Just heard from the editor of ‘The Northerly’, The Byron Bay Writer’s Festival magazine The Northerly, that he has published my poem in the current issue (p22). I was prompted to write this poem by the Volunteer Poetry competition, again organised by the dynamic poetess and creative, Louise Moriarty. This festival’s theme was ‘Where stories take you’ and the competition theme was ‘birds’. I didn’t get it finished in time to enter the competition, but last year the competition spawned ‘Updraft’, which won.


Bird of prey florian-biedermann-314401


Jenni Cargill-Strong


Jump onto her muscular back

grip hard with your thighs

as she wheels you gracefully, thrillingly

from here to there and

through time.


She will carry you

through the dark of death

to the ancestors

and the Good People*

both feared and revered

or fly you through black clouds to Iceland*

where the northern lights were an omen

blizzards rage for three days and nights

and it is a struggle to close the opened door.

Smell the stench of the prisoner,

battered and unwashed

Hear the crunch of the executioners boots

upon the fresh snow.


Cling, cling to her muscular back

as she weaves and swoops you

through the Dark Emu* in the night sky

to when stories began and ended with

‘We arise from the mother’s heartbeat’.

See this landscape

before the hooved animals

transformed the soil of yam fields

that stretched to the horizon

soil so soft, so well tilled that

horses would sink to their fetlocks

when floods were rare and wild fires unknown.

In Ecuador, the Waorani people call the ceibo tree the Tree of Life. Songs of the Trees DAVID GEORGE HASKELL

Ah take me ancient story bird

take me to that vast forest in Ecuador

where ‘the leaves of plants speak the rain’s language’ *

and ‘mosses grow like filamentous seaweeds in the open ocean.’

Take me soaring to the crown of the giant Ceibo (SAYBO) tree

so I can vibrate top to toe with

the Songs of the Trees.


Fly me story bird on your elegant, eloquent wings

woven with ancient words and visions

to wherever I need to go

I open the book

you open your wings

and we fly to



take you.

book to flights tatoo Elizabeth Briggs

*1. Hannah Kent ‘The Good People’

*2. Hannah Kent ‘Burial Rites’

*3. Bruce Pascoe ‘Dark Emu’

*4. David George Haskell ‘The Songs of the Trees’

In the Festival Green Room I got to meet Hannah Kent and chatted to David Haskell and his wife, (all very gracious and lovely) though alas- a little bout of shyness caused me to miss my chance to chat to Bruce Pascoe! As you can see, ‘The Story Bird’ refers most particularly to the words of Bruce Pascoe, Hannah Kent and David Haskell. Such powerful speakers and books! Yay.

Next I scored some local schools show work through Byron Bay Writers Festival’s Story Board  program for October which I am looking forward to enormously! I do love performing for and teaching primary school kids in particular.