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.