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In the blog I will share excerpts from my writing, my poems and thoughts with you from time to time. Sometimes the poems will have been previously published, and on other occasions I will publish new work 

Responses to A Winter Sowing

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I’ve had some lovely responses to A Winter Sowing – many thanks to everyone who has written to me about the book. Here’s a sample of what readers have said about the novel so far.

 

‘I’ve just this minute finished A Winter Sowing and wanted to tell you immediately just how fine a novel and achievement it is! . . . I had intended to read it over the course of the week but got so absorbed I found I gulped it down in two sittings . . . You have three strong, engaging and genuine lead characters (David, Josie and Lara) each of whom has their individual personal, social and psychological issues and perplexities; you have a tight plot with interesting surprises and twists and turns none of which feels forced or implausible; you’ve got the vernacular Aussie idiom of the different characters pitch perfect (with lovely child variations for Zak and ‘superior’ tones for the aspirational Margaret and BB …); you’ve taken the inspired decision to work very heavily in both action and in David’s inner mental life in the present tense. . .which lends passion and urgency to so many scenes . . . .

            I think it’s a marvellous book . . .

John Clanchy

 

I just wanted to say congratulations again on A Winter Sowing, which I finished, appropriately enough, on Remembrance Day. . .

            I was compelled by the central meditation on the power and possibilities of art as a redemptive and restorative act, and I loved the way the novel’s form and narrative so successfully and movingly enacted its thematic interests. Your central character was thoroughly convincing and engaging, and I certainly related to his struggles as the parent of a teenage child – you absolutely nailed that! And your images of Canberra in the middle of a 1990s winter were so evocative – I was right back there. The novel does what you always do so well – ask big abstract questions like how to be a good man and answer them in profoundly human ways.

Catherine Pratt 

 

 

I’ve just finished reading this wonderful book written by . . . Adrian Caesar. . .I’ve read most of Adrian’s novels and this one will stay with me for quite some time!

            The book is set in Canberra and the surrounding region with which I strongly identify, and follows the journey of a Vietnam veteran as he struggles with the trauma caused by his war experiences and the effect this has had on his relationships with those around him. I really enjoyed the way in which Adrian has woven in the central character’s use of painting as a way to help him come to terms with his trauma, an area of the book that I feel has been researched well, both around the benefits of art as therapy but also the process of translating his trauma and message onto canvas.

            Be warned - there are some aspects of the book that may be a bit “gnarly” for some but for me the way in which Adrian has dealt with all of these complex issues has given me insight into my own father’s struggle with PTSD and at last, an understanding of Dad’s reluctance to speak of his war experiences . . . 

            Thoroughly recommend . . .

Alison Duffy

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About Divining Dante

Divining Dante is an international anthology of poems published by Recent Work Press to mark the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, author of The Divine Comedy.  My poem ‘Beata’ is one of three written in response to an invitation to contribute to this project. Poets from Italy, United Kingdom, United States, Ireland, Australia, Singapore and India were asked to write three poems corresponding to the three parts of Dante’s long narrative trilogy: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. One of the three would be selected for inclusion in the anthology. The other poems will appear on-line in due course. 

            ‘Beata’ needs little further introduction only to say that in its use of specific geographical locations on a typical day and in its use of conversational tone and rhythm, it not only seeks to pay homage to Dante’s use of topography and the Florentine vernacular but also owes a debt to Frank O’Hara’s wonderful poem, ‘The Day Lady Died’ which is lodged in my memory, having taught it for many years to first-year students at UNSW@ADFA. I might also add that I was surprised and delighted that my ‘Paradiso’ poem was chosen rather than the necessarily more gloomy Purgatorio or Inferno. 

            A big thank-you to the editors –when the web-site with all the poems goes live, I’ll add a link here. Meanwhile, Divining Dante ed. Paul Munden and Nessa O’Mahony (Contributing editors: Priya Sarukkai Chabria, Moira Egan, D.W. Fenza, Paul Hetherington and Alvin Pang) is available from Recent Work Press.

Beata

 

In autumn sunshine, I walk up from the beach,

wave at Belinda, my barber, then the barista boys

at Café Crumb. I go on past the pizza joint on the corner –

its notice in the window: Apologies we will be closed

Friday to Monday. Our son Andrew is getting married.

Up Crag Road to the junction with Ocean Street,

turn left into Wattle Crescent and along to our place.

Home, I walk up the stairs into the open-plan light,

look out to sea, the sandy crescent I’ve just strolled,

there’s maybe a sail in sight or motor-boat scoring bubbles

across the blue towards the wooded farther shore,

the uneven line of the purple mountain backdrop.

Is that some weather coming in, I say.

Not forecast for a while yet, you reply. 

Then we sit on the deck in the warmth, 

above the flourishing garden you’ve made 

with its berries, fruit trees, vegetables,

its roses for remembrance, flowers for joy. 

And if six o’clock should come by, I’ll say, 

Champagne or Chardonnay? Or maybe I’ll have a beer.

We’ll sit and sip our drinks, and one of us 

will say how blessed are we? Chinking glasses,

we know some who would scoff: sentimental

or too simple or some other argument 

for strangulation of all delight; we’ll smile 

for a moment, try to forget the venal world 

and banish the fear this loving place, 

our little piece of paradise, 

depends on someone else’s hell.

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