Opus: A life in music by Pip Griffin

 The award winning poet Pip Griffin delighted me with one of the first copies of her new poetry collection,

A life with music

Using a creative metaphor, I am proud to say I was one of the midwives in its  creative  growth and  Pip’s  birthing of the book.   The joys and nurturing of music in our lives  always came through as Pip’s poetic ideas grew .

A  great combination of life and music, a mood and a mode,  a singular voice,  that draws her readers like me to each new poem she writes. 
I am thrilled for Pip and honoured to be her friend.
 Opus: A life with music is a stunning collection, beautifully written and withheld.’ – Libby Sommer
‘“Through music, we can say what we didn’t even know we felt.” – Ed Le Brocq. What more powerful way to reflect on your journey of life than entwined with the memory of music. Exquisitely wrought, Opus gives us snapshots, sometimes softened, sometimes shocking but always honed and beautifully crafted, revealing a deep perception and intimacy as we have come to know of Pip Griffin’s poetry.’ – Colleen Keating
‘Pip Griffin’s Opus is a gently written verse memoir of her childhood in New Zealand to her mature years in Australia. References to Chopin, Mahler, Gustav Holst, Elvis Presley and many others justify its subtitle, “a life with music”. Touches of sadness, including her partner’s death and her mother’s thwarted dreams, balance the collection’s positive tone. This is poetry to read over a few winter evenings by the fire or summer afternoons in the shade of a tree.’ – Norm Neill
Opus is Pip Griffin’s eighth poetry publication. Her books include Virginia & Katherine: The Secret Diaries (Pohutukawa Press 2022), Winner, Society of Women Writers NSW Book Awards (poetry) 2022; Margaret Caro, the extraordinary life of a pioneering dentist (Pohutukawa Press 2020) Highly Commended, Society of Women Writers NSW Book Awards (poetry) 2020; Mood Indigo (Picaro Poets 2019) with Colleen Keating and The Climb Back: poems for Ted (Ginninderra Press 2021).
Two of Pip’s poems Libertango and The Dave Brubeck Quartet were published in the  recent
Women’s Ink,  Autumn 2023


One winter’s evening
in an old asylum’s grounds
there’s a hub of warmth –
coffee, conversation, music

where a diminutive young woman
dances her bow across her double bass
syncopating with guitar
playing the Libertango.

They have the audience –
folk followers, musicians
poets, singers
maybe even shades of troubled souls

clapping, tapping their feet
swaying, smiling
surrendering their bodies to the seductive beat
of a sultry Buenos Aires night.

Pip Griffin

The Dave Brubeck Quartet

At twenty she shares a flat with friends
in half a house that clambers up the hill in Thorndon

adds a Brubeck record to her Bach and Brahms
buys a ticket to his Town Hall concert

and sits alone amongst expectant fans
taut as drum skins begging to be played.

Brain on fire with crooked rhythms
her body jitterbugs to teasing riffs

the dry martini saxophone stirs her spine
dizzying drumming pummels her solar plexus

and there is Brubeck – bespectacled face beaming
striding syncopated chords across the keyboard.

Pip Griffin

available through ginninderrapress/our books

978 1 76109 570 2, 86pp



 Pip is waiting for reviews of Opus: A life in music  but I share one early,  very special response from a friend that was one of the first readers of Opus and found it an enrichment to her life. What more beautiful words can one say.
Then, along comes Opus. Start to read. Read, read, read to the end. Close the book. Hold it in my hand. It’s like a living, breathing thing. Reading Opus has left me with the distinct impression I’ve been allowed into my dear friend’s inner circle.
The music references are genuinely intertwined with the sensuousness being evoked, and the life’s chapters being retold. 
If I can get to particulars, dear Pip, it’s the frankness about your childhood, teenage life, distant siblings, old and troubled parents, that infuses your writing with such authenticity. My family experience was similar in some aspects, but I could never write about it in such an honest way. The music accompanying each chapter brings enrichment to the experience of reading your words, and moves the story of your ‘life with music’ along at a healthy pace, and carries the reader with you.
I’ll treasure your Opus, Pip, so thank you for your gift.

Of Moments and Days by Graham Wood publ. Ginninderra Press

Of Moments and Days by Graham Wood published by Ginninderra Press.  There was an excited  buzz as we entered  room 4 at the Hornsby Shire Library this afternoon, Sunday, July  23rd , 2023.  The poet,  Graham Wood greeted  us  at the door and we bought his new book, Of Moments and Days. The launch began with the poet  Peter Porter  welcoming us . The well known poet,  Martin Langford spoke poignantly about time  and life in a very philosophical way. You could’ve heard a pin drop as everyone waited upon his words.

And then we were read to  . . .Graham’s poetry  . . . poignant  as I wiped awa  a tear listening to the poem Centenary, laughing out loud with the poem Policy Launch, warm humour and memory of the poem The Day that Gough Got In.  I am excited to get the time to sit down and enjoy  Grahams very sensitive poetry.

An Important Note  Graham makes:

 An sincere thank you to Stephen Matthews OAM and Brenda Eldridge of Ginninderra Press for the opportunity of publication, their encouragement in doing so, and the considerable efforts they make in bringing Ginninderra Press poetry publications to fruition. 

In this, his first full collection of poems, Graham Wood considers some of the mysteries involved in time and memory. He does this obliquely rather than directly, in a glancing way. Many of the poems focus on the particular moments of experience that our memories are able to capture and preserve. Some are like snapshots or small movies, often suffused with a quirky humour. Others are more serious in tone and reach, but always retaining a lightness of touch. Graham has lived in Sydney for most of his life, after half a childhood in country New South Wales. His poems have been published in Australian and international journals and anthologies, and on a number of poetry websites. Ginninderra Press also published five of his poetry chapbooks over 2021-2022.
978 1 76109 528 3, 108pp



Between Two Worlds by Gwen Bitti published by Ginninderra Press

The launch of Gwen Bitti ‘s first book  Between Two Worlds  at Hornby Shire Library  was a very happy and affirming evening  amidst  family and friends,.  For Gwen it was a very proud moment.

It was  an honour to be Gwen’s  MC and  to introduce her launcher, the well known playwright  Nick Bleszynski.

Gwen Bitti born with a facial caul, in Calcutta, India, migrates to Australia with her family when she is sixteen. She returns to her birth land for a visit some years later. On her arrival she is jolted into a new perspective and with fresh insight, sets off on a quest. The motif of her enigmatic caul is woven throughout her memoir as she draws together the threads of stories of her family and childhood to discover the truth.

‘In the author’s sharp observations and evocative authentic recreation of people and places immerses the reader in the story and gives an added dimension to this page-turner. Moments of violence, insurgency, fear, lies, secrecy and escape are palpable alongside the comfortable lifestyle, and the privilege and status of this Anglo-Indian family.’ – Dr Sharon Rundle, writer and editor
‘From the opening paragraph of this memoir, I was hooked.’ – Emerita Professor Di Yerbury, AO. Chair, International Judging Panel, Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 1989 and 1990
‘Poignant and beautifully articulated – the struggle within the human soul as it searches for that most important of things – identity.’ – Nick Bleszynski, author/screenwriter, and director
‘Gwen…bringing India vividly alive for the reader.’ – Emerita Professor Elizabeth Webby
978 1 76109 537 5, 222p




MC – Colleen Keating

Thank you, Rhonda for your warm introduction to this comfortable and now very modern Hornsby Library, and for hosting this wonderful Meet the Author and Book Launch event. 

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet this evening, the Dharug and Ku-Ring-Gai peoples who first settled along this northern escarpment, south of the Hawkesbury River many thousands of years ago. I pay respects to elders and story tellers past, present and emerging. 

Warami the Dharug words for good to see you!  Welcome.

Good evening, everyone. Welcome to a very special night for Gwen Bitti and her evocative and intensely engaging Memoir, Between Two Worlds.

My name is Colleen Keating, author, poet and Gwen’s friend. I will be Emcee this evening.

Apologies have been received from Emerita Professor, Di Yerbury, AO and Hornsby Shire Mayor, the honorable Phillip Ruddock.

On behalf of Gwen, I extend a very warm welcome to:

Gwen’s family, and big hugs to Gwen’s oldest grandson, six-year-old Leo and her only granddaughter, four- year-old Luna. The other three little ones, Zachary, Connor and Raphael are tucked away in bed. 

I also warmly welcome:

Nan Horne, former Mayor of Hornsby Shire Council and Gwen’s long-time friend.

Members and friends from:

The Society of Women Writers, NSW.

Women Writers Network, Writing NSW, Lilyfield 

Turramurra Writers 

White Pebbles Haiku group, and Tanka poets

Hornsby  Bookclub

Members of the former committees of Cherrybrook Community and Cultural Centre and Gumnut Community Centre.

And friends from all walks of life.

 It is wonderful to see you here. 

It is now my pleasure, to introduce you to Nick Bles zyn ski who will speak to and launch Gwen’s book, Between Two Worlds 

Nick has spent 40 years in the media industry as a film-maker. He is a best-selling author of three books, his most notable being, ‘Shoot Straight you Bastards’ about the trial and execution of Australian icon, Breaker Morant. Nick has been a journalist and PR advisor. As a writer/director he has worked at the ITV Network, Channel 4 and 5 in the UK, MTV New York. In Australia, he has worked on the National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, History Channel, the ABC, Channel 7 and 9. He is a screen & media teacher at TAFE and NIDA.

Please welcome Nick  Bleszynski. 









Thank you for being here and please enjoy the rest of your evening.

Tall Tales and True by David Bentham OAM


What a special event, an important milestone, a great celebration and launch of a book  we enjoyed on Saturday July 22nd 2023. 

Tall Tales and True by David Bentham

Congratulation David Bentham  OAM. I know well the hard work to begin, continue, persevere,  achieve a draft,  rewrite, edit, re-edit, create cover,  publish and on  and on.

Finally you have the book,  your first book in your hand and it is very worthy  now to  receive accolades and celebrate.   A very big congratulations to Decima Wraxall  who inspired , encourages , edited and set typred the book for David. Loyal friendship  and much time was given by Decima to finalise this book and bring it to fruition.  It was such an honour to have the Honourable Minister Deputy Premier Prue Car MP to launch the book and  it was great to have a chat with her.





Launch of Mother Earth by Libby Hathorn by Colleen Keating





Libby Hathorn’s exquisite new poetry book, Mother Earth is launched by Colleen Keating.

A celebration  to launch Libby’s wonderful new poetry collection was most appropriate in Poetry week. It was my honour to hold the book high and declare it launched at the Society of Women Writers Launch at the State Library, Wednesday Meeting July 12th 2023.

It is  a great honour and such a privilege to hold up for you this new book  by the award -winning children’s writer, Libby Hathorn and perceptive illustrator, Christina Booth . A new poetry book called Mother Earth.  For me a stunning title having written the story of the mystic Hildegard of Bingen who said in the 12th century 

“The earth is our mother. We must look after her. Without her air, her water, soil and light we have no life.”  Down the centuries it is something that is too easily and conveniently forgotten. And now for our children we are gifted with this book set here in Australia. 

I believe one of the greatest gifts we can hand on to our children and grandchildren is an awareness of nature, encouraging a   sense of awe and wonder.  In this book Libby makes the children  aware of their senses in cities and in the bush,  all around in gardens, parks, by rivers and beach . Then they will be curious, life-long learners and  have resilience for the dark times  of loss and grief for  nature  is our teacher and mother earth will show them the way. 

Listen and enjoy  the playful poem The Wonder Thing  with its refrain to keep us guessing.  (I read the poem here)  But it doesn’t end there . The reader is teased even further with the answer RETAW.  

It took a few seconds for the answer from the audience WATER.

Libby in your poetry you give us this wonder and Christina’s illustrations are palpable.  Congratulations. 

Two last things . . .

 Firstly I like how the young reader is called forth and challenged.  they are not written down to.  Libby includes words and ideas  to extend the young reader.   

And  secondly

These poems do not shy away from exposing our young readers to the fragility of nature and the responsibility of humans to care for it. Poems on pollution, dread of cane toads , loss of habitat are not denied. The importance of conservation, sustainability, the presence of Aboriginal spirit, interconnectedness of all living things. A poem called Bushfire Baby  about our little koalas in the drought and fires , a poem  Rainforest Song, on the consequences of culling forests I’ll read  just a stanza, 

“Don’t fell the tree’

that stood so long

leave bird and bush 

where they belong. 

and the drawing of the bewildered bird on the stump of the tree  looking for its its home that has gone.  

And in  the poem Garden Australia  we imagine being a drone, 

hovering over our landscapes  ,  I’ll read just a stanza

“Plains, ridges, and valleys,

Woodlands and grassland,

Sedgelands and swamplands,

Forests and marshlands, 

. . .

what do we do with treasures so rare?

Protect them, and love them, and then we can share.

In the eponymous poem, Mother Earth  the poem calls for our stewardship . The refrain reads, 

“ Things of beauty, things of shame

through the cities, in the flame

lets dream of what we can become

Mother earth I am your son,

Food and shelter, climate , water 

Mother earth, I am your daughter. 

Libby’s new book, Mother Earth is timely, informative, playful eg keeps you awake sometimes you have to turn the book upside down to read, it is hopeful, reflective, eg the last poem wants me to go and find an old photo, our first glimpse of the earth from space in 1969 and show our grandchildren that glimpse of the tiny blue dot that is our home. 

“Astronauts  saw you 

from space and so far

so blue and so fragile  

and loved what you are.!

With each turn of the page, Libby invites us all to embrace our role as custodians of the Earth and to cherish the precious gift of nature.

So it is great joy here at SWW,  I declare  Mother Earth by Libby Hathorn launched. 


The Dinner Party: A poetic response by Colleen Keating , Authors Talk at SWW

Very proudly I spoke at the NSW Society of Women Writers Monthly Meeting  at the State Library to introduce my new poetry book The Dinner Party: A poetic Response, which  responds to the 39 women claimed as part of a project to Restore Women to History by  American artist Judy Chicago in her installation The Dinner party. A collection on the poetry of women!
I felt I was honouring the thousands of women on whose shoulders, we as woman today stand.  Only 39 could  be at the dinner table but not forgetting the many who went before them to make our lives as we have them today with the names of another 999 women’s names written on the white tiles below the table.

Not forgetting there is still much to be done  as I hear the news this morning  that another woman died at the hands of a man she knew . I think it is 4 this week so far and it gets a brief mention. My poem Counting Dead Women  written a few years ago is sadly still relevant today.


RESTORING WOMEN TO HISTORY.  My talk to introduce my new poetry book The Dinner Party: A poetic Response at the Society of Women Writers, NSW State library,   July Meeting  in Poetry Week

Ah we have gathered . .  like Sappho the poet once said,

“The moon appeared in all her fullness and so the women took their place around the altar” 

We could say,

The second Wednesday of the month came around and so we woman gathered to listen and tell our stories.

It is good to be with you today in Poetry week and to share with you a little about my new poetry book.  The Dinner Party: a poetic response.

I came across the idea for the book while I was researching for my Hildegard book back in 2015 and I found reference to Hildegard in this amazing artistic installation by Judy Chicago which is a 1978 landmark permanent installation in the Brooklyn Museum in New York . . . an imaginary dinner party of women down the ages who had been ignored, denigrated, harmed, silenced or erased from history and I thought one day I would like to know more about its history..  It was about RESTORING WOMEN TO HISTORY.

Most of the women  at this dinner party, i had not even heard of.    Each woman was chosen, for  how  in their own way  they had helped the  rewriting of history and upending the dominance that men have held over so much of our culture.  I was proud to see Hildegard there for those of you who have read my book Hildegard of Bingen you know the monks  forbad her to speak out or to write  or preach. And  what a woman she proved to be  in her 82 years writing books, music, poetry then silenced again for nearly 800years by the Church and now restored she speaks with great relevancy for us today in 2023 . . .  844 years, after her death . It just shows a good woman cannot be silenced forever. 

Even in death the women in this book can still be heard. 

Hence  my effort,  my research  in 2021-2022, for this book The Dinner Party which brings to light many women long lost from history and on whose shoulders we stand. 

Women all first  in their fields , art, music, medicine, writing, astronomy,  philosophy even warriors like Boadicia,  the many women  throughout history who  broke down barriers,  opened doors, knocked down walls,  smashed glass ceilings, were  suffragettes,  jailed,  murdered, midwives burnt at the stake for their feminine ways. The journey of women is for all of us.

I would like it to be a book known  for reclaiming  women’s history. I’m hoping you see it as an interesting gift for your daughters,  and our granddaughters to know some of the struggles of women in the past.  There is a saying “we need to know our past to inform our  present,  to live vibrantly into the future.  And books like The Dinner Party  and many others today can help with this.   

Just a few notes about the exhibition which my poetry brings to life . . .It is a very formidable exhibition. It was 5 years in the making (1974 -1979) and the product of a volunteer labour of more than 400 women, and is a testament to the power of feminist vision and artistic collaboration.

As you see here  it is a triangular banquet table each side of 15 metres  has place settings for 39 women  ….  women down the ages of the 3,000 years of Western History.  13 women  from Mythical and Biblical times 13 women  from the 1st millennia  and 13 from the 2nd millennia   and below there are 999 triangular tiles  with the names of women who stood up in their time. If i was younger I would now be writing stories of strong women of  this 3rd millennia  but I do not feel the same imperative as today many women are writing from First nation women  many ethic groups of women and our work is no longer an anonymous story.    It is  ongoing . Hopefully these stories and poetry of women will continue to be told. 

Imagine getting off the lift on the fourth floor into an 8,300 square feet space. One walks  past  six woven tapestries, hang in procession and is led into a sacred, solemn encounter with the female form. They say it takes your breath away and is beyond words.  The purpose-built gallery commands a certain hushed reverence; its triangular, feminine form is echoed on the ceiling, the entrance, and in the delicate casts of shadow and light.  

Each woman commemorated at the table is designated a place setting. A china-painted plate with a signature motif based on butterfly, flower and vulva forms is placed on an embroidered runner, with their name and icons of their personal and historical story.  A gold ceramic chalice and utensils, a napkin with an embroidered edge. The textile,  the craft, needlework and ceramics  acknowledge the long and interwoven history of women’s accomplishments and success in restoring women’s heritage to our culture.  The place setting are just close-up of a few to show you the detail

Judith, from the bible. 
Sappho,  the poet who wrote the first love poetry in a time when only wars and heroic journeys were versed like The Illiad, The Odyssey. 
Susan B Anthony  who said women would not be taken seriously till they had the right to vote and she gave her life to it and sadly died before it came to fruition.  

But writing my poetry I liked to imagine arriving at a dinner party, the buzz of women from all over the western world and all down the ages, colourful fashions, cultures, languages and imagine the sizzle and aromas of foods and the swapping of recipes, ideas, hints and stories. Just think of the after-parties as each spreads the word to celebrate unsung women back in their places right up till now, for women still  today are having to put themselves on the line, call out treatment and celebrate their steps forward as they claim women’s rights as human rights.

like Aspasia,  a philosopher as clever as Aritotle and Plato but her salons of Greek women were denigrated as brothels, 
like Anne Hutchinson expelled  into the wilderness from the early church in Puritans times of early America, pregnant left to die because she insisted women have a voice at Church 
like Sacajawea who was captured to help Lewis &Clark open up americas west , without her they would’ve died and she was unpaid and ignored until the past few years of  research and recognition, 
like Hypatia  a neoplatonist scientist murdered  because the church felt threatened by her intellect,  
and Petronilla first Irish woman to be burned at the stake because she helped women with herbs in labour. 
and Christine de Pizan  a writer who was silenced , because  she was a dangerous woman  when she claimed   ‘The same race as men are women. It is a women’s  world too”
Susan B Anthony who fought all her life to get a vote for women  and died before it was realised,  

Be honoured to be included, and be humble that we are here  today , together, free, for we stand on the shoulders on those who have gone before.  Pause to remember  your mothers  – you might never fully know her struggles and your grandmothers as their lives were hard if they wanted to speak up, desire to  study, want freedoms, want property right to their children from their husband and  think of your great, great grandmother many then were illiterate    We are here now because of these woman.

In this  next slide you can see a close up of the tiles representing 999 other women down the path of history who worked in their time of history and their individual fields o be free

Margaret Sanger who was one  of the earliest warriors for the right to birth control for women saving “every woman can decide for themselves ‘ but what vigilance women still need for the fight for the right over her own body never ends  

Natalie Barney died 1876 -1972 “Destiny made us women at a time when the law of men is the only law that is recognised   

Judy Chicago’s wrote in 1978 words that still stun with its relevance today:

“Women have always made a significant contribution to the development of human civilisation, but have been  consistently ignored, denied, or trivialised.” 

Place setting of Artemisia  she once said “ I have the spirit go Caesar and the soul of a woman”

1.The needle work is exquisite. The illuminated letter “A” on Gentileschi’s runner is comprised of an artist’s paintbrush and palette, representing her life as an artist.

The plate is surrounded by rich and luscious velvet fabric, modelled on the costumes of Gentileschi’s female subjects. Chicago explains that this fabric nearly engulfs the plate, representing the safe, protective environment she came from.

Underneath the velvet there is fabric decorated in a repeating Baroque-style pomegranate motif, indicative of the time period in which Gentileschi painted. 

2. ceramics

The butterfly image of Gentileschi’s plate demonstrates  the dramatic play of light and dark  of the art periodThe “twisting and turning form” on the plate serves also to represent the “extraordinary efforts required of any women of [Gentileschi’s] time who desired to become an artist”.

And each one of the place setting is so historically detailed.

Now,  today,  this book is a poetic response to the journey of women. I like to think of each oneat the table,  just like us here gathering together, leaning into the conversation, nodding their affirmation as they celebrate their stories, their struggles and triumphs, and the moment of togetherness.   which we work to bring here now with us together . I like to think of The Dinner Party as a worthy read. To know of these 39 women and to realise the thousands of others from all our cultures.

I hope I encourage you to read it . . You can open it anywhere and read a poem about a woman who once lived and believed by her actions one day women will do much for each other and for the world. 


To me it is a precious book.  And it is only a window into a wider world of Restoring Women to History but an important window.

One last quote which is not aimed at us as we are privileged women but to so many women in Australia suffering DV and poverty

 women all around the world  in fear of war, slavery, hunger.  A quote from Arundhati Roy

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.

I feel this puts the responsibility onto us gifted women to continue the brave work at all times to make this happen .

And then thanks to my friend Pip Griffin who helped me unwind and celebrate by sharing a wonderful pavlova  and Champagne down by the harbour, relaxing watching the ferries come and go and listening to a Chilean musicain play a very melodic harmonising  hand drum .