Australia’s Judith Wright wasn’t your average poet. Passionately committed to environmental causes and the plight of Indigenous Australians for most of her 85 years, her poetry is consequently riven by binary oppositions: humankind verses the environment, Aborigines verses Europeans, the inner world verses the outer, words verses reality.
So it will come as no surprise that ‘With Love and Fury’ isn’t your average song cycle.
The last time I saw Judith Wright was in 1998. She was living in a small bedsit in Canberra. On a table next to her bed was a framed photograph of HC ‘Nugget’ Coombs, her lover of 25 years, who had died six months before. She told me she missed him badly. For two years before his death, he had been in a nursing home in Sydney after a series of strokes left him unable to speak. Wright had visited him when she could, although travel was not easy: she was deaf and in fragile health.