Tag Archives: Liz Winfield

Poetry Picks of 2011: Stuart Barnes

In 2010 five Hobart poets – Karen Knight, Liz McQuilkin, Liz Winfield, Christiane Conésa-Bostock and Megan Schaffner – received the FAW Community Writers Award for Of Things Being Various’ manuscript.

Knight – author of four collections – moves freely from Turin’s streets where Nietzsche suffered a mental collapse after “hold[ing] fast onto the neck/of a beaten carriage horse” (‘Sing Me A New Song’) to a ‘Canonmills, Scotland’ bookshop, where a first edition of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Tom Kitten vies for the affections of passersby with a “stray/priceless/in his dignity”. Her poems are concise, yet thundering.

McQuilkin’s, comparatively, are quiet, though no less compelling. One might mistake this well travelled, retired English teacher – winner of 2010’s King Island Award – for an ornithologist, so delicately formed her observations:

They dot the Upper Derwent, each an oval islet
with a slender line that rises in an S,

a contrary question-mark (‘Rara Avis’).

Most touching are those in which a mother addresses a son: ‘Last Day Of Leave’, ‘Phone Call From Tarin Kowt’.

Winfield – a solo collection, a chapbook to her name – is a confessional poet. The feline and breath – “The weight of the night on my chest/is a sleeping cat” (‘Another Tired Morning’), “a scene from a dream/a snore of disregard” (‘Breath Collage’) – feature prominently in her short, sharp pursuits of inclusion. ‘The Doppelgänger’’s final lines encapsulate this lust:

If it’s true that we’re reborn,
I want to come back as the real me.

French and English Writing teacher Conésa-Bostock, who moved from France to Tasmania in the 1970s, is “the silenced Edith Piaf … guide between two cultures” (‘Voluntary Exile’). Her poems are as comical (‘Wines For All Types And All Occasions’) as they are solemn:

Today, in my mother’s worn wallet,
I found one she had kept as a souvenir
after my father died.

It writhes and slithers out of my soft fingers (‘Green Pay Slips’).

OTBV concludes with exquisite images by South African emigrant Schaffner, a passionate reader and editor: “it holds you/opens out/billows into silken images … floats you gently/to somewhere you’ve never been before/and with luck you’ll land wrong side up” (‘A Poem Is A Parachute’); “Night’s extravaganza begins/as fireball Sol dives/sizzling into the ocean,/and the Seven Sisters/tilt singing/toward the Cross” (‘Flying West’).

These women work together. Nevertheless their voices are distinct, as “playful …  philosophical, tender, sometimes sad” as the rake of McQuilkin’s ‘In Bed with Billy Collins’.

Of Things Being Various – RRP $24.95 (plus shipping) PB 84pp – is available from Forty Degrees South Publishing



Born in Hobart, educated at Monash University (Bachelor of Arts: Literature, Philosophy), Stuart Barnes is arranging the manuscript for his first collection of poetry. At the moment he lives in Melbourne; a move to the Hawkesbury is imminent.




Filed under discussions, poetry & publishing

Guided by Poets – Tasmania

Esther Ottaway

Esther Ottaway













Mary at the supermarket

Her adolescent hands take up my groceries. 
In careful English she says It is warm today

and I see the scar that straddles her char-black forehead. 

Its length is chilling: there is no refusing
the machete’s image, the thunk and force of the blow. 

Yes, I say, and lift my bags to leave:
my heart cleft open, filling with this day’s warmth.


first published Famous Reporter #34


Esther Ottaway is a Tasmanian poet. Esther won one of two Poets Union Young Poets Fellowships for her collection Blood Universe in 2006 (www.pardalote.com.au), and poems from it can be downloaded from ABC Radio National’s Poetica website.  In 2008 she performed new work at Sydney Writers Festival and Canberra’s Poetry at the Gods, and her poetry was set to music for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.



Liz Winfield

Liz Winfield












The first time you were hit in love

Remember the open coffin in the lounge –
you tried not to look
but saw that open-mouthed thing
that had stolen your love.

Remember when you couldn’t sleep
because of the dreams
of being chased
through decaying mansions,
caught in lifts
that never opened
to safety.

When did change become a dog with bared teeth –
was it your parents’ divorce when you were six,
when your father couldn’t remember?

Death walked with the pets you loved –
they had names: cancer, broken spine, hit and run,
given away because he cried, shot by mistake…

Remember when you were seven;
the year you couldn’t stop crying.
Your father sat on the bed
and told you, soon it would be
the darkest day of the year,
but then the days would get longer,
and if you could just hold on ‘til then,
life would begin the get better.


Liz Winfield’s poetry has been published in journals and literary magazines in Australia, the UK and Ireland. Her first collection, Too Much Happens, was published by Cornford Press in 2003, and was written with the assistance of a grant from Arts Tasmania in 2000. Her second collection is the chapbook, Catalogue of Love, published in 2006 by Walleah Press. Liz coordinates the Republic Readings, Hobart’s monthly poetry reading, and is a poetry editor for the rePUBlic readings chapbook series, The Poets’ Republic poetry broadsheet and Famous Reporter. She has taken many poetry and creative writing workshops for organisations and schools for children and adults.



Carolyn Fisher

Carolyn Fisher












The Arcanum of Shadow

Near the beach
low morning sun
scribbles the shadow
of a dead gum
on a fence, like a sentence
as unthinkable as four words
of Chichewa* cried
by an eleven-year-old girl:
the verb to die, first person,
future tense.

The shadow throws me,
lifts the exact weight of her
in my arms
and lays the pressure
on my chest.
My stomach bunches
as tight as a group of men
dressed in khaki,
keeping to a border
where burnt-out buildings
gape across at refugee camps;
guns slung against their backs
slap like the pulse
in my neck.

The sun plays on waves
that beat to shore
with the monotony of a dirge.
And pebbles on the sand
slowly take off black hats
as another day assembles
to adumbrate a young girl’s life


* Chichewa is the predominant language spoken in Malawi


Carolyn Fisher’s poems have been widely published in literary journals in Australia and the U.K and a number have been anthologized, including Best Australian Poems 2004 (Black Inc) and 2005. She has been a featured poet at the Tasmanian Poetry Festival in 2001 and 2005, has read at venues in Tasmania and Victoria, and her writing has been supported by grants from the Australia Council and Arts Tasmania. Her first chapbook of poetry The Unsuspecting Sky won the Presspress award and was published by the same in 2008. She lives on the north-west coast of Tasmania.



Kristen Lang

Kristen Lang














In Summer Fields

She is moonlight,
hard through black gums,
breaking across his shadows,

and loving her,
he wonders what it was
he called the world.

He holds,
like moths above her skin,
his heavy rain,

and tells her nothing,
walks in the soft candescence
of his summer fields.


From the collection, “Let me show you a ripple: when words are a way of seeing”

Kristen lives near Mt Roland in NW Tasmania. Her collection of poems and colour photographs, Let me show you a ripple, was published in April, 2008. Her second book, Creative Redemption: Uncertainty in Poetic Creativity, comes from her PhD thesis and centres on observations of creative processes (published August 2008).

Kristen’s poems have appeared in journals across Australia and on Radio National. She has been selected often for the writing programmes offered by Varuna – The Writers’ House, in Katoomba, NSW, and has received funding from Tas Regional Arts and the Australia Council for these events. She was a guest at last year’s Tasmanian Poetry Festival. She also runs workshops and offers tuition, both off- and online. Webpage: www.eatmorepoetry.com.au



Tim Thorne

Tim Thorne



APEC 2007


The sunlight zings terrifically off the security fence.
Sydney’s always been more than just a pretty harbour.
It is at such rare times as this that the streets
like chic mirrors show the depths of the city’s character,
which is just as pretty and only slightly emptier.


Stolid boys from the Shire or from the country
line up in uniform and the delicate
play of light on badges, cuffs and gun butts
is as thrilling as massed Zippos at a soft rock concert
back in the days when people used to smoke.


Shopkeepers at the Quay moan in funny accents
about the loss of custom, but we can be safe
in laughing with them, not at them, sharing
the knowledge that if it were not for our leaders
there would be no tourists to be absent.


The photographers who snap dead streets
are like papparazzi around a corpse:
no respect, no sense of timing and an
over-inflated idea of the importance
of aesthetics.  We can forgive them


because they know not what those very gutters
reflect.   There is no mist on the glass.
A distant, growing chant reminds us all
of what used to be called “history”
or “compassion” and the water slaps stone.


Tim Thorne has written twelve collections of poetry, has edited four anthologies and his poems have appeared in most major Australian literary journals.  He established the Tasmanian Poetry Festival and was its Director for 17 years.  He has performed his work throughout Australia and overseas, and has worked as a poet in a variety of community contexts.  His A Letter to Egon Kisch (Cornford Press 2007) won the William Baylebridge Prize, and he has won the Launceston Poetry Cup twice.  He lives in Launceston, Tasmania, with his wife Stephanie and a large garden.

1 Comment

Filed under Guided By Poets