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At Mullumbimby primary school Bill Bouveret read us the verse of Henry Lawson and ‘Banjo’ Patterson, and this world was all around us. At the age of ten I’d written my first poem (‘My Bike’), at a time when children were certainly not encouraged to do such things. I’d recited a selection of my own poems at the 1954 Wardell Primary School Christmas Tree, precocious brat that I must have been. My Wilson grandmother was in the audience as I recall, looking equally proud and embarrassed at the same time.

My English teacher, Wal Wardman, introduced me to Shelley, Slessor, Shakespeare and Keats at Mullumbimby High. Paul Lamb lectured us on Housman, Hopkins and Eliot at Armidale Teachers’ College, and required us to write some poems. Housman had spoken to me (of sex, death and suicide back on the farm) when I was seventeen. Seeds had been sown.

In 1967 I fell in love with Margaret Macintyre and wrote bad verse. In 1968, while working at Armidale Teachers’ College (from 1968 – 1972), I switched my creative energies from painting to writing poetry. My verse improved as I fell out of love after the marriage failed, and I’ve kept on writing obsessively since that time.

Employment at The Australian Museum, Sydney, quite literally the ‘House of the Muses’, was where my poetry was consolidated. Poetic fragments were conceived in the bath, in bed, or at the traffic lights. I honed my poems on the ferry (the primary quiet-time in my working day), or at boring meetings.

In 1975, after experiencing considerable trouble having individual poems accepted by magazines, I was published under the pseudonym of ‘Eileen’ Wilson in Mother I’m Rooted, an Anthology of Australian Women Poets. Not having had a ‘pater’ meant I had little idea of the ‘patriarchy’ that these middle class city women were all carrying on about. Nor did I like quotas as they distinguished against talent at selection’s edge, and to publish a book of female poets was equivalent to producing a book a brown-eyed poets to my mind, as gender and eye colour were both genetically determined.

This turned out to be a bad career move in hindsight, resulting in me being sin-binned in certain quarters for a score of years, necessitating in the creation of Woodbine Press.

I present electronic copies of my books New Collected Poems and New Selected Poems as examples of my poetry: ‘New Collected Poems’ in PDF and ‘New Selected Poems’ in PDF.  Please feel free to download and save these files, share and circulate them. You can do anything except sell them.  Printed copies of these and other publications are available through Woodbine Press.

Woodbine Press

Apart from the Feminist backlash about ‘Eileen’, my chance of becoming a published poet (in the pre-electronic days) were somewhat less than the possibility of my being kicked to death by a mule back on the farm. Woodbine Press was established in 1982 as a subsidiary of the legendary publishers of Australian poetry, Edwards & Shaw (who published the first books of A.D. Hope, Les Murray, David Campbell and many more). Dick Edwards (of Edwards & Shaw) was my silent partner, and Dick went on to become a friend, and an important father figure in my life.

My first book of poetry, Banyan (1982), was printed with hot metal by Dick Edwards and Rod Shaw, the last book of poetry to come from their press before their retirement. Liberty, Egality Fraternity! (1984), The Dragon Tree (1985), Wild Tamarind (1987) and Falling Up Into Verse (1989) were subsequently produced by Dick Edwards and Rod Shaw, prior to Rod Shaw’s death, the last of this series being dedicated to Dick Edwards, ‘pig-farmer, philosopher, printer, publisher, and poet’.

The layout for The Rose Garden (1991) was done by Dick Edwards. With Dick’s failing health, Chaos Theory (1997) was the first Woodbine book to be produced electronically, and he saw an advanced copy of Cosmos Seven in 1998 (also dedicated to him), just before he died. All subsequent Woodbine books (post 1998) were produced without his invaluable editorial input.

My early books of poetry had all been graced by the delicate pencil drawings of Elizabeth McAlpine, until she contracted breast cancer. Asteroid Belt (2002, without illustrations) was dedicated to Elizabeth, who died in 2006. Some of her illustrations were recycled in Collected Poems (Kardoorair Press, 2002) and New Selected Poems (2010).

My exploits in publishing have essentially been a labour of love. Amy Witting’s Travel Diary (1985), John Carey’s Strip-Shopping for the Unemployed (1999), and John Ryan’s Tales of New England (2008), were also published under the Woodbine imprint. Now with the wonder of the Internet I hope my books may find a greater audience in the wider world, and that some of them become collector’s items sometime down the track.

Since 1982 I have published more than twenty of my own books (through Woodbine Press, Hale & Iremonger, Kangaroo Press, Rainforest Publishing, Kardoorair Press, and the Royal Botanic Gardens Trust – of verse, about verse, prose works, and social histories of the Sydney Gardens and Domain), as listed below:

Books by Edwin Wilson:


  • 2014, Mullumbimby Dreaming, Art book of Mullumbimby paintings and poems and Catalogue to an exhibition at Tweed River Gallery, Murwillumbah (Woodbine Press)
  • 2013, Oliver Bainbridge – Lord Nelson’s Great Grandson? (Woodbine Press)
  • 2012, New Collected Poems: 1952 – 2012 (Kardoorair Press)
  • 2012, second edition The Mullumbimby Kid (Woodbine Press)
  • 2010, New Selected Poems (Woodbine Press)
  • 2009, My Brother Jim, (Poetry, Woodbine Press)
  • 2006, The Melancholy Dane: A Portrait of the Poet as a Young Man, (Poetic Memoirs, Book Two, Woodbine Press)
  • 2004, Poetry of Place, (Social History, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain, Royal Botanic Gardens Trust)
  • 2002, Asteroid Belt, (Poetry, Woodbine Press)
  • 2002, Anthology: Collected Poems (Kardoorair Press)
  • 2001, Cedar House, (Gothic Novel and Australian ‘Wuthering Heights’, Woodbine Press)
  • 2000, The Mullumbimby Kid: A Portrait of the Poet as a Child, (Poetic Memoirs, Book One, Woodbine Press)
  • 1998, Cosmos Seven, (Selected Poems, Woodbine Press)
  • 1997, Chaos Theory, (Poetry, Woodbine Press)
  • 1993, The Botanic Verses, (Poetry, Rainforest Publishing)
  • 1992, The Wishing Tree, (Social History, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain, Kangaroo Press, out of print)
  • 1991, The Rose Garden, (Poems, Woodbine Press)
  • 1990, Songs of the Forest, (Rainforest Poems, Hale & Iremonger)
  • 1989, Falling Up Into Verse, (Poetic Handbook, Woodbine Press)
  • 1987, Wild Tamarind, (Science fiction, Woodbine Press)
  • 1986, Discovering the Domain (Ed.), (Social History, Hale & Iremonger, out of print)
  • 1985, The Dragon Tree, (Poetry, Woodbine Press)
  • 1984, Liberty, Egality, Fraternity! (Novel, Woodbine Press. Please note ‘egality’ is a word derived from ‘egalitarianism’)
  • 1983, Drawn from Life (Ed.), (Catalogue to an early exhibition of Botanic Art, Royal Botanic Gardens, out of print)
  • 1982, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney (Ed.), (‘Guide to the Gardens’, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, out of print)
  • 1982, Banyan, (Poetry, Woodbine Press)