Anne Collins, writer, editor, tutor, Tasmania
cover of The Language of Water poetry book

How to Belong can be purchased from the publisher.

How to Belong (Ginninderra Press, 2019)

Aristotle argued that as we mature, we act less aimlessly and more purposefully. How to Belong explores a myriad of ways we might approach this ‘good life’. Suggestive rather than instructive, Anne Collins does not ask anything of us that she does not ask of herself; diligent and compassionate in her self-reflection on being and belonging in her/our cultural, political and familial landscapes. With immediacy of language and vivid imagery these poems cast an ever-widening circle of light on matters that are at once particular and universal, of the times and timeless.

Jane Williams

How to Belong

After the exhibition Snapshot Photography and Migrant Women: A Tasmanian Experience.

I

I am the official story

with a barely-mentioned subtext.

Pieces of my jig-saw self are scattered

across a fraught landscape:

mine, yours, theirs.

Lives driven by

politics, poverty, danger, death,

– and, for a few, adventure –

across imagination’s borders.

II

In my snapshot

a three-year-old girl in a tartan kilt

stands erect, hands on hips

against a backdrop of gum trees.

I am she

the white child

invited to populate

this British land short of people.*

III

How to make a home away from home?

How to be a newcomer,

an outsider

how to live your life

in a language not your own?

My mother’s accent underlined

the difference

between being an Australian like my father

or not.

What to take,

what to re-place elsewhere?

Bone-handled knives

virginal in their wedding gift-box.

The door-knocker in the shape

of a bag-pipe player.

A claw-foot brooch.

Things that remind us

of who we think we are

in an unknown land

beyond promises,

with its upside-down seasons,

its blinding light

its untold story.

 

Excerpt from the title poem How to Belong