My Tongue Is My Own by Ann-Marie Priest | Black Inc.

My Tongue Is My Own: A Life of Gwen Harwood

Awards for My Tongue Is My Own

  • Longlisted, 2022 Mark and Evette Moran Nib Literary Award
  • Winner, 2023 National Biography Award
  • Winner, 2024 Margarey Medal for Biography

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About the author

Ann-Marie Priest

Ann-Marie Priest is the author of the first biography of renowned Australian poet Gwen Harwood, My Tongue Is My Own (2022), and recipient of the 2017 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship. Her book A Free Flame: Australian Women Writers and …

More about Ann-Marie Priest

Praise for My Tongue Is My Own

‘Ann-Marie Priest has captured completely the sprite-like nature of one of Australia’s finest poets... Through these pages, the great poet feels so alive.’
—Judges’ Comments, 2023 National Biography Award

‘Gwen Harwood’s life story shows the familiar tension felt by a gifted poet who is also a dedicated wife and mother, but it is more complex than that division suggests. This self-styled ‘Hobart housewife’ was passionate in love and friendship, a trickster who waged war on literary editors, a shapeshifter with half a dozen identities as poet, a brilliant letter writer. Why and how Harwood used her formidable creative powers in unexpected ways is explored by Ann-Marie Priest in this fine biography.’ —Brenda Niall, author of True North: The Story of Mary and Elizabeth Durack and the multi-award-winning Mannix

‘Gwen Harwood, that excellent poet and critic, deserves a sympathetic and lively biography. Ann-Marie Priest, to her credit, has just written that book.’ —Ann Blainey, winner of 2009 National Biography Award

‘[An] accessible recounting of Gwen Harwood’s crowded and emotionally vertiginous life, strengthened by many quotes from her witty correspondence. It should return readers to what matters: her poetry.’
—Gig Ryan, award-winning poet and former poetry editor of The Age

‘Absolutely splendid … [reveals] an extraordinary amount of research.’
—Alison Hoddinott, author of Gwen Harwood: The Real and the Imagined World and co-editor of Gwen Harwood’s Collected Poems, 1943–1995

‘Admirably lucid … written with sensitivity.’
 —Gregory Kratzmann, editor of Gwen Harwood: Selected Poems and co-editor of Gwen Harwood’s Collected Poems, 1943–1995

‘…essential reading for anyone interested in Australian poetry and/or the situation endured by creative women before our allegedly more enlightened times.’ —The Canberra Times

‘…for me she’s always been the most evocative singer amongst Australian poets, a deeply humane literary artist whose work on the page has brought me to tears in the way only the best made music can.’ —Gregory Day, The Australian

‘Read this meticulous biography with Harwood’s poetry in hand, and chase down every poem that Priest cites.’ —The Sydney Morning Herald

‘Ann-Marie Priest’s biography is an invaluable addition to the literature on this writer’ —Susan Sheridan, Sydney Review of Books

‘…a compelling biography. Priest puts Harwood’s voice – or rather, her many voices – at the heart of this volume.’ —Stephanie Trigg, Australian Book Review

‘Priest’s spirited biography does provide the occasion to hope we can be clear-sighted about the love stories and the ghost stories in the work of a poet’ —ArtsHub

‘Priest’s biography is an accessible account of Harwood’s life, often filtered through and framed by an examination of Harwood’s complex relationships.’ —The Conversation

‘Fearless, fascinating accounts of rule breakers, rule makers and rule enforcers. Happy summer reading.’ —Laura Jean McKay

‘Ann-Marie Priest gives us the full complexity of the different faces in what seems sometimes to have been a darkly revelatory mirror.’ —Peter Craven, Spectator Australia

‘This is a big book but it is a genuine thrill to read, a page-turner and a classic expression of the biographical form. It’s an astonishing achievement.’ —Rick Morton, Nervous Laughter, Substack