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John Donne’s “Nativity”

John Donne

John Donne’s sonnet, “Nativity”, is a reverential Christmas poem, full of insight and paradox. Australian singer-songwriter, Paul Kelly, sings this sonnet on his album Paul Kelly’s Christmas Train. You can listen to it on YouTube here:


Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov’d imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.

John Donne

Read more of John Donne’s poems on Andrew’s website here:

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Poem in Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal

The current issue of Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal (Issue 34, 2023) contains a poem, a tanka, by Andrew. It is reproduced (in the journal’s style, without title or capitals) below.

how, I wonder,
how can it keep holding on—
the small spider
splayed in thin rigging between
the reeds the wind is shaking?

© Andrew Lansdown

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Poem in The Mozzie

The May 2023 issue of The Mozzie contains a set a set of four tanka under the common title, “Found Art”. The first tanka in the set, “The Painterly Bird”, is reproduced below.

The Painterly Bird

A blackbird roosting
on a branch overarching
a lush violet patch
dollops some oily white paint
onto a small green palette.

© Andrew Lansdown

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Vale Andrew Burke

Left: Andrew Lansdown and Andrew Burke, 2022

Right: Susan & Andrew Lansdown and
Jeanette & Andrew Burke

Photographs: Susan Lansdown, 21 February 2022


Andrew Burke passed away on Tuesday, 23rd May, 2023. He was a widely published Australian poet and was widely respected in Australian literary circles. More importantly, he was a loving husband to Jeanette and father to Miles, Charles and Alice. He was a good natured man who was a good friend to many.

Andrew Burke was also a good friend to Andrew Lansdown, who will be conducting his funeral service at Karrakatta Cemetery on Friday, 9th June, at 10.15 am. Friends and admirers of Andrew B. are invited to come and pay their respects.

Some of Andrew Burke’s poems can be read on the Other Poets & Poems page on this website here.

A poem by Andrew L. for and about Andrew B. can be read on this website here.

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Two Poems in Quadrant



Two of Andrew’s poems—”Poet of Quirk” and “A Not-So-Nonsense Poem”—have been published in the May 2023 issue of Quadrant magazine.

“Poet of Quirk”, a villanelle written for and about Australian poet Andrew Burke, is reproduced below.

Andrew Burke is one of the poets featured in the Other Poets & Poems section of this website, and you can read 11 of his poems here.



Poet of Quirk

I write in praise of Andrew Burke—
doyen of wit, slayer of pulp
and fabulous poet of Quirk.

Readers who wander in his work
where words yap and images whelp
unite in praise of Andrew Burke.

No fake profundity through murk,
no purple passions through yelp—
this fantastic poet of Quirk.

While others primp and play the clerk,
he gets to grips with glee and gulp—
I write, of course, of Andrew Burke.

Like me, he loves the poet’s work
and pokes snipe-like at poesy’s kelp—
this fanciful poet of Quirk.

Though I grieve his kicking of kirk,
I love him still and cannot help
but write in praise of Andrew Burke,
Aussie’s frabjous poet of Quirk.

© Andrew Lansdown

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Review of Andrew’s book Abundance in Westerly

Review by Francesca Stewart

Lansdown, Andrew. Abundance: new & selected poems. Cascade Books, 2020. RRP: $29.95, 225pp, ISBN: 9781725284593.

She has learned at last to strike
the red end on the rough edge.
But they still break mid-stroke
or burn her fingers when they burst
to flame.

So opens ‘Lighting a Match’ (42); a momentary glimpse of childhood’s natural instinct in Andrew Lansdown’s Abundance—an anthology of the poet’s finest and best loved works, spanning a thirty-year writing career. The author of fifteen poetry collections, two short story collections and three novels, Lansdown is one of Australia’s award-winning writers. His works both celebrate and unflinchingly engage with life’s most moving experiences.

Abundance offers a rich and varied view of the world through Lansdown’s eyes. By noticing the miraculous and the mundane, and with an ever-present awareness of the passing of time, these poems pay attention to ordinary life and bring a captivating intensity of presence and emotion. Lansdown’s experience of fatherhood is thematic throughout: he looks upon his children with compassion, tenderness and wonder. Simultaneously, by turning the poetic gaze upon himself, he also displays acute self-awareness and disarming vulnerability in observing his mind, emotions and reactions to life.

Lansdown’s poems are rooted in Western Australia, and in them is an immersion in natural and social surroundings, experienced through relatable family moments, such as crabbing and prawning. Kangaroos abound, as do snakes, birds and trees, settling the reader in time and place. Bejewelled with these emblems of nature, Lansdown’s poems contain vivid imagery, cast through sensory detail, creating familiar and inviting scenes. The opening poem, ‘Counterpoise’ (2), sets the tone of the collection:

Light refracting on the reach of the river;
gulls and sails embracing the slight wind;
jellyfish clasping the calm water
or bunting the sand in the basking shallows;
posts of wood barnacled and rotten;
small waves lisping upon the shore;
here is an abundance I had forgotten.

Here Lansdown finds abundance in simplicity and reverence in stillness—the ordinariness of a family day out, made spectacular by the noticing of light and movement and a practice of observance and gratitude. Yet, as much as they celebrate the plenitude of the natural world and the warmth and affection of family, these poems do not overlook life’s challenges. ‘Counterpoise’, also the name of the collection’s opening section, features works on memory, impermanence, fear and grief; most poignantly, the passing of loved ones, including Lansdown’s brother Philip. The event is revisited throughout as Lansdown explores both the impact of it on himself, and as viewed through the eyes of his children.

‘The Horseshoe Shooter’ (26), from ‘Waking and Always’, describes Lansdown’s children’s comprehension of death with dual themes of loss and innocence, and articulates the sometimes stunning ability of children to illuminate the realities of life we attempt to escape. In ‘Spring Morning with Baby and Birds’ (41), Lansdown continues to wrestle with opposing emotions as he comes to terms with new life and devastating loss. Remindful of the deeply complex emotional world of new motherhood in post-partum depression, Lansdown beautifully illustrates the crushing weight of grief against the feathery lightness of hope—that is, the innocence of a newborn juxtaposed with the tumultuous world of adults:

Her eyes hurt me—so bright with hope. I look away.
There is a dove in her throat. It becomes my heart
a bird in a wicker basket. What is this wickedness,
this ingratitude? I place a finger in her palm.

These kinds of poems allow a subtle sense of melancholy to pervade through the collection. Another version of melancholy manifests in ‘The Colour of Life’ (138), which describes the surprising darkness of an ordinary day. The influence of depression is fully acknowledged in ‘Black Dog Snarling’ and ‘Black Dog Dozing’ (165). The darkness of these poems seems to arise from a struggle with impermanence, illustrated in the tense awareness of the passing of time, particularly in ‘Birthday’ (66):

It is my birthday
and my daughter, who doesn’t
suspect the sadness
of a spent year, comes prancing
before her mother.

Yet, through the pages, grief gives way to gentle acceptance and, as though with an audible sigh, later poems tend more towards haiku. Placed at Japanese temples and springs, the haiku deliver a sudden presence and calm contemplation through careful attention to subtle details in the natural world, balancing the sometimes deep and challenging territory the poet treads.

Lansdown’s nature poems prominently feature birds: hawk, robin, kingfisher, heron, ibis, mopoke, wagtail and blue wren decorate the pages with sudden plumes of colour and draw the gaze upwards, lightening and expanding. In this way, the perspective of Abundance is broadened beyond Australia and beyond very personal experience.

Also countering despair is the jubilant joy of intimate relationships. On marriage, love and desire, poems about and addressed to Lansdown’s wife are woven with intimacy and gratitude, as in ‘Opulence’ (86)—an ode to the miracle of life and the bounty of new motherhood:

Her milk has come in
but our son still sleeps.

I cup my palm. Oh,
Such hard opulence!

She lies awake, willing
his hot mouth to squall.

My heart aches with love
As a breast with milk.

Though named Abundance, perhaps what this collection does best is to observe the paradoxes of human life: the nature of parenthood, where the presence of new life somehow draws closer the reality of eventual death; the vibrancy of the immediate moment making impermanence an inescapable fact. An abundance of sentiment, an overflowing of emotion—so much in this life to do, see and feel, almost more than our fragile forms can contain.

This anthology offers a perceptive portrayal of life and its poignant moments, explored as a brother, a son, a father, a husband and a child of the universe. At once an exultation of joy, hope and love, and an acknowledgment of grief, loss and change, through soaring highs and sweeping lows Abundance makes a comforting companion on the days in which we grapple with the big questions, and ask ourselves, ‘What is it to be alive? To be human? To love and be loved?’


Francesca Stewart is the Administrative Editor of Westerly. She is a West Australian writer with an interest in the relationship between the cosmic, landscape and human experience. In her work she explores time and the timeless, beauty, nature and emotion. Her poetry and critical reviews have been published in Pelican, Creatrix and Westerly.

Copyright © Francesca Stewart
Westerly Magazine, March 2023

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Poem in ACU Prize for Poetry Anthology


Andrew’s poem, “Karesansui”, has been published in Hope: Poems from the 2022 ACU Prize for Poetry, selected and edited by Robert H. F. Carver and Margot Hillel.

Administered by the Australian Catholic University, the annual ACU Prize for Poetry is one of the richest poetry prizes in Australia, and the anthology is among the best to be published yearly.

Alas, Andrew’s poem did not win the prize (what were the judges thinking?). Still, it got in the anthology!

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Ten Tanka in Relief (USA)

The United States magazine, Relief: a journal of arts and faith, has published Andrew’s poem, “The Remarkable Maples, Kyoto”, a set of ten tanka.

All ten tanka are linked by a common subject (maples), a common setting (Kyoto, autumn), a common structure (five lines arranged in 5-7-5-7-7 syllables), a common technique (extended metaphor/conceit and a closing couplet rhyme/half-rhyme), a common tone (light, if occasionally subdued) and a common purpose (surprise and celebration). The final tanka is representative of the other nine:

Winter is too far
advanced to be arrested—
yet many a star
remain pinned to the maples,
the last of autumn’s marshals.

© Andrew Lansdown


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In Poems

Poem in The Other Journal (USA)







The Other Journal, presented twice yearly by the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology in the USA, published one of Andrew’s poems in its Fall 2022 issue (No. 34). The poem, “Restraint”, is reproduced below.


But forget for now the galaxies,
the trillion trillion stars strewn
across space towards infinity—

forget even the orbiting planets
with or without oceans and whales,
volcanoes, dinosaurs and sequoia—

forget for now all that, and think
only of the astonishing power
the Almighty exercised to restrain

his boundless bounding power
for the sake of making something
as delicate as that donkey orchid.

© Andrew Lansdown

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Two Poems in inScribe

Inscribe: Journal of Creative Writing has published two of Andrew’s poems in its “Birds” issue (No. 5, 2023). Andrew’s poems are “Blessed”, about sparrows sandbathing on the banks of the Kamogawa in Kyoto, and “Zebra Finches, Wangkatjungka”. The latter poem is a set of eight haiku celebrating, as the title indicates, zebra finches in and around an aboriginal community in the north or Western Australia. The first and last haiku are:

Butterfly sprinkler—
beckoning by fluttering
a flock of finches.

The close of day—
only a peg and a finch
left on the line.

© Andrew Lansdown

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Five poems in Quadrant



March 2023 issue of Quadrant contains five poems by Andrew. They are: “Getting Light”, “Hole”, “Pictures of Plants”, “The Calming Clams”, and “Locations of Red”. “Pictures of Plants” is a gunsaku, a set of six haiku on (as the set title indicates) the subject of plants.

“Holes” was written after a visit to a small graveyard in Kyoto, Japan, where women had left offerings before an idol of Jizo, a Buddhist Bodhisattva to whom women appeal to save their deceased children from a hell-like place called Sai no Kawar. The poem is reproduced below.



Japan: Jizō Bosatsu, guardian of the souls
of miscarried, aborted and stillborn children (mizuko)

A persimmon
left as an offering to
Jizo Bosatsu
has been holed by birds, just like
a mother’s heart, holed by grief.

Also without
a centre, a five-yen coin
offered to Jizo
by a mother aching to save
her mizuko from limbo.

© Andrew Lansdown

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Poem in Grieve anthology


One of Andrew’s poems has been published in Grieve: Stories and Poems of Grief and Loss, Volume 10, 2022.

The Grieve anthology is published annually by the Hunter Writers Centre (Newcastle, NSW)

Andrew’s poem in the Grieve anthology is “Those Stones”.

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Haiku in Windfall: Australian Haiku

Windfall: Australian Haiku, Issue 10, 2022 contains one of Andrew’s haiku. Windfall is a chapbook anthology representing the work of 63 poets chosen by Beverley George and published by Blue Giraffe Press.

Andrew’s haiku is:

in the buckle
of the waterlily’s rim—
a buoyant frog

© Andrew Lansdown

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Poem in Brushstrokes III


Andrew’s poem, “Bats”, is included in Brushstrokes III, an anthology of the best poems entered into the Ros Spencer Poetry Contest in 2022. The anthology is published by WA Poets Publishing, a division of WA Poets Inc, and the poetry selection was mad by Coral Carter.

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Two poems in Seagift

The inaugural issue of Seagift 2022 contains two poems by Andrew—”The Homecoming” and “A Game of Anything”.

To quote the magazine Introduction, “Seagift is … a beginning. It is an inaugural collection of poems, non-fiction, and fiction curated by members of the Creative Writing team at Sheridan Institute of Higher Education.” The members of the curating/editorial team are: Melinda Tognini, T. C. Shelley and Miriam Wei Wei Lo.

Although Andrew was/is not part of the editorial team, he is an adjunct lecturer in Creative Writing at Sheridan Institute.

The text of Andrew’s poem, “A Game of Anything”, is reproduced below:



A Game of Anything

I am watching two little girls
like ducklings tottering

in line behind their mother—
only, they are making a game

of the going, taking care
with wing-flappings for balance

to keep in the lanky shadow
she is casting on the asphalt

as she trundles her trolly
in the late afternoon sunlight

through the shopping-centre carpark.

© Andrew Lansdown

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two poems in inScribe



Two of Andrew’s Poems—”Kimberly Hand” and “Meditations On Impermanence”—have been published in inScribe: Journal of Creative Writing, No. 4, August 2022.

“Meditations On Impermanence” is a set of four tanka. “Kimberly Hand”, reproduced below, consists of two stanzas, each with a syllabic structure like a tanka.



Kimberley Hand

Stencilled on stone
in spattered orange ochre—
a hand that once held
a flint knife and a fire stick,
a war club and a child’s hand.

It was, I suppose,
a hunter’s hand, this outline
in ochre spatter:
I suppose, too, none can tell
if he meant to wave farewell.

© Andrew Lansdown

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Poem in The Mozzie

Volume 30, Issue 6 (January 2023) of The Mozzie contains a poem by Andrew. The poem, “After the Fishermen”, consists two tanka. The second, subtitled “Spillage” is reproduced below.


2. Spillage

Pluck a red petal
from a gerbera, string it
with other petals …
Now look at the gills spilling
from the severed salmon head …

© Andrew Lansdown

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Three Poems in Studio

Three of Andrew’s poems have been published in Studio, Number 153, 2021. The poems are “A Game of Anything”, “Restraint” and “Bamboo Triptych”. The same issue of Studio contained a review by Ian Keast of Andrew’s latest poetry collection, Abundance: New & Selected Poems. (Read the review here.)

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