Tuesday, September 13, 2016


New release from PressPress RRP $9.90.  

My latest collection of micropoems has arrived from PressPress. Wonderful. So pleased with the look of it. Thank you to publisher and poet Chris Mansell.

Backcover blurb:
Shebird is the woman or girl who wears the shroud of widows, guards the new grave, tastes gun, is paid two dollars a day or not paid at all. She is the child factory worker, the blackbird changing shadows, or the poet pondering black dogs and ravens or becoming the fox with mist on her breath.
   This is Lizz Murphy’s eighth poetry title and her third PressPress collection of micropoetry. She has also published five anthologies and is widely published inter/nationally.

The manuscript was developed with the support of an artsACT grant for which I am hugely grateful. It's taken a while to get from that final draft MS to the published book and it has gone through a few changes along the way. I'm also pleased to say that meanwhile a good many of the 40 poems have been published in Australia and internationally.

Order from me or from PressPress as convenient
A6 40pp ISBN 978-0-9873057-5-6
$9.90 including postage
Cover photo by publisher and poet Chris Mansell

Tuesday, August 02, 2016


Just had a chat with the ACT Writers Centre via their Taking Five column - Capital Letters blog about writing and writing workshops including the imminent Land•Sea•Air series (see the plug top right).

It begins with my writing career - a happy accident ...

Ends with the most common tips I give out at workshops - the need for the old standbys never goes away: have a dedicated writing space (of some sort), have a routine (of some sort), carry a notebook, take yourself seriously even if others don’t, be selective about who you seek feedback from, dream, set goals, just write.

Monday, July 11, 2016


Well no I don't think the Lilt series of poems and pieces I'm writing for Project 365 + 1 will cut it for the fragment genre manuscript mentioned below. But never mind. It's what is working for the moment and I'll come back to the other. Here's a fun piece just posted which brings back great memories. In Belfast they dance, laugh, party and tell it like it is.


for Aroona and Mags

They get straight to the point
Drink feckin responsibly
Take a feckin taxi
The taxi we took on our night out
was a karaoke taxi
He was sittin outside the club
waitin for his hens’ party to return
One of the girls chatted him up
took him off duty to take us
to our next venue
We’re all in the back
with microphones in our hands
tryin to sing
sayin is this switched on
can they hear us outside?
We are wettin ourselves
We arrive at the next club
all arguin to pay
fumblin with coins for the fare
The driver says
give us 50p each and fuck off!
We tumble on to the footpath
laughin’ our heads off

© Lizz Murphy

Photo: Aroona Murphy

Saturday, July 02, 2016


Lilt is the beginning of a series of poems/pieces/pieces of poems about Ireland drawing on a visual journal from my last visit. There have only been two visits. The first in autumn - of course it rained the whole time except when it unexpectedly snowed. The second was in summer and I re-experienced twilight and The Twelfth.

The 12th of July is the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne celebrated by Loyalists. It's a significant event with emotional and political pulls for both Protestants and Catholics. If you visit Belfast early July you'll find it strung with red, white and blue buntings and Union Jacks. There are also preparations for Bonfire Night (July 11) and traffic constantly held up by rehearsing marching bands. The Catholics clear out if they can. I have family and friends on both sides of 'the divide.' (Born a Protestant; married a Catholic; blah blah.)

It's five years since I visited and took these photos. It's time I tried to write a few pieces - besides I'm under pressure to produce for 365 + 1! I'm not sure if it will fit into my fragment manuscript slowly in progress - it might - it's another small experiment - I'll let you know. You can follow if at all inclined at project365plus.blogspot.com.au

[Sorry - Blogger is doing crazy things with the formatting in #i]


The lilt of the ‘New Belfast’ tilts me 
motorways cutting through terraced terracotta  
battle anniversaries cutting through evening 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


A small selection of the drawings and collages I've been doing recently as part of a poetry project exploring the fragment genre. There is a whole bunch of them posted on Project 365 + 1. Not too much cutlery - and not a cut edge to be seen.


At my first art class the teacher encouraged us to buy a book of anatomy and to draw and re-draw the human body - from skin in and bone out - spending the week between classes sketching people as skeletons. I had two active children and had no trouble filling books with their small skeletons at play. 
Fast sketching in the street and from the car was more practise in catching the fleeting. In those days I could also remember a face or a character and sketch it well later.  I learnt to make image, to explore colour and to observe. All great tools for writing.
I love the smell of paint (started as a child sniffing freshly painted doors) and to swing a brush and have missed these. From time to time I’ll break out and mess with oil pastels or do a bit of scribbling with pencil or stick & ink. 
A friend gave me a very small book once with plain cream pages and I found myself tearing out text and images and adding my own images and words. Fragments. This (now well thumbed) book eventually became a prose poem called Prayer: Quick & Dirty and was Highly Commended in the 2013 Blake (sorry - I've mentioned this before - and before!). A few pages from the book – or as it turned out an early draft of the poem – are below. The captions are related fragments from the poem.

This is the catalyst for a manuscript I've been slowly shaping up and hope to find time to focus on (see previous posts). The poem can be found at the Blake Prize website. Oh no it can't. Seems the website may be no longer. Hmmm.

Listen   quick and dirty    eight orange stars   

a vest like a/raffle ticket

His raven eye fitly set   wounds  Your takeaway face ...

... him and his raspberry insult   cobbles/burled by the currents   smooth grey pigeons

... peel back the pages you/will see her porcelain skin is broken china

... crushed to coal  a black slide  their slippers a queue of teeth

... lays her eggs in mud bottles  distinguishes the character of/her young   like some small miracle

Yesterday's journey an/arc of stiletto red under the monotone of stricken evening

the old Singer up on its brawny legs humming   Its running stitch/its rapid tacking  chronicles this place

... the desert freckled hide ...

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Visited Insight/Perspective by Clare Peters & Hannah Gason at the Belconnen Arts Centre today. Fascinated by Clare Peters’ sepia and gold text sculptural composites suspended in small glass blocks. Word as object. I like her interest in light as a metaphor for transformation and hope [Peters 2016]. The process described in the catalogue, sounds complex and layered and not unlike making poems.

Hannah Gason’s striking glass panels explore self. She also employs a process of layering: ‘planes of layered translucent imagery that I then dissect and reconstruct’ [Gason 2016]. The segments, markings and colours speak to me of lakes, forests and blood.

Insight/Perspective is part of Permeate a group of exhibitions by artists who were recipients of the Emerging Artists Support Scheme (EASS). You have until June 19 to see it.

I like to catch up with EASS awards and related events when I can. EASS is close to my heart – I was the first Coordinator (1989) back in my public relations days at Canberra School of Art (now ANU) and played a large part in establishing the program. 

Friday, May 20, 2016


The 'fragment genre' is something that interests me. I've been busy reading about that and making related poems and some images. Here's a small collage. Love torn edges. There are more images and poems posted on Project 365 + 1 - and many other published poets who are worth visiting for.


Don’t you love it when researching something to find or expand a poem - for example a bird species, the forests in your own region … or bats because both you and a poet friend have had a visit from a furry winged creature – and there is one particularly juicy or unexpected detail that makes you sit up! Or gasp. Or wonder all the more. Or it might come from someone sharing their passion with you or just repeating a bizarre news item. These details can be quite spine tingling. Recently I needed to come up with a poem to post on Project 365 + 1. I’d been thinking about exquisite details and how I’d like to find so many more – and of course the poems they fit into. So for the sake of my deadline I collected together a few I already had handy – a couple I’ve recycled (I confess) and a couple I couldn’t make use of at the time (dammit) – and came up with this draft to post that day (May 19). I must say thank you to Susan (bees and honey) and Leanne (python story). Here's the draft poem:

Monday, March 21, 2016


I am delighted with the discipline of Project 365 + 1. Every day writing something. Keeping that writing muscle exercised and most importantly practising the practice of observation.

No matter what else is going on I have to go find a poem. Of some sort. I am taking a few moments to look closely at leaves, to examine grasses and weeds (I do love them) and to pay attention to what is going on around me. It’s a form of mindfulness – bonus. We’re driving a lot and the whole time I am on the look out for a bird of prey above or something wily on the side. They always catch my interest but more than ever I am trying to catch a poem too.

Some days it’s an average haiku (can the world bear it), often it’s a micropoem and sometimes a small prose poem. I love micropoetry and prose poetry so that’s fine. There are found poems from newspaper headlines for a bit of fun (on desperate days). Some will work up to something down the track and occasionally one crops up that is not bad at all. The not-bad-at-alls make the effort worth it and keep me going. The connection with this community of poets and artists also keeps me going.

There’ll be a shift and I’ll be able to give time to the research-based poems I’m hankering after. Meanwhile here’s an observation or two.

 Previously posted on Project 365 + 1 and 
the associated blog The Wonder Book of Poetry.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


It’s the grappling that I like. Under pressure the grappling shows some days. The desperate scratch at an idea or an image. The obvious rush at a photograph to start the words or to embellish words already found.

My Poem 44 on Project 365 + 1 is an attempt to capture the butterfly or moth which greeted me that night. It’s striking markings it’s graceful moves. How not to say wings ... How not to say flutter or even wave. How to reflect on time spent around colour music dance (Canberra's Multicultural Festival).

you dance  wings moving
 like islanders’ hands
your ochre belly

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Here are four poems from a sequence written in response to images from a photo-story by award winning photojournalist Magnum Wennman titled Where the Children Sleep published at Mashable Australia. My thanks to Magnum Wennman.



These children
bare ankled
dusty kneed
belly down
on flock
they stare
you see
they have died
over and over


A mock mattress a sheet her pink
striped socks  like scattered litter
the forest floor the closed border 
her freezing sleeping body 


Day sixteen
he slumps into
his backpack
this bleak pillow
Asphalt grates
small kneecaps
bombs grate
his dreams


Living for the day

child by the hand

The walk to the market
the taxi bomb
the pie never baked

The child’s wounds


a light-winged bee
drifts down to a white
blossom spray

a yellow leaf
spins settles on
a spray of green

the pale stain
a bloom on the back
of her gown

This is my poem # 53 from Project 365 + 1. 
I'm posting it here to add it to my collection of Hospital Poems. 
(You can see the others by clicking on the Hospital Poem label on the right.) 

Tuesday, February 09, 2016


Venie meeting visitors to the Nandimukh Publishing stand.
Calcutta/Kolkata Book Fair - 2.5 million visitors



Somebody different I thought — a strong performer, a unique voice. Venie Holmgren! Little did I know.

Little did I know when I asked Venie — and Jenni Kemarre Martiniello — to join me for the Poets and Court tour of SE NSW back in 2001, the great friendships and experiences that would come out of it. We were three women with very different backgrounds — Aboriginal, Irish, Jewish — and we all knew how to work it.

Poets in Court: Jenni, Venie, Lizz with Binalong's Maria Kosseris

Through her character and her poetry, Venie had us rocking with laughter, paying due attention to the issues she was passionate about and just as soon moved to tears with works such as Among the Sepias. Due to popular demand we performed as Poets and Court at three regional festivals and revisited that crazy week with its 13 gigs in courthouses, church halls and cafés and even an old people’s home where Venie was afraid she might be kept in! More laughter. We could’ve toured the world with it.

Little did either of us know then, that we would find ourselves on another tour, travelling to India together for a program of activities with Wollongong poet Ron Pretty. We would take part in the amazing Calcutta Book Fair (2.5 million people) and other events in Calcutta arranged by the Nandimukh publishing house — friends we made through the South Coast Writers Centre. Bengali people were incredibly friendly and hospitable but none more so than when in the presence of ‘International Mother.’

I saw a very different city to what I would’ve experienced without Venie — including the inside of a Calcutta police station! Reporting Venie’s camera left behind in one of the city’s 4000 yellow taxiis, we were sent ahead of the queue straight to the Deputy Commissioner. Venie was most amused when she found she had to provide her family history as part of the process, was aghast when asked her age and hooted loudly when asked her father’s age. I think she told me he would’ve been 140 years old if still alive. She appreciated that the Deputy Commissioner enjoyed the sound of her father’s name, rolling ‘Samuel’ around in his mouth several times. Venie was very pleased. So was the Deputy Commissioner — we were brought chai tea and biscuits.

Venie and I lived on opposite ends of the SE Region so it was hard to see each other but I treasure the get togethers we did have. They were mostly at readings and book launches but also on a couple of memorable occasions in her Pambula home, with evenings spent eating meals from her garden and reading poetry around her table. Mother I’m Rooted: An Anthology of Australian Women’s Poetry was a favourite of us both.

After moving to Hepburn Venie told me she didn’t expect to write any more poetry. It made me so sad to think there wouldn’t be any more of those eloquent, moving or gutsy works so I was thrilled when I heard about The Tea House Poems. She described them as modest but of course they are exquisite.

Venie’s exuberance and tenacity and the power of her poetry were and always will be an inspiration. Little did I know how much richer my life would be for knowing her.


Venie Holmgren passed on January 27 at the age of 94. She was writing and publishing to the end. You can learn more about Venie's fascinating life here.

Meeting international guests at World Conference of Poets 2001

At a spontaneous poetry reading at WCP

Sunday, January 31, 2016


One month down, 335 days/poems to go. Project 365 + 1 is doing it’s job so far. As Kit Kelen says in his intro which you can find here, it’s about getting on with it.  I am getting on with it in different ways.

Of course I am quite mad in my thinking. I haven’t had enough uninterrupted time to write much for a couple of years so I suddenly think I can produce something on 366 consecutive days!

So far it’s the same scatter-smatter approach. A prose poem here, a haiku or a micropoem there, a place poem, a rage poem, a café poem, a bird in the sky. The pressure to post something means I can’t afford to pick and choose. (It doesn’t have to be complete or polished and often it’s not!)

No room here for wondering how many shop or café poems one person can write in a lifetime, if that childhood experience is too sentimental or for procrastination on issues in the media (social or otherwise). Memories or old thoughts that resurface get snared – their own fault for still floating around.

Getting on with it includes shaking out old drafts on some days — sometimes a rewrite, sometimes a fresh twist — but at last it’s a passable piece. The most difficult thing is the new work that won’t get on the page — no lines. It makes me wait.

In the meantime you can see how much time I’m on the road (kind of living between two places), my rural vs Canberra environment, what I might be reading or what pisses me off. I do feel a might exposed.

At the same time I am enjoying the generous unfolding of the other poets’ lives through their poetry. There is the passion for haiku, the love of visual art as much as words, a commitment to translation, a wedding, inlanders getting away to the sea, a trip to India, visitors and pets, 3 am creations, ekphrastics and landscapes. It’s a wonderful ‘conversation’ of ideas, poems and images by a group of published Australian and international poets. You’re welcome to visit. The blog is here. The Facebook page is here. See you there.

Friday, January 01, 2016


Red Hot Chilli

You will find delicious poetry and images at Project Three Six Six a new poetry collaboration kicking the new year along. It involves Kit Kelen (driver), Kevin Brophy, Andrew Burke, Michaela Castledine, Anna Couani, Iris Fan, Yao Feng, Susan Hawthorne, Sarah St Vincent Welch, Lies Van Gasse among others — and my-excited!-self. Each poet has committed to posting work every day from today until January 1, 2017. More poets are yet to post (the day is young depending on what part of the world you are in) and I think more poets are being invited in. You’ll find Project 365 + 1 at http://project365plus.blogspot.com.au/. The Facebook page is called Project Three Six Six.

My first official post is titled Summer and there is also a small sculpture poem (a bit of a test). There is so much to enjoy – the ‘conversation’ is already unfolding.

Here's wishing you a red hot 2016.