All interested responses welcome.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

This poem is from "The Tipping Point"
published recently by Blank Rune Press.

Be There

When, over the course of an ordinary
circumstance, say an afternoon,
the suffering of an epiphany intrudes,
it comes on the instant, darkly indigo,
as if surfacing
from the arcane heart and stones
of a river, a great one, a Thames, Nile, Amazon a river’s perpetual loosening of itself
from its source;
with no holds barred, side swiping its banks,
merciless, not waiting for a change in the weather
to be gone, gone on.  So, like this,
amazement strikes, emanates
from whatever it is we take knowledge from;
a quantum
leaping as briskly as yesterday from the universal moat
into the castle, fortress of personal mind.
We barely perceive it.  In trying to define the thing
we lose its essence.
So we forget.

Now, as we approach the falling away of our tribe
visions may delay long enough for taming,
may divulge the heart of the matter,
telling some of us who we are, how to be.

Many say the tribulation comes
soon now.
Rest then by a momentous river,
persist quietly.  The epiphanous sword
may emerge from the waters, spinning, rising.
She may fall on you, wounding dumb clay,
letting old blood and the holy words spill out.
Watch, be more vigilant
than you have yet been
throughout your uncounted lives.
Don’t risk
not being there
when it happens.

3CR Spoken Word program May 2016

I enjoyed creating this poetry segment with Peter Davis.

Click here to listen to poems and interview:

Friday, 13 May 2016

How Could You Not Know?

How could you not know? about
prisons, when we’ve met behind the bars of several,
brought books in, and denied that mere walls
should enslave us..?

Dear, I saw the covering over your head, the stain
of inherited guilt seeping through the cloth.
Love, I once saw the light falling flat
on your shoulders, your eyes weeping against the glare.
Friend, I heard how you dropped to the Post Office
steps, dying right on them, a heart attack,
no one helped.

Our elder author, lady with
the lilt still when she reads, she says poetry
will save the world. I have my doubts.  But
hope.  As you hope also.
So how can you not see that the pettiness
of blind ego drags us to a page of broken prose,
tramples the beautiful words into bitterness.

Come, be a safeguard now, frisk me, making sure
I carry no arms.  Sit with me here
and we shall write lines so diaphanous and proud
they’ll hold the very air in place.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Here's Valli Poole, of Blank Rune Press, helping me talk about my chapbook
The Tipping Point at our recent launch in Frankston.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Booklaunch of The Tipping Point
on 23rd April 2016. Linda reading
"The Warning" from the book.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

The Tipping Point – my new chapbook

(Melbourne, Blank Rune Press, 2016.)      

Reviewed by Rosemary Nissen-Wade

This slim volume is a feast! Linda Stevenson is a thoughtful poet whose work ranges from intellectual word play to direct and simple appeals to the emotions. One of her own paintings forms the beautiful cover illustration. Her words paint pictures too – scenes and images that continue to haunt the reader after the words have been read.  And her language is full of music.

It's exciting for me in various ways to be reviewing Linda’s first poetry chapbook. During my long acquaintance with her poetry, I have always believed it deserved publication and a wide readership.

Yes, we have a history. Once upon a time we were two young women living in Melbourne, who happened to sit next to each other at Library School. We got talking and found much in common, such as the fact that we both wrote poetry. We're still doing a lot of talking five decades later, though nowadays we live in different parts of the country so it's usually by email. And we are still deeply engaged with poetry.

I am also well acquainted with Linda’s encouragement and support of other poets, myself included. In a way, the wheel has come full circle. Thirty-one years ago, in her capacity as Melbourne City Librarian, Linda Stevenson launched my first book of poetry at Margareta Weber's bookshop in Melbourne. 

In that capacity she also gave the Melbourne Branch of the Poets Union a meeting place for a number of years, at North Melbourne Library. In those days she didn't seek to promote her own poetry – busy enough, no doubt, with professional and family life; and, more than that, focused on bigger pictures and community issues rather than personal ego.

She says now, on her recently begun poetry blog, 'Written there on skin' :

My poetry is a part of my life, that creative part so vital to our human individuality. It has been a lifelong habit, scribbling words down, from childhood on through adolescence, adulthood and now into mature older age.

I love the process that takes the poet from the raw first phrases on through the building of themes and expressed ideas and finally to the crafting of a satisfying work. The sharing of that creation with others is the icing on the cake.

We both left librarianship eventually, I to give more attention to writing and she to concentrate on art. As well as becoming a painter, still her primary focus, for some years she ran a successful business involving an innovative technique of print-making. All the while the poetry continued.

It took our old colleague, Valli Poole, now proprietor of Blank Rune Press, to persuade Linda at last to compile a chapbook. I hope it's the first of many.

I remember her telling me, long ago, how much she loved understatement. In this book, with its environmental theme, she uses it to excellent effect – by no means shirking the confrontation of unpalatable truths, but without unnecessary dramatics (the facts being sufficiently dramatic in themselves).

A personal favourite, which I featured recently in an online column for the poetic community Poets United, is Adani Coal Mine Approved, which works by painting a contrasting picture to the facts. It deserves quoting in full.

It pares down

to the palest of skies
to a native fledgling

thirsty, untended

to whether a black stinking
mess of outmoded greed
is claimed as our chosen soil

when we might have lifted
up into the quiet transparency

taking the winds

carrying the young bird

with us
as our token.

Her environmental concerns inform the whole book. She is fully cognisant of the issues she addresses. She worked as a full time volunteer in the environmental movement in the early seventies and has retained interest and involvement since. (See footnote*)

The title, The Tipping Point, comes from a piece called Solar Winds, which is as despairing as we all often feel about the planet's and humanity's situation. It begins:

So weary
at this juncture
here, where the turning on a life’s edge
is pivotal…

Yet this is a book full of beauty. It ends, though still sadly, on a softer note with this small untitled poem:

Searching for haiku and other poems
I find instead a quiet place in the garden;
in its still shadow I stand
upright as bamboo
soft and weeping, like orchids.

The book is to be launched in Frankston on April 23rd by well-known Melbourne poet Ken Smeaton. It will be available later from Collected Works Bookshop (Level One of the Nicholas Building in Swanston Street, just a few minutes from Flinders Street Station).

Orders and pre-orders
From Blank Rune Press, via Linda’s poetry blog ‘Written There on Skin’
By email
Valli will take a firm order, supply payment details, and forward the book after the money is received in the account.
Order price: RRP $15 AUD including P&H.

*Asked for details, Linda said:
In early 1971, I became intensely involved with the then environmental movement, as a researcher/liaison officer for the 4th International Congress on Human Relations: "Environment: social/industrial responsibilities". I researched global environmental problems, potential solutions, and helped to plan and organise this major Conference at the Dallas Brooks Hall Melbourne in July 1972. Speakers included high profile environmentalists from overseas such as Barry Commoner and Rene Dubos and local speakers and delegates from universities, trade unions, political parties, business and industry, along with significant individual voices such as Judith Wright and Robin Boyd. During this period I also became a full member of the Round the Bend Conservation Cooperative, a shareholder of its land at Kangaroo Ground, and served on its Committees of Management for several years. Since then, I have maintained a strong interest in all aspects of conservation/preservation of the natural environment and related concerns.

Note: This review is reposted with permission from Rosemary's SnakyPoet blog.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Look up there

You might be able to see it still
through the window,
speckled with small rain, dusty
from summer, net curtained.
You need to look up there
where the top parts of trees
are their quivering, unsure essence,
where sky cradles clouds, if any.
Or it might be gone.
Or not have been.
Still, you need to look up there,
on discovery.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Not Knowing from Where

Not knowing from where
it issues, a rhinoceros say,
the word, the creature that it is,
the idea, genesis,
history, habitat...
you'd think the wonder of it
would virtually kill us stone dead
with amazement,
gratitude, delight;
language, stirred up out of our mouths,
indentured with meaning, discovery, exuberance,
our communal mind stuttering, seeking the match
for the observed grand thing,
the experience.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Authentic Poems

Authentic poems
are mischievous rats
scrambling, scribbling,
rabbits from hats

In second/third grade at Essendon
yours truly convened
behind the shelter sheds

poetry of secrets
of not quite knowing
of nakedness

lest we forget
lest we forget

It used to rain properly then, after the war
and it was cold, no heating
bluestone walls
handknits with holes where the worn-out wool was frayed
wide enough to stick your finger in

the asphalt in summer burned our feet
and we "got the strap"

Yet genius dug deeply into its family plots
the small shovel of enquiry scraping up
against whatever was planted there

authentic poems leaned down from the flowering gums
authentic poems hid in the corners of unfurnished rooms
and bit into salty potato cakes
and noticed where a teacher put his hands

mischievous rats scampering in the night
the rabbito man on his rounds

authentic poems
scrambled and scribbled in spelling books
and recipe books
disclosing how it is, and how it was,
inviting bitterness

the visiting magician's wand
rabbits from hats

authentic poems, lest we forget,
made cause for punishment and screams
torn up and ridiculed
lest we forget, lest we forget
and sacrificed to fire

their narrative warmth
sparks rhythm to flame
scorching the flimsy summer frock of childhood
slow-burning a hole in its fabric
wide enough to stick your finger in

wide enough for your whole hand to fit...
authentic poems are written there on skin.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016


Is it our warm hearts and hands
melting the ice?
Our grasp of global?
(our understanding being not limited or
provincial in its scope)

Ah! we might wish to be so warm,
so heartfelt, universal,
human, pulsing with the hot blood of caring,
evolving to be sisters, brothers.

"Share with us" we'd cry warmly,
to people with nothing, desperate people,
broken, assaulted people;
"Together we'll demolish barbed fences,
lay down these black weapons of condemnation,
rebuild the righteous barricades
and light small campfires against their timbers
for our mutual sustenance."

Then the ice choking our arteries
might deliquesce, a timely thaw melting it
all the way down
to the frozen old reptilian bones.