Sunday, 5 February 2017

A poem from my collection Fractures and Other Thin Confusions

Picaro Poets, 2016

The crack in the wall
was getting wider
worried me a lot 
from floor to corner of the ceiling
like a zig zag trace
of a lightening bolt

I used to muse
and wonder
how much worse it would get
but in the end
it got so wide that
on a fine day
you could see
the cloud creased sky
and on a dark night
the silent stars

that was when
I told you about it
you rang one day one day
without warning
without warning after so many years
there is a crack I said.
I can come and help you with that you said
loving me

but I didn’t ask you over
I ignored your offer of help
and only a year later  -  natural causes
you were old after all,
but you knew about cracks
oh yes you knew about cracks

the builder said it was
because of the drought
and that when the drought was over
the crack in the wall would close
just as if it had never been there
never been there at all

he was right, - well almost
the drought is over now
the brick hard clay soil softened
moist malleable compliant
the crack in the wall has closed over
well nearly - but not quite.

still the faintest trace
from floor to the corner of the ceiling
a jagged shadow of a hairline fracture
fine broken eggshell fissure
visible just
haunting yet
even now,

now that the drought is over.

Sunday, 11 September 2016


Today I missed you. I missed you yesterday too, but today I missed you more. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because it was raining. Early this morning the sun was shining but then it clouded over and started to drizzle. The soft misty rain continued for most of the day. It stopped for a short time around mid-day, so I went to sit in the garden under the autumn tree and ate my cheese sandwich. But just as I finished eating it started to rain softly, and softly rain so I went back inside and stared out the window for a while. I listened to my new Nick Cave CD. I played it three times and then I decided to take my dog for a walk. The air outside smelled fresh and the rain on my face mixed with tears of missing you. Some days I miss you more than others – it’s hard to know why that is really. Missing you is a hard thing to quantify. I guess it’s just that some days ache more than others. Later, when I came back from my walk I played Nick Cave again. The phone rang once and for some reason I thought it might be you, but of course it wasn’t.  It was still raining softly and softly raining at tea time, but it didn’t matter because I wasn’t going out anywhere. I decided to skip dinner and sat down and watched the news and the weather report. Apparently it will be raining again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

Today I missed you and I will miss you tomorrow and all the days after that and all the days after that.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Launch: Bendigo Writer Out of the Closet

cleaning out cover[1]
Central Victorian writer Mary Pomfret is about to launch her latest short story collection, Cleaning out the Closet. The themes of the collection are many and varied, but Mary says ‘essentially these stories are about love and its many aspects– the light and shade of it, the yin and yang, the sadness and the joy.’
‘Some of the stories in this collection are not new, but they have a special place in my heart.’
Born in Manchester, Mary grew up in Tasmania and has made Bendigo her home. Mary is a PhD student at La Trobe University, Bendigo and is working on a creative thesis under the supervision of Dr Sue Gillett who will be guest speaker at the launch. Bendigo writers will read from the collection.
The book is published by Ginninderra Press and is available from Dymocks Bendigo bookstore and online at
To be launched by: Annette O’Brien
Cost: free
When: April 10th at 7pm
Where: The Basement on View, Bendigo
Contact details:  MOB 0411 109 202

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Old Traveling Trunk

My parents brought this lovely old trunk with them when they migrated from the UK in 1955. It was an antique then and has traveled many miles  and has weathered many a storm. It is one of my most favorite things. 

Monday, 22 April 2013

Writing in the Woolf’s shadow

26 Feb 2013
Another author is about to join the ranks of published Bendigo writers with the imminent publication of her first book Writing in Virginia’s Shadow. Ginninderra Press has published the title by La Trobe University PhD candidate, Mary Pomfret
The front cover of Mary Pomfret's Writing in Virginia's shadowThe book is a suite of fictional stories that looks at the lives of three contemporary women writers in working class Australia.  The stories relate back to the writings of Virginia Woolf who wrote that now famous and often quoted premise that 'a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction...'

Works by Ms Pomfret have been published in national and international publications. Ms Pomfret says that the stories have a truthful resonance and speak of the breadth of her experience as a female writer from a working class background.

‘I believe that how you see life is dependent on where you stand in the world in terms of gender, class and race and that literature and art provide a prism through which to express and challenge such perspectives,’  said Ms Pomret.

Mary Pomfret's journey into writing

Ms Pomfret’s journey into writing began in Bendigo when she started her Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing at the Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE in 2001.

Since then she has studied at the University of Tasmania, Deakin University and La Trobe University. However she attributes much of her success to her time at La Trobe.

‘Studying at La Trobe Bendigo has been a wonderful experience and has provided me with amazing personal and educational opportunities. At the Bendigo campus I have been lucky enough to enjoy the advantages that come from personal contact between students, lecturers and staff that may not be possible at bigger city campuses.’

Dr Susan Gillett, Ms Pomfret’s research supervisor, has witnessed her progress as a writer and lauds her achievements.

‘Mary has blossomed as a writer over the last few years. These stories are deceptively simple and have an intriguing fresh originality,’ said Dr Gillett.

‘While the debt to Virginia Woolf is obvious and explicit, Mary writes with an original voice and has found her own feminine form where the stories seem to nest inside each other,’ said Dr Gillett.

‘This book is a taste of things to come from Mary. We look forward to her next novel which is currently underway,’ added Dr Gillett.

A book launch with readings by respected authors

The book launch - which will be facilitated by Dr Gillett - will feature a talk by internationally renowned author, Dr Ian Irvine. Dr Irvine's most popular work, the Three Worlds fantasy series comprising The View from the Mirror, The Well of Echoes and The Song of the Tears has sold over a million copies worldwide.

Local writers will present selected readings from Writing in Virginia’s Shadow. Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase at the launch.

The official launch will be held at La Trobe University’s Visual Arts Centre, View Street, Bendigo, at 6pm on Thursday 27 February 2013. All are welcome.

Details of the launch are available by contacting Gail McNaulty at the La Trobe Visual Arts Centre, View St, Bendigo, phone 5441 8724 or via email.


Additional information:

Cover art provided by local photographer John Monteath.

Ms Pomfret completed her Honours degree in English at La Trobe University in 2010.

In 2011 Ms Pomfret was awarded an APA scholarship.

Ms Pomfret is currently working on a creative PhD based on research conducted in her honours studies.

Media enquiries

Zerin Knight, Ph (03) 5444 7375 F +613 5444 7526 M 0428 463 161 E
La Trobe Media Release RSS

A book of her own

It was a series of coincidences that brought Mary Pomfret to Bendigo.
But once here, she found her writing voice.
Ms Pomfret will launch her first book this month, a small collection of linked prose pieces called Writing in Virginia’s Shadow.
Published by a little innovative company called Ginninderra Press, based in Adelaide, the collection came out of Ms Pomfret’s work as an honours student at La Trobe University.
Born in Manchester, schooled in Hobart then Melbourne, and with the experience of living in places as diverse as a mining town in Tasmania, Adelaide and Alice Springs, she says coming to Bendigo opened doors for her.
“Regional cities offer so many opportunities that don’t come your way in big cities,” Ms Pomfret says.
After achieving a diploma in creative writing from Bendigo TAFE, she then went on to university, and is now undertaking doctoral studies.
“Meeting (lecturer) Sue Gillett was so important, because she understood my view of the world, and encouraged me, and, above all else, inspired me with confidence,” she says.
The “Virginia” in the book’s title is Virginia Woolf, whose essay about how important it is for a woman writer to have a “room of her own” was so influential in changing perceptions.
Ms Pomfret’s grandmother, for most of her life, couldn’t read or write, a situation which was “commonplace” for many working-class women.
“I’m interested in the female perspective on the writing world,” she says.
“Basically, how you see the world depends on your class, your religion, your gender.”
Her first book is experimental in form, a collage that is like a short-story cycle.
“It’s not so difficult to get published in newspapers and magazines, but to be taken seriously, you do have to have some kind of book with your name on it,” she says.
“Publishers take you more seriously when you show you can go through the process.”
Mary Pomfret’s Writing in Virginia’s Shadow will be launched by Sue Gillett at La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre at 6pm on February 27.     – Rosemary Sorensen

A generous and insightful review of my collection of short fiction Writing in Virginia's Shadow.

Life Outside “the Garden”

A Review in Four Parts of ‘Writing in Virginia’s Shadow’ by Mary Pomfret

(published in 2013 by Ginniderra Press, Australia)
Review by Ian Irvine (Hobson), 2013 all rights reserved. [Note: image and all extracts from Mary Pomfret’s work are reproduced for the purposes of review/critique only (as outlined in international copyright law)].

Publisher: Mercurius Press, Australia, 2013.

Life Outside “the Garden”: Writing in Virginia’s Shadow by Mary Pomfret

Part 1 – Genesis Re-visioned

Mary Pomfret’s work is gaining much-deserved wider currency of late. Her first publishing credits came after she reworked several chapters of a novel draft into a series of compelling short stories. More recently, examples of her work have appeared in noted Australian and international anthologies and she is currently working toward a PhD in Creative Writing after being awarded a three year Australian Postgraduate Scholarship by La Trobe University.

Pomfret’s fiction and creative non-fiction has always been intense, complex and multi-layered – though the emotional drama is often offset by occasional flashes of humour (often arising out of the absurdly tragic situations her characters find themselves in). She is skilled at heightening everyday inter-relational conflicts via expert use of sub-text and irony, and, like all good fiction writers, she loves the revealing detail that symbolises a character’s entire world-view. One also encounters fearless explorations of memory (especially memories of childhood) and the labyrinth that is ‘identity’. All this is to say that Pomfret never flinches from exploring the dark places - both in herself and in others. Typically, her point of view (as expressed through her various narrators) mixes personal vulnerability with unwavering honesty (tempered, it is true, by empathy and even love).

Not surprisingly such writing is emotionally moving, for the dramas, disappointments and joys that fascinate her are known to us all – are part of the unconscious carnivalia of all our ‘subjectivities’. Her work mines the tragedies, joys and inevitable misunderstandings that arise from our need to relate meaningfully to others. In thinking of her work - and perhaps her developing ‘poetic’ - the term ‘self in relation’ comes to mind.

These defining characteristics of her writing are also evident throughout ‘Writing in Virginia’s Shadow’ - though in many ways this fascinating collection of writings breaks new ground.

Part 2 – And So He Drove them out … “I Cast Thee Out”

One of the pieces in this collection, ‘The Exile – A Family Saga’, represents I believe both a continuation and (perhaps) a culmination of earlier thematic explorations. Part of a series of inter-connected vignettes it reads as a prose poem that begins in the dark soil of complex primary relationships (mother/daughter/family) before launching the unique themes and pre-occupations that I would like to suggest are fundamental to this collection.

My good mother arrived with a bag full of absences and reasons why I wasn’t invited to the family Christmas.
       “You weren’t excluded silly. No one else received invitations either.”

In the prose stanza that follows the repercussions of this apparently ‘domestic’ yet strangely Mythological/Biblical, ‘casting out’ are contemplated further: ‘What do you do when they cast you out of the garden?’ After suggesting ‘suicide’’ and ‘being committed’, the narrator ends with ‘or like so many others in this situation have done, you could become a writer.’

‘You could become a writer’ … thus does the Virginia of the collection’s title begin to cast her ‘shadow/light’. The break is not definitive, it’s tentative, her characters begin their new life tentatively – recall those Medieval images we have of Adam and Eve departing Eden. To reinforce this mood the text seems to circle back repeatedly on the many and varied events that have led to the state of exile - especially by way of the character Margot’s meditations. We note also, that the interconnected ‘trauma’ and ‘sense of liberation’ often associated with psychological exile is never definitively resolved. Nevertheless, as readers, we sense that we are present at a birth – or perhaps a tentative rebirth.

Part 3 – A Room of One’s Own

In ‘Writing in Virginia’s Shadow’ we bear witness as readers to the travails of the female artist-writer (dispersed among several character) as she seeks to will, to spin perhaps, a new identity. She is, like Woolf and many others before her, in search of ‘A Room of Her Own.’ This theme gradually, tentatively, announces itself in the complex – both technically and thematically - imaginative field that is Pomfret’s book.

This meditation on creative self-making announces a new dimension to Pomfret’s writing.  It is a creative break with the past informed by the new ‘languages’ (I prefer this word to ‘theories’ since languages are active, suggesting lived inter-relational exchanges) of female subjectivity that Woolf helped birth and that have since permeated both academia and general culture.

‘Homage to Eveline’ (p29-36) I think makes conscious the depth of the identity challenges faced by the book’s two main characters – Louise and Margot. Louise begins the section staring out the window whilst cooking - contemplating leaving her husband Norm. Norm is dead to the world of the imagination.

‘Imagination was something that Norm did not understand unless it was imagining a woman without her clothes like he sometimes did when he was watching television: ‘She’s all right. Big around the rump, but she’d do me on a dark night.’

Norm is not an overly complex fellow! But the full extent of Louise’s identity crisis is best summarised by the statement: ‘Louise had all but given up discussing her imaginings with him.’ Clearly, Norm’s perspective on life closes down relational zest and impedes any hope of authentic communication.

Can one be a creative person, an artist, a writer etc. – more specifically for the themes of this book: can one be a female writer - if significant ‘others’ are indifferent to, even dismissive of, one’s creative dreams? Asserting a creative identity in the face of indifference, economic sacrifice and occasionally outright dismissiveness is at the heart of ‘Writing in Virginia’s Shadow’. Pomfret, through her female characters, thus ponders the kinds of questions Virginia Woolf pondered so many years ago.

Part 4 – At Home in the World (Provisionally)

Late in the narrative a new level of confidence announces itself in Margot through her letters.  She even disputes points with ‘Virginia’ in a wonderful exchange of letters between herself and Virginia as mentor. She also asserts her own opinion about a piece of her work in the face of an editor’s criticisms.

“I have taken aboard what you have said about my book Heart Jottings … but I will not be changing the title. I like it.”

‘I like it’ … With that assertion perhaps the exile has come home – home to herself – and thus the book concludes something, works through some sort of challenge. The victory, however, is not decisive. Pomfret seems to suggest that life is rarely definitive when it comes to the nuances of the human heart. We are left with the vaguely melancholy sense that the liberation and self-confidence associated with ‘life outside the garden’ comes at a cost - a cost absorbed consciously or unconsciously by many artist-writers, both male and female. This state of affairs is succinctly acknowledged in the last piece of the collection ‘Peripheral Vision’ where the narrator speaks of living a ‘satellite existence’.

Asserting one’s identity as a writer is still a courageous act, even today – life-long commitment to creativity exacts a toll. One endures a measure of alienation – ‘life on the borders’, ‘the periphery’, etc. Pomfret acknowledges the toll and continues on regardless - and this takes a special kind of courage. Her writing is courageous and moving and funny and perceptive and I heartily recommend ‘Writing in Virginia’s Shadow’ to readers interested in contemporary literary fiction.

By Dr Ian Irvine, April 2013.

Reviewer Bio (as at April 2013)
<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]-->
Dr. Ian Irvine is an Australian-based poet/lyricist, writer and non-fiction writer currently teaching in the Professional Writing and Editing program at BRIT (Bendigo, Australia), as well as the same program at Victoria University, St. Albans, Melbourne. He has also taught history and social theory at La Trobe University (Bendigo, Australia) and holds a PhD for his work on creative, normative and dysfunctional forms of alienation and morbid ennui.