".....for Wright the truth of existence does not consist in reflection on commitment to it, but is to be found in the commitment itself: for her humanity and nature also are not and never have been something general, but are individual and singular. They demand personal response and commitment. That, I believe, is why her life has been so deeply involved with the pain of the world and of people but also why few have written so powerfully as she has done about the intensities and splendours of love, child-bearing and relationships with others and the living world around us.
Veronica Brady from an article on writing the life of Judith Wright
"Although strong in her denunciation of economic rationalist principles that were undermining the social fabric of Australian life in the eighties and nineties, she remained committed to a world of other possibilities--to see "what the human eye was meant to see /. . . knowing the human ends in the divine" (Vision). Integral to this vision is a profound respect for the sacred dimensions of ordinary life and ordinary Australians: "Living is a dailiness, a simple bread / that's worth the eating" (Grace). The ethical and gracious sense of human dignity is integral to her worldview. Artist and activist, poet and prophet, Judith Wright's images have become part of the fabric of our nation. She is the political poet dancing between the mystical experience and the demands of justice."
Gerard Hall on Judith WrightRegular readers will know of my profound love and respect for the poetry of Australian poet Judith Wright who I believe is Australia's finest poet.
Previous blog pieces on Judith Wright are here.
I am currently re-reading for the "umpteenth" time South of My Days Veronica Brady's masterly biography of Judith Wright, published in 1998, just 2 years before her death.
Brady does a wonderful job of telling the story of Judith Wright, considered by many to be Australia's finest poet.
I am always deeply moved by this book.
One reason is Judith Wright's profound and beautiful poetry which is quoted extensively in the book. Partly, it is also the inspirational life of Judith Wright- her social and environmental activism, her integrity, the dignity and humility with which she lived her life, her commitment to the ideals of justice and her uniquely Australian world view.
But my enjoyment of this book is also attributable to Veronica Brady, who in telling the life story of Judith Wright displays deep understanding, reverence and respect for the life and work of her subject.
It is particularly intriguing to re-read this book in light of Fiona Capp's book My Blood's Country, a memoir of her friendship with Judith Wright and a journey through the landscapes which inspired Judith Wright.
In Fiona Capp's book (and in earlier articles) she and the writer Nonnie Sharp wrote for the first time about the 25 year long relationship between Judith Wright and H.C. (Nugget) Coombs, which remained a secret to the public long after both their deaths.
In her biography, Veronica Brady choose not to reveal the exact nature of the relationship between Judith Wright and Nugget Coombs, clearly out of respect for Judith Wright's privacy and her wish to keep the relationship private. Instead, Brady referred to their relationship as a long and close friendship.
Likewise many were surprised to learn of the depth and longevity of the recently revealed relationship between poet and environmentalist Judith Wright and ‘Nugget’ Coombs, which biographer Veronica Brady had described simply as a friendship in South of My Days, published in 1998, two years before Wright’s death. Maybe the time was not ripe to discuss such a delicate issue. In any event, it is a reminder that writing about a living person has its own problems. It is not just the subject’s reputation that must be considered, but the effect the treatment might have on the lives of significant others.