Nourishing Terrains: Mark Tredinnick in conversation

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Through three works of prose and nearly all his poetry, celebrated poet and essayist, Mark Tredinnick, has practised belonging in geography. Join him in conversation with Kelly Lee Hickey discussing his essay Nourishing Terrains.

I’ve come back to landscape I knew and loved, and where I would have told you I belonged.

I hadn’t realized how much less my sense of place meant to me than my sense of self, and how much of that sense of self had become my being a father to children I love. And I’m wondering now, while I piece that family together again as well as I can, if it’s possible to nourish the terrain of an anguished self, and of one’s children’s unsettled selves, by renewing a kinship with the more than merely human ‘family of things’, as Mary Oliver puts it, that surrounds one.

I’m wondering if I can learn a way to become a place again, a place in which one’s remorse, one’s anguish and longing, one’s children’s plight, are merely other parts—each another azure kingfisher, another reed-warbler, another night heron, another night of rain, another swamp or Paddy’s River Gum, and each of these things as worthy of my care as what I carry in my head, and each of them as capable of healing me and mine.

Lived as a place, not just a story, lived as country, perhaps a life may become more habitable and happy. Perhaps a place is a mind one can learn to share. Perhaps a place is a body one can inhabit and care for as if it were one’s family, one’s lover. One’s self.

MARK TREDINNICK—the author of The Little Red Writing Book, The Little Black Book of Business Writing, Almost Everything I Know, Fire Diary, The Blue Plateau, and a dozen other works of poetry and prose—is a celebrated poet, essayist, and writing teacher. His bestselling books on the writing craft are used in schools and university writing programs and have inspired a generation of writers. His many honours include the Montreal and Cardiff Poetry Prizes, The Blake and Newcastle Poetry Prizes, two Premiers’ Literature Awards, and the Calibre Essay Prize. The Blue Plateau, his landscape memoir, shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Prize. Sir Andrew Motion has said of Mark’s work: “His is a bold, big-thinking poetry, in which ancient themes (especially the theme of or human relationship with landscape) are recast and rekindled.”

Two new collections of poetry, Walking Underwater and The Beginner’s Guide appear in 2019, and Mark is at work on Reading Slowly at the End of Time, a memoir of a reading life.

Mark travels and teaches widely, in schools and at festivals, and he works with the corporate sector as a mentor, speaker and copywriter. The father of five, he lives and writes in Bowral, southwest of Sydney. He runs the Wedderburn Writers’ Rooms for WestWords, and he teaches poetry and rhetoric at Sydney University and the University of Technology, Sydney.

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