I used to dabble in poetry, but haven’t recently. In 1989 we moved to Maleny in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, and I became a member of the Black Possum Publishing Co-operative when it was established in January 1990. The co-operative was established primarily to provide an opportunity for local writers to see their work in print. I was on the production team for their 1991 and 1992 anthologies and the production manager for the final publication Flights of Fantasy. These books were collections of mostly poems and artwork, with a few short stories and recipes. My poem 'Stuffed with Fantasy' appears on page 86 of Flights of Fantasy. (See below in gallery.)
During this time I also produced my own book, a collection of poems. This came about by chance, over coffee. I'm good at chucking things away. I had chucked all these typewritten poems in the wastepaper bin. A friend - also a Black Possum member - came to visit and for some reason she glanced at one of these bits of paper in the bin next to the kitchen table and fished it out. She said, "Oh no. You have to publish these." Thankfully I hadn't torn them into pieces or burnt them as the result is Coming Together: a journey through passion, which I self-published in 1992.
In 1993, one of these poems – 'A Perfumed Invitation' – was published in The Naked Pomegranate—Collected Women's Writing, South Australia: Tryfoss, Iss. 2, p. 40.
Review by Elsie Brimblecombe, Hinterland Herald, 19th November 1992
A locally produced volume of poetry written by Mary Garden, illustrated by Peter Hoffmann and published by Mary Garden, both who are based in the Maleny region.
The title is well chosen. The poems are about love, life and relationships.
It seems with all relationships, there has been one before, or many. It is perhaps this contemporary, almost universal law, which gives such soul to the juxtaposition of succinct and meaningful words and illustrations that, in their simplicity, evoke a far greater depth and reaction.
While the book in itself is one of the 'self-discovery' of the author it also offers the opportunity for readers to similarly discover aspects of themselves.
As a book written by a woman, it provides a great insight for any male reader – from guilt to understanding, or perhaps anything in between.
The poet explores the coming together of her present self with her past selves; coming together with her lover and coming to terms with the fears and anguish that are part of the human condition. In the process she also captures a range of emotions that perceptive recipients of relationships in the modern age could relate to.
The collaboration between Mary Garden as poet and Peter Hoffmann as the artist is very successful. Peter Hoffmann with a cartoonist’s incisive wit has illustrated the poems with humour, compassion and skill.
One of the exceptional qualities of the book is that although the contents reflect upon human relationships, there is no sentimentality or evasion.
Some people may be shocked by a few of the poems. Mary Garden has taken up the challenge presented by a small number of Australian women to write about the beauty and power of sex without using the language of guilt of hostility or shame.
Similarly the cartoons may offend some, but most people I’m sure will enjoy Peter Hoffmann's endearing little couple, stripped to reveal not only their bodies but also their souls as well.
It is beautifully designed and presented in a hot pink cover. Inside is spare and uncluttered. The impact of Coming Together is direct and strong.