Love & Death in Castlemaine
Sue King-Smith, editor of the collection, describes the book as heartfelt and intimate, dealing with the big themes – love, death and place.
‘These poems are embedded in place, culture, history and the natural environment of Castlemaine (and surrounds). Katherine’s poems span many decades and are about community and the cyclic nature of relationships and life. They are a distilling of Relational Geography – mapping the way in which people relate and connect in a particular place.
The collection is both a celebration and a eulogy. The first poem, ‘The Road to Castlemaine’, invites us to the region. In ‘The Sounds of Chewton’, we hear the Wattle Gully mine siren for lunch and old Tex playing piano in the Red Hill Hotel. In ‘Forest Creek Goldfields’ stability is illusionary; life is riddled with mineshafts. In ‘Collecting Jaara History’, silences surround the Aboriginal heritage of Castlemaine.
There is a poem about lovers swimming in the Golden Point Res under the stars. A train carriage in the Chewton bush is described – “a vase of freshly cut wattle/food fresh from the market, an old stove fire, the smell of your rain washed hair/only candlelight.’
There are poems about relationships breaking down. In ‘The Pine Forest’, the felling of trees between the houses of the two lovers becomes a symbol of their relationship. And there are stories of people passing away. In ‘Attempt’ the protagonist is asked to hang on to the new life born of rain, after the drought.’