Born in Australia and have since lived in Paris (in the 1970s) and London since 1979. I have four full collections, including Passengers to the City (Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1985, shortlisted for the 1986 John Bray Adelaide National Award), Fish-rings on Water (Forest, 1989), Tigers on the Silk Road (Arc Publications, 2000) and Circus-Apprentice (Arc Publications, 2006). In 1981, I won the Warana Poetry Prize. In 1994, Forest Books published my translation of Jean-Jacques Celly’s prizewinning poems, Le Somnambule aux Yeux d’Argile.
I run regular workshops at Torriano and am the London North Stanza rep.
Gwen John Swims the Channel
September 3, 1939. Early evening
and the sea soughs, sways –
a sketchbook washing calm,
its ribs carrying the meticulous rainy births:
portraits from her many lives.
She has always loved the coastline,
come back to it, the waves’ fringed-grip:
daily swimming the Channel, testing herself
against its heave and push.
Ahead, Dover’s scribbly-white cliffs,
and beyond, the hills of Tenby –
its beach’s curve, her childhood’s
patch of sand. She has tested this sea’s glass
and painted herself into its mirror
like a cloud passing over. She has more
interiors to match and place, place and match
as again she gives herself to the water,
its moody mountains surging,
pacing her – the archetypal swimmer
planing darkness, with the coast
clearing and Paris-Meudon behind her.
from Circus-Apprentice (Arc Publications, 2006)