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Hello, I’m Suzanne Edgar. I’m reading to you from my book the painted lady and my new collection, Talking Late.
The first poem is Old Dubbo Gaol.
OLD DUBBO GAOL
In Dubbo Gaol
the stone is cold,
the window slits
Dark photos there
of eight they hanged
will crack your bones
to the marrow.
Their pallet beds
were knotted wood
with a blanket
but no pillow.
In Dubbo Gaol
the nights were long,
men’s dreams all stank
for the pale ghost men
who faced the drop
with nothing at all
When I am home alone
the rooms subside and settle with a sigh,
I hear the breathing of the fridge, that tap.
Our house is mine, for now,
and I’m a kindly ruler,
the only law is solitude.
I can forget to dress,
I write in bed and read while eating,
open all the doors
to let in light and air.
Time stretches generously.
I take another chocolate,
turn the Schubert up
at both ends of our house
and leave a book on every chair.
I stroke my walls in passing,
notice self-effacing pictures,
become so friendly with the place
I even wash its kitchen floor
and clean the window with the view.
Alone, I meet myself again,
discover misplaced thoughts
and talk with favourite birds.
These are the games I play when safe,
knowing you’ll come home.
and from Talking Late
SONG of the CRESTFALLEN PIGEON
for Samantha Littley
The pigeon on my window-sill
adores a bird of wood
that gazes from this other side
as if she understood.
Brought here from America,
she wears a perky crest
feathers brown with a hint of pink
adorn her lovely breast.
The pigeon on the outer ledge
believes he woos a dove
and cannot comprehend the glass
that keeps him from his love.
If only I could speak with him
of love’s elusive flame
I’d cure his sad obsession with
a bird he cannot claim.
All day he paces up and down
and pecks upon the pane
his doting Morse-code plea for sex
like any featherbrain.
ABOUT SUZANNE EDGAR:
Suzanne Edgar grew up in Adelaide, settling in Canberra with her husband, historian Peter Edgar, in 1963. At ANU she taught literature and women’s studies; and was an editor with the Australian Dictionary of Biography for which she also wrote 53 articles, the last concerning Lionel Logue, hero of `The King’s Speech’.
These jobs, undertaken while raising two daughters, have been combined with writing: criticism, fiction and, more recently, poetry. She was a member of Seven Writers (1984-98) and now workshops with Four Poets. A lifelong bird-watcher, she loves the bush capital, for its rural setting and its cultural institutions.
“My fellowship was in the early days (August 1992) and I found the place enchanting, conducive to work, but challenging. Despite Peter Bishop’s kindness, for most of the month I was alone; there were no other Fellows. This was spooky. It got spookier when I learned a bush-walker had been murdered where I took my evening walks: and, the killer was still loose in the neighbourhood! I didn’t know, then, of Varuna’s unlocked cellar door that could have admitted an intruder. Luckily none came. Snow fell, the daffodils flowered and I survived to dine out on the story. I also completed a large body of work and have remained grateful for the experience.” Suzanne Edgar
The Painted Lady, an Indigo Book from Ginninderra Press 2006 . Reprinted in 2007, that year it was short-listed for both the ACT government’s Book of the Year and for the ACT Writing and Publishing awards.
Canberra Tales (with Seven Writers), 1988 – republished as The Division of Love, 1996
Counting Backwards and Other Stories, UQP 1991 (short-listed for Steele Rudd award, 1992)
POEMS IN RECENT ANTHOLOGIES:
Central Coast Poets, Bird Before Landing, 2002; Suburbs of the Mind, 2004; Off the Path, 2010;
The Best Australian Poems, Black Inc., 2004 and 2005 and 2011;
A O’Keefe & S Vizard eds, The Best Australian Humorous Writing, MUP 2008;
J. Harrison & K. Waterhouse eds, Motherlode, Australian Women’s Poetry 1986-2008, Puncher & Wattman 2009;
K. Brophy & J Rodriguez eds, The 155th Sonnet, Melbourne Shakespeare Society, 2010
Les Murray ed., The Quadrant Book of Poetry, (I have 18 poems) 2011
April 2010, Reading `Birth Control’ with the Motherlode group at the Australian Poetry Centre’s `Salt on the Tongue’ Festival of Poetry, at Goolwa, SA; `Birth Control’ selected from this and later broadcast by Mike Ladd on ABC Radio National’s `Poetica’.
April 2011, Readings in `Poets Over Breakfast’, and chair of the panel, `The Dance Between the Genres’, at The Two Fires Festival of Arts and Activism, Braidwood, NSW;
October 2011, A Talk with Readings in `Meet Local Author’ series, Canberra Public Library, Civic Branch.
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