Latest News


Saturday, 28 September 2013 09:30

This is really what it feels like at the moment - an enormously complicated juggling act, with four book launches in the space of four weeks in four different states.

Radio Days

Tuesday, 08 October 2013 10:30

A really great experience last Saturday morning: an interview with Radio Adelaide's Cath Kenneally for her Arts Breakfast program. It was a lovely opportunity to talk about the coming book (launch date in Adelaide October 16) with an interviewer who sounded so interested and enthusiastic that I really enjoyed the whole experience. It also gives a terrific preview of the book. If you'd like to find out more about 'Passion Play - the Oberammergau Tales', the interview is now on the Radio Adelaide web site - just go to


Sunday, 20 October 2013 10:30

It's actually not quite the middle of the launch 'season' but getting towards it. The Adelaide launch of Passion Play last week was a wonderful night  - about 170 people at the West Torrens Library Auditorium were welcomed by the Mayor, John Trainer, who handed over to Steven Marshall, leader of the state opposition, to MC the evening.

Melbourne Book Launch

Saturday, 26 October 2013 10:30

Another launch of Passion Play over - and what a great night. Readings Bookshop in Carlton is always such a great venue, and Chris Wallace-Crabbe introduced the book to the fifty people there with his usual charm and erudition. I listened, fascinated, as he drew my attention to bits in the book that I'd almost forgotten writing. A lovely crowd to talk to, as I found when I did my own author-speech, and the feedback comments about the book and the evening have been terrific. It's nights like this that make you feel the whole project has been really rewarding!

Canberra Book Launch

Thursday, 07 November 2013 10:30

Book launches are always such fun - and last night at Paperchain Bookshop in Manuka, Canberra, was no exception. Lovely to catch up with old friends from my own schooldays, as well as ex-students from my teaching life. But sure makes you aware of the passing of the years … !

Sample Poetry

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 14:39

Escape of the writer

Socrates thought he had a daemon who spoke wisdom to him from afar. - Elizabeth Gilbert.

For years I’ve kept this daemon down, subdued,
banished it to corners of my mind
where it has lurked, a naughty child,
in mute rebellion. At times
it has escaped, and run triumphant
from the room, to wreak swift havoc
in my busy life.
But always in the past, recapturable,
able to be tamed, and sent once more
to stand, with face to wall, so that
I did not even see the few salt tears
that stung their way down the resentful cheeks. 

Yet quietly it gathered strength, and waited,
oh, so patiently. Silently it grew,
flexing muscles that I had not noticed,
pondering, and taking to itself
the interim years, the wealth of living,
that it had been the sacrificial offering to obtain.
Slowly it gathered calculated strength,
’til now it’s found its moment,
and it’s sprung.

No longer in the corner, mute, rebellious,
for now it’s turned on me, and with an odd maturity,
it tells me that its time has come.
The door has opened: now this imp from hell – or heaven –
runs my life.


The writer’s jungle

For writers are the scavengers of life.
We prowl the wasteland of our past experience.
Sniffing carrion on the air, we raise our heads, alert,
circling, narrowing down the hunt,
until we find the moment that we’re scenting,
quietly decaying, then we pounce. 

I’m minded of the Garner story, and the notes she took
standing at the graveside of a friend.
So many others shocked …I nod my head
in decorous agreement, but all the time I’m thinking
‘I could do that too.’ 

Once there, we do not treat the flesh
with proper privacy. No, instead we burrow in.
Compelled by need – or greed – we ravage corpses,
then pick the bones with a disgusted gusto
’til soon another poem is completed,
and we sink back replete. 



Fog descends.
She feels its tendrils,
subtle and insidious,
drift into her mind.
Its soft thick blanket
soon obscures her memories.
She tries to grope
for people, places of her past
but sighs frustrated,
her desperation growing.
This too will be forgotten.


At Finn McCool’s

  (for Chris)

Against the clatter of the pub, the clink of glasses,
the snatches of loud talk and burst of laughter,
float sounds of a lone harp.
Her blonde hair swings across her face; deftly
she fingers, concentrating, strings that release
such melody. The others sit,
guitar stilled, flute and whistle laid aside,
abstracted, focused on the music.
Notes drift aloft, above pub laughter,
but in stray pauses conversation is arrested.
All are caught in magic of the moment.
The possibilities beyond the here and now,
the humdrum of the everyday, that she’s revealing …


Driving home through the hills

There are days when every liquid amber hurts –
Their blazing colours can assault the eye –
Because they mean that autumn’s drawing to a close
And soon it will be winter’s chill, for all things die.

There are days when every tinkling tune can hurt –
The words are trite, predictable, but how they score
With every note a wound, because they wind their way
To final bars that signify the music’s o’er.

There are days when sunsets glowing in the west –
So chocolate-box, painful extravagance of hue –
Can make me falter and draw anguished breath
Because I know they soon will fade from view.

I enter Heysen Tunnels with eyes blurred –
These too like all else have a predetermined end.
But as I round their final curves I see
With doubting joy the light beyond the bend.


Tuesday, 11 March 2014 14:01


Her Books

Thursday, 06 March 2014 15:06

Here you can browse through all of Valerie's published books and many reviews. 
Please click on the corresponding pictures to read more about each book. 

 Passion Play  In Due Season  A Promise of Peachers   Even Grimmer Tales  Passion Play         


A moving experience of love and grief

About Valerie

Wednesday, 21 November 2012 03:12
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 and a number of the poems were set to music as the text of a 2018 choral Requiem by Adelaide composer, Rachel Bruerville also titled In Due Season.

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 several 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, a collection of poems written while travelling in South America.

Travel in 2018, mainly in Germany, with some time in Croatia and France, has led to a further collection of travel poems, but her main current focus is on the  publication of a prose fiction novel, set in 1800s Germany and Australia, scheduled for release by Wakefield Press in 2019. After that, other projects are on the way.

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.