Rosemary Nissen-Wade: Aussie poet and teacher of metaphysics – a personal view
My bestie nicknamed me SnakyPoet on her blog, and I liked it. (It began as
'the poet of the serpentine Northern Rivers' and became more and more abbreviated.)

Saturday, October 12, 2019

A Republican Like Me Sticking Up For Royalty???

Not into fashion as the latest ‘look’, I like to create my own style (on limited budget). And I’m ideologically opposed to hereditary monarchy / aristocracy. But I admire the way some contemporary royals conduct themselves, and I’m interested in the Sussexes. 

What a lot of nasty press they get! One headline says they’re about to divorce, another that they are adopting 4 girls. All nonsense. 

They’re criticised for spending public money on their home, despite official advice the building was overdue for repair and public money only went to those aspects that make it national property. Personal touches were at their own expense. 

They’re criticised for not letting their new baby get flashlights in his eyes. A mark of good parenting, I think. 

They’re criticised for excessive security and privacy during and immediately after Meghan’s pregnancy. Does no-one recall what happened to Harry’s mother when he was only 11, and his revelations about the lasting trauma that has been? And here’s his wife getting racist and/or snobbish hate mail. Of course he’s exceedingly protective. 

She’s criticised for saying it would have seemed boastful to include her own face on the cover of her guest-edited issue of Vogue. A slur, ‘they’ say, on Princess Diana and Duchess Kate, who did covers. Very different circumstances, being invited to be photographed for a cover and, as editor, putting oneself forward. (She’d have been criticised either way.) 

I’m not a Vogue reader, obviously, but I got the local newsagent to order this issue for me. Skipping past the necessary ads which keep the magazine afloat, and failing to covet the startling clothes, I find articles, serious and entertaining at the same time, about ways in which women can be empowered and empowering. 

I also know that while Meghan, who has long been in the public eye, is interested in both fashion and style, she is passionate about ‘sustainable fashion’ and is supportive of businesses which take that initiative. 

I’m glad I bought this issue, which will give me lots of good reading yet. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Joy of 'Spoken Word Poetry'

... as they call it now. (I grew up calling it performance poetry, but same thing.)

Last night was ... um, must be the 4th Poets Out Loud event in Murwillumbah, and a great night it was. As always, we had a diverse group of poets from within Murwillumbah and also from surrounding towns and cities in both Northern Rivers (NSW) and southern Queensland – and a wonderfully receptive, enthusiastic audience. I am still full of exuberance from being exposed to poetry, and sharing one of my own, in my favourite way. (And I do love to let my hair down, clap loudly and yell, 'Yay!' for my favourite performances.)

When I arrived, the man on reception told me that (well-known Northern Rivers poet) Janie Treasure had recently shared my Volkswagen poem at a reading of women poets in Lismore. 'It went down well,' he told me. 'It always does,' I said.

Janie was at Poets Out Loud last night, so I was able to thank her. 'I adore that poem!' she said, adding that she reads it often, and giving me a huge hug.

It's probably always going to be my most famous poem, as it was anthologised years ago in two very mainstream anthologies for schoolchildren. So, as I have been meaning for some time to record some of my pieces on Soundcloud, I have now done so for this poem and added that to the blog post where I shared it in the past. Now you can both read and hear it if you wish, at this link.

My poem in last night's open section went over well too, and I have added a Soundcloud recording to that also, if you'd like a read and a listen: here.

I've been featured at an earlier Poets Out Loud (along with another ex-Melburnian, Matt Hetherington) with my full name, but in the open section people are usually introduced just by their first names. So I am becoming known in these circles just as Rosemary, the poet – a whole new career, amongst people who have (mostly) never heard of me before. I love it!

This time the featured reader was yet another poet who has migrated here from Victoria, Nola Firth, whose book, 'Counting on Murwillumbah',  I immediately bought after hearing her readings from it. I also bought SlamCraft: Writing and performance craft of spoken-word poetry by Poets Out Loud founder Sarah Temporal, to share with my writing students. On further reading, I'm delighted with both.

The addition of lovely singing by Eliza, before we started and in the break, and of great food from Bacaro restaurant, made the experience even more sublime. And Eliza's own poem, which she regaled us with later, was a beaut!

We were also told the exciting news that Words Without Fences, which shares the writings of refugees, is becoming active in Murwillumbah.

And I guess the best bit is that there were a number of non-poets in the audience, come to enjoy the show – which they obviously did.

Altogether, I'm in bliss. I've decided – not for the first time – that spoken word poetry is my true spiritual home.

Bacaro Restaurant, behind which (and attached) is the big performance space used for Poets Out Loud.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Apologies for Any Confusion

I'm getting rid of my Dreamwidth journal (the successor to LiveJournal) because (a) I hardly used it anyway, (b) very few people read it [perhaps some cause and effect here!] and (c) I didn't find it all that user-friendly. A bit sad to leave behind the few people whose journals I still read there, and/or at LiveJournal, from which some had not crossed over. (Many others, though, have opted out of LJ or DW altogether, no longer available to be read.)

I originally went to LJ, back in 2008, to read a friend's journal. Then I found others I liked, and also realised I could use it as a convenient place to write the stuff that I didn't want to share widely but did want to express and have heard. LJ and DW allow users to be pseudonymous, excellent for that purpose.

Now that I've decided to leave, I'm gradually transferring years of entries to either my strictly private personal journal on Blogger or to this one: SnakyPoet. (And a few to my witchy blog, Cronewyze.)

SnakyPoet was my handle on LJ/DW too, and also on twitter, and at one time in a lot of places all over the net. (I no longer have twitter or various others either, and have changed to my actual name for purposes such as leaving book reviews on Amazon).

Now I wonder if I really need my Snaky Poet blog. It doesn't seem to be read or commented on even as often as the one I'm deleting.

However, I know I do have followers. I am thinking it must be disconcerting if you are getting notifications of new posts. Many of them are not new at all, just crossing over from Dreamwidth, and will post at their original dates, but that might not be immediately obvious.

So anyway, just thought I'd explain what's happening.

And if you care to weigh in with why I shouldn't delete this SnakyPoet blog too, please do!

[Edit, 14/10/29: I am now snakypoet on Instagram, too.]

Thursday, April 04, 2019

What Do Poets Do In April?

For many of us around the world, April has become NaPoWriMo, National (really international) Poetry Writing Month, with the goal of writing a new poem every day.

There are daily prompts available at Poetic Asides, imaginary garden with real toads, a Dirty Thirty group on facebook, and NaPoWriMo itself. Or you can do it unprompted.

I like to play in the garden with the toads. Their prompts appeal to me more than some others (a purely subjective thing) and I like that they are a fairly small group, so the obligatory participation isn't a  chore – and in any case the poetry there is so much to my taste, it's a joy to read it all.

The poems I write are being posted on my poetry blog, Enheduanna's Daughter. You can see them all in sequence via the tag April Poetry Month 2019, with the latest appearing at the top; or you can subscribe to be blog by email (click the little block of horizontal lines to reveal the sidebar where this option is available, then scroll down) ... or you can just dip into the blog from time to time and see what you see.  Oh, and I am also linking to the poems on facebook ... if you happen to have access to my timeline there.

'Why do you need prompts?' my friend Rob Schackne once asked me, implying that there is more than enough in life and the world to inspire us anyway. But I like the fact that the prompts, by taking me in unexpected directions, can pull from my unconscious things that might not otherwise have emerged ... not in quite the same way, if at all.

Besides, it's fun!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

After Selene – No Regrets

I wrote about my cat companion Selene's passing in poetry, see this link, and in prose on facebook [which I later cross-posted here, see previous post]. So it may not be news to you. Now I'm left with the aftermath – the grieving, the readjusting, new beginnings and explorations, reflections, realisations ... not in nice, neat, linear order, but all jumbled up with each other.  Though I can only write of them one at a time, I expect it will be a disordered, piecemeal kind of a narrative. But perhaps I'm only writing it for me, anyway. I want a record. I don't know if I'll want it later, but I do now. So here is the first bit.


After she had gone, and the vet had taken her body away (I am not sentimental about vacated bodies, and didn't want a shrine in the back yard) I eventually thought to pull a card for some commentary or advice from Spirit. But which deck? My beautiful Voyager Tarot, which is very deep and spiritual, which I use for professional readings? My new Everyday Witch Tarot which is sweet and friendly and full of cats? But no, I was drawn to my (also new) Rebel oracle deck. As always, it gave me excellent advice:

I think that's pertinent advice for anyone who has lost someone close. Irrational as it may be, one does start thinking, 'If only I'd done this – or not done that.' It's probably natural and human to do so, but it's a useless enterprise.  We're likely sweating about tiny things, and in any case we can never know what difference they would have made, if any.

The night before Andrew ended up in hospital and never came home, we had a small glass of white wine with our dinner. The way he looked at the glass afterwards, I knew he'd have liked another. But he didn't ask and I didn't offer. We both had in mind the doctor's warning that he must be very sparing with alcohol, as it could exacerbate his condition. Afterwards I often thought, 'Why didn't I let him enjoy one last glass? It wouldn't have made any difference anyway.' But at the time neither of us knew that, and we didn't know he would never drink another. I feel sure he forgot all about it very quickly; and it wasn't as if he was deprived of something to which he was passionately devoted, merely of a passing moment of mild self-indulgence. I might as well have reminded myself of all the kind and caring things I did for him. But no – we love to torture ourselves with petty guilts.

Similarly, I began thinking about the way Selene had sniffed the scent of my ham and my smoked trout, a few days before she went. She was on a strict, medicated diet and could not have anything else. Usually I didn't bring home food she wasn't allowed, but friends had left these in my house, and I wasn't going to waste them, so I ate them in front of her (hurriedly!) and told her sternly she could not have any. Too late I thought that, when I knew her time was up, I could have given her a taste then. What difference could it have made, by then? And it might have given her pleasure. But it didn't even occur to me until afterwards.

The truth is, I don't know what would have happened. She might have vomited it up, as she did her last meal. She might have sniffed it and walked away, as she did her other food those last two days. I don't think she was dwelling on it past the moment! And for sure, once she was dead, she no longer needed physical pleasures anyway. But there I was, torturing myself. The card is right – I should forgive myself instead.

Yes, well said, Rebel Deck! Now, when those little 'what if?' thoughts niggle at me, I tell myself firmly, 'Let that shit go!' And I do. (Repeatedly. But it gets easier and lasts longer.)

Monday, March 04, 2019

Goodbye to Selene

Cross-posted from facebook status

The most beautiful and also most intelligent and intuitive cat is no longer in the world, though she was when I posted her picture as my profile photo this morning, shortly after taking it. Despite having numerous illnesses, not all of which could even be treated, she kept outwardly very well until recently. A routine check-up and tests a few weeks ago showed her to be doing well at that point, all things considered. However, since Friday she stopped eating, rested a lot, became thin and seemed to be weak although she could still jump on the bed. She slept on top of me most of last night, and was sweet and affectionate to the last. I believe she knew and was OK with it; we did a fair bit of telepathising. 

By this morning she obviously couldn't get comfortable, shifting position a lot. I knew yesterday that I would be phoning the vet first thing this morning, and luckily they were able to come here early this afternoon. 

Selene and I sat outside in 'her' back yard for part of the morning, which she always enjoyed, and the sun even came out for us a while. But the concrete step seemed hard on her skin-and-bones (I know she doesn't look thin in the photos, but she was) so I brought her inside to the mat just inside the back door where she could still look out. When the time came, she slipped away quickly and peacefully. The vet said, 'Yes, she was ready'.

I'm a mess of course, and don't want to talk about it any more at this point, or about anything at all really, but still very thankful for all that this beautiful being gave me and taught me.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Poets Out Loud

Enterprising young poet Sarah Temporal has just organised a new series of monthly poetry readings in Murwillumbah NSW where I live (and she lives). They began last Thursday with a varied and exciting program of two featured readers (me and Matt Hetherington) and lots of brilliance in the open sections. Here I am in full emote on the night:

And these are the poems I read, the first two from my book Secret Leopard, the second two much more recent, from my blog The Passionate Crone:

The Day We Lost the Volkswagen

During a momentary lull in her head,
the poor old thing lost her grip.
The boat she was towing towed her instead
ponderously down the slip.
backwards into the water.

For a swirling moment she almost floated,
she thought of setting sail.
But her bum tilted, her britches bloated —
she was heavy in the tail —
and the sly seaweed caught her.

I thought even then she might make a try
(she seemed to be righting her flank)
but she spun gravely, one eye on the sky,
gave a dignified splutter and sank.
The sea frothed briefly.

I don’t know — she wasn’t the kind to drift,
much less come apart at the seams.
But the sails and the clouds that day had a lift,
and perhaps she had some dreams.
It was a damn nuisance, chiefly.
© Rosemary Nissen 1974
from Universe Cat, Pariah Press (Melb.) 1985, and
Secret Leopard: new and selected poems 1974-2005 (Alyscamps Press, (Paris) 2005
First published Nation Review. 
Also in:
A Second Australian Poetry Book for Children, Oxford
Secondary English Book 3, Macmillan
Off the Record, Penguin                                    
Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets. 


Down near the flat rocks at the pool
the secret leopard sniffs the day.
He tilts his head by the striped bamboo,
calling me: come and play.

When I was seven, and nine, and twelve,
I watched for his furious, bell-shaped head,
but they always dragged me back from the track.
'He is terrible,' they said.

They stuffed my ears with cottonwool,
they tied my hands and feet to the bed,
but still the house shook silkenly
to his broad, electric tread.

That was a long, long time ago.
Now I am grown and free to run
to the white rocks and the dim bamboo
and the velvet hood of the sun.

He has been waiting by the yellow pool,
padding the black leaves patiently,
holding the flame in his narrow eyes,
wild and slow as the sea.

His handsome haunches are molten gold,
his perilous paws flow red through the shade.
You may mew forever from your pitiful bed —
I am deep in the spiky glade.

I will not tell of the spotted jungle
with silver trees that eat the sun.
I will not tell of the tawny trails
where I and the lavish leopard run.

 © Rosemary Nissen 1974
 from Universe Cat, Pariah Press (Melb.) 1985
and in Secret Leopard, Alyscamps Press (Paris) 2005.
First published A Second Australian Poetry Book for Children (Oxford)
Also in Secondary English Book 3, Macmillan.

Sonnet Written Upon a Tim Tam
As requested by my friend Jim 

Yesterday I posted on facebook my pleasure
at eating Tim Tams and reading sonnets 
simultaneously, whilst also sitting in the sun
with my sweet cat. This post got a lot of likes. 

Then one friend asked, intending jocularity, 
'When will you publish "Sonnet Written 
Upon a Tim Tam"?' Why not? I thought, 
and replied, 'Tomorrow' – which is now today.

The taste is something between chocolate
and honey, a blend, and the texture also mixed:
creamy soft outside, the centre crisp yet melting. 

It takes six bites – or sometimes only four –
to savour and devour one whole, from the first
burst of joy in the mouth to the last lingering lick.

20 Aug 2017

The Advantages of Poetry

Be faithful to your calling.
It will not desert you.
(You will doubt this at times,
when it seems to take leave of absence,
but trust. It WILL come back.) 

Poetry won't keep you warm
on cold nights,
but will help you celebrate
those who do
(every coupling 
a secret threesome)
and console you
after they depart.

It might not make you rich
but you'll think
your poverty's worth it.

You'll always
have someone to talk to.

Poetry is not a partner
who’ll dump you after just one dance.
Poetry wants to go home with you.
And if you can't dance,
poetry will teach you.

Poetry will happily 
get wasted with you –
and in the morning
you'll both look worse for wear.
Later, though,
poetry will help you straighten out.

If the power goes off,
you only need a candle
and some kind of notebook
with keyboard or pen.
You can do without TV
or someone else's novel.

It won't feed you
but it can make you forget about meals, 
and any other hunger or thirst 
except the ache for perfection
of word or line.

No matter what goes wrong,
no matter how helpless you feel,
there is always this to do.

And when everything's right
and beautiful
and buoyant,
poetry enables you
to hold the moment a whole lot longer,
then to return for more.
(With poetry, there is no such thing
as being too greedy.)

Poetry doesn't care
about fame and status. 
You do –
and it may or may not happen –
but to poetry it's simply irrelevant.

You want someone to read your poetry,
someone to hear your words.
You're allowed to want that; it's natural.
And there will be those who do.
Cherish them, even if they are not many.

But know, as well,
that if you stand outside and speak your poetry,
be it in a shout or a whisper,
the trees will hear, and the air.
When you read your words over to yourself, silently,
angels and spirits will stand at your shoulder
reading too, noticing the pictures and the music.
And when the words are nowhere but in your mind,
God perceives them, who put them there.

29 June 2016