Monday, October 21, 2013


Oh, what a treat I have for you today! Since we seem to be on a streak of staff interviews, I asked the Passionate Crone, Rosemary Nissen-Wade, noted poet extraordinaire of Australia, if she would indulge us in an updated interview. Rosemary brings us I Wish I'd Written This every Friday, rain or shine.  I was thrilled when she said yes. Fasten your seatbelts, kids, as we are zooming the skies to beautiful Aussie-land, where the scenery and the people are glorious, and larger than life.

P.U.: Rosemary, since your first interview in 2011, I know a very large change has occurred in your life, with the death of your beloved Andrew on  September 3, 2012. What can you tell us about your journey through your first year of widowhood? How has it been for you, and what keeps you “lifted up” as you move through your days?

Rosemary: Well, it has been very mixed, going through the various stages of grief and learning that they don't happen in a nice, neat, linear way. In the conviction that 'the quickest way out is through', I chose to experience whatever came and observe the process.  When I eventually went into depression — something I had, blessedly, not known before — I decided to consult a psychologist who was helpful to both Andrew and me earlier, when we were trying to cope with the strain of his deteriorating health. The depression lifted, but I continue to see her. It's good to get another perspective, and her insights are useful.

The altar at Andrew's wake
Family members are all interstate or overseas, but manage to be supportive nevertheless, in both practical and emotional ways. Local friends are wonderful, checking on me without crowding me, and providing comfort or distraction as needed. Online friends have been a great source of support too, both in their personal communications and the pieces of wisdom and humour they share.

       LEVI (L) AND FREYA  (R)

Having two cats to look after keeps me grounded. They too have grieved to lose Andrew's daily presence in their lives after knowing him for 14 years, so we've had to comfort each other as we learn to readjust.

P.U.: They look like the yin and yang symbol! How sweet!

Rosemary: Above all, writing has been my saviour. I constantly wonder, 'What on earth do people do if they're not poets?' There have been many poems; also I've been writing a blog, The WidowhoodChronicles — mainly as a release, but I made it public in case it might help others. Evidently it has. Several people have urged me to turn it into a book, and I will do that.
P.U.: Yay, Rosemary! I was going to ask you if you might write a book about your experiences. It will help others, for certain.

Christmas 2010
Rosemary: Andrew was 83 when he went. His health had gradually deteriorated over a few years, then the final decline was sudden and rapid. There have been a lot of 'What if ... ?' and 'If only ...' moments, but I keep coming back to the certainty that we were always doing the best we could with what we were given. His timing was actually perfect. Until that point, his quality of life had outweighed the discomforts; things were about to turn around and go the other way. I can't really wish that he had lingered.

Rosemary and Andrew's wedding, 1993
P.U.: You call Andrew your “third time lucky husband”. I know you were very happy together. How did you meet?
Rosemary: We were in a spiritual development course. I was newly separated, after 27 years, from my second husband, the father of my children (who were grown by then). Andrew had been divorced for 19 years from his first wife, the mother of his children (who were a little older than mine) and had just come out of another long-term relationship. There was no instant attraction to each other, but the course leader encouraged him to try writing poetry instead of the left-brained journalism that was his work at the time. (He created newsletters for businesses.) She felt that poetry would help him open up emotionally. Knowing I was a poet, she suggested he ask my help. Then one day he had a 'win' at work, wanted to go out to dinner to celebrate, and invited me. He thought at least we'd have something in common as I was also a writer. We hardly stopped talking all night, and found we had almost everything in common!

Andrew in 2005
At the time, newly single, I felt I wasn't ready to date anyone for a long time, if ever. Even if I did, I was determined to maintain my autonomy rather than live with someone ever again — and as for marriage, no thanks, tried it twice and that was enough. But every time Andrew asked one of these leading questions, I opened my mouth to say a polite no, and 'yes' fell out. My subconscious was wise!
We met in 1992 and married in November 1993, when I had just turned 54. He was 64. We didn't feel old. For 20 years we experienced our life together as a wonderful adventure, even in the ordinary, everyday aspects.
P.U.: Sigh. I adore a good love story! I so love your poem about the new chair you bought for your sitting room, after Andrew’s death, and the time you saw Andrew sitting in it, smiling, as if to tell you he approved your purchase.
Oh yes. I called it Visitation


'Don't leave me alone!'
I cry in my head to his gone spirit,
then correct myself: 'I know
you must do what you must'.

Later I lie down
for an afternoon nap.

In the trance between waking and sleeping, 
I see him suddenly, through my closed lids. 

He is sitting in the new armchair 
in the new sunroom I've made 
from his old office. 

He looks up over the pages he's reading, 
and meets my eyes. The usual smile.

He looks at ease. I'm glad 
he likes what I've done with the room.

I don't immediately register
that he's dressed all in shining white,
and his skin, too — radiant white.

P.U.: SO lovely! Have you had other visits from him?
Rosemary: In the first couple of weeks after he died, he visited a number of people. His younger son experienced the lights in his house going on and off rapidly for no apparent physical reason. A couple of close friends described a sort of shining ripple thickening the air as they sat on their balcony one evening soon after he died. His daughter said he had a long talk with her and told her he was going to be working with children. She got the impression he meant helping dying children make their transition. As for me, I nodded off in front of the telly one night, and woke suddenly to see his disembodied face in the air above me, smiling quizzically — the same expression he wore when alive, when I would do that and he'd nudge me awake (but from the chair beside me). As soon as I registered the sight, he disappeared; but for that moment was vividly real.
After that I didn't feel him around much. I tried to tell myself he must be busy with his afterlife, but I was disappointed all the same. Then just recently a very tuned-in friend told me he had finally 'left the earth realms and assimilated'. Apparently he had allowed himself to be held back by misguided friends who were trying to use him as a contact with 'the other side'. (A rather useless endeavour when he was still in the earth realms!) She also said he would be working with children, and that he would be my angel. I have now experienced his presence in a dream once more. I showed him various changes I've made to the house, and he admired them all. After I woke up, I realised that he looked like a younger, healthier, more assured version of himself. I believe it was a true dream and that he was in his angelic aspect. This is a very great comfort.
P.U.: Rosemary, I am utterly riveted by what you are saying. Truly. This is so wonderful, and reassuring, to hear. What would you tell someone newly widowed, to help them, from what you have learned?
Rosemary: Perhaps that any particular thing they're going through at any particular time is a natural part of the process. They don't have to buy into the inevitable guilt, for instance — just recognise it as both natural and irrational, and continue to move through the stages of grief at whatever pace it takes.
I was in psychotherapy in my twenties — I had a breakdown after the ending of my first marriage, to a compulsive gambler — and I always remember one great, all-purpose piece of advice for any situation: 'Just keep putting one foot after the other and after a while, if you look back over your shoulder, you'll see that you've travelled quite a long way.'
P.U.: That is exactly what one must do, in just about every difficult situation.
Rosemary: Practical responsibilities are useful too. They keep us from collapsing in a heap.
By the time Andrew died, it was very clear that he was dying. Even so, I still experienced shock. My doctor diagnosed a degree of post-traumatic stress disorder. (I was Andrew's official carer for several years, which became more and more arduous.) Bereavement can happen in many different ways, but I suspect shock may always be involved. I would advise people to be aware of that, and to think about seeking counselling.
P.U.: Wise advice, my friend. I know you love the area in which you live. Would you like to tell us a bit about it, and where you are located? It sounds  beautiful, and very friendly.
The street where I live, Mt. Warning in background
Rosemary: I've lived here since November 1994 — in the Mt Warning Caldera in the Northern Rivers Region of the State of New South Wales. It's a sub-tropical area, a little south of the Queensland border. In particular I've lived around the rural town of Murwillumbah — in various locations over the years, being a renter. There is a spectacular mountain range, the Border Ranges, between the two States, and we have our own special mountain, Mt Warning, which is full of crystals and very magickal. 

Twilight on the Tweed River,
Mt. Warning in background (right)
We have two rivers and many creeks, areas of rainforest, and although I am not right on the beach, it's only a half-hour drive away. There is an excellent art gallery, a good library service, and an Art Deco cinema. It's not too far from resorts such as Byron Bay or cities like The Gold Coast and Brisbane, if one wants a bit of live theatre or an international music festival.
Nevertheless, it's a rural area, dotted with small towns and villages. I grew up in Launceston, Tasmania, when that was a small town rather than the city it has become, so I like small towns and I'm happy to live in one again. I love not being able to walk down the street without bumping into several people I know. I've heard it can be cliquey, with people whose families have been here for generations turning up their noses at newcomers, but I haven't personally experienced that, only warmth and friendliness.

My favourite creek,
complete with pelicans
P.U.: It is absolutely beautiful, in every way! Imagine that view all around one. Just glorious. 

My crystal ball and supportive stones, set up for reading. 
I don't scry; being mostly clairsentient, I put one hand on it 
and hold the client's hand with my other, then tune in for messages 
and impressions which I may see, hear or feel.

P.U. I badly want my own crystal ball, kiddo!

I have been dipping into various of your blogs and reminiscences, and have reread our interview of 2012, which was focused so much on writing. And we’ll talk about writing too. But I discovered you studied Ceremonial Magic, Shamanism and Druidry before “coming home to witchcraft”. I love that your witch name is DragonStar Rose.  Tell us a bit about being a witch. I am fascinated. How did your journey evolve?

Rosemary when small - 
kiddo, you haven't changed a bit!
Rosemary: As a child, I perceived beings that other people didn't — spirits of various kinds, as I know now, and fairies (nature spirits). It took me some time to realise most people couldn't see them. As touched on in the earlier interview, I shut down for many years because I very soon got the message that only crazy people believed such things were real, and crazy people had to be locked up. In my early forties, I couldn't stay shut down. I had experiences that made me think I must be mad, but eventually realised I was still functioning normally. As I could find no rational explanation despite trying very hard, I decided I might as well believe the irrational! Then an old neighbour reconnected with me. He'd become a Hermetic magician in the few years we'd been out of touch. Already a wise elder, during the next two years before he died he taught me a lot, in the guise of just chatting over coffee.
Later I joined a meditation group dedicated to planetary healing, in which there was a great deal of guidance and training from Spirit; an extraordinary experience which lasted several years. I learned how to shift energy, use telepathy, and work with Unconditional Love — to mention just a few things. In 1988 I learned Reiki and, over a period of four years, trained as a Reiki Master. I explored the I Ching and the Runes, and eventually taught myself Tarot. All these things enhanced my psychic abilities. I was invited into another meditation group which was guided to work with nature spirits and the Devic kingdom to co-create flower essences.
After moving to the Caldera, I embarked on a personal study of Ceremonial Magick, and then of Shamanism. Then I came across OBOD (the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids) and enrolled in the first level, Bardic Grade, which I completed. I loved Druidry, and had every intention of going further, but I got diverted. I embraced witchcraft, and never looked back.
P.U.: Yippee! I am agog.
Rosemary: All my life people had said, only half-jokingly, 'You're a witch.' I always had this violent, knee-jerk reaction: 'Don't call me that!' But one day I realised, quite quietly, that of course I was a witch and always had been. I wondered what I'd been making such a fuss about. (I have since unearthed some past-life stuff which explains it.) I read what I could find, started practising (solitary) and was eventually guided to self-initiate. Later I thought I'd like some outside validation and studied for the first two degrees at, which runs excellent courses in Correllian Wicca. I've come to believe that simple, earthy witchcraft is the most powerful magick there is. It's also a very ethical system, as the only rule is, 'Do as you will so long as it harms none' — which means you have to examine every case on its own merits. That, to my way of thinking, makes it the most rigorous ethical system there is!
I was asked by so many people to mentor them that I invited them to form a coven, and taught three years of my own version of 'contemporary eclectic Wicca,' drawing on many things I'd learned, but with a strong Wiccan emphasis. Three years completed the course and we disbanded. We're still friends, but are back to working solitary and getting together more informally. Nowadays I prefer to call myself a Pagan witch rather than Wiccan as I'm so eclectic, and also because I'm inclined to be anti-religion. Wicca is a religion. I see my personal practices as being more a spiritual path, hopefully characterised by a lack of dogma. However, it's a fine distinction. If I were pushed to declare a religion, I would say Pagan. That word basically means reverence for Nature.

A nearby Pacific Ocean beach
P.U.: You know how those words speak to me, my friend! I know you helped to found the Poets Union in Australia, and are very well-known there  for your poetry. Would you like to tell us a bit about your herstory in the world of letters, in your corner of the world? You are a  very vibrant presence in the arts scene.
Rosemary: The idea of a Poets Union came from several Melbourne poets, of whom I was not one, in 1977. They were invited to bring poetry to workers, but as something extra tacked on to those people's lives. They wanted to show, instead, that poetry was relevant to everyday life here and now; that it was not just that dead stuff that people hated at school. They also espoused the principle that writing and performing poetry is work and deserves pay. (Newspaper editors and rock concert organisers in those days tended to think the honour and glory of being included — if there was room — should be enough.) 
These poets invited all the other Melbourne poets they could contact to a meeting to talk about starting a Union. I was one who turned up to that meeting, where we clarified the vision and defined the details, after which we spread the word around Australia. It became a national organisation with State branches, and we brought about many of our goals. One year (perhaps 1983) I was Melbourne Branch Secretary. My then husband, Bill Nissen, was National Secretary for a year. He was not a poet but a prose writer (as well as an abalone diver) but took a keen interest in the Union and attended meetings.
He and I started a small independent publishing company to share the work of Australian poets, and called it Abalone Press. Soon afterwards I was invited to join Pariah Press Co-op Ltd, consisting of several Melbourne poets who wanted to air the work of poets living in the State of Victoria. I considered that invitation a great honour, considering the calibre of the others involved! They published my first book, Universe Cat. Abalone Press lasted 10 years, from 1982 to 1992. Pariah Press began in 1984 and lasted into the mid to late nineties, but I divorced, remarried and moved out of Victoria, so did not continue my membership.
For a few years I was part of a poetry theatre group, Word of Mouth, with three other poets: Ken Smeaton (whom I've featured here in I Wish I'd Written This), Malcolm Brodie, and Anita Sinclair. Anita was also a theatre director and had her own performance space. We would meet on Monday, work out a topic/theme, find poems to illustrate it, learn them by heart, devise a theatrical performance, rehearse all week, and present it to a crowd the following Saturday night. We used props, costumes, actions. I loved it!
I have also done a lot of teaching of poetry writing, workshop-style, in the community and at adult education institutions, including tertiary colleges at University level. And I have run writers' conferences and festivals on behalf of various organisations.

Despite all that, I don't think I am 'very well known' here now. My heyday was in the seventies, eighties and nineties. The poets of my generation (and perhaps some readers) still remember me, but for the last 20 years I've kept a fairly low profile in terms of print publication — except for Secret Leopard, but that was published and printed overseas, timed to coincide with my appearance at the Austin International Poetry Festival and other poetic events in Texas in April 2006. It attracted little attention here. 

(Secret Leopard is available for purchase from Amazon, or by contacting me via my website.)

P.U.: You have been so active, Rosemary! Good for you. You made it count!
Rosemary: I like to play online these days, in the global community. Of course it's possible to do both, and I occasionally get into a print anthology too, but I don't chase that sort of publication any more. I believe I reach far more people this way (largely via my blogs) but it means I have to a large extent disappeared from Australian awareness — particularly as, not living in a big city any more, I'm not doing regular performances to sizeable audiences. Seldom to any audiences, in fact! It would mean travelling to some of the larger towns in the area. I have done a bit of that over the years but I let it go when I needed to give Andrew full-time care, and now I'm reluctant to drive so far, particularly at night. I do love performance, but, at my age, not enough to do that any more.
P.U.: I so understand: Online is so satisfactory, and one doesn't have to drive at night! What is the difference between performance poetry and simply reading a poem at an open mic? What do you love about it?

At Crystal Castle
Rosemary: Performance has a lot more 'oomph'. You try to bring the poem alive, not merely read it politely. You might yell, or use gestures ... whatever it takes. Ideally, one learns the poems for the particular occasion by heart so as to engage better with the audience without the sheet of paper — or slim volume — in between. In the early days of the Poets Union, we used to declaim, loudly, 'Performance poetry is OFF THE PAGE!' Poetry began as an oral tradition, after all.
 Almost any poem can be performed, but some are written specifically with performance in mind, and might not have much impact until they are heard. I used to give a lot of attention to making mine work both on and off the page. I hope they still do, but by now, being away from performance, I may be writing more 'page poems'. There's a place for them too. Some things need mulling over, rather than being gotten immediately via hearing.
What do I love? Oh, I'm just an old ham! The first time I got brave enough to read at a Poets Union event and saw, in the audience's faces, my punch-line hit home, I was hooked.
P.U.: Yay! Would you like to include a favourite poem here? One you are especially fond of? Want to tell us why? 
The Sword of Archangel Michael

The sword glows
in my right hand.
My arm swings from the shoulder
wielding blue flame:
sharp light, the cut of truth.

Precise moves.
Economy.  Bite.
These are the qualities.
These and blue light —
a laser that heals where it touches.

In the beginning
the word.
The word true,
the word precise,
the word deliberately aimed.

It cuts to the heart,
my sword in flight.
From the heart of God
to the point of now
exactly aimed,
quick light.

© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 1995
First published Divan (e-zine) issue 4, Dec. 2001.
Also in Secret Leopard: New and selected poems 1974-2005, Alyscamps Press (Paris) 2005

This is perhaps more of an on-the-page poem, though I hope it works both ways. There isn't really a story. It just 'came through' one day, pure inspiration, 'wholly given' as they say — a rare treat! Perhaps that's why I like it so much. Also I like what it says, and the way it says it. I always think there is a very fine line between inspiration and channelling; this one almost feels as if someone else wrote it. But I know they are my ideas / images. (I was working a lot with Michael at the time.)
P.U.: I love "quick light." How about a poem other people have told you is their favourite? 
This is a performance piece, though it works very well on the page too.
The Day We Lost the Volkswagen
  During a momentary lull in her head,
  the poor old thing lost her grip.
  The boat she was towing towed her instead
  ponderously down the slip.
  backwards into the water.

  For a swirling moment she almost floated,
  she thought of setting sail.
  But her bum tilted, her britches bloated —
  she was heavy in the tail —
  and the sly seaweed caught her.

  I thought even then she might make a try
  (she seemed to be righting her flank)
  but she spun gravely, one eye on the sky,
  gave a dignified splutter and sank.
  The sea frothed briefly.

  I don’t know — she wasn’t the kind to drift,
  much less come apart at the seams.
  But the sails and the clouds that day had a lift,
  and perhaps she had some dreams.
  It was a damn nuisance, chiefly.

© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 1974
from Universe Cat, Pariah Press (Melb.) 1985, and
Secret Leopard: new and selected poems 1974-2005 (Alyscamps Press, (Paris) 2005
First published Nation Review
Also in:
A Second Australian Poetry Book for Children, Oxford
Secondary English Book 3, Macmillan
Off the Record, Penguin                                  
Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets

P.U.: Oh my goodness!
Rosemary: It's a true story. My second husband, Bill, as I've said, was an abalone diver. The kids were still young; it was a weekend; we'd gone with him to fetch the boat home from its mooring. So we all saw it happen and couldn't do a thing to stop it. The poor little car was never any good after that — full of salt.

P.U.: In your first interview, we learned that you began writing very young, around age six. And I love your quote about poetry: “I decided early that the creation of beauty is the best way to spend a life. And poetry is the highest form of beauty humans can create. So of course that was how I wanted to spend my life.”  Have there been years when your writing slowed or stopped due to life events? Or have you written your way through everything?
Rosemary: I've pretty much written my way through everything, sometimes more prolifically than others. It has never stopped for long, but I have had short gaps. I remember when I first went several weeks without writing, when I was in the Poets Union. I was devastated and confided to the other poets, 'I've got writer's block.' They were like, 'Oh yes. (Yawn)'. I was hurt, but afterwards I realised they'd all been through it before and had learned what I soon did too, that it doesn't last and is not the end of the world. In fact I learned that those non-writing periods are input time, with a lot of stuff happening invisibly, gestating as it were. When you do start again, often there has been some kind of quantum leap. However I still get a bit twitchy if there's not much poetry happening, and I'm glad of all the prompts available nowadays at Poets United and other sites.
Incidentally, I'm referring to poetry of course. I'm always WRITING; prose doesn't get blocked — but for me poetry is the essential. At the moment it's a bit slow, actually. But then, I'm slowing down in general after the years of running on adrenaline when I was looking after Andrew. It has taken me all these months to recover and readjust. I think both mind and body have gone into a sort of vacation mode or even convalescence, and everything takes a lot longer than it used to. So I see prompts I think I'd like to try, and by the time I get to them the deadline has passed. I guess I'll find a balance eventually.
P.U.: Rosemary, that is exactly how I feel - slowed down, almost convalescent, and as if I will never catch up. But I suppose we must be grateful to be writing at all, at whatever a pace. At the time of your first interview, you were planning some ebooks. Have they been completed?
Rosemary: Oh dear, I am very bad at getting my act together. I've created some just for fun as PDF files, available free here. 
But I want to do proper e-books like Samuel Peralta, Michele Brenton and others have done. I also want to try at least one with a chapbook publisher rather than self-publishing. The people in my writers' group, WordsFlow, were an enormous help with editorial suggestions when, nearly a year ago, I made a series of poems about being newly widowed into a chapbook — since when it has languished in my bottom drawer.
I also want to re-publish Andrew's books for children (a couple of fairy stories with an Aussie flavour) as e-books. I have to teach myself the formatting. It was all put on hold while I got through this last year, and indeed the one before that.
P.U.: They will get done, Rosemary, and they will be wonderful! Would you like to include a sample or two of your Small Stones and/or haiku?
Rosemary: I recently merged the haiku blog with my general poetry blog, The Passionate Crone. I seem to be getting away from haiku lately, even the modern variations, and simply producing short poems instead — in other forms, or as free verse. 

Haiku are deceptively simple but very, very hard to write well. After seven years of trying to train myself, I may have produced a few good ones — and in the world of haiku, perhaps that counts as success. To find my haiku, you'd have to go to The Passionate Crone  and click on the 'haiku' tag.
I'm quite proud of this one-line haiku:
a lone sandal shuffles in the tide

and I like this old one in the well-known 5/7/5 format, which once won a prize for 'witku' (humorous haiku):

My husband hugs me.
Behind his back I count out
haiku syllables.

I have kept the 'small stones' in a separate blog. It is called Stones for the River, and the posts are not always poems, though most are. I love the concept of 'mindful writing', where you look outside yourself for inspiration, either via haiku or small stones. A one-line small stone I posted on twitter has been retweeted many times, so it obviously appeals to people:
Autumn. The cats find sunny doorsteps.

P.U.: I love them all. What are you currently working on, and what are your plans for the coming year?  You have told me you are branching out into memoir – how are you finding it? 

Rosemary: Well, there's The Widowhood Chronicles — which needs a better title. I'll probably include some excerpts from my personal journals, which felt too private at the time, but now I think could be shared. Perhaps I'll include some of my poems on the subject, too.
I have also made a start on something people have been asking me to do for years: a memoir focusing on the magickal aspects of my life. I have started it as a blog, to assemble the raw material, and I think it will need a lot of revisions before it's ready to be a book. 
P.U.: I am so excited about both memoirs. I hope you offer them on your blog when they are ready. Memoirs are my favourite reading, because life is far more extraordinary than anything we can make up. 
Rosemary: Even at this point, I am finding it incredibly confronting to put that stuff out there. Even though I have many dear friends who are equally aware of other-dimensional realities, I was so indoctrinated as a child to think that if you believe this stuff you must be mad, that I keep expecting to be accused of either insanity or telling lies. In fact it has been well received so far, and my very level-headed psychologist reminds me, 'Your experience is your experience'. This apprehension about people's reactions makes it slow going, though.
P.U.: You will get there, and it will be perfect. Anything else you would like us to know?
Rosemary: I'm blown away by the brilliance of so many of the poets I encounter online, at Poets United and other places. And it seems to me that many of them have no idea just how good they are. 
There is something to be said for playing the game of submitting to prestigious (printed) literary magazines, entering competitions and so on — if only that you measure yourself against established standards. Success in that sphere may not bring greater fame or wider readership (then again it might) but it can allow you to value yourself more objectively. I think that Sam Peralta and my mate Collin Kelley (who has been featured in I Wish I'd Written This) might be two who know their own worth — because they have participated in the offline poetry scene too. OK, so I don't myself, but I did in younger days.
P.U.: Yes, it takes young energy to pursue that route, and resilience. Thank you, Rosemary, for your faithful work at Poets United, even through the weeks when your beloved Andrew was failing, and after. Bless you!
Rosemary: I think it kept me sane! And I certainly received a lot of understanding from people here, and much support from you, Sherry, and the other PU staff members. Thank you, Poets United, for being here.

P.U.: Thank you, Rosemary, for being such a vibrant and captivating presence in the 'sphere, and for all you do at Poets United.

Sigh. Are you as satisfied as I am, kids, after reading this interview? I am replete. Do come back to see who we talk to next. There is one more staff person left and I am beating the bushes to flush her out, so we can get caught up with her. Her interview will appear soon, because they can run, but they can't hide (unless they are the Admin!) I did ask Mary for an update, but it was hard enough getting her to agree to the last  one and, sure enough she said "I prefer to keep a low profile". But IF, by chance, you happen to click  here, I have no control over whether that interview pops up or not. Cackle


  1. Rosemary and Sherry,

    This was such a treat to find here this evening. I never quite know where in the world Sherry is going to be found sitting next. She does have some stamina for travel and I am so grateful to her for what she brings back as these Interviews. Thanks Sherry:)


    You are a most interesting lady and this interview has introduced me to you in a much better way.
    I have always enjoyed reading your poetry and learning about a whole new world of poets via your contributions here at Poets United. Thank you for bringing new interests my direction.
    I love the wide range of styles and subjects that you bring with your words.
    Of course, I am sorry to have read about your personal loss with your beloved Andrew. Such sincere love was obvious from what you have written.
    It is nice tfor you o have the company of Levi and Freya, two most beautiful pals.

    Thank you for sharing your world in this interview Rosemary,

    1. Thank you Eileen, for this lovely, thoughtful comment.

      And of course many thanks to the incomparable Sherry for encouraging me to open up, even when I thought I was being too long-winded! :-D

    2. Being too-long-winded is impossible for you, Rosemary. Every word is so fascinating it would be impossible to cut a single one! You left me wanting more!!!!

  2. Rosemary and Sherry, what a wonderfully thorough interview. I enjoyed reading about your involvement with poetry in Australia over the years, about how you dealt with grief, and also about your spiritual searching. Loved the depth, Sherry & Rosemary!

    1. Thank you, Mary. You have often been very supportive as I dealt with the grief. It is a thing few of us escape, of course, as we go through life, and I have appreciated your deep understanding.

  3. are a strong woman, Rosemary, and adorable in a variety of ways... your poetry can't lie... and as a pagan, myself, i can relate to your story... i'm not gifted to see things & beings beyond belief but as a child & up to now i have been gifted of a special ear for mysteries, thus, i called myself mythical sleuth.... i may sound crazy (oftentimes) but this is my reality i must live... smiles... thank you both, Sherry & Rosemary, for an enjoyable read & share...

    1. Oh, how delightful to be called adorable! (An adjective I might well apply to you in return, dear Kelvin!) Despite loving your poetry, I had not fully realised that we have a similar spiritual path. I think all spiritual paths have their validity; still it is lovely to meet the like-minded. *Smile.*

  4. How wonderful to find one of my favourite poets interviewed by one of my favourite poet-interviewers! You walk the world with such grace Rosemary, bringing enlightenment to any and all who have the good fortune to meet this particular witch. The humility and courage you've shown while grieving your beloved Andrew have set a very high bar, but as always, blazed a trail for those who would follow. Thanks for sharing so generously of yourself here and everywhere; you enrich my life as I know you do many others. And Sherry? You just keep getting better...

  5. smiles...i am glad you are a good witch much of your story is fascinating...and so much i feel like it did not know as well...and your spirits too for having been through as much as well....lovely interview you two

    1. I think bad witches are very rare. As I said, we're an ethical lot, and mostly our spells are all about healing. Glad you liked the interview!

  6. I loved reading this interview, Rosemary. You are always so open, honest and gentle yet strong. I feel as if I know you a lot better now. Keep writing, my friend. I don't think you realise how great you are.
    Maggie Cunningham Webb

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Maggie. I wish you would start a blog of your own poems and join us here at Poets United!

  7. Argh, blogger ate my comment. It warms my heart to come in here every week and read that people are enjoying the enchanting life stories of our community poets. Rosemary, you are an inspiration and a delight. I so wish we could chat in person over tea.....I guarantee there would be cackling!

  8. Marvelously full, Sherry, but I'd be back for more later on today if you wanted to continue. Rosemary, I have so many responses to each bit that I am overwhelmed. I am glad you are intentionally building memoir/autobiography, as I will be in line at the bookstore. You are so fully engaged that your life is fascinating. We have sometimes noted resonance in pagan expression, so I thought to tell you that I identify as a Jewish-Pagan-Quaker--all tempered a bit by feminist experience, and not as contradictory as they sound. Long story short: you inspire me. Thank you.

  9. Sherry. thanks for bringing the entire Rosemary to light! I understand the distinction between "Pagan" and "Wiccan." I respect all paths that are rooted in love, and love of nature is of course the first love we should all honor.

    I hadn't realized the whole story of you and Andrew, Rosemary. The first year is the hardest... you were so wise to seek counseling, and it's great that you had someone you already knew and trusted.

    Seeing Susan's comment above, I have to laugh, because my daughter, Riley, calls herself a "gender queer, baptised Irish Protestant Jew." Now that's a handful. I think she will end up either Pagan or Buddhist. Either way, her pastor stepdad and I will be happy she has embraced spirituality in her life.

    Rosemary, you are beyond talented, and it's great to hear you talk about your life in your own words. Articulate, interesting, and surprising. Thanks to you both, Amy

    1. Thank you, Amy. You know you're my sister under the skin, even if you are a pastor's wife! (Mind you, he has always sounded to me like a most enlightened pastor.)

      Ha, I often think if I wasn't Pagan I'd probably be Buddhist.

      My best friend is a witch married to a devout Christian who goes to church on Sundays. They respect each other's paths, and the fact that they both believe in a loving God is more important to them than their differences about the details.

  10. Thanks to my stars that I found this wonderful community Poets United.........Rosemary, only two weeks ago I lost my father...........I can't tell you how your words concosled me and gave me are deeply spiritual and I sincerely hope that your extraordinary life experiences enrich us more in your works.............and thanks to you Sherry for another great interview...........

    1. That in itself makes it worthwhile to have done this interview, Sumana! I work as a psychic medium, and so I know by now that death is not the end, and that those who have gone on keep loving us and look in on us from time to time. Oddly enough, that doesn't take away grief — there's just no substitute for the physical presence — but it does help us deal with it. I KNOW your father still loves you, and hears you when you talk to him in your mind, even if you can't hear him.

    2. Sumana, I am so sorry for your loss and love what Rosemary says about loved ones still loving us and looking in on us from time to time. I hope that brings you some comfort. Do write your way through the grief. It has always helped me to write it all down. A series of poems about and to your father might be just the thing to give you comfort in these first impossibly hard months.

  11. Rosemary - thank you - you too my dear friend Sherry. Thank you to Sherry for bringing me here and for the interview. Thank you to Rosemary for reawakening me through your inherent wisdom. My life's spiritual path has always been one of significant growth followed by a rest. This rest has been way too long and I have fallen into a real rut. Rosemary thank you for sharing yourself, your pain of loss. David is 62 and I am a hint away from 67. We speak of the knowledge that one day - one of us will go before the other. He is in excruciating pain right now with no let-up and has been since April. I realize that I have allowed it to drag me down and I have become depressed and sort of "not living." I think that you may have shaken me out of that - so I thank you. I also book marked your blogs. I am grateful for you. Hugs-Liz

    1. I'm glad to have been of help, Liz — however inadvertently! Sherry directed me to your blog, and I have left a longer comment there.

      This is one of the reasons I like to 'play online' nowadays — that we are in effect having conversations, rather than the more static and hidden interactions with unknown readers of paper publications. Well, at least some of the time, and particularly in poetic communities such as this.

  12. Grateful to meet another part of Rosemary - the healer, the witch...I'd say since you are good witch - then you - the good fairy...very close in the spiritual plan to your story...but you-right, everyone goes in their unique way...all this knowledge you got will continue to educate the others through the books, including the poems. Glad to connect with you, Rosemary! Thanks to Sherry!

    1. But we were already connected a little bit via reading each other's poems! I agree it is nice to deepen these connections as we learn more about each other. *Smile.*

  13. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview for your candid frankness, Rosemary. Thank you so much for sharing - sans reserve. And that is the the true beauty of the Poets United community. We are all here for the love of poetry, and we are not afraid of our beliefs and how our friends would view us…I wish the world was more like Poets United.

    Apart from that, you make me miss Australia. I have not visited since I left as a child. I know it is a beautiful country, it calls to me now and then…one day I hope to return.

    Sherry darling,

    I love you for bringing us all together. Between Australia, my birthland, and Canada, my most carefree days, both of you have made me long to travel again, and write under the stars, on the beach, gazing at the mountain. Must be picking up that pagan longing for nature.



    1. Ninot, I am trying my hardest to get home to my beloved beach and if I succeed, you are more than welcome to make the journey!!!!!! Mi casa, sous casa!

      I love the world we create here at Poets United, too, and am so grateful for each one of you.

      Rosemary, you generously gave us so much, in this interview. Bless you!

    2. It is true — this is one place, I realise, in which I felt no hesitation about revealing myself. It's a great testament to the warmth of this community. But I think poetry groups on or offline tend to create intimacy. As Kelvin suggests in a comment above, we can't hide in our poetry. (He says 'can't lie'.) And it just goes to show — the truth is what reaches people. Thank you, Ninot, for occasioning these insights!

  14. Thank you for the lovely interview Sherry ~ Wow what a treat to know more about Rosemary ~ I have always wanted to ask about your husband as your writing talked about grief and sadness ~ A full & enriching life and many more to come I would believe ~

    Cheers ~

    1. Thank you, Grace. Yes, despite the inevitable grief, I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on any of it! I often think of Kahlil Gibran's words in The Prophet: 'in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.'

  15. Wow! wonderful. I have been an admirer of Rosemary and her beads that she string in as poetry for herself and us! Thank you Sherry for highlighting her, yet again. two years is a journey indeed to be shared! :) and I hope Mary cpmes in soon! :):)

    1. That's a lovely way of putting it, beads on a string - thank you, Akila.

  16. Lovely interview. Thanks for sharing snippets of your life. You gave me hope that someday I might meet my soulmate too. But at 54 sometimes I wonder if that will ever happen. You also gave me great comfort that our loved ones live on. I think I often feel my dad or connect with him. I miss him a lot. Thank you Rosemary and Blessings.

    1. Suzy, when I separated from my second husband, I was convinced I was far too old and fat ever to get anther man, but would be celibate for the rest of my life. My sons roared with raucous laughter: 'YOU - celibate? Ha ha ha!' I was quite hurt, but then along came Andrew and proved them right. You could try writing down exactly what you want in a partner, so that the Universe is clear what to provide. (Do include age and gender; they matter. But hair colour and stuff probably doesn't.) Once you've listed everything, shove it away in the back of a drawer and try to forget about it. No, I didn't do this myself, but people who do tell me it works.

    2. Thanks Rosemary. Will try that :)

  17. This is a classic interview, Rosemary! The strength of character is obvious. A lively revelation of a poet through thick and thin and a wonderful love story at the end that sustained for 20 years! Love to hear good things in life! Laud the frankness, too! And thanks Sherry for yet again a great job!


    1. Thank you, Hank. I like to think the love story is still going on, only in a different way.

  18. I cannot tell you two how uplifting and validating and satisfying this interview has been for me. Having admired Rosemary from first reading, I am thrilled to know more about her and her illustrious past. The many truths shared in these paragraphs have given me so much to think about and allowed me to modify and clarify some of my own beliefs.
    I am forever telling Sherry that she is a gift and a blessing to me. This piece adds Rosemary to that category and amplifies both. LOVE. That's it. LOVE!

    1. That's lovely to know, Kim. Now I look forward to your interview!


  19. i came across Rosemary and her poetry through this community and was i glad i stepped into here. her poems can be witty, tender, yet lined with steel if needed. well, most of the guys have said what i wanted to say too, but i must say it again, she's one amazing lady. :)

    1. Thank you. I'm glad you said it. I should use your description of my poetry to promote my next book!

  20. I love this interview! I love all that you shared, your abilities and how you and your soul mate found each other~ This interview touches on so many levels~ YOU are a gift Rosemary! Thank you Sherry for allowing us a view in Rosemary's life~

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Ella. The way I see it, I am the recipient of gifts. We all have losses and sorrows, but I do think I have had, overall, a blessed life!

  21. I really enjoyed this interview with Sherry. A glimpse into the life of Rosemary you are a strong woman who has been gifted from the other realm. I have no doubts that there is life on the other side. We need to take peace in that knowledge.

    Thank you for sharing...peace & light...

  22. Amazing, enlightening interview, Sherry! And Rosemary, thank you for sharing so much of your journey - I've always admired as if from afar the poet you, but now feel I know you personally, even intimately. You touched me deeply, thank you.

  23. Fascinating warm and wondrous woman - Fascinating warm wondrous interview. I am a huge admirer of RNW in all her many aspects - delighted that the Widowhood Chronicles will become a book that will bring comfort to so many. Next comes a memoir??? :). Wonderful duo here on this interview - it really couldn't miss being as luminous as glows :)

    1. Awww! You are always so encouraging! Thank you, Pearl - and it's you who persuaded me the Chronicles should become a book :)


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