Suzanne Edgar (1939– )

Tania McCartney


Suzanne Edgar came, reluctantly, to the ACT in 1963 but soon became a Canberra patriot. She joined Seven Writers and they published Canberra Tales (1988). Her next fiction book was Counting Backwards (1991). Since leaving the Australian Dictionary of Biography at the Australian National University, where she worked as an editor until 1997, she has focussed on poetry. The Love Procession was runner up in the ACT Writing and Publishing awards in 2013.



Counting Backwards and Other Stories, University of Queensland Press, 1991

Canberra Tales, (with Seven Writers), Penguin, 1988; re-issued as The Division of Love, Penguin, 1995


The Love Procession, Ginninderra Press, 2012

Still Life, Picaro Press, 2012

Talking Late, Ginninderra Press, 2012

The Painted Lady, Indigo, an imprint of Ginninderra Press, 2006; 2007

The Painted Lady cover image

Painted Lady

Awake in the thunder-broken night,
I’m recollecting images
and bring to mind a picture in a book:
the yellow nude reclines at ease
on rich embroidered silk.
Painted years ago in Paris
by a sad and stranded woman,
the work of art was wrapped
in swaddling clothes, laid in a crate
and sent home to Australia
for the brother of the artist.

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His wife removed her troubled eyes
from the yellow-gold expanse of flesh,
this lolling Jezebel in oils.
The woman did not dare to dream
(though frightful dreams did come)
what such a baffling gift might mean
when given by a sister to her brother.
‘Reclining Nude’ was flung face down
upon a wardrobe’s upper shelf,
covered only by fluff and dust
in that arid decent town.
The exiled artist died alone.
Her brother and his wife
lived well before they, too,
returned to dust, leaving behind
hoards to be sorted and sold,
discovered by treasure-seekers.
And so I find the yellow nude
laid between the covers
of a cool and slippery book,
displayed for all the world to see
on thick white paper: smooth,
sweet-smelling with costliness.
Her body’s lines are soft and round,
mocking silence and mere dust
to speak of languor and abandon,
a sunny room in Montparnasse.

From The Painted Lady, Suzanne Edgar, Indigo, an imprint of Ginninderra Press, 2006; 2007.

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