The Poet and The Artist

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Publisher Ross Macleay designed the poetry book cover using Johanna Ng’s painting.  All Photographs in the above gallery by courtesy of William Yang
See William’s Facebook page for more photographs and comments


Amongst the paintings of carlingford girl, Johanna Ng, we launched NOT PERFECT, my translations of 60 Chinese poems.  Johanna is the artist whose work is featured on the book cover.  Her new works are in a seemingly different style, though you can see the same fluidity of her brush strokes in both, each a remarkable tonal study.




carlingford girl is currently exhibiting at the Wedge Gallery until November 13

Me and Photographer William Yang     Ross Macleay, me and Artist Johanna Ng

My book is now available at Abbey’s in York Street Sydney and Dymocks at Neutral Bay


A Living Matisse

On Sunday my friend Ang took me on a nursery crawl and I declared that I was not going to buy anything, but of course I did.

My favourite find was this Epiphyllum anguliger that spoke to me of Henri Matisse.






Royal Blue Single Handed Meal

As the use of my right hand diminishes, peeling potatoes is out of the question.  Today I picked a bunch of garlic chives from the garden and cooked a bowl of Royal Blue potatoes with them, in the microwave.

The Royal Blue has a purple skin when raw.  Excuse shaky one handed photography.

I cut the chives with a pair of left handed shears and placed the washed and pricked potatoes on them.  Covered with a kitchen paper towel and microwaved on hi for 5mins.  Put a little butter on top and sprinkle with salt.


The potatoes were soft enough to cut and eaten with one hand.



The Huge Plant Sale was a Huge Success

Bless the gardeners who all braved the wet day to attend Keith and Maureene’s sale today.  They raise $11,342.90 between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. !  All donated to National Breast Cancer Foundation.

I arrived around 10:30 a.m. and already the early shoppers have emptied a few tables and helpers were busy trying to restock the benches faster than the hands that were removing them.

30 minutes into the sale and the trays were half emptied

No doubt many were attracted by the venue: Keith and Maureene’s famous multi-awarded garden.  I took a few photographs in the drizzle.


The spectacular blooms on the White Waratah, a rare Australian native
It’s hard to believe that this area was raked bare by brush turkeys last year
I was pleased to see that Maureene’s bought one of my ceramic Spanish Moss hangers



Another happy ending to a great effort

Huge Plant Sale for Charity

It’s drizzling and I am sure I am not the only one worried about the sale for National Breast Cancer Foundation.  It will go on regardless of weather as the sales areas are undercover.  Anyway, the weather bureau’s forecast is for 1mm of rain; fingers crossed that it would mean nothing to garden lovers.

I have donated 36 cutting grown plants in 6 inch pots and a bunch of fig cuttings to Lane Cove but this morning I found a pot of abutilon in flower and decided to take that to the sale this morning; every bit helps.  IMG_9156

There is also a ceramic hanger I made with Spanish Moss trailing from it;  I’ll take that as well.


I bought that orchid you see on top right of the picture from The Huge Plant sale last year as a loose rooted plant and mounted it on a board.  Look what it’s done for my $2 investment – yes, there are bargains to be had.  Hope to see you there – if you are in Sydney, please spread the word.

The Huge Plant Sale

45 Parklands Avenue


10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


Hope to see you there!





Spring in my Sydney Garden

A belated update:  I had a bad fall in August and am just getting back into routine.  The garden didn’t miss a beat.

An Oncidium orchid has attached to a camellia and the Dendrobium nobile is starting to flower with a abutilon looking on


A flower stalk rising from an orchid that is attached to the tree
One of my Swamp Orchids, this one in the sun has two stalks flowering
A Dendrobium kingianum is hanging off the eave.  Nearby an abutilon is reaching for light
Sarcochilus falcatus, an Australian native
Orange blossom
These Swamp Orchids are in the shade and as yet to bloom

A Book is Born


If people would judge a book by its cover I think I have a bestseller . My friend and publisher Ross Macleay has designed this cover using elements contributed by two other friends and former calligraphy students, Ang Kok Peng and Johanna Ng.  Inside the covers are my translations of 60 classical Chinese poems, imperfect despite the best effort of my friend and editor, Jan Parkin.  I enjoy writing but loath editing and rewrites but Jan made me review every word and subsequently rewrote almost every translation.

When I can find the energy I will make the book available online as an ebook.  I am also donating copies to libraries.  A limited number of copies are available for sale in Sydney at Dymocks Neutral Bay ( ) and Abbey’s Bookshop in York Street, Sydney.

I must now get back into the garden and finish my memoir.


Designing a Book Cover for Not Perfect

When my publisher, Ross Macleay of the North Bank Institute of Independent Studies spoke to me regarding the cover design of my poetry book, I said let’s keep it simple: just a title and my name will do.  As it happened, it was not so simple.

First, the book title.  I had just come home from hearing The Idea of North sing Tim Minchin’s song, Not Perfect and thought it perfect for a title…it’s not perfect, but it’s mine.      So many have attempted to translate classical Chinese poems and none, including mine, have been perfect and none will ever be.  That’s why we keep trying.

Ross did not share with me then what he thought of the title, but he suggested the addition of a subtitle: how would you describe the book? he said.  I replied: one poet’s translation of 60 Chinese poems.  And so it was.

Shouldn’t there be some Chinese on the cover? he asked.  I suggested we add my Chinese name and ask Ang Kok Peng to write the word poetry in Chinese calligraphy.  Ang was my student when I was a volunteer tutor at MOSAIC multicultural centre.  After completing my introductory course in standard script, he had gone on to study the running script. Ang agreed to do it as a favour as my hand can no longer hold a brush.  Another former student Johanna Ng, an artist who created two paintings inspired by my translations graciously agreed to let us play with them and use any part we choose.  Ross wrote a blurb for the back cover and designed numerous versions with those elements.

In the end we used parts of several version and arrived at this design:


The book will go to the printers once Jan Parkin our eagle-eyed editor and proof reader gives a final nod.

Johanna has invited me to launch my book at the opening of her exhibition at the gallery in Kinokuniya bookstore in Sydney.

Conjoined Twin Orchids

I believe it is rare to see orchids with conjoined flowers and I did not even notice this one when I picked it up from the shopping centre until I brought it home.  No labels and I didn’t ask, presuming it is a cymbidium hybrid.

I do not know if it is likely to repeat the performance so I am posting it here in case it never happens again!


Of Fronds and Flowers

I walked into a drizzle and keeping my head down, I noticed the pink blossoms from my neighbour’s palm trees scattered at the foot of their fence.


Looking up I saw that most of the trees have shed their blooms so I took a photo with my iPhone. Tomorrow they will be gone.