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“Hi, it’s Deb Westbury here. I’m going to read two poems from my most recent collection. The collection is called The View From Here and was published in 2008. It features my new and selected work. Both poems are dedicated to refugees everywhere.
Her hands are freckled and tanned.
The first thing the reader of palms sees
when she turns them over
is that all the lines are broken or frayed,
and there, between ‘head’ and ‘heart’,
is the cross of the holywoman.
She is kneading clay for pots,
dough for chapattis, and although her body
seems weighted by many unseen
burdens, she is only bent, not broken.
Her hands are still confident and strong;
agile as otters, fluid as fish.
Somewhere there is a high plain
etched with her songlines and spent fires,
the rivers and tributaries
of her destiny’s unravelling.
Though I know without looking
there is light enough in her eyes
to guide us both,
I will not meet them,
will never go
where she has been.
White Coffin Notes
Drifting motionless in a hot room
it’s all you do
somewhere between the life
you know, and the life
that ended –
almost two years since
you sat beside his father
and your lover, a stranger
asking you what colour you wanted
for your only
and waiting –
You were expected, anyhow,
to answer this
and also the next thing
and the next
whatever it was,
all things being possible,
after all –
the white hot room,
one mile, then another, becalmed,
ABOUT DEB WESTBURY:
Deb’s work was first published in the anthology Mother I’m Rooted (Kate Jennings). Mouth to Mouth was first published in 1990 and has been studied as part of the NSW English Syllabus since 1998.
Deb has been widely anthologised, including the Oxford Anthology of Women’s Verse (1995). She has developed a career as a writer, lecturer, mentor and editor with a long history in both academia and community.
In 1998 she was instrumental, with Ron Pretty, in the establishment of Five Islands Press, and subsequently, The New Poets Programme.
In 1999 she was guest lecturer at the prestigious Catskill Poetry Workshop in the US. In August 2000 she was writer in residence for James Cook University in Queensland. She was also awarded a two-year grant from the Literature Board of the Australia Council to complete her collection titled Flying Blind.
Deb has written four collections of poetry – most recently her new and selected The View From Here. (Brandl & Schlesinger 2008)
“My association with Varuna began in 1993 when I became the Writer-in-Residence in the Blue Mountains. I’ve run the Writer in the Community Program and the Varuna Writing Group from April 2005, for which I published a series of Writing Bulletins. I’ve taught a range of creative writing workshops, led events for the Varuna Sydney Writers Festival and continue to be a consultant and mentor for poets at Varuna.” Deb Westbury
Mouth to Mouth, 1990 (new edition published by Hodder Education in 1998)
Our Houses are Full of Smoke (Angus and Robertson) 1994
Surface Tension (Five Islands Press) 1998
Flying Blind (Brandl & Schlesinger) 2002
The View From Here (Brandl & Schlesinger) 2008
and Lateral Learning
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