Exile: Truganini and Gwen Harwood in Oyster Cove

In her poem On History, the poet Gwen Harwood contends that time provides perspective, a point from which we can grasp “our place in the environment”:


Things have been past, and will be future

The present moment like a suture

Holds time together. What’s to come

Will be the past.


Sometimes the time seems out of joint,

but we can find a starting point

in any good historian’s pages,

and grasp, before our light is spent,

our place in the environment


In Blessed City, she asks

What does it mean to... read more

Bigamy and Shiny Buttons

“He was the most beautiful man,” my Aunt Dora told me wistfully, more than sixty years later. She was thirteen when she first met her new brother-in-law. Her sister Elizabeth, known as Lieske, had left the rural north of the Netherlands the previous year to work as a doctor’s receptionist in Amsterdam, where she had met Floris, a young man, nineteen years old and married him on the 30th of December 1941. Because they were both barely out of their... read more

The Love Song Richard Wagner's The Valkyrie

The Love Song of Richard Wagner’s The Valkyrie.

Good evening and welcome to this chat about this evening’s program. My name is Andrys Onsman and I am an adjunct at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University. Before I begin, I must firstly acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where we are gathered and marvel at the fact that people have been coming to this very spot for thousands of years to sing and dance... read more

On Christian Names

I was born a Frisian – a statement that usually causes snorts, sniggers and hilarious comments about cows. I have no idea how the cows feel about the jokes but I’m over it. It’s not that I can’t take a joke; it’s just that they’re not funny. But of course, it’s not really about cows. Jokes about minorities all over the world, the Irish, the Newfies, the Bretons, Tasmanians, New Zealanders, are... read more

Humility in translation.

After a year teaching in China, one of my colleagues gave me two beautiful scrolls. One was a calligraphy alphabet she had drawn herself on gold-coloured paper and the other was a scroll of a famous poem, hand made by her calligraphy teacher at art school. At more than a meter and a half in length, it is a gorgeous work. At the top are the two characters for dragon, underneath which the poem is written in fast flowing swirls... read more

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