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Personal Choice 66

Kate Llewellyn

The Aunts

All my aunts

are dying

their bones

in the tissue paper

parcels of their hands

pleat the past

into the ages

of their sheets

they don’t flirt

now or pelt

each other with fruit

or toss their heads

at cheeky boys

their red hair

or black

‘Straight as a yard

of pump water’

as Granny used to say

is pale now

permanently curled

on their pillows

they smile

and extend their hands



at their future

which is as clear

as the water

in the glass jug.

Kate Llewellyn (1936 - ) is an Australian poet, author, diarist and travel writer. Llewellyn was born Kathleen Jill Brinkworth in 1936 in Tumby Bay on Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. Llewellyn trained at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, graduating as a registered nurse in 1958. In 1960 she married Richard Llewellyn, with whom she had two children. The couple divorced in 1972. From 1965 to 1972 she owned and directed the Llewellyn Galleries, Dulwich, Adelaide and from 1971 to 1972 the Bonython Galleries, North Adelaide. She graduated from the University of Adelaide with a BA in history and classics in 1978. Llewellyn began writing as an undergraduate. In addition to her poetry, she has written book reviews, criticisms and essays for Australian poetry and prose anthologies, magazines and newspapers and also on travel, gardening, food and people. Llewellyn is a regular speaker at writers' festivals, including the 2015 Adelaide Writers' Week. She has also taught creative writing courses and been writer-in-residence at a number of colleges, universities and writers' centres across Australia.

I met Kate Llewellyn in the early 1980s at St Peter’s College and showed her some of my work. She gave me some very important advice and looking back now see her suggestions as seminal. She suggested I restrain from over punctuating my work. Kate believed most of what she was reading was bound and restrained by the practice. Coming home on the train I wrote a first new poem free from any punctuation at all. It led to a new freedom and a ‘swag’ of quite fresh writing that led quite determinedly to my first collection in 1985 - Leaving Maps.


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