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Rosemary Dobson

In their own words

Recorded 1959

Rosemary Dobson
Audio: 2 minutes

I remember when I was about seven or nine or between those years, the extraordinary sense of satisfaction – and perhaps I should say smugness, I don’t know – that came to me when I discovered that I could write poetry. In fact, at that time I kept a book, a little notebook which I had until fairly recently, and the title of it, it still seems to me a good title for any book of poems, was The Pieces of Poetry I Have Made Up. And I copied them all into this notebook, even then I had a sort of tremendous sense of satisfaction and pleasure, I don’t know, which comes to one when you suddenly discover that there’s something that you can do.

I think, almost always when I’m writing poetry, I have written the whole poem, so to speak, at one sitting. Sometimes they’ve taken me quite a long time to write, and I’ve written many, many drafts of one poem. But I prefer to finish them at the time, without having to go back to them days later, or alter them weeks later. I prefer on the whole, if I can, to be able to say, ‘That’s finished’, a few hours after I’ve begun it. Some, of course, take longer than others. And as for how I start, I think quite often I’ve deliberately – particularly when I’ve been rather depressed and felt that I wasn’t achieving much – I have deliberately sat down in order to write something, and most often, I think, something comes of it. But at other times I’ve followed out an idea, perhaps, or sometimes the starting point has been a line which might even disappear altogether in the final version. And sometimes I’ve just sat down and read a lot of other poetry and one’s mind becomes, perhaps, more receptive and ready for the idea which ultimately is going to start one off.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Rosemary Dobson is from the De Berg Collection in the National Library of Australia. For more information, or to hear full versions of the recordings, visit the National Library of Australia website.

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Rosemary Dobson AO

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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