Reading Notes:

Girl with Green Hair

'Poems about art, love, travel, head-shaving, multiculturalism, Doc Martens, birth, loss, childhood, sickness, city life, and rural paradise.'
This collection spans a defined period of personal growth which began when the author moved from her native Melbourne in 1991. During this transition, she lived in northern New South Wales, toured the USA as a performance poet, and eventually settled in southeast Queensland. This collection celebrates the characters and events that have helped her chart this period of her life.
'I like to promote the idea that there is beauty, even in the most squalid ugliness, if one knows how to look for it, and that redemption from even the most difficult circumstances is always possible', says the author.

About the Author

Born and educated in Melbourne, Liz Hall-Downs has been writing poetry since childhood. At the age of twenty, she was diagnosed with the chronic and disabling disease Rheumatoid Arthritis, and found that poetry was an effective way of communicating with a world from which she increasingly felt marginalised. Since 1983, she has been reading and performing her poetry in public, and publishing on paper. She has been a featured poet at countless venues including Montsalvat, the Tasmanian Poetry Festival, the Queensland Poetry Festival, La Mama, and the Austin International Poetry Festival in Texas, and her work has been broadcast on television and radio.
As well as poetry, Hall-Downs writes fiction, articles and reviews and has worked as a writer-in-residence, workshop facilitator, singer and community artist. Recent collaborative writing projects include Fit of Passion, a poetry and music show about gender issues which toured regional Queensland in 1997, and Blackfellas Whitefellas Wetlands, a local cultural and environmental history project commissioned by Brisbane City Council in 1996 & released on CD in 2000. In 1999 she was employed by Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Wildlife Preservation Society to conduct a series of community writing workshops and to write a collection of historical poetry based on the Mountains to Mangroves wildlife corridor on Brisbane's northside. These poems will appear online in 2001; one of the poems has been included in a ceramic art installation in a local bushland reserve.
Hall-Downs holds a BA from Deakin University (Victoria) with major studies in Professional Writing & Literature. She is currently working on a novel, The Death of Jimi Hendrix, as part of an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Queensland.

Questions Raised by the Book

Extract from the Poetry

The girl with green hair thinks I feel
guilt easily—I know from
the way she stares at me
as she searches the bin for leftover lunches,
thrown out by the haves who get sent
to colleges and only eat half the burrito.'
     from American Fragments: Six Poems (p.17)

River Swim (p.73)

We drag you down to the river
with spasmed legs, impudent
erection; it takes two to take you
over mangrove swamp, to drop you
in the salt silt where you
find buoyancy, float and smile
at pelicans and sky. This is a blue day,
unlike your grey others. We laugh, forget,
discuss green things, till the rise
of cold wind draws us back
to your prison, the hard chrome
and sheepskin, the wheelchair,
beckoning. Next day, in the sea,
you feel thin as a twig in a strong
surfer's arms, say it's been six years
since you've braved the waves. And I
bless my difficult legs, give stride
against the undertow, catch your feet
and as we rise, lick the salt,
a kiss before drying.
     New Brighton, NSW, 1992