Stunning Poetry Debut by Maleny Wildlife Carer

6 January, 2022
Author: Leigh Robshaw

Kathy Earsman is well-known in Maleny for her many years as a dedicated wildlife carer. Her Facebook page is crawling with photos of possums and bats she has rescued and she has taken many a trip to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital with an injured animal, sometimes staying up all night to give hourly feeds to baby antechinuses or navigating country roads in the dark to rescue injured wildlife.

But fewer people know of Kathy’s talent as an accomplished poet. Over three decades, she has written a prolific body of work, which has now been curated into her first poetry book: A Sparrow’s Perspective: the poetry of Kathy Earsman.

It was Kathy’s late husband Peter who inspired her to take up poetry. A former serviceman, he’d heard of a poetry competition on the radio and decided to enter. He won the competition and was soon glued to his computer following his new passion.

“We had just moved to Kallangur and I felt a bit lonely with him looking into the screen all the time,” she says. “We had two computers and so I joined him and we sat there, side by side, writing poetry together. We would read and critique each other’s poetry and we were members of various online poetry forums. We both won prizes and had our work published in poetry magazines.”

Kathy suddenly found herself part of a supportive worldwide network of poets, receiving feedback on her work from esteemed identities in the poetry world.

“I always felt a bit awkward, because they were so erudite,” she said. “There was a lot of camaraderie. There were some extremely good poets on the forums like Sonnet Central and they were very encouraging to me and still are.”

Sadly, Peter died of cancer 17 years ago and Kathy, a palliative nurse for 13 years, cared for him through his illness, staying by his side to the end. Kathy’s passion for poetry, which she had shared so closely with her husband, waned.

“I had to push to get through every day,” she said. “Peter wanted his ashes scattered in Wellington Harbour and along with our sons, Barry, Matthew and Travis, we each took turns to scatter his ashes into the ocean where he used to swim.”

Almost three decades later, Kathy has rekindled parts of her life with Peter and their children, along with childhood memories and astute observations of nature and the world around us in her first book, a stunning collection of more than 100 poems including free verse, sonnets and haiku.

“The poems are little bits from my past, things that had some sort of significance that I wanted to share with people,” Kathy said. “I have drawn it all together, all the different pieces of my life and publishing this book has made Peter’s influence significant somehow. A lot of it is about him and our life together, as well as my childhood and how various things shaped me.

“It’s actually about the essence of who we are as human beings; of what our life has meant and various little things that happen that have meaning when you think about them.”

The book includes poems written for Peter and each of their sons, as well as a humorous series about a character Kathy invented called the Wufflegrot, a beast with fur a pretty shade of lapis lazuli that steals poems and eats them for lunch.

“There’s a mixed bag in there,” she said. “Some of the poems are not so nice and some are philosophical and comforting. One prose poem I wrote about walking to school in the fog ends in a philosophical way, with older Māori women standing down by a foggy creek talking in Māori together. Their soft, murmuring voices were talking through the mist and it was as if they were mist.”

While Kathy’s poetry captures the magic of life through symbolic imagery such as the ephemeral beauty of a spiderweb or a velvety rose petal, it doesn’t shy away from the darkness. Her poem Jackie, about a boy who drowned at the age of four in a river in New Zealand, is a heart-wrenching piece, and won an international poetry award.

“Little Jackie down the street still makes me cry, because it was a real thing,” Kathy said. “It wasn’t imagined. I wrote it in a child’s voice, as if I was a child watching it again.”

Maleny writer and editor Leigh Robshaw spearheaded the project and Kathy’s three sons were all involved in bringing it to life.

“There’s a sense of warmth in me, just having this book out in the world. I’m grateful to Leigh for recognising that it was worth publishing and it gives me a sense of satisfaction.

“I just feel happy about it; it’s something that makes my sons proud and happy and Peter would have been really pleased,” Kathy said. “We tried to get a book of Peter’s poetry published, but we weren’t able to do it in time. My family are really important to me – they’re kind of who I am. It feels fulfilling.”

A Sparrow’s Perspective: the poetry of Kathy Earsman is available at The Maleny Bookshop for $25. A book launch will be held at The Maleny Bookshop on Saturday, January 29 from 6pm to 8.30pm. Tickets are $15. Includes drinks, nibbles and 50 percent off the book for that night only. To book tickets visit and search ‘Kathy Earsman book launch’ or call The Maleny Bookshop on 5494 3666 for more information.