Tuesday 15 June 2021

Poetic City

During April wonder woman Jacqui Malins coordinated the first Poetic City Canberra festival.

I was thrilled to collaborate with street artist Bohie Palacek who used my poem "Lux perpetua luceat eis to create a breathtaking video. It was included in the Poetic Cinema on 8-9, a public pavement event featuring poetry videos.  

Here is the link:


I also ran a haiga workshop for the festival in Glebe Park on 17 April, which included a ginko (haiku walk) and photography. Thanks to Jacqui and her trusty printer, we all had printouts of our haigas at the end of the workshop. More here:


Monday 14 June 2021

Recent Publications

The following haiku have been published in various journals during 2021. Thanks to all editors for their support: Chrissi Villa, Michael Rehling,  Ian Storr, Valentina Ranaldi-Adams, Patricia Prime, Gautam Nadkarni.

lilac light / on the arch of moonrise / two silvereyes    Frameless Sky, March, 2021.

bush koan the sound of one twig snapping    Failed Haiku 6:61, 2021.

sunken stars / in a muddy river / last year’s goals     Failed Haiku 6:61, 2021.

jet lag / a street cat stretches / into the night    Failed Haiku 6:61, 2021.

plastic bags / filled with wrap and tinsel / landfill truck    Failed Haiku 6:61, 2021. 

empty pen / transfusion needed / for the muse    Failed Haiku 6:62, 2021.

in the hands / of the puppeteer / . . . shadow cabinet    Failed Haiku 6:62, 2021. 

quarantine / I begin to unlock / my inner self       Failed Haiku 6:66, 2021. 

election year / the wish-wash of storms / and promises    Failed Haiku 6:66, 2021.

searching for / the middle way / the labyrinth      Failed Haiku 6:66, 2021.

starlit jungle / a pride of lions / light years away     Presence 69, 2021. 

returning swallows — / my father's discharge / telegraph      Presence 70, 2021.

ikebana / she arranges her new year's / resolutions   Stardust Haiku 49, January 2021. 

feather moon / above the treetops / one last hymn    Stardust Haiku 52, April 2021.

spring dawn / I empty myself / into the light     In the Stardust, Stardust Haiku 53, May 2021.

brief encounter / a magpie in dinner suit / chats up a snail     Kokako 33, 2021.

steak house / two politicians / attack their lunch      Cattails, April 2021.

Friday 21 May 2021

More on my poem "Bush Stone Curlew"

I am thrilled that "Bush Stone Curlew" has traveled so far! After traveling from the Bimblebox 153 Birds Project it became educational materials in NSW and has now traveled to Coochiemudlo Islandin Queensland.

Lesley Ballantyne is a member of the small gallery there where the curlews fascinate many visitors. "I made the curlews out of paper and your poem was just perfect," she wrote.


The Moorings, 2021

 I was happy to review The Moorings, an anthology of work by a poetry group led by  local poet Janne Graham It is edited by Janne and Amelia Fieldon, who is best known for her Japanese tanka collections and published by Interactive Press (IP). Here is the review I wrote for the IP website:


The Moorings.

Reviewed By Hazel Hall

Janne Graham, Amelia Fielden, Julia Irwin, Neva Kastelic and Meryl Turner, 2021. The Moorings.

Editors: Amelia Fielden and Janne Graham.

Cover image: Neva Kastelic.

Published by: Interactive Press.

The Moorings is a collection of poetry by five members of a poetry workshop group convened by Janne D. Graham. Graham describes her venture into poetry writing as “newish”, but she has contributed to several other poetry groups for some years. She has published in their anthologies and various journals as well. As editor, she is joined by Amelia Fielden, who is well known and widely published in Japanese forms. Three other poets, Julia Irwin, Neva Kastelic and Meryl Turner bring their experience in other art forms to the group. Irwin returns to poetry with a dance background. Kastelic“likes to take photos” and has provided an original cover image. Turner has an interest in art.

All these skills and interests have contributed to the richness and diversity of the group. The women have developed a special closeness, enabling them to produce a collection of poetry written between 2016 and 2019, where the joy of words and writing is always present.

These poets are not daunted by the diversity of poetic forms They are aware that years can pass before one feels confident to work in a particular structure with all its technical demands, but are still willing to attempt them. Metaphor, rhythm, rhyme, volta, syllabic and stanza length are only a few of the challenges that accompany a poem and allow its story to be revealed. There is too, the problem of choosing a form that will best complement message of the text. For example, Graham chooses repetition to bring childlike simplicity to her triolet “At Three” (p. 26). It is a fine example of the successful blend of form and theme: 


You cannot dream what you'll become

The world is small when you are three

A sandpit and a gate to swing on


Haiku poet Matsuo Basho's (1644-1694) travel journey The Narrow Road to the Deep North, became his most famous publication. In “Oregon Holiday 2018” (p. 44), Fielden brings her exerience in writing tanka journals to the collection as she reflects on the past in this poignant poem: 


why should I

climb every mountain

to find my dream

in old age I sleep well

with the sound of the sea

Animals and the environment are prominent themes in this collection. For example, the hare has inspired artists for centuries. Turner's “New Year’s Day 2017” (p. 59) offers an unusual turn in the final stanza as the live hare of earlier lines becomes a work of art: 


I know this hare, it has escaped

from a medieval scene recently

embroidered by me on tie-dyed linen.

Kastelic’s shaped poem “A Photographer on Dairy Farmer’s Hill in July” (p. 34) also contains an interesting turn where she takes the word play to a new level:

This hill was once on fire. Scorched. Black. Lost. A raven soars.

Quick! Before he too is gone... click.

In Irwin’s “A Winter Diva” (p. 85) we have a glimpse of her love for dance. With all the characteristics of tanka, but written like a five line poem with conventional punctuation, it turns in line 3 :

A winter diva –

They pelt me with flowers:

I, the backyard star!

Wattle birds strew my feet

with next door's red gum blossoms.

There are many other poems worthy of mention in this collection, including Fielden’s carefully sculptured “Cafe in Burgandy (p.73)”, Irwin's topical “Tourne-Soleils . . . For Clytie” (p. 58), Turner's "Another Fall" (p. 70) and Kastelic’s enigmatic “May 2018” (p. 84).

As Graham points out in her sonnet “Cultural Threads” (p. 65) :

Food ties our disparate cultures by a thread

The Moorings shows us that poetry can tie us together in a similar way allowing us to experiment with words, share and celebrate our offerings together.

Friday 12 February 2021

Madame Song Sings Jindo Arirang

Thanks to Phillip and Jillian Hall for publishing my short poem  'Madame Song Sings Jindo Arirang in Burrow 2, 2020.

I met the distinguished pansori singer Madame Song (not her real name) at the School of Music while I was teaching a unit called 'Music in Asian Cultures.'  Pansori is the Korean art of musical storytelling and is performed by a solo singer and drummer. Arirang is a Korean folk song that became an anthem after the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945). Each province has its own version. It's a song of hope and resilience. For more detail, try this excellent reference:

Maliankay, Roald, 2007. Broken Voices: Postcolonial Entanglements and the Preservation of Korea's Central Folksong Traditions. UH Press.


Madame Song Sings Jindo Arirang


Immaculate in pink and navy blue

with rosewood fan 

Madame Song sings Jindo Arirang.

Her voice is soju from the Seven-Eleven,

tuned but gravel-harsh. She belts it out,

not missing one sweet beat

of the changdan rhythm cycle, snapped

by stick on chango drum

quick as the flick of a whip.

She's in the Jindo province

singing down the years.

Singing down the occupation,

singing down the pain.



Harvesting Clouds

I was happy to have four poems published in Harvesting Clouds (Ginninderra Press, 2020), which will be launched shortly. Itwas edited by Amelia Fielden and Ken Filewood.

They are:

'Able'                       First published in The Canberra Times Panorama October 2018;

'The Artful Heart'     First published in Ephemerae 1:2, 2018;

'Blue'                       Unpublished

'Burnout'                  First published in Ephemerae 1:3, 2018;

Tram Stop Poets began after the School of Music Poets closed, and is coordinated by Tony Steven Williams. Some of the original SOM Poets are now in the new group. Thanks to Tony for his kind words in the Foreword.

Friday 7 August 2020



Thanks to Marilyn Hazelton for publishing this sequence in red lights. I wrote it years ago on one of the many times artist Nancy Tingey has exhibited at Belconnen Arts Centre.  I always find Nancy's work inspiring!


flights of time 

that turn into a nest 

the care 

she takes selecting 

textiles for a patchwork quilt


life's scraps 

of twigs leaves and moss 

she recycles 

extra bits of cloth 

from a skirt or dress 



intricate and soft 

art honed 

working day and night 

singing with each stitch


speckled eggs 

beneath a feathered breast 

warm and safe 

a mother waits 

resting from her work


creation's gift 

how can we express 

the wonder 

of a tucked up child 

a fledgling in its nest

First published in red lights 17:2, 2020.