My verse memoir, Vagabondage, about the year I lived in a campervan, is out now via UWA Publishing, which makes me very happy.
If you’re interested in getting a copy, it’s available in selected shops (those that stock poetry), or the easiest way is direct from me — post free and I’ll sign it and throw in a cute bookmark — or from UWAP.
Here’s a paypal button, or just send me a message.
*Here’s what people have been saying about it:
‘So much fun to read. Warm, witty and profound.’
— Claudia Taranto, ABC Radio National
‘An unexpected gem…a memoir of moving spiritually and geographically, told in verse! Utterly unique, so Australian and such a beautiful work of art, Beth Spencer’s tale of selling her house and becoming a nomad spoke to me with a vivid kind of wanderer’s call. A perfect book to read on holiday, but be warned, it might change your life forever.’
— Walter Mason, My Favourite Books of 2014
‘I’d like to nominate Beth Spencer’s Vagabondage as my best read for 2014… I love this book for its thought-provoking portrayal of a mid life crisis writ large. It’s beautiful, it’s funny, it’s sad, and it speaks to all of us who aim to age disgracefully.‘
— Suzanne Donisthorpe, Books & Arts Daily, ABC-RN
‘Beth Spencer has a great eye and ear for detail, for small things with larger implications. This is a work that is very specific and personal and yet opens out in universal, fabulously recognisable and immediate ways. A book to read and re-read, and re-inhabit.‘
— Philippa Hawker, Arts and Film writer for The Age
‘[A] memoir told in glimpses and moments…It seems a miracle, a revelation, that out of moments of disparate experience, emerges a whole tale.’
– C S Hughes, Nerdalicious
‘A wonderful read.’ — Emeritus Professor Elizabeth Webby
‘The journey and the book gives Spencer the space (and time) to consider important issues… Vagabondage may seem serious (yes) and sad (in parts), but there is a humour that underlies the journey that turns its reading into an adventure… The photographs, too, tell a tale and are a great addition to the text…. This book doesn’t belabour its wisdom, but instead opens us up through humour to all aspects of humans’ being.’
– Angela Gardner, Cordite Poetry Review
‘Nine gold stars and an elephant stamp. My only criticism is that it’s five hundred pages too short, but I will remedy that by re-reading and gleaning.’
— Frank Veldze (Scupltor)
‘There are authors for whom writing functions as a form of truth-telling… We look to them for insight and intelligence and good humour, and a willingness to share – and Beth Spencer is one of them… Vagabondage is a short work that leaves you feeling you’ve read a much longer one. There are many reasons for this, not least her close-focused but at the same time expansive and warm angle on the universe… Plenty of story, and incident, as well as interiority and introspection… It’s a marvellous blend.’
— Angelo Loukakis, Author and Executive Director of the Australian Society of Authors
‘A terrific book.’ — Ron Pretty, OAM
This lovely collection of poems is at times hilarious and poignant… The book is rather like a good concept album – the poems stand alone well enough – but reading them as a collection (in order, as laid out in the book) adds a level of depth and connection that makes you feel as if you have travelled awhile with this person, and know them as a friend.
— Library and Computing News
‘Beth Spencer’s second poetry collection, Vagabondage, is … a kind of “road movie” – or “road journal”, to be more accurate. …Many of its poems play with the crucial difference between solitude and loneliness and Spencer is not afraid to expose her vulnerability in this regard… The book has plenty of humour,… deal[s] movingly with some important human issues… [and] generate[s] considerable forward momentum. “Warm, witty and profound,” as Claudia Taranto has noted on the front cover.’
– Geoff Page, The Age & The Sydney Morning Herald
‘Poetry… reminds us of the complexity of the body and of the self, and operates according to an uncanny paradox. It blurs the boundary between self and other, carrying us into experiences we have never had before yet which are oddly familiar. At the same time, it amplifies and clarifies the texture of the particular social conditions which define and separate us…
It’s as if Spencer has opened the door of her little van and ushered us in; we knock knees, smell each other’s emotions, and laugh in embarrassment and recognition… [But while] searingly honest and sometimes darkly funny… it is the interplay between the particular and the general that is most invigorating about Vagabondage…And it is in the nature of travel that the self is brought into question. We observe the landscape through windows that always reflect back our own image…
[The] language is laconic and self-deprecating, with a sense of storytelling that is fluid and engaging, yet rich with telling digressions and sudden pauses, with an Australian silence beneath them…
The poems affirm the wilderness within… [but]underlying them all is a sense that freedom itself is an illusion, or a horizon that recedes as we approach it.’
—Andy Jackson, ‘Intimacy and Otherness; Home and the Road.’ Australian Poetry Journal vol 5.1 pp145-7: July 2015
Vagabondage is much more than a travellers tale…Each poem builds up to a memoir of deep self-reflection on what it means to be alive on this earth. The book is a joy to read, mingling lighthearted observation with deep, warm and above all intimate introspection that the reader is invited to join, so that the journey becomes a shared one between the poet and the reader.
— Magdalena Ball, Compulsive Reader
‘This is why we read poetry. We share feelings and we align briefly to see through each other’s eyes.
…[T]his is a collection discussing the issues of moving beyond the accumulations that we continue to hold on to merely because we have the space… How do we define ourselves when we have so few of the commodities and possessions that would make such definition easy? What are we when we are simply being?
Good poetry is intimate and profound. By the end of it, you know a lot about the author. You have shared experiences and you have thought about yourself in new light. Beth’s collection does all of this and is a great pleasure to read.’
— Nick Falkner, This is Not Art This is Typing
‘My latest favourite read. Thank you Beth Spencer – author – Vagabondage for delighting me, making me sad, making me think, and making me laugh, with this graceful, multi-layered verse memoir – succinct, rich, beautiful. I’ll be dipping in and out for years to come.’
— Dianne Touchell (author of Creepy & Maud, and A Touch of Madness)
‘Yesterday I sat under some tea trees at Kennett River reading Vagabondage and weeping. I love this book so much. Last year i turned fifty and bought myself a small van. My step-dad (a natural-born engineering genius) turned it into a campervan for me. So now i spend as much time as possible tootling around the country with my later-life companion, body-surfing any waves i can find, reading the books that pile up in my life, breathing the air. My mother (a natural-born psychological genius) bought me your book, thinking I might like it. I am so glad she did.’
— Sian Prior (broadcaster, columnist and author of Shy: a memoir)
‘A joy to read… light as a breeze, and as dark as a buried bone, and it tells you the whole sad story — without boring you for a minute. Quite a feat that. Quite a coup.‘ — Jennifer Compton, Stillcraic
‘Have just laughed and cried my way through a day with Vagabondage. Loved its audacity, courage and wisdom.‘ — Gail Hennessy, poet.
‘Aiming to explore not only the idea of home but The Big Questions: love, family, the whole catastrophe… this slim volume displays Spencer’s talent for catching moments in time and transforming them. A passing feeling, a wash of joy or pain…poems [that] reveal the secret at the heart of us: despite money, marriages, houses, the accumulation of “stuff,” all of us pass out of this life unadorned…Verdict: Dreamy.’ – Susan Johnson, The Sunday Territorian
Available in good bookshops or if you don’t have one nearby…
*Or from UWAP.
Don’t have an e-reader?
…No problem: you can get free software from Amazon to read Kindle books on any device (ipad, notebook, computer etc) — , or read the Kobo ePub version on free software from Adobe Digital Editions.