Miriel Lenore

Miriel Lenore was born and educated in Victoria, lived in Fiji for 22 years and has made Adelaide her base since 1981. At times she has worked as a plant breeder, student counsellor and teacher. She began writing poetry in the mid-Eighties when enrolled in Women’s Studies and since 1992 has had two and a half books published, won the Red Earth Award, received three Arts SA Grants and Varuna and Booranga Writing Fellowships. With Mary Moore she wrote the text of Masterkey, Moore’s multi-media production for the 1998 Perth and Adelaide Festivals. She also edited Doris Kartinyari’s Kick the Tin for Spinifex Press in 2000. Her current project, which involves poems about her search for her immigrating great-grandmothers and their worlds, took her to the UK in 2000.

In the last twelve years she has spend considerable time on a community in the Ngaanyatjarra lands in WA, resulting in many poems reflecting on that experience. She has also travelled to study rock art, in Australia and overseas, being particularly interested in portrayals of women. Other interests include tennis, walking, birdwatching, politics (not so much a pleasure as a duty). Having children and grandchildren living close by is a great pleasure.


Booklet: the lilac mountain in ACROSS THE GULF, poems by Judy Dally, Adèle Kipping, Miriel Lenore (Friendly Street Poets 1992)

Books: sun wind & diesel (Wakefield Press, Adelaide 1997) travelling alone together: in the footsteps of Edward John Eyre (Spinifex Press, Melbourne, March 1998)


We sent the men out to the hunt today.
It was getting impossible in the cave –
we couldn’t get on with our work,
couldn’t get near the fire to cook.
It’s alright in the summer, they potter about,
carving sometimes, dancing sometimes,
making up little rituals for the Goddess,
but when it rains…
So i had this brilliant idea,
i drew a large bison on the wall and said,
i think the Goddess wanted one of these.
But the men didn’t go.
Lilith said, i’ll sing in praise of hunting.
The men sat on.
Mela said, i’ll paint you with your catch.
Still they hesitated.
Ana said, whoever brings back the bison
can sleep with the Goddess tonight.

It was so peaceful working in the cave today.
As for tomorrow…

From Friendly Street No. 12

the bell

must it come to this?
the narrow room
the single bed
the vinyl chair
the solitary vase of flowers
(for you, whose garden blazed)
the big brown cupboard
with its rows of woollens, scarves, underwear,
a comb and hairbrush, three brooches, the photo albums
and the tin of imported biscuits
(for visitors)

six times a day the bell stirs
the old women to their meal-time shuffle
(though some wait at the door)
you don’t shuffle, you teeter on thin legs
to bring a prettier cup
i see you in the old stone house
where garden, meals and house were works of art
(where the row of bells in the kitchen brought no-one running)
the night i fell, you held my head till morning
you turn, eyes bright, to say
a honeyeater is drinking from the hibiscus

i refuse to call you birdlike
in spite of a neat shrinking body on spindly legs
what bird?

one night an owl flew into the car
stuck motionless to the grille
slowly slowly fluttered moved its head
until with one gigantic lift
it soared with white wings over the car
i don’t know where it fell

From Friendly Street No. 12

tourist info on Lesbos

to build
                a Lesbian wall
take big
                rough stones
don’t cut
                to fit
they are them-
                selves, undressed
balance each
                with care
use no cement
                no force
large gaps
the strength is
        in the touching
and the spaces

From Friendly Street No. 12