On the Sixth Day pre-Christmas, this author said to me … (Bronwen Manger)

Is it particularly alarming to everyone if I remind all and sundry that it’s now only a full week until Christmas? Because it’s pretty alarming to me.

If you’re short on literary stocking-stuffers, page seventeen might fit the bill if you order quick! The latest issue and selected back issues are available here.

Latest reflection from Issue #10 for our blogging good time is from Bronwen Manger, for her poem ‘Reine de Douleur’.

Beau Hillier | Editor, page seventeen


I wrote ‘Reine de Douleur’ (Queen of Sorrow) as a response to the 1892 poster ‘Reine de Joie’ (Queen of Joy) by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. For the uninitiated, this is a bright, bold poster in yellow, red, white, gold and black, which depicts a young lady passionately kissing a rather rotund older gentleman as they recline at a crockery-covered dining table, beside another dinner guest who seems studiously oblivious to their ardour. It is a zesty scene, brimming with opulence and intrigue! I penned ‘Reine de Douleur’ in an attempt to capture in words the unapologetic decadence of the poster; and also to infer the  darker undercurrents of desperation that have funnelled the characters into this ‘fadeless embrace’.

Many lines of the poem are flagrantly demanding instructions, delivered from the standpoint of one who has had enough to eat and drink; yet is still unsatisfied, and at once confounded and compelled by hunger and thirst. Amidst the yearning for more; the celebration of indulgence; and the gleeful acceptance of duplicity, the poem also laments an otherwise grey, drab existence. Despite the title’s feminine leaning, it is up to the reader to decide whether ‘Reine de Douleur’ is written from the point of view of the lady, the gentleman, or both.


Bronwen Manger is a poet from the outer east of Melbourne. She has performed her work on television and radio, and her poems have appeared in journals, zines, anthologies and newspaper The Age. When Bronwen is not writing, she attends poetry readings around Melbourne and works as a research assistant.