About Valerie

Meet Valerie...

 

Valerie Volk was born in Glen Iris, a suburb of Melbourne, 
Victoria, where her writing life began with a set of very predictable fairy tales – it’s embarrassing to look back on oneself as a seven year old.

Writing continued during her schooldays at Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School, where a brilliant English teacher introduced her to the poems of Robert Browning, leading to a life-long love affair with the dramatic monologue. Here she edited both the school newspaper and the annual magazine, followed by the University of Melbourne, where she edited and wrote for the Literature Club magazine, Compass, and became engaged to her co-editor, Noel Volk. During this time her two verse plays were written and produced.

After graduating with a BA(Hons) and Diploma of Education Valerie married and taught in high schools in Geelong and later at Luther College, Croydon, before becoming a lecturer in Comparative Education and Sociology of Education in a number of tertiary institutions in Victoria and Queensland.

She continued to study and holds a Master of Education from the University of Melbourne, an MA in Creative Writing from Tabor Adelaide and a PhD from the University of New South Wales in the field of Gifted Education.

Her career as a Senior English teacher in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia led to an interest in the assessment of 
English, and an extended period as Chief Executive Examiner for Year 12 English in Victoria and subsequently many years as a supervising examiner in South Australia.

Valerie’s interest in gifted education drew her to the Future 
Problem Solving Program, which she describes as the most challenging activity she knows for extending able students. From 2000 to 2008 she was one of the Australian directors of the 
program, and heavily involved in conducting coach training 
workshops in South East Asia, especially Singapore. She has been a key member of the International Board of Trustees, an activity that has given her great satisfaction as well as an excellent excuse for frequent overseas travel.

During these years her writing and publications were mainly academic, both in peer-reviewed journals and in more popular 
magazines. However, in 2004 she won the Australasian Religious Press 
Association Award for best feature article of the year for an account of the impact of the birth of a grandchild suffering from extensive birthmarking.

In 2007 Valerie returned to study, this time for a Master of Arts in Creative Writing. After her husband’s diagnosis of cancer early in 2008 she began to write the poems which were to form the published collection In Due Season – poems of love and loss, an unanticipated outcome of the period that led to his death after many months of almost constant 
hospitalisation. The poems are a chronicle of the year and a record of their lives together. The collection, which has had a 
heart-warming wide public response, won the national Omega Writers CALEB Poetry Prize in 2010.

Valerie continues to live in Adelaide, enjoying her circle of friends, reading, writing, food (cooking and eating!), film, music and opera. She has continued to write, with  awards 
including the Wirra Wirra SA Writers' Centre short story First Prize, the John Bray Roman Poetry award, Studio prizes for both poetry (2008) and prose fiction (2010), and frequent magazine and journal 
publication. Her second verse novel, A Promise of Peaches, was published by Ginninderra Press in March 2011, and was followed by the collection of outrageously twisted versions of Grimms Fairy Tales, published in 2012 by IP (Interactive Publications) under the title Even Grimmer Tales: Not for the Faint-hearted.Her fourth book, Passion Play -The Oberammergau Tales, was launched by Wakefield Press on October 16, 2013, and has had high critical acclaim in journals and newspaper reviews. This was followed in 2014 by the nostalgic Flowers & Forebears, a slim volume in the Ginninderra Press Pocket Poets series, which explores the way that flowers can trigger memories of the past and the people in one's life. 

Travel is still a passion, though with children and grandchildren in four Australian states it becomes hard to find time to go further afield. However, the long journey through China, Mongolia, Siberia, Sweden and Arctic Circle Norway that Valerie and her partner, David Harris, undertook in mid-winter two years ago enabled the achievement of a long-held ambition, to ride a camel in Mongolia in the snow. When asked why, she confesses that she really doesn’t know, but loved every moment of it. That could almost be the story of her life.

The 2013 extended travel in Spain, a month spent driving all over that wonderful country, led to the very satisfying writing of 'A Poem a Day', her personal capturing of the 33 days of the trip (as well as the obligatory journal and thousands of photographs to record the time.) On return, under David's guiding hand this became the book, A Poem a Day, in which each day's poem is accompanied by a single photo in a coffee table production. The following six weeks in Prague were spent mainly in residence as students at Charles University, taking the summer school in Czech Language and Culture, an unforgettable experience. Valerie admits she may not speak Czech yet, but it's left her with an undying attachment to Prague and Czech culture.

In 2014 she repeated the 'poem a day' during a tour of Ireland, leading to another coffee table book, and the following four weeks in Germany were well-timed, before coming home to finalise publication of her sixth book, prose this time, Bystanders, which was released by Wakefield Press in mid 2015, creating great public interest. 

Since then, further travel has led to the writing of Indochina Days, a poetry record of her time in Vietnam and Cambodia, published by Ginninderra Press in 2015 as part of the Picaro Poets series, and, after a tour of South America, another Ginninderra Press publication in 2017, Of Llamas and Piranhas.

Life, she says, is never dull. Unpredictable, true - but there's never been time to get bored. And that's the way she likes it.