I write poetry and short stories in the front room of a terrace house near wetlands and bike paths in the inner west of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
I grew up in Glen Rock, New Jersey in the US and went to St Lawrence University in upstate New York. By the time Lorrie Moore was a student there, I was living in Sydney. What a pity I didn’t meet her. Since moving to Sydney in 1965 I’ve completed MAs at Sydney University (Literature) and at University of Technology, Sydney (Writing).
A writer can’t have too much experience. I’ve worked as a baby sitter, archery instructor, page, short order cook, playground supervisor, waitress, librarian, teacher, potter, artist, jail educator, drug and alcohol worker, education consultant and administrator. I have edited, tutored and mentored. Glenda Adams said every character should have a job because we spend so much of our lives at work. The work characters do and how they do it gives the reader useful information. Reading about other people’s workplaces can take a reader someplace new.
Elizabeth Jolley wrote, ‘There’s a terrible restlessness that accompanies writing. It is a prowling in the heart and the mind and the body. It is a kind of pain, a mixture of elation and melancholy to which there is no remedy.’
I get restless and irritable if I’m not learning and creating. But doing things to take my mind away from writing helps even things out for me. Hey muse, lighten up! Time for the gym! Trying to learn the basics of Italian keeps me humble. I work part-time as well.
The craft of writing throws up constant challenges. Because my poems are likely to be inspired by wordplay and ideas I keep a list of good lines rather than a journal. Writing exercises and deadlines inspire me to write more than memories do.
In the past I have taught English, ceramics and art. Now I sometimes teach poetry and short story workshops for New South Wales Writers Centre, South Coast Writers’ Centre, Central Coast Poetry Group, Gloucester Poetry Group and the Sydney WEA. My teaching and mentoring as well as my writing are inspired by the writers who have critiqued my drafts and helped me write better. Many thanks all, especially to Judy Beveridge, joanne burns, Michael Sharkey and the members of the pomegranates and alphabeticas.