Festival of lights

We had fun at Gillian Polack’s home, celebrating Chanukah.

I like being part of people’s celebrations, even when I don’t share their faith.  Any celebration that draws friends together, teaches me about other ways and shows me a darned good time is fine by me.

Gillian’s celebration did all that.  I caught up with friends. We shared a finger feast of samosas, pide, spring rolls,  home-baked cheesecake and more.

I didn’t gamble for chocolate coins, but I was there for the lighting of the Chanukah menorah.

Then we had frozen strawberry daiquiris and Gillian’s amazing home-made fruit liquors – a sweet tangy medlar liquor and a piquant cumquat liquor. They’re based on brandy and I’ve never tasted anything like them. I’m  glad I wasn’t driving.


For Pauli

There’s a way through life
That your feet learn by walking
Fluid as water, changeable as weather

The path you walk starts at birth
And ends at your death
Yet it began before you
And will continue after you

The way is its own magic
It owns you and transforms you
And nurtures you like a mother

And when the old man
Worn out and footsore
Reaches the end of his days
He is taken home into the way

I’ve been reading Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and I can only regret that I didn’t find it years earlier. I’m up the fourth book, so there’s a few more to go.

The beauty of the language and imagery floors me, not to mention a rip roaring adventure featuring characters drawn by a master.

I’m loving it. King is turning my poetry brain on.

I haven’t seen a wonder for a while

I’ve seen a fun-der

And a sun-der

But nothing’s rocked my soul

In the dream fogged night

Nothing’s made me breath thanks

To the may-be god

For the glory of enlightenment.


Glory, glory

I need to know that something is worth the daily grime

I need to feel transported beyond the limits of my finite skull

By the potential of imagination


Glory, glory

What may be

On a new summer’s day

When the world is a plum ripe for plucking

The ANU Poets Lunch has continued , in various incarnations,   for the last
30 years – and remains a mad poets’ wine party where Alice is always tipsy but never drunk and the Cheshire cat passes around non-animal rennet cheeses.  The latest episode was held on Wednesday 2nd December at the ANU Emeritus Faculty.

This year’s  lunch was dedicated to Joel Webster, a generous friend who sadly is  no longer with us.

This year’s  theme was Pandora’s Box (which may have been an amphora, according to David Walker’s illustration) and we spent several enjoyable hours examining its contents.

Here’s my contribution:

Wings and Stings

Just a little bit
I won’t give right in
But I need this
You make me feel
Champaign bubbles in my veins
What might we be
You and me?

Just a little more
My temptation
I despair when you leave
And crumple at your touch
Like a doll entranced by its maker

You are strong wine
I crack
And all my disparate bits of
Love, joy, desire and sacred honour
Go flying
Out on ghostly wings
Poor heedless moths
Save only one
Remains entrapped
The dearest part that knows the lie
I can’t let go of

It was unanimously agreed  that Pandora was givena bum rap and the case against her was dismissed by the poetic jury as being yet another instance of women bearing  the blame for all the world’s woes.

We also remembered that it’s been 20 years since several of us, including Joel and myself, first hosted ‘Writers at Kimbos’ .

Long ago, but not far away, on Monday nights at Kimbos winebar in Phillip, we conducted readings of poetry and short prose for a couple of years.  Wow. So many years have passed and yet I don’t feel that much older. I guess everybody has that complaint.  I can’t remember where the years went, nor can I re-use the time. Heavy sigh – that’s life.

Cover by Jane Virgo

In 1991, our small committee published ‘Rescuing Beached Mondays’, a collection of the first year’s readings which contained some fine poetry and prose, including work by Joel, Mark O’Connor,  Lorne Doyle, Brian Hungerford, Myron Lysenko, Linchay Bone, Robin Davidson, Trevor Crook and many talented others.  Strangely, after all these years, the book can still be found at BibliOZ and Marlowes Books.

It only had a small print run – only 500 copies, but it was well received. We were pleased with the collection, and consequently founded Boris Books, named after David Walker’s marvellous cat, Boris Katoff, who sat on every page.

Boris has been an absent friend for many years,  but Boris Books born in 1993,  is still alive – if not prolific – and even manages to break even.

Not bad for a small press.

Aurealis Awards

Finalists for the Aurelais Awards have been announced.

Congratulations to Sean Williams, Trudi Canavan, Glenda Larke, Tansy Rainer Roberts, Tracey O’Hara, Kaaren Warren, Felicity Dowker, Alisa Krasnostein, Jonathan Strahan, Deborah Biancotti, Robbie Matthews & Donna Hanson, Emily Rodda & Marc McBride, Cat Sparks, Paul Haines & Geoff Maloney, Lucy Sussex, Scott Westerfeld and every other talented person.  OMG. How will they ever choose.


Bookings for the Conflux 6 Banquet close in 2 days! And there won’t be another banquet til 2011. Pre-dinner drinks and nibbles will be set in 1945 – the first Mardi Gras after the war. Cocktails and Jazz set the scene! Then for the dinner we move back in time to the culinary delights of the 1880s.

The setting is the private home by the great hostess Severine Sallier in northern Louisiana. The Conflux theme for this year is Secrets – and there are plenty of secrets buried in the Bayou.

Come in costume – as a the creature from the black lagoon, a vampire, a pirate, a ghost, or as a southern belle out of Gone with the Wind. Come in the year’s hottest new fashion – a bustle. Or drag out your scandalous corset.

Come in your Dad or Mum’s 1945 suit.

Or just come as yourself. Just don’t miss out on the fun.

The Banquet will be held on Saturday evening on 3 October, at the Marque Hotel Canberra, commencing 7pm with pre-dinner drinks.

Tickets are $52 per person. Let us know if you want vegetarian, gluten free or other food. You’ll find the booking form and contact details on the Conflux Website at http://www.conflux.org.au.

Song for young lovers

On Saturday, we held a party for a much loved young couple who are starting out together.

A new poem has been dedicated to them.