Another river; the Yarra after rain

I can’t believe it’s over a month since I blogged here, and I have been writing and reading all the while. I did buy a new camera too; a Canon 60D, much better in low light than the old Canon 450, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know how to use it, drawn all the time, of course, to rivers, streams and the edges of things.

So, after a incredibly wet Saturday I was interested to see what the Yarra was looking like and whether it was wild and flowing and bursting its banks or, as it was once I remember, swirling and whirlpooling brown and ominous like the Mississippi in a Twain novel.

Not so. Even after only twenty-four hours the whole thing had settled down, moving quickly and ruffled somehow, but almost back to normal. I could see the debris and rubbish from the high-water mark the night before but I was surprised just how quickly it had come down. Another (local) thing to know.

River walk

Below: Fairview Park on dusk.

River walk

Here’s to summer


One of the nice things about living in Melbourne is that you actually get to experience four distinct seasons. I think I’d find it disconcerting now to live somewhere where things don’t change much, or maybe the changes are more obvious (wet season / dry season) or more invisible. Four seasons works well for me! I was listening to a meteorologist on the radio yesterday proclaiming the start of summer as Dec 21, the longest day. But I’d always thought of it as December 1. Wouldn’t the longest day be in the middle of summer?

I saw a great diagram a few years ago of Aboriginal conceptions of ‘seasons’ and how different they look. And this Herring Island website, argues for a six season kind of division in Melbourne. I don’t know. The four seasons has such resonance for those of us with European background (all those Keats poems…) and it may not really work for Australia or even Melbourne, but I kind of like it. Anyway, here’s to summer.  A nice feeling to be on holidays and setting up some writing.

It’s probably also a perfect time to thank everyone who’s been reading and responding to this blog over the last year. Just when you think no-one is listening, you find someone is. Best wishes to you all for whatever season you find  yourself in right now.


Top picture from a 1948 Little Golden Book. ‘Six seasons of Melbourne’ below from Herring Island site quoted above.

Collected Works

In these days of the instant and the online (and I’m as guilty? of that as anyone I suppose) it’s good to be reminded about the importance of that most valued and rare object; the quality bookshop.

And I was reminded of that again, ironically, in Laurie Duggan’s most recent blog post on the virtues of Collected Works Bookshop inMelbourne. Run by the legendary Kris Hemensley, (read an AGE tribute to him HERE), Collected Works is simply the best place to buy in poetry in Melbourne. Melbourne is a literary city, with more good bookshops than most cities its size, but Collected Works is the best of them when it come to poetry. Collected Works was under threat from a rent increase late last year but things seem to be okay now.

Here’s an extract from Kris’s piece published online from the Ballarat Writers Centre late last year:

My Fellow Australians…
We will fight them on the beaches…
no, start again!
Dear friends,
We’ve had to consider our future in light of the expected rent rise for our bookshop, to take effect 1st January 11… And, though it may be an extension of the same folly which had us open up in the first place, we will continue! The prospect of moving elsewhere was as awful as that of closing! But the price of the new 4 year lease will hurt, unless I can generate more sales and support. The point about the Shop is that though it is a little company, in the market place, it’s never been profit oriented. Most of the receipts go into stock. The wages are minimal. Rent and stock are the major outgoings. The purpose of the Shop has always been to support writing, especially poetry–Australian Poetry and literature within an international literary context.
That’s the rationale which makes the bookshop unique (certainly in Australia and New Zealand, possibly further afield). We obviously have sufficient support to be mentioned in the City of Literature document, but for all sorts of reasons support through the bead curtain is less than it might be. The recent rent hike squeezes us even more!
The question remains, is there a place for an actual bookshop in this time of online purchasing, the ebook and other new technologies? A rhetorical question for me : the bookshop is a home for readers and writers of poetry and prose, a home for little presses, a venue for launches and readings, as it has been for 25 years or so. In a word, we’re there for cultural as well as bookselling reasons.
Our acceptance of the new lease will probably be sent this week!
It will be a great encouragement to know if you support us
Perhaps a start might be making a new “friends of Collected Works” address list (email), for Melbourne and Australia generally. If you’re interested please do write or phone or visit us!
Kris Hemensley


Kris Hemensley’s blog is HERE There is also a Facebook page for the shop.

Long may Collected Works continue!

[Kris Hemensley photo from Flickr by AdrianWiggins]

Reflecting on Melbourne


I received my invitation to the launch of a new coffee-table book Reflecting on Melbourne, which will feature a poem and a photograph of mine along with lots of other writers and photographers.  Unfortunately I can’t attend as I’m riding around the Bay that day but I’m sure it will be great.

The book will be launched by Arnold Zable at St Paul’s Cathedral on Sunday October 18th at 2.30. It’s published by Poetica Christi Press and edited by Janette Fernando and Jean Sietzema-Dickson.  You can find more details, or order the book from

Looking for Melbourne Poems

Only four days to get something together but I saw yesterday that a publisher of a forthcoming coffee table book on Melbourne is looking for poems about aspects of Melbourne. Sadly, after having lived close to Melbourne now for the last three years, the best I might offer is some things about the Yarra. I’ve liked living close to a big river for the first time. I’ve written a few things, and taken a few photos like my favourite so far (above) which has something of the urbanisation and something of the wildness still of this place.

Details of the Poetica Christi Press idea are below:

Melbourne Poems

Call for submissions : Closing date : March 31st

Poetica Christi Press is seeking submissions of poems on the theme of Melbourne for its forthcoming coffee-table book of Poetry and Artwork.

In particular we would like poems on any of the following –

St Paul’s Cathedral, Degraves St, the Art Gallery, Bourke St Mall, Federation Square, Exhibition Building, Parliament House, The Yarra, Trams, Gardens (Botanic, Alexandra, Fitzroy), the Shrine, Flinders St, Spencer St, Arts Centre Spire, Southbank, MCG, Melbourne University, the old theatres (Princess, Her Majesty’s) Victoria Market, Williamstown, Port of Melbourne, arcades and laneways, State Library, floral clock, bookshops, the Zoo (inc. the butterfly house) al fresco eating, Lygon Street, our closeness to the river, the mix of old and new, the ANZ bank (Cnr Collins and Queen Sts.) birds and wildlife, Flemington, views from tall buildings, the colours of winter, West Gate Bridge, Seasons , the different feel of the east, north, west and south of Melbourne, Multiculturalism.
Please send your poems by email to or by mail to PCP, 493 Elgar Rd, Mont Albert Nth, 3129. Ph: 9890 5885

Limit of three poems, up to 80 lines each, per person.

Outline of Melbourne Reflections book:

Like many Melbournians, we have enjoyed a long love affair with this beautiful city. We have dreamed of it being a city where the presence of the spiritual can be felt and experienced. We want this book to be our salute and tribute to the greatness of Melbourne.

Reflections in glass buildings were the original inspiration for this project. Out of this emerged the idea of combining photography and art with reflective poetry that draws on the heart and life of the city of Melbourne.

Sorrowing that land for the city was bought for a pittance, Poetica Christi Press wants to honour the memory of the Wurundjeri people who lived here prior to white settlement. Acknowledging those who are disadvantaged or who struggle with disability, this book will include work about homelessness, mental illness, the underprivileged and those without a voice.

Our book will bring together poetry, artwork and photography to showcase and reflect Melbourne through its people, buildings, street-scapes, through its great annual events, its sporting and cultural interests, and through its multiculturalism.

It is timely for Melbourne to be celebrated, acknowledged and admired. Melbourne is vibrant, enthusiastic and ever changing. It is also a city where artists and writers are inspired and appreciated. No wonder Melbourne is applying to be the second city of Literature in the World! We are pleased that both prominent and emerging poets and artists have contributed to this book.

ith such a range of voices and media, even those who lived all their life in Melbourne will, on reading this book, discover something new about their city. The aim of Melbourne Reflections is to create new perspectives allowing the reader to see this city with new eyes. And so, visitors will fall in love with Melbourne, and Melburnians will find new ways of engaging with it and inspire many to contribute their energies and passions to this great city, in ways that respect and nurture the diversity of our origins and dreams.