Opus, a life with music by Pip Griffin A Review by Colleen Kearing


A REVIEW by Colleen Keating publ. in Womens Ink Journal Summer 2023

What more powerful way to reflect on your journey of life than entwined with the memory of music. Exquisitely wrought, Pip Griffin’s Opus: a life with music, gives us snapshots, sometimes softened, sometimes shocking but always honed and beautifully crafted, revealing the deep perception and intimacy we have come to know in her poetry. Using music to unearth memories of her life, these poems are infused with frankness and authenticity. With themes of love, betrayal, loss, nostalgia and resilience we experience the connection between music and the human spirit, as in the poem, Mahler 1:

His genius still draws bows

across my body as I sit with seagulls

in winter sunlight

and in a moment of serendipity in a later poem, Philip Glass in Florence:

Glass begins to play

his layered, hypnotic compositions

his fingers entrancing us 

into a fourth dimension

and we are reminded of the universal solace that music can offer in fraught, fragmented times of conflict:

you took the vinyl record from its sleeve

compelling us to sit and listen  

to the gentle swelling harmonies

letting Vaughan Williams sing us back 

until our souls returned 

This collection of poetry is divided into seven sections. In the section called Air on a G String, Pip writes of the funeral after the tragic death of  her sister:

Though her funeral service is a blur

the music lives forever in my body

soundtrack to her sudden violent death

In the poem Keeper we hear the connection between mother and music: 

At thirteen I’ve become her keeper –

my best friend whom I adore

who chivvies me to practice scales 

 . . .

whose own ambitions dribbled away 

like the gin I watch 

drain slowly down the kitchen sink.

and later in Resurrection:

Singing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’

at one with the voices of a hundred 

she’s alive , the last of her bonds broken. 

The trumpet sounds for her –

Opus is imbued with music, including that of the ocean and sometimes birds. Pip’s selection of music is eclectic and ecumenical: from Bach to Brahms, Britten to Brubeck, Chopin to choirs and the cello, Elgar and Elvis, Handel to Haley, Mahler to Leonard Cohen to name but a few. Published by Ginninderra Press, Opus is an engaging collection and highly recommended. 

Colleen Keating


Barrington Range: Road Trip No.1 for 2024


Road Trip No 1 for 2024

Our trip encompasses the Worimami and Biripi/Birpai people and country of the Eastern side of the Barrington Range and into the Wonaruah and Gaewegal people of the Western Country. For tens of thousands of years  they cared for country as a living holistic cultural landscape .  Spiritual beliefs and traditional practice encompassing the elements of Land, Law  and Language  to mother earth  and father sky and the ancestral beings.

Coming home after Christmas /New Year  break we decided to catch up with a friend in Scone for lunch. This can mean we have three options

 1. Going north over the Gwydir Highway into Glen Innes and down the New England Highway to Scone, which is a journey we enjoy as we both lived and worked in Glen Ines and Armidale in our courting days and we love to revisit and remember special places and special times. We have a favourite motel called Abbey Motel near everything especially dinner outlets for staying over night.

  2. Crossing via the Waterfall Way which is a journey we enjoy with a stop at a vortex place for its – Ebor Falls .  This is tricky in finding a place to stay and timing is out a bit for lunch , well lunch is not possible– the best we can do is 2pm and that was pushing it making it about the destination rather than the journey too rushed.

3. However for a first adventurous road trip of 2024 we decided to make the journey from Gloucester  over the  Barrington Tops through the Barrington National Park and down the western side through farm land into Gundy and Moonan Flat and into Scone . For this we needed to stay in Scone( nothing reasonable available so took the extra kilometres to Aberdeen  for the evening and perfect timing for early  leisurely lunch with our friend in Scone and wild chatter that picks up where we we left on last visit.  and time to get back to Sydney. 

Road Trip 

We set off from Coffs Harbour at 8am in the cool of the morning, travelled south for about three hours and tuned off the Pacific Freeway to Gloucester. 

A wonderful second-hand book shop along the way  on the outskirts of Gloucester  near the turn off for the mountain. This was a rest period and stop and we bought a few poetry books and a pictorial book for Michael on the Lakes area.  

Then we left civilisation and it was dirt, dirt and more dirt. The clouds were textures white light and promising of good weather. We would not like to be doing this in boggy conditions.  We love the the bubbling brooks we pass as we got higher into the hills. 

Higher we came to the Eucalypt Forest. We had a break at Thunderbolt Lookout  and very fascinating stop at  The Firs. The main sounds were like reevng of bikes which actually is the prolific cacophony of Lyre Birds  calling . One came out and danced for is in the stream of light striking a clearing and as we left another  lyre bird ran across the road . We stopped to watch it but it had quickly blended in with the vegetation.

Another stop at Cobark Lookout . and across the famous Dingo Fence and we wound down the steep western mountain side with glorious vistas of farm land and more mountains and crossed  many bridges over the Hunter, Isis, Stewart Brook . and through Gundy, not surprised at the number of groups camped  along the river.   Stopped at Moonan Flats which has been done up but was closed to our surprise. and to  finally into Aberdeen  to the motel. This meant a relaxed morning and to have lunch with our friend .


Ömie Barkcloth exhibition at the Chau Chak Wing Museum

Lost Innocence

Untouched by a crowded, commercial, corrupt-tempting world
unblemished by greed and fear of need and fame
protected by impenetrable jungle wilderness
and thick mountain mist, an unknown world, hidden from t

enticles of progress enigmatic, endangered as a planet humans
want to conquer. Discovered by the clambering, climbing, curious
determined to find the last small pocket of skythe Ömie people are
found living their beauty of being alive, honouring their creative

human spirit with art, story, song in forever land.
Their world, their inspiration.twig, tusk and teeth,
leaf and twine to weave and plait, vine, feather, bone,
and web, wood and bark, mystery of the eye and their

mountain that nourishes them. They write their story
and adorntheir bodies in design, decoration, pattern
with minute details of leaf, snake backbone, hip joint
of mountain frogs, of beetle jaw and spider.

In cyclic beat of time, coloured,in plant yellow, black
and brick reds. We stand back and learn of a world
we have lost. Of innocence, simplicity and beauty
and now found, it is lost once again.

Colleen Keating


Ömie barkcloth:

Pathways of nioge is currently on display on the fourth floor of the University of Sydney’s Chau Chak Wing Museum. Upon entering the gallery space, one is met with a black title wall, and illuminating the text design, is a creative and understated use of exhibition lighting. It is employed throughout the entirety of the exhibition, giving one the immersive feeling of almost being situated within the shadows, and silhouettes of the rainforest highlands of Northern (Oro) Province, Papua New Guinea.

The Ömie people are a distinct cultural group with their own language; a population of around two thousand lives in a series of seven main villages and many more hamlets. Their region in the Mount Lamington Huvaemo, and Mount Obo foothills – close to Kokoda – is sacred to them as the site of their creation stories. Their art is prolific and diverse.

Ömie tapa or nioge in Ömie language is beaten bark cloth, made from the inner bark, or bast, of certain rainforest fig trees including banyan to give a brown finish, and the paper mulberry tree – mori arobe, for the whitish tapa. The bark is cut, then the outer bark is cleaned off to make the inner bark or bast ready for beating. Drops of water are continually sprinkled over the bark as it is beaten to soften it. Paint dyes come from various roots, bark, leaves, fruit, seeds, and nuts. These include combinations of natural plant materials, ash, and water.

The works that comprise the exhibition form the basis of the largest public collection of Ömie nioge, donated to the Chau Chak Wing Museum over the last five years by oceanic art collector and dealer Todd Barlin, who acquired much of the work from fellow collector, and dealer David Baker.

This exhibition is full of vibrant and arresting works, striking for their diversity of size, shape, colour, and symbolism. Many of the works are displayed on large, dark, floating walls, allowing you to walk around and view them while moving in and out of the light. The large white walls of the gallery space are subdued by the creative lighting design. This gives the exhibition more depth overall, and furthers the geometric pathways of nioge design that are the focus.

An added bonus for us on our visit to the Chau Chak Wing Museum was that one of the of curators Rebecca Conwdaughter of Jan took us on a conducted tour of the exhibition and in the afternoon we enjoyed a question and answer panel discussion with Drusilla Mojeska who has been one of the first to trek into the mountain (Mt. Lamington) and befriend the ömie women amd her biographer Bernadette Brenton . Then lunch in the cafe indoor/outdoor at the Museum.




Women’s Ink; The Society of Women Writers NSW. In memory of a black summer by Colleen Keating

Very honoured to have my poem  Memory of a Black Summer chosen to be published in Women’s Ink Summer 2023., the quarterly Journal of the NSW Society of Women Writers.

The theme was ‘Climate – the heat of the moment’and my summer poem fitted right in.

Thank you to the editor Jo Shevchenko and to the President Maria McDougall for a very affirming year .


In memory of a black summer   

 We had the experience but we missed the meaning.  

    TS Eliot

the cicadas ring earlier 
morning birds call earlier too
and then become silent

the summer ritual of each day –
carrying buckets of water 
to top up the bird baths

is quickly appreciated
there seems an orderly queue 
no boisterous bickering today

as if there is bird protocol
we all need to preserve our energy
for these days are solemn

so much loss   so much to mourn  
so many birds   so many mammals  
insects and living worlds lost

the smoke-laden air 
can hardly be breathed   
the  ashened sun masked

our summer of people fleeing 
livelihoods burn 
metal buckles

people rescued from beaches 
refugees in their own country
we fear 

we dread 
we are in pain

for ourselves and our traumatised earth
even the south pole 
ash-blanketed     melts

our carefree boxing day 
of cricket    tennis   yacht races 
is carefree no more 

I continue my summer ritual
of topping up the bird baths early
the birds fly in 

then sipping at the edge
keep nodding  thank you  thank you
as if they know I’m watching


Colleen Keating



Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality

Cover image of Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality

Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality

The John Hopkins University Press

December 2023

Very honoured and excitied to declare I have a poem chosen for the latest Spiritus Journal .  It maskes me Internationally published , not a new thing as my Hildegard poetry is published in Germany and USA but it is a highlight for 2023.  The poem  is From the Dust of Stars , shortlisted in the SWW  National Poetry  Competition  and now to be published. 

Interim Editor :