Sparrow: Poems of a Refugee

Belinda Broughton: Sparrow, Poems of a Refugee

Sparrow: Poems of a Refugee

Under a bright Australian sun the fascinating tale of a European life comes to light. In a sequence of incisive poems Belinda Broughton narrates the voice of Ervin Janek: Hungarian artist and poet; son of a nun and ‘a certain Jewish man’; who makes his ‘own path’ out of abandonment and poverty, through streets where he can hold his own against cheats and bullies, and into the wider world of exotic experience.
Broughton revels in the linguistic portrayal of a character whose deprived childhood, forced Hitler Youth attendance, flirtation with monastic life, horse riding for a Baroness, and incarceration under Soviet control builds towards the pivotal uprising of 1956.
In poems crafted with humour and sensitivity Broughton journeys with the character of Janek across the hippie trail to bring the refugee ‘Sparrow’ home to the provenance of the kookaburra. All through the rollercoaster ride, this riveting story will ensnare you.

 Dr Kate Deller-Evans [Flinders University, Sturt Road, Bedford Park, South Australia, 5042]

Sparrow: Poems of a Refugee by Belinda Broughton is available from:

Me! (if you’re close, contact here)

Ginninderra Press
FishPond (Free shipping in Australia)
Book Depository (Free shipping outside Australia)
Also available as an e-book, from most digital booksellers. But poetry on ebooks is awful. All the carefully positioned white punctuation is destroyed. Physical copies are better.


Sample Poems from Sparrow:

The Cross

Behind the SS soldiers was the cross.
I comforted my mother when they shot René.
She was round with his child.
The baby rolled over in its watery world,
was born and named René.
Her heart held.

Behind the SS soldiers was the cross.
They dressed a Christmas tree for me
because I was the only child in the jail.
In the barracks, my mother put the little cake
on a high shelf next to my bed.
In the morning it was gone.

Behind the SS soldiers was the cross.
I comforted my mother
when they threw baby René in the fire.
I was three years old.
My mother was thin in my embrace.
Her heart, her heart,

I don’t know what happened to her heart.


The Hefner brothers sold me the sparrow.
They had caught it in their street
and were taking it to school in a shoebox.
It cost me my lunch money.
‘What are you going to do with it?’ they asked.
‘Eat it’ I said.

I didn’t go to school that day.
I went down to the railway siding
where there was a bit of unkempt land.
Berry bushes in full white blossom,
daisies, dandelions, wild blue hyacinths,
there were even tulips from when
it had been a garden. It still looked
like a garden to me.

I held the sparrow for a moment,
the weightlessness of its body,
delicacy of feather and bone,
its small heart hammering against my finger.
Then I opened my hand and it was gone.

I had a whole spring day ahead of me.
And sunshine.



Other poems from Sparrow

Two poems from ‘Sparrow’
My Friend Death