Welcome to my website. On it you’ll find a selection of poems from my published collections, as well as some newer ones, still waiting to go out into the world in a book.
Yes, I did say ‘book’ – because, for me, especially with poetry, nothing quite compares with the pleasure of holding printed pages in my hands and reading them, wherever I fancy: in bed, in the doctor’s surgery, outside in the garden as sun dapples down through the wisteria … As the ordinary world stills and words take me to another intensely vivid place, holding a book gives me this concrete connection with something solid. Such reading is an experience not just of the mind, but of the body as well. Just as I feel poetry itself should be.
So, I hope real books of paper and crisp black print will live for a long while yet. And, eventually, I hope the recent poems I’ve written will be in such a book.
In the meantime, thanks to the immediate, world-encompassing power of the web, you can read them here. And because, like so much poetry, my first three books are out of print at present, this site is now the easiest place to find their poems as well.
On this site I’ll also be posting occasional thoughts. Will they be about why I love poetry? Probably. About how and why I’ve written various poems? Perhaps. I’m not sure, yet.
As I type this up, I sit in a room which looks out into trees. In the distance, just beyond a screen of eucalypts, angophoras, pittosporums and ironbarks, there is a strip of water: Lake Macquarie. A king parrot, with its chest and head of brilliant scarlet and wings of contrasting emerald green, lands in the loquat leaves just beside the window. Somewhere nearby a dollar bird makes its strange, cracking, cratchety call … It’s a very natural view, and it’s my usual home.
Like the dollar bird, though, who has only just arrived as it does at this time every year – migrating from the north to spend the summer here – at the moment I don’t feel as if I quite belong. I’ve just blown back home after living for six months in Paris. I still shake my head a bit and frown in disbelief at that fact – so probably some thoughts about the heaven and hell of that experience will also find their way into these pages.
But first, let’s begin with the poems. They are why this website has begun.
Welcome to them!
Jean, Welcome to the digital world. I don’t see ebooks or kindles or websites as replacing those physical books you love. I love them too, if they happen to be books I plan to reread or refer to. There’s a place for both and I think you will enjoy your own portal to the world, especially as you understand the frustrations of defunct, uninterested or otherwise difficult publishers. Without the power to be independent I would have packed up my kit long ago, as continual discouragement can only go on so long without sliding into despair or indifference.
It is certainly a wonderful stroke of good fortune, finding a sponsor, patron, or whatever he is. Your next book sounds like a lovely prodction and I’m sure you are full of excitement and relief that things are again moving. You have had a long hiatus since the last book and surely must have felt discouraged. That is a great poem on your Home page and really captures the contrast between the light of the two countries. Australia is brash in every sense! But there must be a few sensitive souls around, and I hope they find your website and take pleasure in what you display there.
I think the Jottings idea is great and look forward to regular additions …a good way to ramp up your writing arm! Best wishes on the new venture, Margaret
Thank you, Margaret. We can’t help writing, can we? But yes, encouragement from a pulisher is wonderful, and it makes such a difference as well to have generous readers. Jean
What a treat for me on the first day of 2012 to be able to open your webpage and read a selection of poems! I have read, just now, 4 poems – to read more all at once would be like drinking too much – and was delighted by your descriptions of places here and in Paris and the contrasts between those places. Some phrases have stuck with me – the mating eye, and the image of the phone as a pigeon roosting….
I’ll be back again. Thanks, Jean.
Liz, how marvellous to think of you starting the new year reading my poems! Thank you. Do come back soon! Jean
I loved the poem about the ironing board. I barely iron in winter, but summer is here now and I spend much time with this creature. Makes me see it in a new light. Thank you. I will keep reading!
Flora, my ironing board has been languishing too. I’m glad you have yours out again … Ironing is a boring, repetitive activity — but it can be good for getting into the right state of mind for writing. I hope it works for you! Jean
Jean, it has take me a few days into this new year to get back to the computer; the calls of family and the pleasure of their company keeping me from my old haunts of websites and internet conversation.
And so I first dipped into the familiar poems of verandahs to see again the pictures of you and your family growing up together, and then I started on the Paris inspired poems…and I cant wait to get that book into my hands…..the sense off being in a foreign city that excites you and at the same time the pull of home. Your words evoke strong memories in me. I am delighted that you have created this website. Margot
Many thanks, Margot! I’m so pleased you’ve been visiting Verandahs again. The new book, Travelling with the Wrong Phrasebooks, should be out June-July this year. Jean
Julie: Extreme ironing is one of my sports. Can’t compete without the telly on at the same time. Look forward to reading the new poems on your site.
Eve: Shall never get bored with the board! Under that faded slip beats a heart of exquisite beauty.
Thank you Julie and Eve! The ‘Ironingboard’ is an old poem, but I’m glad its heart is still beating. Jean
Loved the jotting about the stars and the spiders, Jean. Sounds as if Paris still haunts you! Beautiful writing!
John, you are so right! I’m definitely still haunted by Paris. In a good way! Thank you so much for your comment.
Hi there, Jean. Just came across yr website through a circuitous route. Hope to chat email … Off to watch cricket now – some things never change
Congratulations on the new book! Can you please send me (at the above address) your email address so that I can send you a letter about a forthcoming book containing previous Josephine Ulrick prize winners’ work.
The Hunter anthology is brilliant! Congratulations!
Hi Jean. I hope all is well. I was wondering whether you’d be interested in being interviewed for my blog The Ultraviolet Range. John Foulcher, Felicity Plunkett, Peter Lach-Newinsky, Stuart Barnes, Fiona Wright and Benjamin Dodds have appeared thus far. Could you get back to me sometime with a yes or no? Best wishes, Lorne.
Hi Lorne, Thank you for thinking of me for an interview. I would certainly be interested. I’ll look forward to hearing more from you. Jean
We at Central Coast Poets look forward to you judging our national 2017 Henry Kendall Poetry Award. Please feel free to share the event, and our website. Entries will be accepted from 20th January 2017.
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I am poet from Edinburgh. This month I am delivering a poetry workshop for a mental health charity called Health In Mind. With the workshop I hope to emphasise the cathartic power of the writing process but also another message I want to get across is how a poem can be found in anything – even in the most mundane objects or daily rituals. I think that your poem To an Ironing Board is just wonderful and would fit the theme of the workshop perfectly! I was wondering if you would be so kind to let me use it as an example , print it out so we can read it together and discuss it?
Looking forward to hearing from you.
All best wishes,
Apologies for not replying sooner to your comment. I’m afraid I have only just found it… I am so pleased that you liked ‘To the Ironingboard’. I would have been very glad to agree to your printing out the poem and using it in your workshop. Sadly, this will come too late for the one you had planned, but if you would like to use the poem at another time, you would be very welcome. Thank you for your appreciative response!
Best wishes, Jean