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Seabirds Crying in the Harbour Dark by Catherine Cole

Cover of Seabirds crying in the harbour dark

Seabirds Crying in the Harbour Dark by Catherine Cole (UWA Publishing) 

Judges' Comments 

In this elegant, delicately crafted collection of short stories, Catherine Cole brings a poetic sensibility to the examination of apparently unremarkable moments in ordinary lives. Bert, a widowed retiree, visits asylum seekers in detention. Debra goes to the local shopping mall on pension day to spend time with the animals in the pet shop. Elizabeth, an island-dwelling poet, is visited by her brother Dan, who does not always take the medication he needs for a mental illness.

Through the book, characters appear and reappear, lives and themes intersecting in sometimes unexpected ways. Dan has an encounter with a Somali asylum seeker while fruit picking in the Riverina. Bert and Debra run into each other at the shopping mall. Elizabeth’s friends argue about border protection over a long Sunday lunch. Through it all, the sea is a relentless presence, its impersonal rhythms marking the passage of the characters’ lives. This intelligent, understated collection offers a powerful reflection on the transience of life and the fragility of home.