Brian Brock’s latest book

The evocative cover of Hunter's Place
The evocative cover of Hunter’s Place

In Pioneer Books’ publishing days, the book I had most pleasure in type-setting was one of Brian’s. Good poetry will appeal to the eye, as well as to the ear. I don’t mean that it is the type-setting that makes this appeal, but that it will be inherent in the poetry, the type-setter has no hard job here.

Times change, Pioneer Books with the exception of Judith’s recent forays into writing, has ceased its publishing. The association must still be there if only in memory and history, as Brian asked Monica to speak at the launch of his latest book of poetry. Here is my mother’s address:

Brian Brock Launch 6-3-13

I have known Brian for many years and was privileged, through Pioneer Books, to be involved in the publication of three of his earlier collections of verse. When I asked Brian for some biographical background relevant to his writing, he began by telling me that he was born in the Tumby Bay hospital in 1936, while the king was abdicating and the matron’s cat was giving birth to a litter of kittens. There is no evidence that Brian’s advent into the world activated either of these events. Nevertheless, we are pleased to see that he has long outlived the new king and, presumably, many generations of kittens.

To read, as I did, Brian’s summary of his life experiences is to be entertained; but it is also to be impressed by the variety and extent of those experiences. Whether he is on an orchard in the Riverland, or teaching in Papua or Zambia, or working with University students here in Adelaide, a keen awareness of nature takes over and informs his way of life. As a teacher, he has necessarily touched the lives of many others, imbuing them with his concerns and enthusiasms.

In a world clouded by materialism and cynicism, Brian has retained his sense of humour and his idealism; but even more importantly, he has preserved a sense of wonder for the natural world, and is able to impart this to his readers. His poems have always been suffused with a love of, or should I say a reverence for, the world of nature. The commonplace becomes transformed by the magic of his fascination with his surroundings.

Thus, a ‘battered little feather’ becomes a ‘gift from the gods’, bringing ‘spectral lights’; spiders threads are ‘trapezed between grass stems’; after the bushfire we are made conscious of the ‘smell of moist air on ashes’; the ‘trees on De Salis are sounding, sounding like the sea’; the morning sun turns yellow box leaves into ‘diamond-edged discs’; a ‘day well-spent’ embraces counting kangaroos, fencing, birdwatching, and, climactically, finding Broken Horn and her newborn calf.

Brian transports us into his world and his experiences become ours. It does not matter if we have never been in the environs of Hunter’s Place – Brian takes us there, a sensory journey bathed in the warmth of his affection and the subtlety and gentleness of his humour.

I have much pleasure in sending ‘Hunter’s Place’ out into the world, and it is particularly appropriate that this celebration takes place during Writers’ Week.

I will end by asking Brian to read some of the poems to us, and to talk to us, if he will, about the writing of them.

As befits Monica's first calling of teacher, Brian and Judith pay rapt attention to her words.
As befits Monica’s first calling of teacher, Brian and Judith pay rapt attention to her words.

As I write this post I’m sitting in Geneva, and much as I’m a city girl in my element here, nonetheless, the pictures evoked by Brian’s poems could not fail to make me homesick.

Brian reads from his latest book.
Brian reads from his latest book.

Here is one:


Three fire trucks
backburning from Smith’s Road.
worried by “lights of new suburbs”
flaring over ranges
is genuinely pleased
at D’s gift
a cask of White
to help him through the stress.
We broach it
in his BBQ shelter
on the banks of the Murrumbidgee
near the peregrine’s big pool,
then back off
past roaring “roman candles”
funnelling flame and sparks
into the night sky.

Judith and Monica (right) in the crowd.
Judith and Monica (right) in the crowd.

The book is $20 plus postage and available from Ginninderra Press

‘Reading Hunters’ Place is a beautiful journey, an experiencing of sorts, the way life can be seen as a series of occurrences, interruptions, filled with the activity of daily grind against a rural background filled with its own
surprises and dramas. Whether it’s waking up in fog or mending fences, smelling the coffee or taking that trip up the dirt track into the closest town, every moment is captured with a startling precision. Indeed, the poet is careful and his considerations acknowledge and recognise this wonderful country we live in’ Richard Hillman


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