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“Hi I’m Jane Turner Goldsmith and I’m reading from my novel Poinciana.
The track is flat for about three hundred metres, then rises sharply. They can no longer hear one another for the roar of the water, suddenly louder as they come through a sheltered thicket of ironwoods. Even the birdsong, so shrill till now, seems to have ceased. Below them are the tops of tree ferns; shady umbrellas fanning over the path; above, to the left they have a partial view of the cascade, a milky-white streak against the backdrop of black rock and luxuriant green. In the foreground, a kaleidoscope of rock pools, smashed like cut glass in the sun, stretching back in a million shattered mirror-images to the concealed base of the falls.
There she is above him, sure as a mountain goat, climbing higher and higher, springing from slimy boulder to boulder, never slipping. At one point he loses sight of her, a grey outcrop blocking his view.
At eleven he is more modest than she. Her dress is still damp from the river, so it is not for want of keeping it dry that she removes it. Tossing it behind her, she tests the depth of the closest pool with one foot. He hangs back, suddenly overawed. She seems to have forgotten his presence, off to one side, partly in shadows. No other sound can be heard above the noise of the water; and he realises that anyway, it would be unlike her to shout at him.
Dipping his foot into the rapids, he feels it cool on his toes. He is distracted by her honey skin, her partially-clad body. Does he dare sneak a longer look? To take off his shirt is not as significant as for her to have taken off her dress. His thoughts stray to the boys in class, at this moment opening their exercise books for dictée. There is no way he will drop his shorts, let alone underclothes, even as now, she emerges completely naked from the pool, without so much as a glance in his direction.”
ABOUT JANE TURNER GOLDSMITH:
I am a writer, psychologist and teacher. My novel Poinciana was shortlisted for a Commonwealth Prize and before that I published short stories and poetry. I’ve also published a junior novel and an edited anthology of adoption stories. I have worked as a clinical content writer for the Black Dog Institute, and I teach fiction writing for Tafe SA. Last year I developed and ran a workshop in the Psychology of Creative Writing for the South Coats Writers’ Centre and I supported students in their academic writing and ESL at the University of Wollongong. Back in my home town I’m currently a student counsellor at the University of Adelaide.
My novel, Poinciana, is set in New Caledonia in the late 80s. I spent four years there at that time and lived through some significant events, both personal and political. Although it’s a fictional work, of course it’s based on a number of real experiences, people and events – some of them tragic and defining of New Caledonia’s recent history.
“I have had two rewarding stays at Varuna, first in October 2007, as part of the Macquarie Longlines program and secondly as part of community writers’ week in 2009. I was actually – I’m not ashamed to admit – terrified before my first visit, the idea of having ten boundless days, where none of the usual constraints (domestics, kids, spouse, pets) would apply. Thinking back, I think I was fearful of the fallibility of self-discipline. How would I actually fill those days? I overcame the panic by setting myself a 3,000 words-a-day target, and I’m sure spewed mostly rubbish – 30,000 words of it – every day of my stay! (You can edit rubbish, and some of it turned out to be not so bad after all.) I still had time to savour the distractions of vigorous bush-walking in that crisp Katoomba air, macro-photography (magnificent flora there), stimulating conversations with the other writers, coffee-partaking and of course, Sheila’s gourmet meals. I also gained a kilo in weight, every gram worth it! (you can always lose grams…)” Jane Turner Goldsmith
Gone Fishing, Macmillan, 2005
Poinciana, Wakefield Press, 2006
Adopting: parents’ stories, Wakefield Press, 2007
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