Biography of Kaye Aldenhoven
Kaye Aldenhoven is an Australian poet and teacher.
In 1971 Kaye Aldenhoven moved from South Australia to Umbakumba on Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory. She then lived and taught at Yuendumu, Amoonguna, Alice Springs, Darwin, Jabiru and was Principal of all three NT Area Schools (at Jabiru in Kakadu, Alyangula on Groote Eylandt and Batchelor). These moves were important for the direction of her work.
Her first book, In My Husband's Country, was a clear and deft response to country in a way that is peculiarly Territorian, as is her involvement in cross-art performances of poetry, dance ritual, and textiles. In 1992 she won the Northern Territory Red Earth Literary Award. She has edited a number of anthologies and was included in artist's book/anthology Terra Australis edited by Chris Mansell with work by artist Tommaso Durante.
Her chapbook, Skin (PressPress, 2004) extends Aldenhoven's engagement with (and explores the conundrum of) living in country. This is an important theme in non-metropolitan Australian poetry which is not much taken up in the urbanised fringes. Poetically, Aldenhoven eschews overtly decorative language and aims for a clear and clarifying diction to illuminate her themes.
Kaye Aldenhoven likes visiting unusual places (and has travelled extensively in Indonesia, India, China, Turkey, West Papua, Nepal and Sarawak) but she likes reading and writing poetry more. In her poetry, the usual becomes strange and the worlds to which most of us are strange come closer.
Kaye Aldenhoven's Works:
In My Husband's Country
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Kaye Aldenhoven Poems
If You Were Here
The coming down of the Magela after the first storms, we chased that front of water all day. It surged slowly,
To Prepare For You
To prepare for you I scrub the soles of my feet and cut my toenails. I wash and brush my hair
hairy calyx splits wine dark magnolia unfolds to warmth
Becoming Fluent In Wailpiri
Hey, your kids are learning to speak Wailpiri. It's good, eh? How do they learn so quickly? Them boys more clever, you know, than their mother.
Young man stretches for hibiscus flowers heart-red they grace my bed
ablaze against thunder clouds flamboyant poincianas flame red as lust
Curcuma Australasica – Wild Ginger
In shadowed gorges erect pink bracts brim with rain unseen, turmeric roots engorge.
Full Moon Wakeful
I watch the full moon slide down a dome of dark glass.
On the edge of the floodplains at dusk beneath recursively barbed leaves shards of vermilion enamel dropp onto burnt black earth.
lorikeets gossip busy brush tongues lap nectar from eucalypt cups
the scent will catch you first look up! from leaf axils, long creamy flower spikes extrude
stamens quiver saffron lily pollen stains indelibly