Excerpt for Secret Leopard: New and Selected Poems 1974-2005 by , available in its entirety at Smashwords
Reviews of Rosemary Nissen-Wade’s Poetry



Universe Cat:



...a stunning collection of poems, full of natural exuberance and liveliness of invention...

-Barbra Giles, prize-winning poet, children’s author, and publisher.



...tough-minded when that’s needed, she can be hauntingly delicately moving...

-Philip Martin, poet, critic and translator.



Small Poems of April:



... an unselfconscious, confident feel ... a fulfilling, often inspiring read.

-Hugh Kiernan, writer and educator.



Secret Leopard:



Rosemary Nissen-Wade is both original and a powerful voice—a voice of humanity in all its suffering and joy. The figures that inhabit her poetry are bother intensely real and intensely human. We feel their fragility, their loss, and their sense of wonder and disorientation in the world. These are poems of great immediacy and power—but the one word that has been, most accurately, used to describe their underlying unity is love. It is as if the poet has taken to heart the book of Corinthians and realized that indeed the prime redeeming movers in the world are faith, hope and love. The poems in Secret Leopard are not concerned with groups or cliques, trends or fashion—they are concerned with the deepest emotions and definitions of what it means to be human. As a result they will outlast those poems which are loosely, and inadequately, anchored in the zeitgeist of their time.

-Karl Orend, former Manager of Shakespeare & Company, Paris.





These are poems that look with a steady and perspective eye on poetry’s grand themes—love, death, the natural world—but can spare a sideways glance for things small and things fantastic—the warmth of a cat curled on the bed, unicorns in the laundry. Their quiet authority of form and tone can be misleading: their observant composure many have an air of the fine grey dove of wakefulness’ that she evokes in ‘Morning’, yet that wakefulness is alert to, and committed to, the ‘sharp light, the cut of truth’ that is the stuff of poetry as well as ‘The Sword of Archangel Michael’.

-Jennifer Strauss, poet, critic and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Monash University, Melbourne.









Content X Design Inc.



Content X Design Inc. © 2017





Paperback edition © 2005 Alyscamps Press Out of print

© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2005 (text — except Rosemary © Carmel

Bird 1984 and Dear Rosemary © Janet Gregory 1993)

© Wendy Saphin 2005 (cover illustration)

© Frank Piccoli 2003 (author photo)

© Karl Orend (preface)





All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or

transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,

including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and

retrieval system without the permission of the copyright owner.





Enquiries should be directed to Rosemary Nissen-Wade via her website

www.nissen-wade.com



The moral rights of the above-named authors,

artist and photographer are asserted.





Secret Leopard intentionally follows Australian orthography

and not American.





About the Illustrator





Wendy Saphin was born in Melbourne, Australia, where she resides

with her family. Using a variety of media and techniques Wendy is

constantly exploring new ideas and forms of visual expression. She

tutors both adults and children in art and exhibits her work in galleries

throughout Victoria, Australia.



Smashwords Edition 978-1-942005-29-2





Note: For the most part the poems from Universe Cat and Small

Poems of April appear in the same order as they do in those books,

and the poems in the ‘Uncollected’ sections are in chronological

order. There are occasional slight departures from sequence for

aesthetic reasons.



Acknowledgments



I thank the many friends old and new, here and gone, who have encouraged my poetry—in particular Linda Stevenson, Helen Patrice, Jennie Fraine, Leah Kaminsky, Jo Buchanan, Philip Martin, Mal Morgan, Dallas Duncan, Thom Woodruff, Michelle Ball, and my publisher Karl Orend.



I am grateful to Carmel Bird and Janet Gregory for permission to use their poems ‘Rosemary’ and ‘Dear Rosemary’, companion pieces to my ‘Magic’ and ‘Dear Janet’.



Some of these poems first appeared (sometimes in earlier versions) in:



Blood from Stone, Country Collections, Divan (e-zine), Feet First: poems by the Ardvarkers, Fine Line, Fling!, Going Down Swinging, Great Australian Whiting, The Great White Hunter Meets Darkest Africa, Image, Kangaroo, La Mama Poetica anthology, Luna, Luna Linx, Meanjin, The Melbourne Folk Poetry Boom, Nation Review, Network (Fringe anthology), The Nonsense of Living anthology by The Aardvarkers, Off the Record (Penguin), Overland, Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets, Poetrix, Poets Choice 1979 (The Last Poets Choice), SCOPP (Saturday Centre for Prose and Poetry), A Second Australian Poetry Book for Children (Oxford), Second Degree Tampering (Sybylla), Secondary English Book 3 (Macmillan), Street Poetry, Surprise Witness, Syllable, Turnstyle, Walking the Dogs (Pariah Press anthology), Women’s Studies Journal Vol. 1 Nos. 4 & 5 (Special Section on Celebration), Yarra Valley Writers.



Some have been broadcast by 3CR, 3PBS, 3RRR, the ABC.



A number were also used in performances by Word of Mouth Poetry Theatre.



The poem Woman Posing was used as a basis for two paintings in a Contemporary Art Society exhibition of paintings based on poems, 1982.



Universe Cat was published by Pariah Press Co-op Ltd, Melbourne, Australia, 1985.

Small Poems of April was published by Abalone Press, Three Bridges, Vic., Australia, 1991.









To Andrew,
whose constant love and support
make everything possible.





Preface



Secret Leopard is the first volume to provide a comprehensive overview of the poetic work of one of Australia’s most committed and versatile women poets. Rosemary Nissen-Wade has been writing poetry since childhood. Her devotion to poetry as a genre, not only to her own calling but also to the poetry of others, is evident in her important and lasting contribution to the Australian poetry scene. Not only has Rosemary written poetry all her life but also her work has been published and broadcast widely for over thirty years. During this period she has also taught creative writing, been the organizer of poetry workshops, and a poetry publisher in her own right. Rosemary published poetry by other important figures in Australia over a period of ten years. She has performed poetry in venues as diverse as colleges and prisons, as well as being a founder of the Poets Union of Australia. In 2006 she will be attending the Austin International Poetry Festival in Texas. She continues to produce poetry of the highest caliber with each passing year.



There can be no doubt, given her record, that Rosemary Nissen-Wade loves poetry and sees within it the possibility of deeply touching, even healing and redeeming, the lives of others. In recent years poetry in general has fallen into some disrepute as famous poets gave ecstatic and often undeserved blurbs to their acolytes and admirers. Cliques and schools developed and many sought to emulate and imitate their icons, such as Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley and John Ashbery. Their devotion to these poets was well rewarded by the acclaim and rapturous quotes they were gifted with in turn—all whilst basking in the shadows of another man’s flowers. One of the most important elements which strikes me immediately is that Rosemary Nissen-Wade has nothing to do with this all-too-prevalent trend. Being inevitably to a degree isolated in rural Australia, this is a poet who has developed a unique and powerful voice in an emotional climate that is suffused with pure experience and deep reflection. The greatest poets are those who combine the acute powers of observation and expression, with an overwhelming humanity and compassion for the human condition. Rosemary Nissen-Wade is both original and a powerful voice—a voice of humanity in all its suffering and joy. The figures that inhabit her poetry are both intensely real and intensely human. We feel their fragility, their loss, and their sense of wonder and disorientation in the world. These are poems of great immediacy and power—but the one word that has been, most accurately, used to describe their underlying unity is love. It is as if the poet has taken to heart the book of Corinthians and realized that indeed the prime redeeming movers in the world are faith, hope and love. The poems in Secret Leopard are not concerned with groups or cliques, trends or fashion—they are concerned with the deepest emotions and definitions of what it means to be human. As a result they will outlast those poems which are loosely, and inadequately, anchored in the zeitgeist of their time.



Over the last twelve years Alyscamps Press has published a wide array of poets—both major names and new voices. Poets that have appeared under the Alyscamps imprint in Paris include: Federico Garcia Lorca, Rafaël Alberti, Robert Graves, Paul Celan, Nelly Sachs, John Ashbery, William Davey, Alister Kershaw, David Gascoyne, Jeremy Reed, André Breton, Kathleen Raine, Ernst Meister, Mark Polizzotti, Sadi Ranson, Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno, Folco de Baroncelli, Frédéric Mistral, Rob Lyle, Richard Aldington and Yves Rouquette. The awards won by these writers range from the Nobel Prize for Literature, to the European Translation Prize, the Pulitzer, the Légion d’honneur and the Spanish National Literature Prize. The publication of Secret Leopard by Rosemary Nissen-Wade under the Alyscamps Press imprint does nothing but add credit to this list. Here, at last available to American and international readers, is a book that spans over thirty years of one of Australia’s finest poets.

Karl Orend



Contents



From Universe Cat 1974–1985

Traveller

I am the cat...

The Hunter

Vagabond

Crippled

The Fragility of Bears

Soul

Snapshot

Tourists

The Day We Lost the Volkswagen

Andrew’s Dragon

Woman Posing

A Tired Old Romantic’ He Called Himself

Old Fishermen

Animal

I Knew You Couldn’t Take It,’ He Said

The Residue

Gone is a blunt word …

The Supreme Compliment

For Fran: Driving Home from the Massage Parlour

For Fran: Another epitaph

Disappearance

Two Roads Diverged in a Wood…

The First Day of Winter

Incarnation

King Cobra

For the One Who’s Gone

Autumn …

Visitor

Not-Quite-Bottom

Cleaning the Mind

Poster

Ghosts

The Same Valleys

Outward and Visible

Resurrection

In Memory

Or Call it Freedom

The Trick

The Long Road



Uncollected Poems 1981–1990

Inside Knowledge

The will that dared love …

The Edge

Winter Solstice

The Dance

School Leavers

Birthday Poems

1. Rosemary

2. Magic

The Impulse Towards

Lilian, 1910

Gwen, 1939

Lilian, 1969

Visit

Writing the Prison

Remembrance

The stone from …

Always the Writing

Silence

Wielding the Wood

Recidivist

Game

Bye-Bye Barbie



From Small Poems of April 1991

One little poem …

Making Connections

Writer

Revival of light …

For Clare

Listening

The Small Poem in Autumn

To the Artist

The Son

At 6 P.M.

Getting Older

My Stepmother’s House

Change of Season

Dear Denis—

To My Dog, Flint

The First of May



Uncollected Poems 1992–2005

Who Am I?

Separation

Dear Janet

Dear Rosemary

Morning

The Sword of Archangel Michael

I Imagine My Mother After Her Death

The Poem of the Road Through the Bush

To My Cousin

Walk With This Spirit

The Rain

Crossing the Great Water

The Maureen Poems

Lady of Kouranga

First

Saying Goodbye to Karen

Hospital Visits 1

Hospital Visits 2

Hospital Visits 3

A Stranger Here

Transition

The Going

The Goddess Without







From Universe Cat

1974–1985

Traveller



My stepfather showed me oceans.



Now these midnight moments

call and flesh the ketch

from childhood,

dusted by moonlight,

perfectly still

at the end of the pier.



That New Year’s Eve we danced

in circles on the sand.

Sand and sea joined flat.

We might have walked straight out

with no dividing breath.



‘St. Elmo‘s Fire,’ he said

pointing, as flame without wind

blew in the bare poles

leaving them clean.

The moon’s long wake

pierced the horizon.



My stepfather gave me boats.

Tonight he’s dying,

I’m far from home.



Twin masts faintly gilded

rise perfectly still

through all my seas, all ships

poised ever since,

a track of light

widening across the water.



Gone by morning.



I am the cat...



I am the cat

with silent eyes



I mark the fall of the leaf

and the grasses glistening



I listen to life

and death.



Life grieves

death leaps

outside



and both together breathe.



I sleep in the warm

inside.

I am tied to the loves of my house.



But sometimes

I come untied.



Wild in hail or rain

electric to thunder

voluptuous for sun



I am chameleon



old wise woman

the witch



and then

the child on your lap.



I am a universe.

Cat.



The Hunter



Ghostly,

her thin skirt brushes,

a shadow past sight.


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