UQ Fryer Library Creative Writing Fellowship

// about my project //

The University of Queensland (UQ) Fryer Library is home to rare books and special collections. Throughout 2018, I’ll be drawing on geologist and palaeontologist Dorothy Hill's (1907-1997) collected papers as inspiration for my project, a book of poems, with the working title Portraits. 

As an emerging poet, being awarded this fellowship is deeply encouraging, fuelling confidence in my project and my future practise. The fellowship, which is offered with the practical support of the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund and UQ Library donors, will allow me to dedicate all the time and effort and love and ache I need grow a book of poems.

Before I knew the name Prof. Dorothy Hill, who was Australia's first female professor, or knew of the Fryer Library’s Dorothy Hill Collection, I felt that my project had urgency, but I was unsure of its direction. 

Dorothy Hill, among many things, was interested in the water basins of the Palaeozoic Era, and, in particular, their coral fauna. She mapped their fossil provinces to regions that included many of the landscapes that I had begun writing-with for my project. 

I found my direction. 

As the poet-narrator of my poems traverses landscapes—such as grassy tablelands, arid earth-scapes, salt lakes, crops and cattle stations—she is folded into the loops and flows of their ecological and geological systems across time. 

She thinks with seed heads, fossils, outcrops, water bodies in the time of Gondwana. She wades into these ‘shallow, quiet seas’, as Dorothy Hill describes Palaeozoic water basins, to think with the first corals as they spawn in the Age of Fish (Devonian Period). 

My project is Anthropocene-aware, and poetry is my way of understanding and responding to ecological uncertainty and loss. I want think with deep time, or geological time, and allow different temporal scales to haunt me. I want to deploy not only fossil emissaries such as coral polyps, but the undesirables, such as the rat and cockroach, to imagined futures.

The Dorothy Hill Collection includes personal and professional papers, drafts, maps, expedition notes, and even some poetry.

Throughout the fellowship, I’ll be mentored by the brilliant poet and researcher Assoc. Prof. Bronwyn Lea.



Spinifex, Central Australia

Spinifex, Central Australia

'Tetracorallia' [detail] from  Ernst Haeckel 's   Kunstformen der Natur  , 1904

'Tetracorallia' [detail] from Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur, 1904