A passion for poetry comes to life

KATHY Earsman is well known in Maleny for her many years as a dedicated wildlife carer.

Her Facebook page is crawling with photos of possums and bats she has rescued. She has taken many a trip to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital with an injured animal, sometimes staying up all night to give hourly feeds to baby antechinuses or navigating country roads in the dark to rescue injured wildlife.

However, fewer people know of Kathy’s talent as an accomplished poet. Over three decades she has written a prolific body of work, which has now been curated into her first poetry book ‘A Sparrow’s Perspective: the poetry of Kathy Earsman’.

Kathy’s late husband Peter inspired her to take up poetry. Peter, a former serviceman, heard on the radio about a poetry competition and decided to enter. He won the competition and was soon glued to his computer following his new passion.

Kathy said they had just moved to Kallangur and she felt a bit lonely “with him looking into the screen all the time”.

“We had two computers and so I joined him, and we sat there, side by side, writing poetry together,” Kathy said.

“We would read and critique each other’s poetry and we were members of various online poetry forums. We both won prizes and had our work published in poetry magazines.”

Sadly, Peter died of cancer 17 years ago and Kathy, a palliative nurse for 13 years, cared for him through his illness, staying by his side to the end.

After Peter’s death Kathy’s passion for poetry, which she had shared so closely with him, waned.

Almost three decades after writing her first poem, Kathy has rekindled parts of her life with Peter and their children, along with childhood memories and astute observations of nature and the world around her, in her first book – a stunning collection of more than 100 poems including free verse, sonnets and haiku.

“The poems are little bits from my past, things that had some sort of significance that I wanted to share with people,” Kathy said.

“I have drawn it all together, all the different pieces of my life, and publishing this book has made Peter’s influence significant somehow. A lot of it is about him and our life together, as well as my childhood and how various things shaped me.”

The book includes poems written for Peter and each of their sons, as well as a humorous series about a character Kathy invented called the Wufflegrot, a beast with fur a pretty shade of lapis lazuli that steals poems and eats them for lunch.

Maleny writer and editor Leigh Robshaw spearheaded the project and Kathy’s three sons were involved in bringing it to life.

“There’s a sense of warmth in me just having this book out in the world. I’m grateful to Leigh for recognising that it was worth publishing and it gives me a sense of satisfaction,” Kathy said.

“I just feel happy about it. It’s something that makes my sons proud and happy, and Peter would have been really pleased.

“We tried to get a book of Peter’s poetry published but we weren’t able to do it in time. My family are really important to me – they’re kind of who I am.

It feels fulfilling.”

‘A Sparrow’s Perspective: the poetry of Kathy Earsman’ is available at The Maleny Bookshop for $25.