A Writer's Autobiography
I was born in Kaitaia, almost as far up the North Island of New Zealand as you can
go, third child of six. We grew together like a litter of puppies, spent the endless
summer holidays each year at the beach-side farm where my father was born. Then
we moved to Napier, a better place to educate children so we were told. I lost my
first language, went through classes quickly, and left school, and home, at the age
of sixteen. I had qualified for University Entrance but was considered too young to
attend, so I started work.
My love of poetry was encouraged by one particular teacher, Miss Hilda Timms,
and I’m still fired by her passion for words. I worked school holidays in the Napier
Library, and read my way through their selection of literature.
I worked, mainly in clerical jobs, in Christchurch and Wellington, then headed off to
Australia. For the next five years I worked in NSW Ski resorts, in bars, restaurants
and ski hires, staying year-round for the sailing, swimming, water-skiing and horse-
riding in summer. I learned to use a spinning wheel, and opened a shop selling
home-spun and hand-dyed garments, knitted for me by a group of workers spread
over the district. I worked for a legal firm as trust account book keeper, for an
accountant preparing income tax returns, for a motel as house-keeper, then travelled
to the States to learn more about stained glass construction.
My first husband was American - we divorced a year later, and I married an Australian I’d met in
California. With him I worked track-side at horse races in Sydney for a licensed bookmaker for
five years - I was a penciller, he was a bagman. We bought some land near the ski-
fields where I’d worked, and spent as much time there as we could. One year he went
back to the city and I stayed on. I lived, totally alone for the first time in my life, in
the house we’d built in the bush, as close to self-sufficiency as possible. I read a lot
about Zen, studied haiku, gradually lost the city shell.
After I’d lost three cars to the river crossing I had the house moved into the small
village down the river, Numeralla, and lived there happily for 20 years with my
new partner, reading, gardening, making home brews and wine, and designing and
building stained glass panels. 8 years ago I broke my left leg in a drunken scramble
through a wire fence, taking a shortcut, and spend hours of agony trying to crawl
home, not understanding why each time I tried to stand, I fell. Eventually I was
My recuperation involved taking long walks daily. I found I was coming home with
a head full of words, seemingly inspired by the pace of my footsteps, and I started
writing them down. For the first time since I’d left high school, 40 years before, I
wrote poetry. I joined an online poetry site and started learning, particularly about
revision (always needed!). I was lucky to be mentored by a poet who took care with
his explanations. I spent much happy time working on glass with my hands while
my mind played with words. You can see some work here: Flicker.com
Two years later I moved back to New Zealand, to help care for my mother who had
dementia. My siblings were scattered over the world. I joined an online class in
Creative Writing from Whitireia College, attended a poetry workshop at Victoria
University Wellington, run by the International Institute of Modern Letters.
My first poem, To the Tuhoe, was published in Oct/Nov 2008 edition of the New Zealand
magazine Mana. I graduated with Diploma in Creative Writing from Whitireia
2009, and applied to study for MA in Creative Writing with IIML, was accepted, and
graduated in 2011. By then I had had some 20 poems published and had won the
2010 Wellington Cafe Poetry competition. I also attended two six week workshops
at Victoria University run by Iowa graduates, one by Lucas Bernhardt, one by Alan
Felsenthal. They showed me directions in American poetry that helped me see my
I currently live on the Kapiti Coast in New Zealand. I have five books of poetry and
two of non-fiction available through Amazon, and more than 100 poems in various
journals, anthologies and collections. I edit an online poetry blog and have started
my own press, Bench Press, with eight titles out so far. I write every day, still read as
much as I can, still vastly enjoy this voyage through word to mind.
poetryrepairs #199 v14.04:042
All the fine arts are species of poetry--Samuel Taylor Coleridge
even as it splits it open.
The Art of Reading
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