Paula Keogh is a Melbourne writer and author of The Green Bell, her debut work of non-fiction. Set in Canberra in 1972-73, this memoir recaptures the time Paula shared with the poet Michael Dransfield following their meeting in a psychiatric ward. It is a love story complicated by illness and shot through with poetry.
'Michael Dransfield was the most gifted poet of his generation... With remarkable freshness and insight he comes to life on the page: his gangly presence and elfin humour, the grandeur of his claims and the humility of his openness to experience. As a heroin addict who ‘wears his soul as a skin’ he gracefully copes with ‘the burden of who he is to himself’, writing his own magnificent reality in a constant outpouring of poems. And she is vividly there with him because this is more than just a portrait of the poet, it is also Paula Keogh’s heart-searching quest to understand the schizophrenia afflicting her. She has written a brave and beautiful book.' Rodney Hall, two-time winner of the Miles Franklin
In 1972 in Canberra, Michael Dransfield is being treated for a drug addiction. Paula Keogh has suffered a breakdown. They meet in the psychiatric ward of the Canberra Hospital and instantly fall in love.
Paula recovers a self she thought she had lost while Michael is caught up in a rush of creative energy and writes the poems that become The Second Month of Spring. Together, they commit to ‘living life as a poem’ and plan for ‘a wedding, marriage, kids – the whole trip’.
Once outside the hospital, madness and grief challenge their luminous dream. For them, the question becomes, can their love survive?
The Green Bell is a lyrical and profoundly moving story about love and madness. It explores the ways extreme experience can change us: expose our terrors and open us to ecstasy for the sake of a truer life, a reconciliation with who we are.
Ultimately, this memoir reveals itself to be a hymn to life. A requiem for lost friends. A coming of age story that takes a lifetime.
Cover design by Karen Wallis
'A courageous account of madness. Paula Keogh has brilliantly captured its creative exhilaration, illumination, grief and loss. She takes us on a deeply human search for integrity and meaning.’ Kate Richards, author of Madness: A Memoir
'Michael Dransfield comes to life on the page: his gangly presence and elfin humour, the grandeur of his claims and the humility of his openness to experience... A brave and beautiful book.’ Rodney Hall