This Intimate War

Gallipoli/Çanakkale 1915

Dr Robyn Rowland, who is a highly respected and eminent Australian scholar and has played a leading part in contemporary studies on women’s rights, identity and social issues, is also a much-admired and internationally acclaimed poet. Besides her extensive high-calibre academic work, she has already published several books of poetry and rightly earned her literary fame. Among her poetical interests, it is the Gallipoli battles and the agonizing but also heroic Anzac experience of these battles that have much inspired and moved her, and this book of the Gallipoli poems is the outcome of her thoughts and sentiments intensely felt and expressed. In fact, she has looked at the Gallipoli experience not only through the eyes of the Anzacs but also through the eyes of the Turkish soldiers. With an epic perspective and overwhelming emotionality, she has created a lasting and moving saga of the Anzac and Turkish warriors in conflict as well as intimate comradeship. Critical of imperialist politicians and ill-planned logistics, Dr Rowland draws in her poetry extensively both upon her own impeccable observations of the battle areas but also upon the Anzac diaries and letters as well as Turkish narratives concerning Gallipoli. Her powerful style and also her descriptive and perceptive sensitivity create in the mind of the reader a vivid and enduring picture of the agonies, sufferings, and heroic fighting that characterize the human tragedy of Gallipoli. In translating impeccably Dr Rowland’s poems into Turkish, Professor M.Ali Çelikel has commendably conveyed the epic depth and literary qualities embodied in the poems.
Professor Himmet Umunç Ph.D., Başkent University, President, English Language and Literature Research Association of Turkey

These poems draw on works of history and private testimonial. They are what this age needs: poems about war which do not glorify war; poems which, for all their considerable rhetorical power, nowhere distance themselves from pain, brutality and callous error. These poems are immediate and unwavering; they are also deeply thoughtful. In them, Robyn Rowland considers war from what were enemy positions; also, from the perspective of mothers and factory workers. Very few collections bring home so powerfully the vulnerability of individuals in the face of history. This collection certainly takes its place among Robyn Rowland’s best work. It is a courageous achievement.
Lisa Gorton

Author bios

Robyn Rowland
Mehmet Ali Çelikel (translator)


Susan Laura Sullivan in Plumwood Mountain


Lisa Gorton’s speech in Rochford Street Review

This Intimate War was reprinted in 2018 by Spinifex Press and is available here.