Robyn Rowland

Poetry can animate everything, so that life itself breathes through the line. It remembers passion. ... It can make us alive to something new or remembered. Coming out of the ordinary or the mystical, it calls us to ourselves; drawing into view the inner working relationships between the conscious and the unconscious; the passionate intensity of the feeling life as well as the corrugated pathways of thought. Using image to speak, it inspires awe at the way the poet can condense experience on the page.... Poetry can inform, renew, move, uncover understanding, create change’.

Robyn Rowland, ‘De-lyricising the lyric?’

Robyn Rowland’s poetry in her nine volumes, has always struck for the heart. Open and honest in its emotion, her work captures the struggle of life lived on the edge of feeling. In addition, it tells story using the transforming power of metaphor. Her work is ‘a poetry of connection and communication’. Valuing accessibility, her books have been described as ‘generous and passionate’ with a celebration of the ‘immediacy of experience’ and the ‘poignancy of happiness’. Following an Irish tradition of the narrative lyric, her work encompasses the moments in life for which we need words; words to act as rituals that hold us.

In earlier books her themes included ‘the incompleteness, the unfinished edges of human love’ (Barrett Reid), death in its many forms; breast cancer and depression; language and silence; spiritual life. More recently, Robyn has been exploring history through poetry, captured by the experiences of the individual in history. Her work in Turkey has given rise to one of her two books out in 2015:  This Intimate War Gallipoli/Çanakkale 1915 – İçli Dışlı Bir Savaş: Gelibolu/Çanakkale 1915, Turkish translations by Mehmet Ali Çelikel, from Five Islands Press in Australia and Bilge Kultur Sanat, Turkey. See the book pages here for details.

Her second book out in 2015, Line of Drift from the Irish Press Doire, contains poems that swing the reader between Ireland and Australia, the continuing tug of 'belonging'. Three of her earlier books have poems reflecting the experiences of exile and belonging as a third generation Irish Australian, a theme that emerged in her second book, Perverse Serenity (a narrative sequence of a love affair with an Irish monk) and continued in a newer form in Shadows at the Gate (after living in Ireland for some time).  Earlier still, her second book, Fiery Waters, contains some political poems, poems celebrating a love with a younger man, and a breast cancer sequence ‘The Great Way’.

Details are in the website if you look at the pages for each of the books. As Professor and Head of the School of Social Inquiry at Deakin University until 1996, Dr Robyn Robyn AO had an extensive academic career which you can view on the 'Academic biography' page.

Please feel free to contact Robyn at the contact section on this site. Robyn travels a great deal now, spending time between Ireland, Australia and Turkey and is happy to be invited to read or give workshops. See 'Poetry Biography' for extensive information.

more about robyn

books and cds

  • Line of Drift (2015)

    (Doire Press, 2015) This book has a grant from the Irish Arts Council. Poems include tribute poems for Robert Adamson, Theo Dorgan and Jacob Rosenberg. An Epic about the Island…

  • This Intimate War: Gallipoli/Çanakkale 1915 (2015)

    This Intimate War Gallipoli/Çanakkale 1915 – İçli Dışlı Bir Savaş: Gelibolu/Çanakkale 1915, is the only contemporary Australian/Turkish book of poems on the Gallipoli/Çanakkale war. It is written by Dr Robyn Rowland…

  • Silence & Its Tongues (2006)

    (Five Islands Press, 2006) Fired by a yearning for communication, the poems in Silence and its tongues grow from experiences of loneliness,absent love, the silent world of depression and the…

  • Seasons of Doubt & Burning: New and Selected Poems (2010)

    These poems from almost forty years of publication show growth, from open simplicity to a rich, resonant maturity. Their hallmark is deep honesty and emotional accessibility. To read reviews of…

  • Perverse Serenity

    (Heinemann, 1990; Spinifex Press, Melbourne, 1992) This is a book-length narrative sequence on the love affair between the poet and a monk in an Irish monastery. It represents an unfinished…

  • Shadows at the Gate (2004)

    'Poems move between Ireland and Victoria, between the twin towers and the love of a priest, between selkies and grandfathers with great assurance and insight. There is something European or…

  • Fiery Waters

    (Five Islands Press, 2001) Robyn's third book has six sections: ‘Life in the flesh’, ‘Tangled there’, ‘Time-travelling’, 'Bevelled edges’, ‘Peopled place’, ‘The Great Way is not difficult.. ’ Themes are…

  • Off The Tongue

    On this lovely gift CD which opens like a Christmas card and has the painting Asparus by Irish artist Lynda Burke as its cover, Robyn reads 17 poems from Shadows…

  • Silver Leaving, Poems & Harp

    Silver Leaving is a collaboration of poetry with music: the Irish Harp played by Lynn Saoirse. The harp is not background music. Rather, here is a partnership of lyric with…


a selection of poems

  • The Waiting

    Sea-rusted sun rising; night is a castaway in the yellow dawn, Everything depends opn the slant of light on your face this day, turned towards me or turned away.  …

  • The Gift of Leaving

    Just when I have it by heart: that hip-swell of hill curving into Barr na ghaoith, Top off the Wind; each rolled smooth stippled stone of Boatharbour and Drimmeen beach;…

  • Boned

    Someone is tonguing the honeycomb of my spine, while I walk, while I sleep. With no familiar name like Age or Death, unknown, unexpected he has burgled access, and with…

  • Coming of Age

    They're not like lovers. After they've gone we don't breathe in longing uncovering the pillow, or burrow our faces searching for their scent in the hug of damp sheets. But…

  • Towards Clarity

    You know what it's like: intensity of night entering the trees before even the sky succumbs; a sea so perfect and deep it scorns paint and celluloid; shock fall of…

  • Young Men

    The bodies of young men are firm and brown all over, silky skinned they smooth move like dolphins rolling fluidic in the fluttering slip of sheet. The eyes of young…

  • Of Cabbages and Kings

    Friends are good - they tell me- 'do not be afraid' - afraid alone in my silent house with my babies asleep safe -how safe from this - 'do not…


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