Fay Zwicky – The Witnesses

Sleeve Notes for Fay Zwicky’ s The Witnesses

If you’re wondering why Fay Zwicky, named a State Living Treasure in 2004, went on to win the Patrick White Award in 2005, join her on this guided tour of her poetry. This extensive collection, which includes her wry and tender counsel ‘To a Seahorse’, her great work ‘Kaddish’ and her latest imbroglio with ‘fangling’ magpies, covers five decades in her reverential and intense study of life. Carol Jenkins

“By turns humble and defiant, stoic and outraged, self-deprecating and hilarious, Fay Zwicky’s poetry presents the whole human being, in all her aspects, a complicated, contradictory , fallibly-heroic, always surprising individual, who’ll never take death or ‘don’t’ for an answer”  Ivor Indyk

Biographical Note

Fay Zwicky was born in Melbourne in 1933. Trained as a classical pianist, she performed as soloist and chamber musician with her violinist and cellist sisters. Fay has travelled widely and lived variously in Asia, America and Europe working as a musician until 1965. In that year she gave up public performance to return to writing, and for many years taught English and American Literature as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Western Australia.  She has published eight books of poetry, the most recent of which, Picnic, appeared in 2006. She has also edited several anthologies of Australian poetry, published a book of short stories (Hostages, 198) and a collection of critical essays (The Lyre in the Pawnshop, 1986. Her various awards include the NSW Premier’s Award for Kaddish and Other Poems, (198) and the WA Premier’s Awards (1987,1991,1999). Declared a State Living Treasure in 2004, her long and distinguished career earned her the Patrick White Award (2005) and the Christopher Brennan Award( 2006). She has a son and a daughter, two grandchildren and a ghost-dog.

Playlist: The Witnesses

  1. To a Sea-Horse       1’40”
  2. Emily Dickinson Judges the Bread Division at the Amherst Cattle Show, 1858.     3’24”
  3. Chicken            1’ 57”
  4. Kaddish            11’ 42”
  5. Ark Voices    Mrs Noah Speaks       5’12”
  6. Ark Voices    Tiger         1’27”
  7. Ark Voices    Hipposonnets        1’58”
  8. Ark Voices    Whale Psalm          1’24”
  9. The Poet Asks Forgiveness           1’07”
  10. Roosters and Earthworms      2’ 03”
  11. Tiananmen Square, June 4,  1989        2’15”
  12. A Tale of the Great Smokies – Penelope Spins       2’17”
  13. Afloat      1’ 14”
  14. Soup and Jelly  2’ 21”
  15. Letting Go      1’25”
  16. The Gatekeeper’s Wife     4’57”
  17. Losing Track     2’55”
  18. Poems and Things    1’43”
  19. Peminangan     0’40”
  20. Perdjodohan     2’05”
  21. Akibat      1’36”
  22. Picnic  4’01”
  23. Hokusai on the Shore  1’27”
  24. The Terracotta Army at Xi’an – The Potter   5’54”
  25. The Duck-Herd’s Night Off       0’43”
  26. The Age of Aquarius        2’ 32”
  27. Letter from Claudia in the Midi   4’00”
  28. Poetry Promenaded   2’33”
  29. The Witnesses       1’05”

Running Time: 1 hour 17  minutes

Copyright Fay Zwicky © 2010

Copyright River Road Press Pty Ltd © 2010

Thanks to Mark Grey Smith for his assistance in providing the image of ‘Geraniums’ by Helen Grey Smith and to writingWA for their invitation to Apropos Poetry in February 2009 which provided an opportunity to record these poems.

Cover Image: ‘Geraniums’ acrylic and paper collage by Helen Grey Smith (1916-2009), used with kind permission of her Estate.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory board.