How a girl with green stockings led to shortlist for prestigious poetry prize

Published:06 March 2018

CQUni Master of Letters in Creative Writing graduate Katherine Healy was astounded and thrilled when she found out she had been shortlisted for the prestigious 2018 Peter Porter Poetry Prize. Photo courtesy Ben Liew Photography.

CQUniversity alumnus Katherine Healy is really glad that she bought a print of a Paul Klee painting called Mit Grünen Strümpfen (With Green Stockings).

She hung it on her writing study wall, spent more than a year considering its meaning, and then used it as inspiration for a short but evocative poem, which is now shortlisted for the 2018 Peter Porter Poetry Prize.

More than 1000 entries were attracted to the prestigious prize and the first place award valued at $8500.

Decoding Paul Klee’s Mit Grünen Strümpfen (With Green Stockings) 1939 has been published online by the Australian Book Review, ahead of the prize announcement in Melbourne on the evening of 19 March.

"After purchasing the poster, it took me over a year to actually work out what the lovely, soft, dreamy looking painting meant and that's why the poem is called decoding," Katherine says.

"The painting is of a little girl drawn in very fine lines, wearing a pinafore with green stockings on her legs and her arms are upraised toward a green ball or, as I saw it, a green sun."

Katherine graduated in 2014 with High Distinction from CQUniversity's Master of Letters in Creative Writing and credits Senior Lecturer Dr Mike Danaher and her supervisor Dr Wally Woods (now retired) with giving her the right mix of guidance and freedom.

She also spent two years living in Rockhampton - working with the Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer mentor program - and attributes her time in Rocky for reawakening her poetic impulse.

Over her career, Katherine has worked in education, community health promotion, counselling, and languages.

Now based in Adelaide, she is working on a poetry collection and has a novel in progress.

Katherine was inspired to start creative writing after being 'absolutely enthralled by John Keats' poem To Autumn in primary school.

She took up her passion more seriously around five years ago and is drawing much encouragement from the Peter Porter Poetry Prize process.

"It's a very big international poetry prize and I'm very new to all of this so it's extremely rewarding and a great honour just to even be shortlisted.

"There was a blind judging process so all of the entries were assessed without the judges knowing the reputation of the poet."