Poetry

My poems have been broadcast, performed and published in a variety of media for more than 60 years (with big gaps while my head-space was in journalism and non-fiction books) and have received a number of awards and commendations.
Click to read Selected-published-poems
See also Songs & Satire, Theatre & TV.

Summoning the Whirlwind (MPU 2016)
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Reviews:
Chris Wallace-Crabbe – “Joan Katherine Webster’s poems are chock-full of thingyness; of a tangible Now within time; of commonplace objects rubbed to a sacred gloss. If she summons the whirlwind, it will try to whirl away the pleasing solids of our daily lives, for she has lived with them, knows them and touches them. Her poetry sparkles for us all.”
Castlemaine Mail – “Rich and gritty works.”
Rob Wallis – “Here is a poet in love with language, absorbed in the whirlwind of “the mystic skill of rhyme”, rhythms and subtle imagery, the quick-quick tick / against slow tock, casting her hypnotic spell over hills, street crowds, music and seascapes, ‘The Woman Alone on the Beach’ counting the waves crawl, crabwise. Be prepared to be equally absorbed.”
Noel Tennison – “When I read Summoning the Whirlwind, I was reminded of the words of U.S. author/radio broadcaster, Garrison Keilor who said: ‘A poem is not a puzzle that the dutiful reader is obliged to solve … It should render the gravity, the grace, and the beauty of the ordinary world, thereby lending courage to strangers.’ Joan Katherine Webster’s work is accessible to all and the intellectual and emotional content of the material produced by her creates an affinity of being with readers who never expected that anyone else shared their feelings or perceptions. Thus, she lends courage to strangers.”

Four of  my poems, two from Summoning the Whirlwind  (MPU 2016): Feeding Time in the Sand Dunes and The House of Clocks, plus Autumn -1  and Autumn -2have been set to music by internationally renowned composer, conductor, pianist and harpsichordist, Roger Heagney OAM and will be performed by opera singer Merlyn Quaife AM at the Peninsular Festival in September.


To read poems below in full, click title.
Download – ‘Sparx’: Inaugural anthology of the SWWV – April 2017
The Pursuit of Knowledge  – ‘Poetry Matters’ -March 2017
Autumn  – ‘The Waterline News’ – March 2017
A Glass Darkly – ‘Poetry Matters’ -March 2017
Hi-ho Silver – ‘The Waterline New’s – February 2017
Feeding Time in the Sand Dunes
The House of Clocks
Autumn -1  
Autumn -2
,

Substratum

2017-05 Anthology SWWV

Download

 

poetry-matters-december-2016

 

 

‘The First Wonder … ‘ December, 2016

The dishes left to drain
upon the kitchen rack
are dry when I come back.
The-First-Wonder …

waterline-news-cover

Phillip-Island-Interlude  November 17, 2016

This is as life on earth was meant to be –
this evening after storm. This harmony
of nature, sunset softly sifting through the bay,
this golden time of day
when all the world’s in rhyme.
Phillip-Isand-Interlude

c-maine-poetry-prize-runnerup-2016

Interregnum Runner-up Castlemaine Poetry Prize, 2016

Interregnum
Nothing.
Nothing moves.
No leaf, no blade of grass
No feather-flicker differentiates the comatose from bliss.

The slipstream of cars falls behind, faints on the bitumen;
a dog-shaped displacement of air follows its mass
birds leave lines of semaphored intent indented in their wake
a butterfly weaves lightning scars on the invisible.
Interregnum

Poetry Matters July 2016Poetry Matters, July 2016:
Macrocosm
 Tell me more of clouds,
the inner mind of storms:
the churning precognitor
of power in all its forms.
                                        Macrocosm

Poetry Matters March 2016

Poetry Matters Issue March/April 2016. Three poems: Annunciation, Memorial to Merchandise, Takeover

Annunciation
Footsteps echo through
the corridors of longing
that do not bring you nearer.
                                  Annunciation  

Memorial to Merchandise
When young men go to war
they often choose,
go willing to the sacrifice
to ‘have a go’
like hero gods
fulfilling destiny,
following their stars.
                                                  Memorial to merchandise 

Takeover
Wisdom of the Old Woman, the wicca, the wit, the wit-ch
knowing the ways of the moon, the days of the belly
gestating herbs and healing in still rooms, skill rooms
suddenly
brought to raking ashes
by the new men of book and bell
                                                          Takeover

2015 Castlemaine Poetry Prize -Highly Commended

The-Purring-of-a-Cat

2015-12-04 Castlemaine Mail Poetry prize HC Pic only

Seated front right. 2015 Castlemaine Poetry Prize, Highly Commended: The Purring of a Cat.

2014 Australian Poetry Poem of the Year HC

Sometimes the Hills
Australian Poetry 2014 Poem of the Year
Also published Australian Poetry Bulletin.

Sometimes the hills
from my window
are just a flat blue wash.
Sometimes every tree stands out
as light’s fingers
part their hair,
search strands,  grooming.
                                 Sometimes the Hills
Judges-comments

2014 FAW Tasmania Petry Prize Commended

Homo Surfiens
Hover on water
young man,
arms outstretched like wings
above your board.  You can
glide with the seas
as gulls above you
surf on waves of air.
                                       Homo-Surfiens    



2014 Castlemaine Poetry Prize Highly Commended -named

Castlemaine Poetry Prize 2014 The Indestructible Highly Commended

The Indestructible
On a dream of my father
almost ten years after his death
.
Knuckles … … an old man’s knuckles …
if  I could draw them,    were I an artist
I could show you
that poignant parchment of a life drawn over bones
The-Indestructible      

Phillip Island Interlude
Short-listed ‘Positive Words’
End-of-Year Poetry Competition 2014

This is as life on earth was meant to be –
this evening after storm. This harmony
of nature, sunset softly sifting through the bay,
this golden time of day
when all the world’s in rhyme.
                                                    Phillip-island-interlude

2012-11-02 Castlemaine Poetry Prize winners

Castlemaine Poetry Prize, 2012
Highly Commendeds x 2 and Commendeds x 2:
Movement at the Station; Sunday Afternoon Drive;
Oil Slick;  Moments.

Movement at the Station
They come in waves,
on automatic pilot,
consciousness in some
far place,
awareness only on the task
the goal of getting there
                                             Movement-at-the-station    

Sunday Afternoon Drive
Today we drove into the autumn hills
where green baize bushes spurted startling spills
of bright red beads in clusters – like a girls’
game:  let’s thread the needle – in red lacquered whorls.
Then on the cafe cloth, more red and green
like berry bushes, danced Bavarian men.
                                                                Sunday-afternoon-drive 

Oil Slick
Where is your faith?’ I’m asked.

Where should it be?
I have faith in the faithful,
trust in the trustworthy and I believe in proof.
My faith
is keeping true within me
aloof
from bribes
of silvery acceptance
and vibes
of good form.
                      Oil-slick 

Moments
I can go out my front door, walk off
and U-turn on my heel, turn round,
retrace my footsteps, maybe find
that thing which has just slipped my mind.
Can drop an item,
reach down, pick it up,
refill its space.
Can lose my keys,
an earring, mobile phone,
and soon replace.
But
             Moments

2011 Poetry Highly Commeded- Roses of the South

Castlemaine Poetry Prize, 2011 Roses of the South, Highly Commended

Roses of the South
Roses of the South
The Strauss
always sets my mind twirling
back long ago
a-waltz with my beau
(who was not really so)
dancing partner,
half  friend,
one step forward
two backward
Roses-of-the-south

2011 Poetry Commeded -Highland Buck

Castlemaine Poetry Prize     2011 Commended, Highland Buck

Highland Buck
Lowland Webster
was a placid man
of joviality
who liked a quiet hame,
enjoyed the game
of life.
But when he took to wife
the Campbell, he
gave to his line her clan’s
Highland crabit-irritability.

So he stayed at sea.
Highland-buck



The Infinitesimal Seed
What is life-force?
Show me the divine.

It is the fragrance of a flower
that follows through the
cycles of its soul:
the infinitesimal seed
of sesame size, through mead
and nectar, through the whole
of all its aspects,
        The-infinitesimal-seed

POETRIX Nov 2005

Poetrix, 2005 –                Full Fathom, My Fathers

 Full Fathom, My Fathers
Slap, slap,
lap the waves against the ferry
at Cowes pier,
a seahorse tugging seamen’s reins . .
In here,
sway and swell,
swell and sway,
generations of salt water tide-tugs in my veins,
ancestral anchors weigh,
roll on,
roll on,
Full-fathom-my-fathers

Poets' Union Anthology 2004 Ask the Rain

Poets’ Union Anthology, Ask the Rain, 2004 And God Laughed

And God Laughed …
Notice how God
is never reported
to have laughed?
‘And God laughed…’
No, its
jealousy, wrath
… all that stuff.
                      And-god-laughed

POETs UNION ANTHOLOGY -Tales from the Anabranch 2002

Poets’ Union Anthology: Tales from the Anabranch 2002 –Matrika

Matrika
  In ancient times
a  poet’s nimble-fingered thoughts
were honoured
for the spells they wove with
measured swoops of space,
moulding the common yarn of every-use
to cloth
to hold an age forever.
Not only with good record
but the mystic skill of rhymes.
                                              Matrika  

THE GATHERING FORCE August 1996

The Gathering Force, 1996, For God so Loved the World

For God so Loved the World
If God so loved the world
why could He not
forgive the sins
that He himself  compiled
instead of
asking such a price
as human sacrifice –
For-god-so-loved-the-world

LinQ May 1996

LinQ 1996 –Swooping Gull

Swooping Gull
The day-star flutters white
against the sky,
flickers,   like a UFO,    is gone.
The dark arc crescents,
flattens,
crops clouds close,
shears the universe’s head bald and blue,
sickles a harvest of freedom.
                                                            Swooping-gull     


POETRIX May 1996

Poetrix 1996 –Virgin Birth

Virgin Birth
Bush or sea
releases me
the timeless ‘I’ –
the inner core
that was a child, a girl, a person once before
the days of mothering
and doing-unto-othering
built layer upon layer of unself
around it
Virgin-birth 

National Library of Poetry US anthology Portraits of Life 1996

Portraits of Life, 1996 –The House of Clocks

The House of Clocks
Semi-finalist International Society of Poets’ Competition 1995
Published in the National Library of Poetry, U.S.,anthology
Portraits of Life, 1996
.

I walked into a house
of clocks and time stood still~
caught in the quick-quick tick
against slow tock
like ripples holding sunlight to a rock
in some backwater.
The-house-of-clocks

1996 Editors Choice Award

‘Top Dog’ Award, 1996. Published Top Dog, 1995              Nandi’s Friendogs

Nandi’s Friendogs
Kito has a curly tail
and owns  a boy called Damien,
his eyes pop out
above his snout
and he’s half Pomeranian.
                                       Nandis-friendogs                           

            

The Mothers
I feel Your energy  flowing through me –
myself, my daughter, her daughter, we three:
the holy Mother, the sap of the Tree,
the One, primordial, first Trinity.
                                                             The-mothers       


THE GATHERING FORCE Winter 1995

Geriatric Hospital
Age …
This is age:
rocking chairs, cats on the hearth compressed into
bedsores.
Body too big for diapers,
mind shrunk in swaddling clothes, short circuited                                                                    life-data wires,
….  old linen.
Age and infancy curdled
into one incongruity
revolving on two-hourly turns.                                                          Geriatric-hospital     


THE SMALL TIMES Nov 1989

The Small times 1989 –The Gatherers and  Nullabor

The Gatherers
They plod the plain for edibles,
the women.
Hard under their feet
it pushes heel to tarsal,
shin to knee, thigh to ileum
and coxyx into lumbar spine.
They ache.
Their children cling around
but do not learn the art
of gatherers.
They learn to ache.
                                 The-gatherers     

 Nullabor
The people have no bread.
‘Then let them eat yellow cake’,
the tall man said.
                               Nullabor        

LinQ March 1982

LinQ 1982 –Sonnet Extempore 

Sonnet Extempore
We never can know how the tune will sound
until we play it.  My legato life
may be too soft for your staccato:  rife
with rhythms, drumbeats, thudding on old ground ~
the tightening hide of old feelings.  Pounding,
paroxysmal, is your beat.
                                            Sonnet-extempore    

LUNA March 1976

Luna 1976 –The Almond Tree

The Almond Tree
Today I have remembered how when as
a long legged child of twelve or so – who has
not anything particular to do
when school was over – how I’d hurry to
the old dead almond tree beside the fence
and scramble up to lofty eminence.
           The-almond-tree

Awards:
Castlemaine Poetry Prize 2015: Highly Commended
Australian Poetry Poem of the Year 2014: Highly Commended
FAW Tasmania Poetry Prize 2014: Commended
Castlemaine Poetry Prize 2014:  Highly Commended
Castlemaine Poetry Prize 2012: Highly Commended (x 2)
Castlemaine Poetry Prize 2012: Commended (x 2)
Castlemaine Poetry Prize 2011: Highly Commended
Castlemaine Poetry Prize 2011: Commended
International Society of Poets, Editor’s Choice Award 1996
Top Dog Poetry Award 1995.

Published in:
Overland, Luna, LinQ, The Age, The Australian Author, Australian Poetry Journal, National Library of Poetry Anthology, U.S.: Portraits of Life, Poet’s Union Anthology: From the Ananbranch, Poet’s Union Anthology Ask The Rain, The Gathering Force, Brisbane Courier Mail, Poetrix, The Small Times, Bohemia, The ABC Weekly, The Listener In, Australian Women’s Mirror, Austin Scrapbook, Top Dog, The Victorian School Paper, The Castlemaine Independent, The Castlemaine Mail, Poetrix, Poetry Matters, POAM (Melbourne Poets’ Union), Katzenworld (online U.K.). Broadcast on ABC and commercial stations. Various readings.

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See also My songs & satire Phase, theatre & TV

Hi-ho Silver – Autumn – A Glass Darkly – Joan Katherine Webster