Margaret Curran (1887 -1962)
Saturday night, in the main street kerb, The angle-parked cars are full of watchers, their feet on invisible accelerators, Going nowhere, fast. ‘Provincial City’, Bruce Dawe
Margaret Curran was born at Colinton near Esk in 1887 and was educated at the Ipswich Convent. She worked as an editor and journalist for Steering Wheel, was a sub-editor for the Toowoomba Chronicle, and for forty-five years edited the Country Woman and Producer's Review. In 1928 she published a small collection of poetry with Carter Watson in Brisbane, The Wind Blows High and Low and Other Verses.
'Into a sunlit street, where dead brown leaves,
Crouch at the feet of dappled silver planes.
The autumn's air like wine; and from the Range,
I know that on a Morning such as this,
The rings of purple hills stand sharply etched
Against a sky of turquoise …'
'Buying Fish,' Margaret Curran.
The Wind Blows High and Low and Other Verses includes a number of occasional poems in commemoration of Anzac Day, a tribute on the death of Henry Lawson, some nature lyrics, a number of Irish poems, some Catholic religious verse, and a few interesting poems on women and work. Curran's poems on the domestic circumstances of her literary production are interesting for their glimpses of a woman's writing career in a regional city.
'Just then the city lights shone out:
Each name shone forth as brightest gold;
A strange, sweet perfume played about
And in my heart crept peace, untold …
I felt … warm hands … upon my own …
My son … kept tryst … at the Grey Stone.'
'Anzac Eve,' Margaret Curran.
Curran was a long term president of the Toowoomba Ladies Literary Society from 1933 to 1963. The Society played an important role in the cultural life of the city and organised annual pilgrimages in honour of George Essex Evans and Steele Rudd. During her time as president Curran was instrumental in organising a national campaign to erect a cairn marking the site of Steele Rudd's birthplace in Drayton.
'In bleak Toowoomba gardens, swept of flowers,
By cold west winds and withering with drought,
The wattles' grey-green leaves show burnishing
Of buds a-burgeoning to radiant bloom;
And in a few brief days the largesse of gold
For every hand to gather, will be thrown
Into the chilly lap of winter days.'
'Wattle Blossom,' Margaret Curran.
Her speech at the opening ceremony was indicative of her sense of the civic value of literary culture:
The president of the Steele Rudd Memorial Fund Committee (Mrs Margaret Curran) said during her address that the history of man, which was largely the history of civilisation, might be read in its memorials -- often beautiful, and occasionally grotesque.
The degree of civilisation achieved by any community or country was measured by the attitude of the inhabitants toward its memorials.
Toowoomba was overlooked by a memorial to a poet, George Essex Evans; there was a memorial on the new Toowoomba Highway which had been raised to the memory of Sir Littleton Groom; and in Toowoomba's busiest centre, the tall grey stone of remembrance known as the 'Mothers Memorial' was a stern reminder to the careless passer by that freedom was purchased 'at a great price.' Now, another memorial has been erected only a few yards from the very birthplace of a native genius.
The Toowoomba Literary Society, Mrs Curran added, had begun the movement to provide the memorial ... because it 'did not choose that the land from which he sprung, should be shamed' by utter forgetfulness.
ChristopherLee, 'Civic Virtue and the Monumental Pleasures of Poetic Work: Margaret Curran and Toowoomba's Ladies Literary Society,' Coppertales 7 (2001): 56-64.
'Unveiling of Steele Rudd Memorial,' Toowoomba Chronicle, 20 November 1950. Cutting in Ladies Literary Society Archives, Toowoomba Municipal Library.
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