Fay Zwicky has published eight books of poetry, the most recent of which is Picnic (Giramondo, 2006). She has also edited several anthologies of Australian poetry, published a book of short stories, Hostages (FACP, 1983), and a collection of critical essays, The Lyre in the Pawnshop (UWAP, 1986). Her awards include the NSW Premier's Award, the WA Premier's Award, the Patrick White Award and the Christopher Brennan Award.

Lucy Dougan¹s most recent book The Guardians (Giramondo) was shortlisted for the 2015 Judith Wright Calanthe Award. She works for the journals Westerly and Axon, and as a lecturer at Curtin University.

Plain Speech

Extracts from Fay Zwicky’s Journals

Fay Zwicky has kept a journal in longhand since 1975. Now up to its thirteenth volume, it is a combination of writer’s commonplace book, poetry work-book, and personal journal. In its pages Zwicky reflects on what it means for an artist with a cosmopolitan imagination to engage in and sustain a creative life in an isolated place. The following extracts are taken from Volume 5, which spans 1988 to 1992, when Zwicky was truly ‘mid-way through this life’. Here she is coming to terms with great loss, and is both stoical and open to the absurd. The volume is full of dreams and the unbidden arrival of deep childhood memories, which are interspersed with wide-ranging discussions of books, poems, music, and films, and with Zwicky’s often acerbic observations of herself and the world. What unites all these elements is the poetic logic of the journal. Images of light and dark recur, along with images of water, underworlds, and mothers. At this time, Zwicky is also exploring how she might approach a poetic voice as close to natural speech as possible. Beneath it all lies her continuing political engagement, and her telling observation that she is a poet ‘in the old vulnerable sense’.

Lucy Dougan