"Most times it’s winter. White as bandages. Red with scarlet fever. Two men wearing peaked caps appear on the road, driving a cream coloured ambulance. When I see them stop a few doors down, I hold my collar until I see a dog for luck. So do the other kids."
Moya Pacey was born and grew up in Middlesbrough in the north of England. She came to Canberra in 1978 when it was a country town masquerading as a city and taught English until she retired.
Her poems have won prizes, been read on radio, appeared on buses, gallery walls and published in print and on-line in Australia and overseas.
Doggerland is her third collection. Her previous two poetry collections: Black Tulips (Recent Work Press 2017) and The Wardrobe (Ginninderra Press 2010) were shortlisted for the ACT Writers Centre Poetry Award. One Last Border: Refugee Poems published in 2015 by Ginninderra Press was co-written with Sandra Renew and Hazel Hall.
Moya is a founding editor of the women’s on-line poetry journal Not Very Quiet and was awarded, with Sandra Renew, a Canberra Critics’ Circle Award in 2019 for her influential work in exposing women’s poetry to view via the journal.
In October 2018, she was the Poet in Residence at the Elizabeth Bishop House in Great Village, Nova Scotia, Canada.
She has an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths College, University of London.
Doggerland is the name of a once fertile and populated land mass, now submerged under the North Sea, that once connected the British Isles with Europe. In the winter of 2017/18, Doggerland was clearly visible once again from the coast near the town where Moya Pacey was born and raised. In Pacey’s hands, this phenomenon works as a metaphor for how memory brings to the surface images, glimpses, stories, people and places appearing and disappearing, in no set order, around the space of this collection of poems.
Doggerland revisits a time of post World War II northern England, replete with traditional norms and values, and darknesses waiting to emerge above the water of everyday life.
Black Tulips are symbols of mystery and elegance and are hard to grow—a bit like writing poems. There is always a sense of mystery around how a poem makes it on to the page. How it sits beneath the surface as a garden bulb does until the conditions are right for it to begin to sprout and push into being.