Tricia Dearborn: Autobiochemistry

There was a great crowd along at Smith’s Alternative on Monday night, 29 April 2019, to hear poetry presented live. Canberra poet Martin Dolan was MC for the night as he introduced the open mic poets, followed by Tricia Dearborn from Sydney and myself, who each gave a 20 minute reading of our poetry.

Tricia and Greg
Gregory Piko and Tricia Dearborn

The highlight of the evening was the Canberra launch of Tricia Dearborn’s new collection Autobiochemistry, published by University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP).

Tricia Dearborn - Autobiochemistry

Tricia’s book was launched amid much laughter by Canberra artist and poet Sarah Rice, who entertained the audience with her enthusiastic, if somewhat unscientific, introduction to the chemical properties of hydrogen, sodium, aluminium and other substances.

Autobiochemistry, though, is serious poetry. It comprises five sections, most of which are autobiographical in nature dealing, as they do, with deep personal relationships, childhood sexual trauma and perimenopause. The lead sequence of poems addresses 22 chemical elements, while a further eight poems relate to the life of Virginia Woolf.

Tricia’s love of chemistry and knowledge of the subject shine through in the title sequence of poems. But the magic of these poems is the way Tricia has introduced a human element to the periodic table, telling stories which link the chemical properties of each element to human behaviour. The poem [15] Phosphorus, which appeared in my previous post, is a good example, as is this extract from [55] Caesium:


Sometimes after what seems aeons
a decision is made

in an instant unmeasurable
even by the caesium clock.

A woman kisses you.
You make the leap.


Tricia’s writing is at once down-to-earth and poetic, direct and metaphorical, delicate and powerful. This is writing that deserves to be read. Here is an extract from The running doll:


armless, the doll
can’t push away

headless, it can’t
understand or strategise

lungless, mouthless
it can’t cry out

how easy to stoop and catch
a running doll, to make it
do what you want it to do


Tricia Dearborn’s Autobiochemistry is available from this link to UWAP.