Judy Rafferty – Inside the Room

Ginninderra Press, Australia, 2020

In her professional life as a counselling psychologist, Judy Rafferty spends a lot of time listening to people. Some of the poetry in this collection is the result of hearing stories from people who needed to share them, to unburden their feelings by talking. The author unburdens hers by writing.

Barbie talks to Judy Rafferty about Inside the Room

Much of what is in this book is a reflection of us all – there is loss, grief, anger, sadness, joy, an examination of relationships of many kinds. Judy’s own experiences are part of these stories and most will recognise themselves somewhere in these beautifully penned words.

Judy Rafferty writes deceptively simple verse. It is highly accessible, but wonderfully layered and complex in the ideas it invites us to ponder. The rhythm of speech is central to these poems as is the evocation of rawness – emotions float right on the surface of the works, exposed in all their pain or exultant abandon.

Life’s vicissitudes and the key relationships of everyman/everywoman are in these pages, sympathetically observed and skilfully transposed into vignettes. Poems like Where the Future and the Past Change Places are so poignant it is almost unbearable to read them – here is the story of ageing which we will all face and many readers will already have faced with parents or grandparents, the leaving of the family home for a lesser life, the shedding of personal possessions that held meaning:

Piles for her children
piles for her grandchildren
piles for the Salvos
piles for the bin
piles of yesterdays.

Happily, there is also lightness in this collection. Your Laugh is a little love story of just 6 lines, in which the poet says everything we need to know.

The cover of Inside the Room also speaks nicely about the contents. It’s a domestic interior looking out, the blinds open to the light which floods the room and the flowers on the central table, flanked by two conversational chairs. It was apparently rather a team effort, thus emphasising the notion the poet wishes to share of the inclusiveness of these poems and the inclusiveness of story sharing.

I hope this book finds its way to many bedside tables. It will bring pleasure and pain in equal measure I suspect, a bit like life perhaps.

Thank you to Ginninderra Press for a review copy and to Judy for such a rich conversation.