Poet's note on the writing of 'A Death in Winter'
'I did not know Leo Seemanpillai while he was alive, but began to know of him after hearing of his death, which occurred on 1 June, the first day of the Australian winter, in 2014. The story of the immense sufferings he had endured, which led him to end his life so tragically, began to unfold in the media.
'I was deeply affected by Leo's death, as were many others, and wanted to honour his memory. When I mistakenly thought I had missed his funeral, the distress I felt became a spur to writing about him. Visiting Geelong the next day I saw a leaflet about a candlelit vigil – that evening! – in one hour! – Yes! At the vigil I heard many beautiful tributes to Leo. Next day a photograph of myself, holding a candle, appeared in the Geelong Advertiser; the headline above Danny Lannen's report was: 'Geelong Lights Up Night For Leo'.
'A pattern of connection now, a momentum... I attended a great social gathering of members of the refugee community in Geelong, of which Leo had been a part, then a meeting and a rally on the plight of asylum seekers. The challenge of writing about Leo had taken me away from my creative solitude and out into the streets, churches and halls, to meet many new people and hear their painful or life-giving stories. This rich experience helped me in shaping my personal response to Leo's story. On June 18th, when I went to Leo's funeral, I felt calmly present. After it, I completed 'A Death in Winter'.'