the voices of the poets themselves as they read their work with feeling, was the fact for at least four of the poets, it was a first time publication – new discoveries!

Several poets came specially from interstate – South Australia, ACT & Tasmania – and we were glad to share the evening celebrated afterwards in the Macquarie Room with them and all the other enthusiastic supporters.

Excerpt from Elizabeth’s address will be posted so watch this space.
Pictures coming too!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Women's Work - Poetry Collection - International Women's Day Event in partnership with The State Library of NSW

I have been working for over two years with Rachael Bailey collecting poetry from Australian women poets with the idea of launching Women's Work on International Women's Day. We're thrilled to have the fine voices of established poets and welcome fresh new voices in what we consider to be a unique collection.

Professor Elizabeth Webby will host the celebration of Women's Work: a Collection of Contemporary Women's Poetry at The State Library of NSW on International Women's Day, 8th March at 6pm. I will give a brief overview of the process from idea to book, followed by talks and readings by some of the poets from the collection.

I'm more than pleased at the quality of the contributions and the insight into women's lives as well as the chance to mark International Women's Day in this way through poetry. This event is done in partnership with The State Library of NSW.

Published below is a note from the editors which gives an overview of our intentions and a glimpse of our beautiful cover.

Women’s Work began with an idea that it would be revelatory to hear the thoughts of contemporary Australian women through their poetry on the theme of work. A call for such poetry through Australian Poetry Ltd and to writing groups and centres across Australia meant we found the diversity we sought, that moved from the domestic to the workplace, to relationships of all kinds.

We thought it important to hear fresh voices and gain insights into poets of various cultural backgrounds and experience. In fact, we were struck by the range: from well-known poets, to the lesser known and the unknown, who wished to make their contributions.

Thoughtfulness, longing, anger, humour and joy all feature as they should in good poetry, but the range of poems making up this collection gives a unique opportunity to hear powerful reflections on both work from the past or work as we know it now, be it at home, or  in the workplace. We have gathered these poems in this way, with special care given to design and presentation, to give testament to the indefatigable spirit of women and to poetry itself.

Australia Day 2013

Nowra in the Shoalhaven area was our destination for this year's Australia Day. I travelled with friend Pat Granville-Smith through idyllic landscape despite the ravages of fire in nearby bushland. On the evening of the 24th, twenty five people attended a lively workshop in Nowra Library where I encouraged poetry writing as a pre-cursor to the events of Australia Day. I find it's always heartening to find a dedicated group of writers in country areas from big towns to tiny hamlets and always make this part of my Australia Day celebration. http://www.shoalhaven.nsw.gov.au/MyCommunity/Library/Yourlocallibrary/NowraLibrary.aspx

The Australia Day gig was in the very picturesque Nowra Showground which had an amazing local fair despite overcast skies. In the air-conditioned hall under the historic grand stand, after listening to the mayor  Jo Gash's  address we were part of the very moving citizenship ceremony as well as the community awards before I gave my Australia Day address to over 200 people. Then it was outside to the fun of the fair again and a visit to the nearby Nowra Museum ended a satisfying day.

Nowra Museum