Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 23, 2018

Vale Judith Rodriguez (1936-2018)

It is with sadness that I pass on the news that Melbourne poet and human rights defender Judith Rodriguez OA has died.  I met Judith at a PEN Melbourne event some years ago and she was so inspirational that I have made it my business to respond to every appeal for urgent action ever since.

Judith was a notable Australian poet and she published many volumes of poetry over a long career.  This is from the her entry at Wikipedia:

  • Four Poets (as Judith Green), with others. (Melbourne, Cheshire, 1962)
  • Nu-Plastik Fanfare Red. ( St. Lucia, University of Queensland Press, 1973)
  • Broadsheet Number 23. (Canberra, Open Door Press, 1976)
  • Water Life. (University of Queensland Press, 1976)
  • Shadow on Glass. (Canberra: Open Door Press, 1978)
  • Three Poems. (Melbourne, Old Metropolitan Meat Market, 1979)
  • Angels. Melbourne, (Old Metropolitan Meat Market, 1979)
  • Arapede. (Melbourne, Old Metropolitan Meat Market, 1979)
  • Mudcrab at Gambaro’s. (UQP, 1980)
  • Witch Heart. (Melbourne: Sisters, 1982)
  • Floridian Poems. (Winter Park, Florida, Rollins College, 1986)
  • New and selected poems: The house by water. (1988)
  • The Cold. Canberra, National Library of Australia (Pamphlets Poets), 1992
  • The Hanging of Minnie Thwaites. (Melbourne, Arcade Publications, 2012)

This obituary is reproduced from the tribute by PEN International Vice President Lucina Kathman on the PEN International website:

A Farewell to Judith Rodríguez
Judith Rodríguez died today, November 22, 2018. A beloved friend to many of us, Judith was a distinguished Australian poet and human rights advocate. She served the PEN community for many years in many roles, both locally and internationally.
Born Judith Catherine Green in Perth, Western Australia, on 13 February 1936, she grew up in Brisbane and attended Queensland University. From there she went to Cambridge for an MA, where she met her first husband, Fabio Rodríguez. They were married in 1965.
Professionally, she combined poetry, university teaching, publishing, and printmaking. She sometimes illustrated her poetry with woodcuts and had exhibitions of her prints in Australia and Paris. In 1979-82 she was the poetry editor of the literary journal Meanjin while teaching at La Trobe University (1969-85). From 1988 until 1997 Rodriguez was poetry editor with Penguin Australia but was back in academe at Deakin University from 1998 until 2003. Along the way nine collections of her poetry were published, and a play and an opera were performed. Her work has been rewarded with numerous prizes and fellowships.
Judith joined PEN Melbourne in 1984 and was a leading member of the center’s committee for three decades. She was President of PEN Melbourne during 1990-91, edited The Melbourne PEN newsletter from 1991 to 1995, and was Vice-President of PEN Melbourne for over 15 years.
In 1986 while she was Resident Fellow at Rollins College in Florida, Judith attended her first PEN International Congress in New York. From the 1995 PEN International Congress in Australia, Judith was PEN Melbourne’s Congress delegate and reported on the following:1995 Fremantle; 1996 Guadalajara, Mexico; 1997 Edinburgh; 1999 Warsaw; 2001 London; 2002 Macedonia; 2003 Mexico City; 2004 Tromsø; 2005 Bled; 2006 Berlin; 2007 Dakar; 2008 Bogotá; 2009 Linz; 2010 Tokyo; 2011 Belgrade; 2012 Gyeongju, South Korea; 2013 Reykjavik; 2014 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; 2015 Québec City; 2016 Ourense, Galicia; and 2017 Lviv, Ukraine.
Judith Rodriguez was elected a Member-at-Large of the PEN International Board 2001-2004, 2004-2006; a member of the Search Committee from 2006, and its Chair 2008-2009, re-elected and Chair 2009-2012. In 2017 she was elected an International Vice-President of PEN.
Judith was much loved in Australian and international writing communities as a writer, mentor, teacher, and supporter of emerging writers. She taught at universities on four continents and read her poetry in Europe, North America and India.
In 1994 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia, for services to literature, and she is also a recipient of the FAW Christopher Brennan Award. Her poetry collection Mudcrab at Gambaro’s (1980) received the PEN International prize for poetry. Who’s Who in Contemporary Women’s Writing, comments: ‘Her poetry constructs strong female voices which insist on justice, clearly perceiving the intricacies of the personal and the relational. They are not confessional, but draw deeply on experience.’
Judith was a fierce campaigner for social justice, a lover of the written word, an inspiring poet, and a true internationalist who has lived a life of commitment and service both within and beyond many borders. This great woman will be very much missed.
She is survived by her four children: Sibila, Ensor, Rebeca, and Zoë Rodríguez and her second husband, Tom Shapcott, whom she married in 1982.


  1. Indeed very sad news. She ran a get together once a month at the Moat, reading & giving feedback on poetry & there was always interesting & lively debate.
    I believe there’s a collection forthcoming, when we last met (October) it wasn’t far away from publication.
    She’ll be sorely missed.


  2. A shock and very sad Lisa – as you know she was going to launch Poetica Christi’s latest anthology, Interludes on December 1. A talented poet who was a lovely person, generous with her time and supportive of others. She will indeed be missed.


  3. […] was to have been launched by much loved Melbourne poet Judith Rodriguez who passed away last week (see her obituary here) so her place was taken by Philton, another notable Melbourne poet whose work has been published in […]


  4. […] late great Judith Rodriguez has a poem called ‘Leave it in the Earth’ in this section […]


Please share your thoughts and join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: