Some Gwen Harwood Editions

After reading and writing again about Gwen Harwood recently, I thought I’d post some images from some of the editions of her work I have. Wikipedia lists the following for Harwood and I have most of them.

  • Poems (1963)
  • Poems Volume Two (1968)
  • The Lion’s Bride (1981)
  • Bone Scan (1988)
  • The Present Tense (1995)
  • Gwen Harwood : Collected Poems, 1943–1995 (2003)

The prize of my collection, probably, is my copy of the first book Poems. It’s missing the dust-jacket it originally would have had, and is a bit of a battered old library copy, but I’m happy to have a first edition of the first book of this important poet.

The next I have is The Lion’s Bride, which is a wonderful collection. My copy is a bit battered and faded, and copiously underlined.

Bone Scan (1988) is another wonderful collection which won several prizes.

I’ve got a couple of copies of the Selected Poems and they are falling apart a bit as was the tendency of the early A&R poetry editions. I bought one to a Gwen Harwood reading and she kindly signed it for me. Unfortunately, in the busy room, she mis-heard and signed it for Warren, not Warrick! Nevertheless, I cherish that one too.

My copy is underlined throughout and heavily annotated as it was the basis for my minor thesis on Harwood. That makes it less valuable for anyone else, but more valuable for me.

The two most recent ‘selections’ are still in print now. Harwood (along with Les Murray) would be one of the few Australian poets to be continually in print since her first book in 1963.

Poems (Volume 2) 1968, her second collection, is the important missing one I’d most like to find at some stage. You rarely see copies in second hand shops and I’ve seen one or two online at $150USD os so. Perhaps one day!

Looking back at her body of work, iIt’s hard to believe now that she published no books between Poems (Volume 2) (1968) and The Lion’s Bride, (1981), so no books at all during the 70s, when I think her voice would really have resonated with the times, particularly the feminist poems that seem so much in tune with the changes in Australia at that time.

‘My Tongue is My Own’: On Gwen Harwood and her Poetry

I’m halfway through Anne-Marie Priest’s excellent biography of the Australian poet Gwen Harwood, My Tongue is My Own and it has already had the desired effect; making me pull a copy of Harwood’s Selected Poems off my bookshelf to have beside me as I read it.

Of course I started re-reading some old favourites and also looked through some of the other Harwood books there as well. I’ve always enjoyed Harwood’s writing and wrote my minor thesis for an M.A. at Monash University on aspects of her work calling it, Light from a Single Source. I’ve written about her poetry at length, read the poems again and again over the years, and taught Harwood in Literature classes whenever I could.

So, I have several editions of her work gathered over the years, which I was reminded of today. It was good to look through them again and I’ll post some images of those editions soon. Meanwhile, Priest’s work is highly recommended as a long overdue life of this important Australian poet.

If you’re keen to look at Harwood’s poetry yourself a number of editions are still in print. The Selected Poems from Penguin Books or The Best 100 Poems from BlackInc are both good places to start, and available from Readings as is Anne-Marie Priest’s new biography.


Love the Words

Love the Words

I was delighted to learn this week that my short poem At the Edge has been selected for inclusion in the Love the Words annual e-anthology, a celebration of the power of words and the work of Dylan Thomas published in Wales for International Dylan Thomas Day published by Infinity Books UK

Dylan Thomas Day, 2022

They write: ‘Every year, ‘Love the Words’ (a quote from Dylan Thomas) asks for contributions to its annual poetry competition as part of International Dylan Thomas Day, 14 May. This year, writers around the world were asked to pen a poem on the theme of ‘water’, inspired by Dylan’s name – which means ‘son of the sea’ – as well as by his seaside, childhood home in Swansea, and his estuary home, and famous writing shed, in Laugharne. Writers were free, in this year’s contest, to interpret ‘water’ in any way they wished, and to write in any form. There were, once again, poems and entries from all around the globe, with over 400 entries received. It was a very hard job to whittle this down, but we did, to roughly 50 poems – a record number for our anthology this year! – and, this time around, we found it too difficult to choose single winners and would like, instead, everyone included here to be able to say that they ‘won’ the competition. We only wish we could publish all 400+ poems! We’re incredibly grateful to all of you who entered; the standard of writing this time was impeccable; and we hope you enjoy this year’s resulting anthology, which demonstrates, we hope, our shared wish to always, and forever, ‘love the words’. It’s what Dylan would have wanted, we feel, and we’re very, very grateful to everyone who shared their words with us.’

I’ve written before here about the importance of Dylan Thomas in my early reading and writing, in Remembering Dylan Thomas (2014) and The Dylan Thomas Collection (2005), so it was particularly pleasing to be part of an anthology of poetry inspired by him.

Love the Words, 2022 anthology

You can download the anthology HERE

My short poem, written for my daughter and her child, is below.

At the edge of the bay

for Harriet

We walk to the edge of the bay
drawn, it seems, to this great dish
where you played and swam
and now, here, with your own baby
strapped to you.

Could anything be stranger?
the three of us beside the sea,
the submerged beach where you played.
a stone wall, the city in the distance

whatever next?

The edge of the bay – Photo: Warrick (2022)

In Celebration of John Shaw Neilson

I’ve written here before about the poet John Shaw Neilson (1872-1943); in terms of him being a poet I see as undervalued but also in Speaking to Blue Winds, Lines for Birds and The Lure of the Local.

I feel I have multiple connections to Neilson’s work, from the big-sky landscape of the Wimmera that spawned both him and my grandfather to the lyric beauty of his writing. He is a poet that was doing something very different to his contemporaries.

So, I was pleased to see the local gallery, the MPRG announcing an April event as a ‘jubilee celebration of Australia’s great lyric poet’. The even will feature some of Neilson’s poetry set to music and an outline of his remarkable life.

I’m looking forward to both.

John Shaw Neilson Jubilee Celebration
John Shaw Neilson

Book of the Year – Bewilderment

A few days into 2022, but here finally is my book of the year. I enjoyed Overstory when I read it a while ago, but this was a different thing again; at once simpler, more narrative-driven, but also somehow larger, more open-ended. I’ve heard criticisms, especially from the parents of autistic children, but I feel it transcends that problem. It is at once, extremely light, and extremely profound.


Other books that impressed me in 2020 were:

2. Heather Clark. Red Comet. The short life of Sylvia Plath. (2021)
3. Randolph Stow. To the Islands (1958)
4. Rachel Carlson. Under the sea wind (1952)
5. Tove Jansson. The Summer Book (1975)
6. Gerald Murnane. Last Letter to a Reader. (2021)
7. Luke Stegemann. Amnesia Road (2021)
8. Philip Marsden. The Summer Isles
9. Peter Temple. The Broken Shore (2007)

I’ve given up the idea of categorising my books of the year into ‘Fiction’, ‘Non-Fiction’ etc. Those kinds of divisions seem more and more meaningless. All of the books listed above will reward your reading attention.