HomeSmall Acts of Purpose

Buy Now

Small Acts of Purpose

In her third collection from Interactive Press, E. A. Gleeson casts her poetic eye as far afield as Belfast or as close to home as her own mortality.

In an assured but always personal voice, she addresses the everyday, the exotic and even the taboo with immersive detail, challenging the reader to reflect on the elemental issues of modern existence.

E. A. Gleeson’s previous books from IP are in between the dancing and Maisie and the Black Cat Band.

ISBN 97819215231564 (PB, 92pp);
140mm x 216mm
AUD $25 USD $18 NZD $27 GBP £12 EUR €14
ISBN 97819215231571 (eBook) AUD $13 USD $9 NZD $15 GBP £6 EUR €7


In these poems of witness and empathy, E. A. Gleeson gives voice to the suffering and enduring spirits of people across the world. Her voice is typically touching and profound, fused with a dry humour that celebrates the personal and the places that connect us. She is a master of the local and her poems zing like a bell rung. Her language is rich and playful, her imagery memorable and heart-felt. Here is a poet unafraid to ask the right questions.
– Brendan Ryan

Inquisitive, philosophical, with a sly sense of humour and splashes of sharp imagery, E. A. Gleeson’s main subject is her self, or should I say, “the self” in the world. This world that threatens and harms. This world that loves and delights.
– Mike Ladd

E. A. Gleeson

E. A. Gleeson writes poems, essays and funeral ceremonies. Throughout the past two decades, her poems have been published in Australia, Ireland and the USA. Many of them have been placed in national and international awards. Her first poetry book, In between the dancing, received the 2008 IP Picks Award for Best New Manuscript. Her second collection, Maisie and The Black Cat Band was commended in the 2012 IP Picks poetry awards.

Anne is an active member of the poetry community. She delights in guest performances at literary festivals and poetry readings. She has established poetry and artistic events for her community in her funeral home and she ensures travelling provides an opportunity to participate in poetry events and collaborate with poets from other poetry worlds.

Anne grew up on a farm in the Western District of Victoria, Australia. After decades of travelling and living elsewhere, she has returned to the landscapes and seascapes of her youth. She is gaining a rich source of poetry from her newfound appreciation for the physical environments in which she was raised, and the emotional and philosophical terrain she has encountered since.


E. A. Gleeson's website
Her blog
Check out E. A.'s in between the dancing
or her Maisie and the Black Cat Band


Lessons from Belfast

Some argue their potency
but there they fly
markers of identity and allegiance
geography and religion.

There are more Union Jacks
on the Shankill
than in all the tourist shops
in London.

On the other side of the peace wall
the tri-colour cements the divide.
they bring in the tourists.

I read in the press
the number of days the Union Jack
can be raised at City Hall
is to be reduced from seventeen to eight.

Riots ensue. I wonder
how nine days could matter so much.
Out at Stormont they argue
the toss, propose a new flag.

Something neutral. Belonging to both.
Or neither.
Neutrality is contrary
to flag bearing, or flag caring.

Back in Australia
I become more observant,
spot Union Jacks in the corner
of every Aussie flag.

At a funeral Mass at St Thomas’s
I find myself staring
above the coffin. Someone
has folded the Australian flag

tucked the Union Jack out of sight
re-hung the half flag
so that the Southern Cross
drapes over the altar wall.

Across from this iconic
constellation, a huge cloth
of midnight blue, akin to the colour
of our night sky, hangs.

A man has died.
A family is broken.
I am preoccupied
with a piece of cloth
surprising myself
that I care so much.

The Calligrapher
– Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

The boy abandoned his degree, disinterested
in the course depleting his parents’ savings,
as indifferent as a young man sent to college
as a trade-off to his birth mother
who had accepted working class parents
on the proviso that her son would be educated.

Having dropped out of set classes and dropped
in on optional ones, he moved his day life
to the calligraphy room where he practised
curls and sweeps and end-points, repeated
upstrokes and down strokes, attended to detail
and always to the measured spaces.

Attention, application, repetition, respect.
A holy man practising his daily exercises.
A craftsman honing his skill. A teenager
with the passion of an entrepreneur, developing
typography into a way of living, as if the world
might embrace calligraphy with the tap of a key.

So many things connect us to this world
but of those that have been made, I would choose bridges.
I have crossed an old growth forest on a trapeze of a bridge,
been tossed against tips of eucalypt branches stroking the sky,
swung with the wind and the impatient day-trippers.

I have never seen the old bridge closed for decades
to the people of Germany and Poland, whose forebears
sat along its edge, dropped fishing lines in the Oder,
shared their catch, cigarettes, bread, gossip. I would love
to have been there on the day people crossed countries
for an afternoon, shared their unease, memories, delight.

Ten years after the bombs crashed onto the sixteenth century
pride of Mostar, they put it back, one thousand, two hundred
and twenty-eight stones of it, some, washed for a decade,
lifted from the river. The prettiest of the world’s icons
recreated, a slender arch of limestone spanning
the narrowest point of the Neretva, upholding
the tenuous reconciliation.

They began building the Walt Whitman years before
my birth, finished it years after I arrived. It extends
across the Delaware River, joins two states. A city
of cars thrums over it each weekday. On weekends,
there are more. One hundred and fifty thousand
speeding towards the Atlantic, toll free.

But it is the homeward journey that catches us all.
They queue at the westbound toll-way
rummaging for coins and E-Z passes ,
saying goodbye to the moments lived,
imagining that there might be another day.

This bridge spans my being,
joins what was not with what is,
an existential bridge
named for a poet.