Vale poet and artist Judith Rodriguez

November 28, 2018

The distinguished Australian poet and human rights advocate Judith Rodriguez sadly passed away on 22 November 2018 at the age of 82. She had been a valued Copyright Agency member since 1992 and wrote in this member profile, “You’ve got to give something to the world – poetry is my offering.”

Tributes have flowed for the late poet, including from PEN International, whose Executive Director, Carles Torner, said: “She was a very close friend. An extraordinary poet, her poems stay with me for days and months every time I go back to her writing. And someone able to put together a good sense of humour with a deep commitment to PEN’s mission: when we were debating about campaigns for writers in prison or forced to exile, or about linguistic rights, her presence in the room was always giving us serenity, hope, wisdom.”

The Australian Poetry Library’s biography of Judith reads: “Rodriguez’s first poetry collection was published in 1962 as part of Four Poets, the others being fellow Brisbane poets David Malouf, Rodney Hall and Don Maynard. The title poem of her first solo collection, Nu-Plastik Fanfare Red: and other poems (1973), has remained an anthology favourite; it demonstrates her highly effective use of direct and forthright language and striking imagery. Water Life (1976) won the inaugural South Australian Biennial Literature Prize in 1978, while one of Rodriguez’s most highly-regarded collections, Mudcrab at Gambaro’s (1980) received both the Sydney PEN Golden Jubilee Award for Poetry and the Artlook/Shell Literary Award in 1981. The title sequence of poems celebrates life and sensuality through the eating of Queensland mud crab. Rodriguez is also known for her poems about women’s experiences; the title poem of Witch Heart (1982), published by the feminist press Sisters, records a visit to Robyn Archer’s play about the often disastrous lives of famous women performers, A Star is Torn.”

Her family of husband Tom Shapcott AO and children Sibila, Ensor, Rebeca and Zoë, say a celebration of Judith’s life will be held in early 2019.