Friday 29 July 2022

Ready for more than nursery rhymes

My poem "Ready for more than nursery rhymes" is the opening poem in the beautiful "Quicksilver water - Oasis Women Poets" anthology which was launched yesterday at Hadley's Hotel in Hobart. I read at the event alongside many wonderful women, and what was very special to me, was that my daughter had her first poem published in the book and read it alongside me. Here is my poem.

Ready for more than nursery rhymes


I’ve kept my distance from you for three-and-a-half years

and that’s ok

because I was making new people –

two of them –

and really, life trumps poetry.

But without poetry,

life lacks some kind of empathic resonance,

percipience and depth,

so I am edging back to you

in between nappy changes and lullabies,

liquid Panadol and my own lonely pillow.


forgive me for snubbing you.

Remind me how to observe

more than the swollen gums of the next tooth,

more than the yearning for sleep-ins.

Come and save me

from the repetition of the weekly vacuum,

the dreaded bath-scrub, the urgent late-afternoon question

of what to cook.

I know some things, like these indescribable

love-blossomed smiles from my babies

are outside your scope of practice,

but I need you to rescue me from burnt meatballs,

temper tantrums at the kitchen gate

and this chasm between experience

and words.

Poetry, I’ve taken advantage of your patience.

Will you have me back?

- Susan Austin

Thursday 17 February 2022

Competitions and an agent

2021 was a big year for me and poetry. Since my last blog update in October, I was delighted that two more poems from my verse novel Dancing with Empty Prams, submitted as one entry under the title “The intimacy of needles; the poise of liquid nitrogen” were Commended on Sunday in the Woorilla Poetry Prize 2021. Judge Nathan Curnow commented: “This is an honest account of IVF treatment. It’s a long journey of a couple who are yearning for pregnancy, who are managing amid expectation and exhaustion. It’s finely handled; it’s a sensitive piece about hope, patience, absence and anticipation.” You can listen to the comments and hear Nathan read the poems (from the 1:42:30 mark on the replay of the live-stream video of the award presentation below.)


In November I was excited to announce that I signed a contract with a literary agent, Fiona Johnson from Beyond Words Literary Agency, to guide my verse novel manuscript Dancing with Empty Prams out into the world.

And I was happy to round out the year with the news that one of my poems, “and then I catch myself”, received a Special Mention in the 2021 Colin and Norma Knight Memorial Poetry Award competition facilitated by the Fellowship of Australian Writers Tasmania. Judge Karen Witek (Knight) commented that my poem had a “Great title, descriptive imagery, reminiscent of some of Whitman’s thought processes." She also wrote: "I liked how the writer took us into their private world of short term escapism, a walk through mindfulness, memories and beauty.”

Undertow price reduced! Now only $18 with free postage.

I had the pleasure of walking to South Cape Bay on the southern edge of Tasmania a few weekends ago (see photos below). It was our family's first overnight bush walk. As we were walking along the spectacular cliff tops beside the ocean, my husband said it made him think about my poetry book, Undertow. The cover photo on Undertow shows me sitting up on those cliffs looking out to the great Southern Ocean, when I last went walking there with my friend Jenny.

If you haven't yet read Undertow, now would be a great time to get a copy, because I've reduced the price to $18 and will post it for you for free. Just click on the PayPal Buy Now button on the right hand side of the main page of this blog, enter your details and I will get it in the mail for you. Or if you're using a phone, find the Buy Undertow option in the drop-down blog menu. Thanks for your support!