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Willem Tibben


Photograph of Willem Tibben. All rights reserved.

Over several decades Willem (Bill) Tibben produced four books of poetry: Conscious Moment, Near Myths, In Search of the Simple and Suburban Veneer.

Written by Danny Gardner

He had wide connections to the poetry community via Kardoorair Press, Armidale – his original publisher; Poets at the Pub, Newcastle (he featured in many of their anthologies) and Live Poets at Don Bank, North Sydney at the beginning of the 1990s and after 2003 as right-hand man to convenor, Danny Gardner. In between he developed PIE (Poetry, Imagery and Expression) at Parramatta Town Hall with musician/poet Daryl Wayne Hall. In 2008 he joined Auburn Poets & Writers (APW) and featured in most of its shows at the Sydney Writers Festival from then until 2022’s ‘Shadows & Reflections’. He was the multi-lingual group’s Treasurer and co-authored the auspicing MOA with WestWords Centre for Writing, Parramatta which currently houses APW. Willem was also in a performing trio ‘Running Order’ with Maureen Ten and Danny Gardner. He was a regular of Youngstreet Poets which he respected for its rigour and clarity with material. At Tunegabbie Music Club he was ‘allowed to float my rhymeless rafts in its sea of balladry.’

In all these connections (and running a Men’s Shed out of Granville in his ‘retirement’) Willem was a welcoming presence for his sometimes bluff, ironic advice and generosity of spirit. He was also a fine writer. He had a healthy shit-meter for the inauthentic. He was suspicious, even scornful, of the literary elite and the adjective. He developed an understated, ‘confidently hesitant’ style. But he knew the big words and which ones were appropriate.

Michael Sharkey wrote: ‘Willem Tibben is one of the most readable poets of our time. His expressions of curiosity and delight in the revelations of the natural world and the vagaries of human behaviour often surprise with the intensity of their insight and verbal invention.’



republished with permission from Suburban Veneer (Belgrove, 2017)



all of a sudden as one the crows flew up

from the grassy banks along the river

that lay behind your mother’s house

they circled soundlessly and were gone

after her funeral you went to your own home

and they were there already waiting for you

in your trees on your roof your grass

cawing squabbling fragments of soul


after a time you walked outside alone

to your garden where just one crow was waiting

both of you staring silently each into each

then the crow rose up away