Reading Notes:

Travelling Toward Belief

In this collection of poems, Diana Whiley explores her relationship to nature. Through memories of childhood spent in the country, she shows how images of the landscape—its openness and sense of the intangible— inspire her to question what is belief.
Vivid, textural, the poems in this collection express clearly the emotional tie the poet has with landscape.
It is landscape that influences her memory of childhood, leading her from its 'fabric of closeness' to thoughts of how it affects her relationship with family members.
Looking to her family for inspiration, Whiley finds warmth and grief, and individual perception—yet wanting more—searches through other people?s expressions of self and, painting vivid images of what she sees, tries to interpret the meaning of their lives.
Finally
'Time to make bread', Mum said
laughing, hiding the ache
in fingers kneading soft,
round legs.
The bread in the oven
rising slowly
as the rhythm of hands
tried to bring strength
to muscles my brother couldn't use.
I, waiting
as each loaf emerged, golden and crisp,
my fingers tapping crust and legs
in a message of hope
five years long.
The smell of bread, success,
a brother finally walking.
In the set of poems 'Tales from South Sea Islands' Whiley finds the Islanders bound to the formation of land and the creation of their people through song and dance—their faith following the path of their ancestors.
Here she finds them 'weave their family life and name' from their ancestors' beliefs that honour and identity are linked to rituals of creation.

Tale from Fiji for Poatelli, Leprosy Patient Exiled
He soaked his patience
in wood,
shapes, taking life
from island home
where others gathered
on their journey of banishment.
He absorbed the fear
in desperate eyes,
hand kneading feet with oil
crushed from nuts and bark;
a gradual healing.
He fuelled the song
composed for all,
to share the wish
of family tie;
no barriers of peeling skin
stopping hope.
The poet's own ancestors came to a new land, where 'the richness of eucalypt' meant freedom and a new identity that 'whispered and hummed' through generations down to her. Although the author has a sense of belonging, she still feels there is something more out there.
Looking to the stars—where humanity is a 'pin prick of red' in the Universe—she wonders if we will ever know.
About the Author

Diana Whiley lives in Adelaide with her husband and two sons. Her favourite haunt is the Art Gallery where 'one sip is never enough'.
Enjoying sketching, Whiley would love to illustrate books, especially for children. Her involvement with a children's writing competition, over recent years, has inspired her to write a novel, and to embark on a T.V. series, for teenagers.
She currently teaches Creative Writing at TAFE, which brings its own reward; a sharpening of wits and new ideas for many more poems.
Questions Raised by the Book