A review of Called To Coddiwomple by Colleen Moyne

Reviewed by Beatriz Copello

Called To Coddiwomple
by Colleen Moyne
Ginninderra Press
Paperback, 84 Pages, June 2023, ISBN: 9781761095528

Colleen Moyne says about her book: “This is a diary -of sorts – that chronicles my coddiwompling coming of age,” and explains that to coddiwomple means to travel without a specific destination in mind, taken simply for the pleasure of the journey itself.

Called to Coddiwomple is an interesting book written as a narrative memoir accompanied by poetry. In a very gentle way Moyne explores the meaning of her life and relates events of her own life. This is a very personal book where the poet freely expresses and explores her feelings and beliefs from her past and present.

Although Moyne grew up in a not perfect family and without having good role models as parents, she did her outmost best to love, show her love and care for her children.  Her childhood was not a happy one, her interaction with her parents was tense and detached. Her family was very poor and were mainly struggling to survive. Her parents separated when the poet was very young, her mother battled mental health issues therefore her behaviour was unpredictable. Because of a lack of money,  Moyne spent a very lonely childhood lacking interesting experiences. She says in “A Life So Small”:

There was no laughter –
No adventure –
No enriching experiences.
There was school and home
and homework
and television and bedtime.
There was silence
and indifference
and walking on eggshells.
My life was so small
It fit the tiny space
Between my mother’s walls.

Sadness impregnates many of the pages of Called to Coddiwomple. Not even her grandmother gave her love or attention, when they visited her, Colleen and her siblings had to play outside the house. Although the poet struggled with her family, she was successful in rearing her own children. The poet became a widow when her children were very young, and on her own she supported them in all possible ways always with love and understanding. She gave her children a very different life to the one she had when young. Many women when their children grow up and settle on lives of their own feel lost without a purpose. Not the poet, in one of her narrative pieces she explains:

Now that my children are grown with families of their own, my restless spirit has taken over. I retired from my job and have thoroughly embraced the idea of being able to please myself.  Rather than retirement being an ending, for me it has become a wonderful beginning.

Moynes poetry is not complicated. Her poems have short lines with a nice rhythm and are pleasant in their simplicity. Her poetry interprets life. The narrative pieces are well defined and give an insight into human nature, which express an attitude towards life, a way of being in the world. Reading Called to Coddiwomple is an immersive experience which impacts on perception and empathy. The reader feels embraced by the author’s experiences, intimate as well as excited by the new life she embarks on. We learnt that once free from parenthood and working for money the author buys a caravan and goes ‘coddiwompling’. Whether she searches for treasures with a metal detector, or travelling around South Australia she is always in a positive frame of mind and the work is very inspiring. 

I was surprised to find in both types of text poetry and poems various opinions about different issues, people and even cats and dogs as in the following poem, a humorous affront to cat lovers titled “Cats vs Dogs”:

Some people like cats –
What’s up with that?
I guess you like
a hoity-toity housemate
who treats you like a doormat
then get a cat.
If you like to spend your time
playing servant
to a spoilt brat
then I highly recommend a cat.
But if you’d rather be adored,
Whenever you’re bored,
if you want something to cuddle
and not be ignored
then get a dog.
If you need a companion
on your daily run
or a warm-hearted greeting
when your day’s work is done
then I tell you, my friend,
I’ll defend to the end
and highly recommend
man’s (and woman’s) best friend –
a dog.

If you would like to dip in into a new adventure and are not sure of yourself or your decision Called to Coddiwomple will inspire you.     

About the reviewer: Beatriz Copello, D.C.A. Creative Writing and award-winning writer, is a former member of NSW Writers Centre Management Committee. She writes poetry, reviews, fiction and plays. The author’s poetry books are: Women Souls and Shadows, Meditations At the Edge of a Dream, Under the Gums Long Shade, Witches Women and Words and Lo Irrevocable del Halcon and Renacer en Azul  (In Spanish). Other books by Copello are: A Call to the Stars, Forbidden Steps Under the Wisteria and Beyond the Moons of August (Her Doctoral Thesis).