Judy Durrant speaks

Judy Durrant

Judy Durrant is runner up in the 2010 Judith Wright poetry prize for new and emerging poets in Australia with her poem ‘and day breaks’, published in Overland 203.

We’ve asked Judy to share with us a little of what led her to write ‘and day breaks‘, what inspires her, what she’s hoping the reader will take away with them from reading her poem, and where she’s going next …


The pink of a sunset cloud reflected on the lake’s surface reminded me of the lipstick my long-dead sister used to wear. I think to say ‘dear departed’ sister. Dusk is the wonderful draining away of day – in this case, simultaneously incredibly beautiful and deeply sad, but galvanising.

I’m hoping [the reader] will register a resonance – a nutshell of communicated meaning: that they’ll be able to relate to feelings I affirmed to myself when I wrote ‘and day breaks’. When I wrote it, I was hoping to cut to the chase of life in a fresh way.

It is a walk in the Kruger National Park: it is awe-inspiring, sweet, fragile, dangerous; its inhabitants and nature are the only priority. Its rare opportunity instills in me a duty of care to be worthy of it in the here and now, because at the end there is nothing.


Probably it’s the fault of my genes; determination, coinciding with a desire to ‘rage against that good night’ – squeeze my life to the last drop, and hope it’s not a lemon.

Anything I read, including of course, the great works, will spark it off. Being hit with the sight of something: out of the blue a sense or connotation will associate itself, some words will juxtapose or coalesce and off it goes. ‘The sense’ is the beginning of a formulation of a body of thought that I don’t necessarily know I’ll write, before I write it – the writing of it elucidates concerns from inside me. Sometimes it’s so subliminal, it’s like glossolalia – speaking in tongues.

I am very interested in the idea of poetry being such an intense form of communication, that paradoxically, it says something that words can’t. It’s a challenge to rise above the prosaic; to be able to touch another human, mind-to-mind. Poetry is a superior kind of science fiction realised in the everyday; a holographic halo; a kind of personal data-storage-cloud freely available to be downloaded by the reader’s computing brain. The moment of relating on that level to any part of a poem is as amazing as a stem cell transforming into a liver cell.

Poetry blows a kiss to the mind: it’s the science of affection and love – just like art.

Not to forget: there’s always a river somewhere – in my case, that most excellent poem as yet unwritten.

Where next?

I am putting together the Kilimanjaro of a first poetry book: Arsey Triage. As for new poems, one thing is for sure: as soon as I stop butting my head at it and just live, another will happen. In the meantime, I knock the bits and pieces together of a proposed opera house. I am eagerly awaiting the day when I open my Weeties box to find the knack smiling up at me.

The 2011 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets opens for entries on 1 September and closes on 15 November 2011.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Clare Strahan is a two-time novelist with Allen & Unwin publishers, long-ago contributing editor to Overland, and teaches in the RMIT Professional Writing & Editing Associate Degree.

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