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Tamar Valley Storytellers: Don Defenderfer

Updated: Feb 22

Don Defenderfer has been infatuated with Tasmania’s natural environment since first visiting the island in 1982. He has lived in Launceston for over 30 years. Don was State Coordinator for Landcare Tasmania for many years. This job allowed him to be inspired not only by the beauty of the Tasmanian landscape but also by the many people that are working to repair and renew it. Don is a regular contributor to Tasmania’s premier magazine, Tasmania 40°South. He has published three volumes of poetry, co-authored a book on a wilderness area in Alaska, and has had his work published in periodicals such as The Weekend Australian and The New York Times. Read more about Don here.

1. What are you working on?

I am juggling a a few projects at the moment. I have nearly finished my second book, a companion to my 2019 book TASMANIA an island dream. The book will be a collection of stories, poems and photographs that celebrate Tasmania’s unique natural environment. The book includes fiction as well. The first book has nearly sold out so it is time for the next one. I am also working on a new poetry book, a collection of poems that cover just about everything, ranging from interpreting nature to travel to love to cancer and songs.

2. How does the Tamar Valley influence your writing?

I have lived in the Tamar Valley for over 30 years so its influence is deeply embedded inside my writing genes. The sense of place here allows me to write from a centred place where I can patiently gain insights about Tasmania’s amazing environment as well as its wonderful people. I believe the essence of the Tamar Valley enters my writing – its beauty, moods, wildness and history. I love gazing at the sky and clouds while writing (and putting off writing) as I always find the colours and patterns amazing and inspirational.

3. What themes are you exploring?

The beauty of nature and our relationship to it. The complexity of relating to the natural environment in the present while also understanding the very long history and relationship that Aboriginal Tasmanians have had with it. The uniqueness of Tasmania, the threats to it and what Tasmania means for the rest of the world. Love, loss, grief, gain and questioning why are we here and what is life all about. All that stuff!

4. Describe for us where you write.

Where I write – a lot of it starts in my head and drifts around till I stop procrastinating and begin making notes in my daily journal. The journal is often the source place for ideas or poems that just come out of nowhere when my muse is alive and well. Eventually the jottings are developed on the iMac in a bedroom with views of the garden and sky to distract or motivate me.

5. Finish this sentence, "I want my writing to..."

I want my writing to flow naturally so as to be able to easily share my insights about life and the natural environment. I want my writing to inspire others about the precious and precarious world we live in. As with all good writing, I hope my writing contributes to help changing the world, to making it a better place for all living things.

6. What's your favourite read so far this year?

Truganini by Cassandra Pybus stands out as a landmark book this year. The book is exceptionally well written. We all have heard about Truganini but until you read this book you realise just how little we have really known about her story and the tragic times she lived in. I look forward to reading this book again.


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