My publication plans for 2023.


Photo © David A Nissen 2022.

2022 was largely a year of new writing. 2023 will be largely devoted to new publishing. (And, hopefully, losing some of the weight I've put on in being glued to my desk for the best part of a year.)

It turns out I'll be releasing three books in 2023! There's not only Breaking Into Pentridge, the memoir of my time running prison poetry workshops. There are two other associated volumes. 

Letters to a Dead Man is a poetry chapbook, a spin-off from the memoir. It starts at the end and finishes at the beginning, and a lot is left unexplained. In spite of all this, when I've tried the manuscript on people who don't know the back story, I'm pleased they have understood it well. I want it to be able to stand alone, and clearly it can. (However, it would be ideal to read the memoir first.)

Also I'm proposing to re-issue Blood from Stone, the 1982 anthology of poetry which arose from the prison workshops. It was published under my Abalone Press imprint, the first book in a 10-year program. The later Abalone Press publications included a runner up in the (national) Anne Elder Award and a book short-listed for the (state) Victorian Premier's Prize. (You bet I'm skiting! Not bad for such a very small press.)

Now that the remaining old Pentridge buildings are being repurposed by the National Trust as a historically-themed tourist precinct – and at a time when the Melbourne poetry scene of the eighties is being recorded for posterity by those who lived it – there is renewed interest in Blood from Stone, as both a literary and historic document.

I thought of reviving Abalone Press, but decided not. That had a different agenda, and was brought to a good completion. Nevertheless, for a number of reasons, I've decided I will self-publish these particular books. I love ebooks; many people still prefer paperbacks. These publications will be in both.

Publishing is very different nowadays, so I'll be doing some new learning and also looking for relevant experts such as a good cover designer.

I'll keep you posted!

Breaking Into Pentridge – my memoir about poetry workshops in prison

(workshops conducted on behalf of what was then the Melbourne Branch of the Poets Union of Australia).

Photo © David A Nissen 2022

It's taken me 40 years to feel able to write about a brief but life-changing experience: running poetry workshops in Pentridge Prison, Melbourne, which no longer exists as a prison – having closed in 1997 and gradually being repurposed – but which, during its long life, was always notorious.

Once I finally began to write this story, it poured out!

It took me three months to get down the first draft, and it’s been three more of editing, tweaking, and seeking opinions from a small, trusted group of other writers, including some who were very much involved in those workshops too.

It involved mentally re-living an experience which, at the time, was both traumatic and transformative. This process has been painful but also cathartic. And sometimes the memories were warming. Those were times not only of grimness and tragedy, but also of much fun and affection.

I’m now doing what is hopefully a final (structural) edit before embarking on the journey to publication.

The above photo, which I’m using on the cover page of my working draft, was kindly taken for me by my son David, as I no longer live in Melbourne.

Poetry on the Moon.

 How exciting! Two of my poems are going into the Lunar Codex, i.e. will be in a time capsule to be sent to the moon, on the initiative of my online friend and sometime mentor, Sam Peralta. (The person who taught me, among other things, not to be afraid of attempting sonnets – and then, the variety of sonnets one may attempt.) Further details of this project at the link below.

The #LunarCodex inducts into the Polaris time capsule the authors of dVerse Poets Pub's CHIAROSCURO anthology, edited by Björn Rudberg and Mary Grace Guevara
Polaris is targeted for the 2023 SpaceX / Astrobotic Griffin lander / NASA VIPER rover mission, headed for the Lunar South Pole.
* * Now indexed in * *

My poems in the book are:

At Mariner's Café

We like to call in here
on the way home from Kingscliff
or even Tweed Heads (a detour) to catch up
with our friend, the new manager
– and the coffee’s good.
So is the view of the river.

In late afternoon sun,
we sit back, leaning on the wall
of the antique shop next door.
I peer inside at nets and creels, ropes, 
huge balls of deep green glass
and steering-wheels in dark, polished wood.

I want to meet him, the shop owner,
to yarn with him and sniff the salty air –
this man who so loves boats. Our friend
wipes down our table. Another customer,
loud-mouthed, at last vacates. ‘That’s the man
from the shop,’ our friend mutters. We all grimace.


My Home River

Ah, river, river, silver river!
Island-born, I lived inland;
loved you, river,
even more than I did the foaming ocean.

Floated and swam in your slippery-smooth embrace: 
your delighted daughter
sunlit or shadowed, under trees overhanging the banks, or among         reeds,
or out in the exposed middle.
Each patch of river had its own 
separate, boundaried temperature: shiver-chill
or warm in a way that relaxed and expanded the blood.

River, river, my childhood river,
winding through my years, the first fifteen,
before I was moved too far away – 
pouring down the gorge, erupting in rock-punctuated torrents
or else spread like a lake, underneath fleets of little boats ...
you are my home, my love, my heart, 
if only in memory, still forever –
real river, dream river,
never lost, 
never forgotten.


Tamar river (Tasmania) from Brady's lookout (near Exeter). 
Original uploader was Kyle sb at en.wikipedia - 
Transferred from en.wikipedia
Released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Sightlines – a collaboration between poets and artists

Sightlines was the name of an art exhibition held in April 2022 at the Small Works Gallery in Murwillumbah, NSW (Australia) – a unique collaboration between artists and poets, which was launched with a poetry reading. 

Five local poets, including me, were invited to submit poems which might inspire 11 local artists. This collaboration was very exciting for us all!

I submitted haiku, for the directness and immediacy of the visual images. Three artists chose four – or five – of them. (In the transcribing, sending poems over the internet, two haiku managed to run together as one poem. And hey, it really worked! An artist responded to it as a whole.) 

To read the haiku, see all the artwork they inspired, and read what the artists say about the experience, see here. 

Image © Annique Goldenberg 2022,
photographed by Rosemary Nissen-Wade.

Sucking Mangoes Naked


This wonderful title and book cover belong to a new anthology in which I'm delighted to have several pieces included. Much gratitude to Tad Wojnicki for conceiving, compiling and editing the whole and seeing it through to publication.

Here is the blurb from its Amazon listing:

You love haiku. You’ve flipped the books, checked the sites, and scrolled the zines. But you’re left craving that special something… It may be something as obvious as love. Well, how about a book of erotic haiku?

 Sucking Mangoes Naked is a no-holds-barred look at the twists & turns of love, spiritual as well as physical, told in a “let’s sit down and chat over a cup of some exotic tea” manner. So brew a cup of Oolong, Yerba Mate, or Acai, and dig in! 

Like you, the poets included in the Sucking Mangoes Naked anthology have had their succinct, nut-shaped erotica scattered here and there – everywhere -- throughout the literary landscape without a tangible proof of their efforts. But starting today, they can hold the fruit of their love dreams and longings in their own hands. 

Also for the first time, they find themselves belonging to a large tribe of haiku poets from far-flung corners of the world united by the most powerful human instinct – to love and to be loved.


Personally I am not holding a copy in my arms, as I prefer ebooks. (I know; I'm a Philistine, right?) Luckily it is available in that form too.

Just for the record, it does include some tanka, senryu and haiga as well as the haiku. Here are a couple of my efforts. 

hiked up my skirt
danced at the edge of the swell
teasing bare-legged
the ocean kissed my toes
then surged up past my knees

under his touch
I myself can feel
how soft my breasts

There are more in the book – by me, I mean – as well as a great variety, ranging from subtle and delicate to outspoken and frankly hot, by a number of other poets from many countries, all writing in English.

Here is where to find this entertaining and very affordable book on Amazon: click this link