‘Emu Girl, on the day before flying’ wins the Banjo Paterson Awards 2016

It’s a delight and an honour to have heard that my poem ‘Emu Girl, on the day before flying’ has won the Open Poetry section of this year’s Banjo Paterson Writing Awards, which are run annually by Central West Libraries and Orange City Council. My gratitude goes to them, and to the judges of the award.

I first entered ‘the Banjo’ in 2008, and won it with ‘Walyunga’, followed by a second win in 2010 with ‘Orpheus, in the desert’, and several poems which placed for third prize in intervening years; ‘Ledge Beach’ in 2009, ‘Crown of Stars’ in 2012, and ‘Circle of Stones’ in 2013. This Award has become particularly close to my heart, and I’ve used it as a focus-point for inspiration to write poems that have a specific Australian element to them. This has often been a response to the presence and atmosphere of this ancient land that I love deeply, sometimes with a social or cultural aspect, and the interweaving of mythology.

‘Emu Girl, on the day before flying’ is a speculative (science fiction/fantasy) poem which takes a prominent group of stars visible in the night sky from Australia – the Southern Cross and the ‘Pointer’s, Alpha  and Beta Centauri – and blends word etymology and the ancient Arabic names of the stars with the Aboriginal myth of Tchingal, the mighty Emu in the sky whose head rests in the Southern Cross and whose body stretches through the Centaurus constellation. The poem is ‘told’ from the point of view of an Alpha Centaurian ‘descendant’ on Earth, the Emu girl of the title, who recalls fragments of the invasion of her star system by smoke birds, and the battle of the two brave brothers, recounted in the Aboriginal stories as the Pointers, who fought to ward them off….until gradually the fragments weave together in the Emu girl’s awareness.

With thanks again to the judge(s), and congratulations to this year’s prize winners in all categories of the Banjo Paterson Writing Awards, of which a full list can be found here.

 

Alpha Centauri and Beta Centauri, from the Hubble telescope. Image courtesy NASA.

  Alpha Centauri and Beta Centauri, from the Hubble telescope. Image courtesy NASA.

The Stars Like Sand

I’ve just heard that my science fiction poem, ‘Folds’, has been accepted for publication in The Stars Like Sand, an anthology of Australian Speculative Poetry, which will be published early in 2014.

I’m looking forward to seeing this collection, and to celebrate, here’s another poem (in the form of a non-rhyming villanelle, a nineteen line poem composed of five tercets and a quatrain, with two refrains and two repeating lines).

 

spring arrives

 

spring arrives with solar sparks

wattle frays pompom yellow

across the guiding arc

 

optic refractions shimmer in

the light-lace of her nerves

spring arrives with solar sparks

 

she looses days, weeks, seasons

old prophecies run like sandstars

across the guiding arc

 

hieroglyphs float on moonlight

honeyeaters could drink rivers

spring arrives with solar sparks

 

angels curve through her dreamtime

blue star prismatics pirouette

across the guiding arc

 

‘My love, feel this sky-stillness

enfold the time-space dimple’

spring arrives with solar sparks

across the guiding arc

 

wattle in bloom in the garden

wattle in bloom in the garden