The Climb Back Poems for Ted by Pip Griffin

Congratulations to my friend Pip Griffin. Her new poetry collection  The Climb Back  Poems for Ted is up on the Ginninderra  Press web site.   A worthy read  . . . .’these passionate poems open out and touch us with a consoling grief’
and as I wrote,
 ‘For those of us who know life is a gift and are called to the hard work of hope, The Climb Back is invaluable.’
Highly recommended
There is a fierce tenderness in these poems of happy remembrance and devastating sorrow. With so much love expressed so beautifully in the first half of the book, we instinctively fear what is to come, as if all that light cast shadows across our path. Though the death of a loved partner – also a poet – is deeply personal, these passionate poems open out and touch us with a consoling grief.’ – Paul Kane
‘”Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, stains the white radiance of eternity.” Percy Bysshe Shelley. From the first poem that speaks of the ‘delicate prints of oystercatchers’ to the comfort of a ragged dressing gown, the protective love of the kahu-feather cloak and the ‘butcher-bird that perches very close’, Pip, as a poet and wordsmith transports us into an experience that shines multicoloured with the beauty of a stained-glass window. Each poem is a facet that adds to the mosaic, each poem a gentle play of light, illuminating page by page. For those of us who know life is a gift and are called to the hard work of hope, The Climb Back is invaluable.’ – Colleen Keating
‘Poignant, sensual, spiritual, sorrowful, and funny, Pip Griffin’s latest poetry collection The Climb Back encompasses a life richly lived. What is not to admire about a poet who can write lines as diverse as ‘the shags open their sodden wings like flashers’ raincoats’ and ‘cherry trees in blossom line the streets like flower girls at a wedding’. This book is a hymn to New Zealand, Pip’s homeland, and a celebration of its landscape, wildlife and the Maori language. But even above this, it is a memorial to Ted, her friend, lover and fellow poet. If he were still here, I’d be clinking my glass with his, to celebrate her achievement.’ – Mark Mahemoff
978 1 76109 191 9, 92pp




5 Write Answers from Women’s Ink
















To read my poetry out loud and listen carefully for meaning and rhythm.

When I am stuck, I record it and play it back to myself. I know there are modern methods to do this on our iPhones these days, but I still have an old portable tape recorder on the shelf above my desk which I read into and listen back, checking out the lyrical bent.

I get so much insight from this process.

Colleen Keating is an award winning Sydney-based poet. She has four books of poetry including her latest poetry book Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey, awarded the Silver Nautilus Award 2019 Better Books for a Better World USA.


It’s hard to pin down a best advice because I’ve had lots of good advice. But perhaps the earliest and most fundamental is good old Show Don’t Tell.

I can’t remember who or when I first came across that piece of advice, but it was certainly reinforced by Patricia Gaut when I was one of her Willoughby Writers. Since those early days, I have modified it a bit so that it’s: mostly show, and tell when you really need to.

Pippa Kay is a Sydney-based author whose most recent work Keeping it in the Family won the Society of Women Writers Fiction Book award in 2018. Pippa’s work has also appeared in multiple anthologies including On Murder 2, No Thanks or Regrets, and various Stringybark anthologies.


It was years ago when I was submitting poems to the late Les Murray, Literary Editor of Quadrant magazine and all my poems were getting rejected.

I said to Les, ‘I am not a poet, am I?’

He said, ‘You could be a poet, but you need a surprise at the end of each stanza.’

So that’s what I do now and it’s working.

My own advice to new writers is a quote from Ernest Hemingway: ‘The only kind of writing is rewriting.’

Libby Sommer is an award-winning Australian author of ‘My Year With Sammy’ 2015, ‘The Crystal Ballroom’ 2017, ‘The Usual Story’ 2018 and ‘Stories from Bondi’ 2019. ‘Lost In Cooper Park’ will be published by Ginninderra Press in late 2020. She is a regular contributor of stories and poems to Quadrant magazine.



It was delivered in a workshop at the SWW by the wonderful Australian author, Sue Woolfe.

In discussing the early stages of a writing project, Sue spoke of ‘The tragedy of knowing what you’re doing’. She explained that it is actually important, in terms of the way our brains work creatively, not to know. That ‘our unconscious mind is much smarter than we are,’ and that in a sense, we need to trust that our story knows what it’s doing, even if we are initially uncertain.

I’ve since heard this idea mirrored in various ways by other authors such as George Saunders and Elizabeth Gilbert and I love and believe in the magical element of the concept, though it’s easier said than done!

Melissa Bruce an award-winning writer of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama. Her debut novel, ‘Picnic at Mount Disappointment’ won the inaugural Woollahra Digital Literary Award for Fiction and was Highly Commended by the Society of Women Writers, NSW.


From Elizabeth Jolley, the importance of observing and jotting down the ‘quick note’.

From Stephanie Dowrick, allowing the creative mind to bring ideas to the surface, while your hands are engaged in doing routine chores.

From Patti Miller, the value of narrative withholding, where a writer withholds certain information from the reader in order to create mystery, suspense, tension, interest and dramatic irony.

From David Malouf, that ‘writing is about an enthusiastic rush; it is also about patience’. He is right. For a writer, patience is essential – patience when writing and patience when publishing.

Dr Sharon Rundle is an Editor of books and online Story Mosaics, who has taught writing for over 25 years at universities and institutions in Australia, India, and the UK. For the past 15 years, she has edited books by authors in Australia and the Indian Subcontinent.

Jandamarra – Sing for the Country by Colleen Keating

Jandamarra  – Sing for the Country  by Colleen Keating


It amazes me how a word or a story that comes to your attention, and that was not consciously known by you previously, comes to meet you often after that. This happened a few years back with the word segue. Maybe, well it was in my reading but I had never recognised it. Maybe it was spoken but I had never heard anyone speak it, until, there was an instant where it came to my attention and then it was frequently heard and seen.

Jandamarra is another such word . . .Jandamarra was like an unknown planet,  never heard, never spoken, and then it came into my orbit and I realised it is one of the rich historical sounds of Australia.

This happened on our trip to north western Australia.

We took a tour from Broom in Western Australia along the iconic Gibb Road past the now notorious Derby Prison Boab Tree into the Bunuba.

We explored the oasis of Windjana Gorge with its 350 year old mountain range , once a Devonian reef with its sheer 90 metre cliffs and its salt-water crocodiles and bird life and bush tucker and into the intricate system of Tunnel Creek, a most mossy sanctuary of this cool tranquil gorge.  Here we heard the story of Jandamarra from our local guide. 

The poet in me touched into the story’s sensibility  and then I found many  already knew this story and there was there was a movie, a book , songs and many writings.

It took this  awakening to have the word in my orbit.

I believe Jandamarra’s story is one every year 3/4 Australian child should know. And that is coming so more and more.

When I was at the Conservatorium for anther event I saw the add for Jandamarra the musical. Booking was lucky with some friends for it seemed a full house.

The world Premier of Jandamarra  – Sing for the Country (Ngalanybarra Muwayi.u)

was a breath-taking evening.

“ The story of a young man trapped between black and white worlds. 

Jandamarra’s story is told with traditional song woven

 into the texture of symphonic and choral forces.”

It was a packed house with a standing ovation at the conclusion  for the Bunuba people, the women’s choir,  the young choirs,  Orchestra and  Bunuba actors .…colleen-keaating/

Suite for Jandamarra 

Tunnel Creek

Windjana Gorge fresh pristine
permanent water percolated
from ancient rains that deluged the land

slippery marbleised boulders
bluff the uninitiated
sustain mystery
deter and challenge efforts to go further
into the secret of Tunnel Creek

without hand or foot grip
trust plumbs the abyss
tumbles into coolness

a sombre space
deeply carved from Devonian times
salted with yellow light
its rays tinkling like tiny bells
decor of stalactites and stalagmites
pendants of bats and glint of eyes
timid fresh water crocs

in this sandy echoing amphitheatre
with long bare arm i scoop up spring water
and hear of Jandamarra

his spirit is here<
this was his last place to stand

Flash back

Tunnel Creek
the Kimberley outback
land of the Bunuba people
the time is late nineteenth century
the last stage of white invasion
being played out
herds of cattle trample the grasses
water holes gone

spirit is broken
faded sepia shots capture for history
naked black men neck and ankle chained
on a track to Derby lock-up
there to be packed
in a thousand year old hollow Boab tree<


yet one warrior
Jandamarra takes a last stand
turns against his white masters
fights heroically
to save his people
and his country

a mythical figure he appeared fought
disappeared unable to be tracked
for years he held out
the one burning flame

betrayal and a bullet
a fight that died to a flicker
it was in his Tunnel Creek cave<
Jini his mother held him as life petered out<span
a Pietà on the rock of Golgotha

Bunuba Country

a city poet can not glean
the essence of the Bunuba people
their story is easily lost
in white history and chronological time
the plunge into Tunnel Creek<
further connects to mystery
it is about feeling<
rather then hearing stories told

and still today
documented as criminals
who died because they defied<
legitimate laws and white society<
redacts another history

by Colleen Keating

Our visit to the beautifully renovated Sydney Town Hall for the performance .