U3A Talk on the unfolding of her writing life by Pip Griffin


Last Friday 9th February 2024 , poet and friend,  Pip Griffin led a very enjoyable and informative morning,
as U3A speaker for the month, at the Leichhardt Library.  Pip shared with us the unfolding of  her writing life, the challenges of writing a verse novel and with a vivid and colourful set of slides took us through the inspiration and process of writing three of her many books.  There was a great gathering of more then 30 people who came to support and hear Pip’s very interesting journey.  And we had a great celebratory lunch afterwards with some friends to cheer Pip’s very successful morning.


Pip introduced us to her earlier and highly acclaimed verse novel Ani Lin: The Journey of a Chinese Buddhist Nun.  The slides of her actual journey in China and on the edge of  Tibet where she found the inspiration for her Buddhist Nun were excellent and she thanks her son John for his assistance in this. 

As the dust jacket informs its readers: “In 1892, 18 year old Lin enters a mountain nunnery, where she begins a journey that will take her on a difficult spiritual and physical path.  Her dream is to work for equality for women in the Buddhist world.”  In her Afterword Griffin announces that this is an imaginary tale: “In 1874, my imaginary nun, Lin, was born in a village near Yunnanfu (capital of Yunnan Province and renamed Kunming in the 1920s).  She died in 1939, the year I was born.  Her story was conceived in 1985 when I first travelled to Guilin (Guangxi Province) and experienced feelings of déjà vu in the spectacular karst landscape.”

Pip’s opening poem “Coming home from the market” exemplifies the ethos behind the poem novel as she introduces the young girl to her readers:

 I ride my bicycle
 on the bumpy road
 through hazy landscape
 patchwork gardens illuminated
 by the setting sun
 stacked mountains layered
 against orange sky
This is a work laden with possibilities that result out of an engagement with people, places and landscape, real but also mythically-charged.  And as her reviewer, Patricia Prime, wrote a little while back.

“The journey is beautifully evoked by Griffin as the girl traverses rivers, mountains, sacred peaks, sanctuaries and a visit to the Mu household where, in the poem “Visiting the Mu household” “Prince Mu has asked us / to take tea with him.”

Griffin’s poem novel is activated by small moments unfolding from the fragments of daily minutiae: a sense of miracle, bliss is localized, transcendence is brief and raw, insight comes from focusing on the elements of Lin’s journey, the playing of her flute, wandering in the lamasery garden, meditating, eating and drinking. “ 

Next Pip spoke of her research and writing  of  her verse novel, Margaret Caro : The Extraordinary Life of a Pioneering Dentist, New Zealand 1848-1938.  This is the story of her great aunt  and  pioneer in New Zealand, first female dentist in NZ, a convert to Seventh-day Adventism  and social reformer . A towering figure she and her husband  Jacob (a Physcian )  worked in many difficult places including in NZ goldfields .

Lastly Pip spoke of her highly acclaimed and award winning verse  novel, Virginia & Katherine: The Secret Diaries  . It is well summed up in the following from the SWW web site.

… K & I had our relationship, & never again shall I have one like it – Virginia Woolf, October 1924
In January 1923, Virginia Woolf noted in her diary that Katherine Mansfield had promised two years earlier to send her diary to her. She was perplexed and hurt that she had not, not knowing how ill Katherine had been. The ‘secret diaries’ – Virginia’s begun after Katherine’s death in 1923, Katherine’s begun in 1920 are written in lyrical poems inspired by the friendship (and intense rivalry) of the two women. Virginia and Katherine recognised that they were ‘both after the same thing’ in their compulsive, innovative work of ‘writing their lives’.  The book presents a fresh dialogue that also suggests a tantalising possibility.
Pip Griffin, with meticulous research, creates biographical, poetical fiction that is fascinating and intriguing, filled with wonderful quotes and speculation. A pleasure to deeply dive in – jenni nixon, poet
Publisher: Pohutukawa Press
ISBN:  9780980318456
AUD 20.00 plus postage available from:
The author pipgriffin8@gmail.com
Wheelers Book www.wheelers.co.nz
James Bennett Pty Ltd www.bennett.com.au


1.Ani Lin: The Journey of a Chinese Buddhist Nun, Pip GriffinPohutukawa Press, Leichhardt, N.S.W. 2014, Australia.  

2.Margaret Caro : The Extraordinary Life of a Pioneering Dentist, New Zealand 1848-1938.  Pohutukawa Press, 2020

3. Virginia & Katherine: The Secret Diaries   Pohutukawa Press, 2021



The Mozzie, Poetry Journal by Colleen Keating


Excited and honoured to have three poems published in the latest Mozzie. Thank you Ron Heard for keep on keeping on . It is a valuable contribution to our poetry world.

a poet

on Lennox Beach
i strode out 
the long flat expanse 
in my younger  faster days 
a shape-shifter in the dawn

above a brown wide-winged 
kestrel glided too
on the whipped air currents above
then dived into the grassy
sandbank and took off

Back at my cabin 
i wrote 
a poem from the heart 
stirred by this bird   posted it
to the Mozzie   and the editor –

Ron Heard  published it 
and I saw
my first ever poem in print
and that is how my life 
as a poet took wings

Colleen Keating

The Chinese Garden of Friendship: An Unfolding Journey

Un Unfolding Journey

After visiting the Powerhouse Museum to be part of the final exhibition before it closed for years, to be renovated, we bought a take away coffee and walked into Darling Harbour to visit The Chinese Garden of Friendship. Something I had not done for years.

We did what the brochure said “Take time to explore the mystery and magic,  allowing the Garden to gradually reveal its many secrets and hidden stories.”

We found a table near the lake in weeping willow shade to have our picnic with our coffee and watched the water dragons around our feet  and pop up on roa rock. We watched a turtle come out of the water and sit on a rock , the gold koi . 

It was lovely to picnic and wander through this small piece of tranquillity in a a busy noisy city. But here nothing is placed by accident. The whole garden  is based on the Taoist principles of Yin-Yang and the five elements of earth, fire, water, metal and wood. 

Chinese  philosophy places a lot on the flow of qi which we translate as energy  or life force and the garden is built with the idea of the flow of qi  as we walked  observing the  bridges, plants, trees,  sculptures, rocks, secret corners, pavilions meandering  stone steps have been meticulously chosen and placed to capture the qi of the five elements, Feng Shui and the universal forces that bind them together.

We experienced the gazing out   from the  mountain, from different perspectives of The Pavilions.  We experienced  the balancing opposites in the garden, rock  defying gravity  the constrasts of bonsai trees and conifers , the sound of cascading water and the stillness of the lake , the short soft mondo grass beneath the sturdy long-stemmed bamboo and the beauty of the large pink lotus lilies flowering on the lake. 

Below the Dragon Wall is the pool of reflection where many years back I had a moment of epiphany . Sitting their for quite awhile pondering the reflection of dragons and the wall  and counting coins it was a shock to suddenly see the clouds floating along in the water. It was one of those moments when you realise what you see is only a minimum of what is there. So easy to   forget we have only a small part of the whole .And it was one of those wow moments as the shallow pool became deeper and deeper

“The jewel of the Garden, The Gurr , also known as The Clear View Pavilion , sits at its highest point. Decorated with a lavish golden roof intricate wood carvings and an ornate lantern symbolising prosperity , it has a perfect view of the whole landscape.  


Di Yerbury Residency Award 2024 by Colleen Keating


Jan Conway the worthy winner with the two judges Colleen Keating  & Sharon Rundle

Congratulations to Janette Conway, worthy winner of this year’s Di Yerbury Residency Award. 

Emerita Professor Di Yerbury, Patron of the Society of Women Writers NSW, generously sponsors the Writers Residency which grants the winner 3 months stay in Barnstaple, Devon, UK to research and to continue to write a full length work-in-progress.

Maria McDougall (President of the SWW, Jan Conway the 2024 winner of the Di Yerbury Award,
Emerita Professor Di Yerbury and Colleen Keating one of the judges.

Previous winners of this award Belinda Murrell and Cindy Broadbent spoke about their time at the residency, the benefits that they enjoyed from their stay there, what it meant to them, as well as giving a brief insight into the work-in-progress that they are writing. Each showed a video to illustrate their talk. 

Pamela Rushby was guest speaker and spoke about her book about mudlarking on the Thames in London and showed us some of the artefacts she had retrieved from the banks of the river.

I highly recommend entering the Di Yerbury annual Residency Award, but you do need to be a member of the SWW. More at:


Congratulations to all our residency winners past and present.




Congratulations to Janette Conway on being awarded the 2024 Di Yerbury residency. Jan is seen here with Patron, Emerita Professor, Di Yerbury and judges Colleen Keating and Sharon Rundle

LOSS: VOL 9 The latest edition in the Lifespan series from Pure Slush Poetry Anthologies.

Very affirming to have a poem in the latest edition of the Lifespan Series from Pure Slush – Loss and exciting to be published with some other family friends including Pip Griffin.  

Loss Lifespan Vol. 9

570 pages – to be published February 2024


paperback ISBN: 978-1-922427-36-6

ePub ISBN: 978-1-922427-37-3

Kindle ISBN: 978-1-922427-84-7

to purchase Loss, click here for  paperback  /  ePub  (ePubs can be read on Apple devices, and all eReaders except Kindle)  /  Kindle

For Loss

Featuring the poetry and prose of Alex Reece Abbott, Carol Adams, Edward Ahern, Tobi Alfier, Dee Allen, Kathleen Aponick, Richard Clarke, Ken Cohen, Sage Cohen,, Flemming George, Declan Geraghty,  Gabby Gilliam, JW Goll, Jim Gormley, Ken Gosse, John Grey, Pip Griffin, Betty Naegele Gundred, Chris Hall, Ronald T. Hardwick, Richard Harries, Doug Hawley, Tom Hazuka, Mark Heathcote, Henry, Kathleen Herrmann, Theresa Hickey, Matthe Fiona M. Jones, Kenneth M. Kapp, Colleen Keating, Alan Kennedy, gundo, Judith Shapiro, Pegi Deitz Shea, Emily Shearer, Josh Sherman, Michael Shoemaker, Joan Seliger Sidney, Cheryl Snell, Amy Soricelli, Gail Sosinsky, Adrienne Stevenson, Robin Stratton, Marianne Szlyk, Christopher Tattersall, Phillip Temples, Suzette Thompson, Lydia Trethewey, Lucy Tyrrell, Leo Vanderpot, Linden Van Wert, Donald R. Vogel, Kenneth Wagner, Zhihua Wang, Tony Warner, Kresha Richman Warnock, Alison Wassell, B. D. Watson, Michael Webb, Brian Weston, Lynn White, Thomas Reed Willemain, Jeral Williams, Todd Williams, Russell E. Willis, Allan J. Wills, Mike Wilson, Melissa E. Wong, Anne Harding Woodworth, Stephen Paul Wren, Mantz Yorke and Gary Zenker.


My poem chosen for the Anthology

morning litany  the day after

air tastes brittle         hits hard                    
like the head of a nail being pounded 

there has been no rain for weeks 
earth is dry 

leaves   dusty and blueish 
curl in foetal positions 

in a Philip Glass time warp 

the antiphon of morning birds 
is devoured by an leaf blower 

roaring hungrily nearby
the tree out the back sacrificed

 because someone said it was dead    
lies weeping cut up in small offerings

birds that nested in its knotted hollows
have fled 

and i have  to look away from
being a witness 

away from TV images 
Gaza Ukraine Mali Israel

garish glint of metal and concrete   mock
new home units towering out of place

the riff of rivulets in Coups Creek muted
in welled-up rock crevices   

later   leaning into the warm dimpled trunk
of a doyenne of the bush  i watch a flock

of spotted pardalotes   their tiny pieces of sun
wild and cheerful  skittle the morning

REVIEW of The Dinner Party: A poetic response by Denise O’Hagan

The Dinner Party:  A poetic response by Colleen Keating (Ginninderra Press 2023)  reviewed by Denise O’Hagan

. . . we revive your memory

and honour you  . . .

You chose to be empowered

before women were visible.   (p.46)

These lines, addressed to Marcella of Rome, epitomise the spirit behind Keating’s latest collection, The Dinner party. A poetic response, released by Adelaide-based publisher, Ginninderra Press. During the course of its 144 pages –  substantial by poetry book standards – Keating fleshes out some of history’s most gifted and courageous women, rescuing them from the obscurity and oppression to which ‘patriarchy’s wilful effort’ has traditionally consigned them, and restoring them to centre stage.

The book is a poetic response to the iconic art  installation by American feminist artist, Judy Chicago (created 1974-1979), of a large triangular dinner table set for, and dramatically commemorating, thirty-nine influential women drawn from history and mythology.

The poet’s attentiveness to the installation is clear: she structures her book into three ‘wings’, representing three eras from the ancient world through to the beginnings of the women’s revolution, each of which is devoted to thirteen women from areas as diverse as the arts and activism to medicine and music.

The women are vividly evoked in all their multilayered complexity. We meet the ancient Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar, known for her jealous nature as much as for her embodiment of love and fertility, whose

‘honeyed mouth
turns venomous at a whim’,

revolutionary artist Artemisia Gentileschi, 
‘a Baroque prescience of women’s advocacy’

who was lost  to history for 400 years’ and women rights activist Mary Wollstonecraft, whose voice

‘was a luminous candle
in a darkness of patriarchy.’

These imaginative recreations are complemented by notes on the background of each woman, and a detailed bibliography.

This is a powerful yet sensitive breathing of lyrical life into significant historical women, and an eloquent contribution to feminist literature. As its author points out

’The challenge is ongoing. There are still many injustices enacted against women. Domestic violence is at an all time high.’

The table is set, the dinner party poised to happen – and the book places us on the cusp of what promises to be a spirited dinner party!

I would urge you, the reader, to take up Keating’s invitation to immerse yourself in this remarkable collection and in so doing, honour the women ‘on whose shoulders we stand’.

To purchase The Dinner Party


or please order from your favourite online seller: print or ebook.

About Denise O’Hagan  Editor and writer

Born and raised in Italy, Denise lived in the UK before emigrating to Sydney, Australia.

After completing a Masters in Bibliography and Textual Criticism at Leeds University, she worked as an editor with various publishing houses including Collins, Heinemann and Routledge in London, and Horwitz Educational and Cambridge University Press in Sydney, where she was also consulting editor with the State Library of NSW.

She set up her own imprint Black Quill Press in 2015 to publish her late mother’s books: Jerome & His Women (2015), shortlisted for the Institute of Professional Editors’ Rosanne Fitzgibbon Editorial Award (the ‘Rosie’), and a second revised edition of A Roman Death (2017), originally published by Macmillan. Her poetry is published widely in Australia and internationally. Recipient of the Dalkey Poetry Prize, she has also been shortlisted in various awards including the Australian Catholic University Poetry Prize, the Robert Graves Poetry Prize (UK), the Plough Writing Prize (UK) and the Proverse International Poetry Prize (Hong Kong). She was Poetry Editor for Australia/New Zealand for Irish literary journal The Blue Nib until 2020. Her poetry collections include The Beating Heart (Ginninderra Press 2020), shortlisted for the Society of Women Writers NSW Book Awards 2022, and Anamnesis (Recent Work Press 2022), finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Award (Poetry) 2023 and shortlisted in the International Rubery Book Award (Poetry) 2023.


It was the prevailing attitude in the 1960s that women had no history. There were no women’s studies, nothing.’ Judy Chicago, creator of the iconic art installation The Dinner Party.

The Dinner Party by the talented poet Colleen Keating brings to light, through beautiful lyrical poetry, what for centuries has been ignored: the power and strength of women. Very little has been made known about the lives of influential women of the past, as women’s lived experience has been suppressed, even erased from history. In this collection, the poet resuscitates the experience of women from prehistory to women’s twentieth-century revolution. Her poetry traces the lives of women who demonstrated their influence, in every field including philosophy, medicine, writing, art, astronomy, suffragists and justice warriors who fought for recognition. Women who gave their lives, suffered, broke barriers, knocked down walls, smashed glass ceilings, pried open doors, who defied patriarchy in some way for all of us. Still today as women are written into history, the struggle for our reckoning towards equality and respect continues. A must-read book that honours women; women who would not be silent.’ – Dr Beatriz Copello
‘With impeccable research and deep empathy, Colleen Keating continues her powerful poetic contribution to feminist literature with the celebration of thirty-nine of the more than a thousand women forgotten, marginalised or written out of Western history. A remarkable and beautifully imagined work.’ – Pip Griffin
978 1 76109 530 6, 144pp