On the First Day pre-Christmas, this author said to me … (Amra Pajalic)

Hi All,

Christmas is just around the corner, and at $24.95 the latest issue of pageseventeen just may fit some of those KK budgets.

A lot goes into each short story and poem that goes into an issue, and in the lead-up to Christmas I’ll be posting some of the reflections offered by the writers and poets featured in pageseventeen #10. Some of these reflections are from the pages of the latest issue – some will be blog-exclusive.

First up is Amra Pajalic, whose poem ‘Drill Sergeant’ was shortlisted in pageseventeen‘s 2012 Poetry Competition.

Beau Hillier | Editor, pageseventeen


I used to write poetry a long time ago and I began to feel the yearning again, but never quite found the time. In December last year I was reading Penni Russon’s blog and saw she was undertaking the Month of Poetry in January 2012, the purpose of which was to write a poem a day. Spontaneously I jumped on board and managed to write 31 poems that month. Most of them are works in progress as I found my internal poet again, but a few like ‘Drill Sergeant’ are gems that I’ve been submitting this year.

‘Drill Sergeant’ came from a conversation with my mother and she somehow weaved in a negative critique of my housekeeping with the words, ‘It’s my fault because I never taught you.’ Her words hit me hard. In her materialistic migrant mind it didn’t matter what achievements I had behind me or the qualifications I had collected, at the end of the day if my house wasn’t perfectly cleaned I was viewed as a failure as a woman.

Over the next few weeks I engaged in a frenzy of housekeeping determined that those words wouldn’t pass her lips again, only to realise it was a thankless task that gave me no respite or opportunity to do the things I truly liked doing, like playing with my daughter.

Being shortlisted in this competition has given me the confidence to keep writing poetry and trust in my muse. Since February poetry has been nudged off the agenda as I complete my second novel for submission to my publisher and undertook a new role as co-editor of an anthology, but now I’m determined to carve out time every week for poetry and ensure I feed my soul.


Amra Pajalic is a novelist and short story writer. Her debut novel The Good Daughter won the 2009 Melbourne Prize for Literature’s Civic Choice Award. She is currently co-editing an anthology of Muslim writers to be published by Allen and Unwin. Her website is www.amrapajalic.com.