Ghost Nets by Barbara Temperton

“In Ghost Nets, Barbara Temperton writes poignantly of many kinds of loss, yet these memorable poems also find joy in the vivid details of the natural world and everyday life.” 

Tracy Ryan

“Barbara Temperton has managed that rare thing, finding a methodology to present stories in verse that are also mosaics of impression and intimate observation of specific places.”

John Kinsella
on Southern Edge

Fishing nets lost or jettisoned from fishing vessels have become known as “ghost nets” because they continue to fish, entangling all forms of marine life and debris. Some are stranded on shore only to be washed out to sea again. As a shifting metaphor, ghost nets serve memory, grief, and the act of writing itself. Ghosts nets have been pivotal to my writing practice for a number of years. I cruise my memories and archives for inspiration, going where the currents take me, collecting words, images, new experiences, keeping some, losing some.

I recognised some time ago that inspiration frequently comes from bereavement. In the words of John Kinsella, “loss is a trauma we tell stories to overcome.” Loss takes many forms. It’s been slipping sideways into my work since I first started writing, just as ghost nets have this past decade. Like memory, grief is cumulative. When we grieve, we’re not experiencing a single bereavement but the sum of all our griefs. 

I found it profoundly difficult to write about my father’s illness. His story, Gyre, has taken years of self-talk and failures, a struggle with blocks and self-censorship issues, avoidance and procrastination before finding its final haibun shape. Sometimes wrangling a poem means that, through necessity, it emerges in a different form.

Thankfully, life being what it is, like the buoys that keep nets afloat, loss is often counterbalanced by love.


Ghost Nets (includes postage within Australia)



Ghost Nets (includes international postage)