Tricia Dearborn

I met Tricia via Facebook in 2012 when I was panicking about launching ‘Jimi.’ We found that we’d both been in The Best Australian Poetry (UQP) in 2008 and she’d written a fabulous poem where ‘Women are sea creatures’  which happened to coincide with one of my obsessions at the time – seals. Her take on it was much sassier than mine with her missing ‘that brine-lapped cleft, the way that sealskin glides on sealskin’. It’s one of those poems I wish I’d written.

Her advice on launching a book was spot on: don’t trust Facebook, invite people you know and it will be fun however many people turn up. We swapped books and last week I used one of her taut and beautiful poems, ‘The Long Goodnight’ in a tango poetry workshop which went down well. I love Tricia’s sparse and yet sensual and sensuous poetry and I love her wry and sharp observations of the familiar. I bring you Tricia Dearborn…


Tricia Dearborn pic


The quiet house
for Scarlett Vallence, 7.9.2008

i. Family portrait

At the top of the photograph,
J’s face. Grief pours off him

like a glacier, monumental.
My eyes move down to you,

your gaze on the child
who lies across your ribs.

Your face a wall. Behind it
the gathering tsunami.

ii. Nightmare

on the drugs that are meant
to help you sleep,
you dream —

a camera pans along a row
of fat pink wriggling infants
the line is long, the camera

moves swiftly
you struggle desperately to wake —
you know your small still baby’s

last in line

iii. Small comfort

At the wake, champagne in hand,
J and I amuse ourselves inventing
more offensive ways of swearing­ —

J’s brother poses our family photo,
tousling your hair and mine,
dragging our brothers’ ties askew —

I’m handed a cigarette, inhale
the small comfort of an old habit.
It ends

when J sobs in our arms
then struggles free. Your urgent whisper:
What do you want? What do you want?

iv. The quiet house

I sit in the cool leather chair
in your back room

looking out to the morning garden
with my cup of tea.

Such peace — when what I want
is her, here

squalling against my chest
while you have a grateful shower.

v. Ashes

My suitcases
stand in the hall.

I hesitate, but when I
finally ask

you say Of course.
I bend to lift her

from the cot.

I rock her, pat
the quilt-wrapped box.


What to wear at five

I avoided the wedding cake hat —
tiered, hard and white. But wore
the coat with the brown velvet collar

as long as I could, until it encased me
like a sausage skin.
I was not allowed to wear

my purple overalls every day.
Was cheated of my brothers’
airy shirt-free summers.

I sat on the front steps with the Sun,
black cotton thread, a needle.
Sewed myself newspaper wings.


Both poems are from The Ringing World, Puncher & Wattman, 2012

Tricia Dearborn’s most recent collection of poetry is The Ringing World (Puncher & Wattmann, 2012). Her poetry has been widely published in literary journals and has featured in anthologies including Australian Poetry Since 1788 (UNSW Press, 2011), The Best Australian Poems 2012 and 2010 (Black Inc.), Notes to the Translators (ASM Poetry, 2012) and Out of the Box: Contemporary Australian Gay and Lesbian Poets (Puncher & Wattmann, 2009). She has been a featured reader at many events, including the Sydney Writers’ Festival in 2012, and has received several new work grants from the Australia Council’s Literature Board. Tricia has degrees in biochemistry and arts, worked briefly in a research laboratory and now earns a living as a freelance editor. She lives in Sydney.

Poems available online

Four poems in Polari Journal’s ‘Strange Stars: Bright Lights in Queer Poetry’ issue:

Eleven poems featured in Caught in the Net #79:

Someone else reading my poem ‘Come in, lie down’ rather sexily on Poetica (at about 16:20):

Videos of a reading and an interview — part of the Red Room’s The Disappearing project:

Reading ‘Are we there yet?’ (from my first book, Frankenstein’s Bathtub) and ‘Scan’ for Varuna’s ‘Writer-a-Day’ blog and app:

‘Making pipettes’, from Frankenstein’s Bathtub, for National Science Week 2013:

‘Fig’ and ‘Mapping the cactus’ in Mascara Literary Review #9:

‘Canary’ in Snorkel #11:

‘Night vision’, ‘At the laundromat on rue St Florent’ and ‘The answer’ in Bluepepper:

‘Everything we’re made of’ in Holding Patterns: Physics and Engineering Poems:

Puncher & Wattmann author page:

Review of The Ringing World in Famous Reporter #44:




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