Wednesday January 27th Venie finished writing her life long poem. An adventure filled with 93 years of words, feisty activism and wry humour. She moves on leaving vivid memories in her brothers Norman and Gordon, her children Jenny (partner Chin) and David (partner Su), grandchildren Oliver, Kimon and Jody as well as many others she touched over many years of wordsmithing and friendship.
She will be celebrated at Poets Corner, Melliodora 16 Fourteenth St Hepburn on Tuesday 9th Feb at 10.30am. The burial will follow at Franklinford cemetery.
Venie Holmgren(nee Rich) was the second youngest of 11 children, born to immigrant jewish parents in York, Western Australia. In 1946, Venie Rich married Jack Holmgren a (non-jewish) comrade in peace activism against nuclear weapons and, later Australia’s involvement in Vietnam (documented in her Vietnam memoir – in press 2016). They had three children Jenny, David and Gerald and were active in community affairs from their home in Fremantle suburb of Bicton. Venie and Jack also were business partners in Rellim Booksellers (Perth), one of the best technical bookshops in the country in the 1970s.
After Jack’s death in 1975 Venie spent her gypsy years travelling in a campervan (documented in her travel memoir A Sense of Direction. The bush property, at Wyndham on the Far South Coast of NSW, where she settled was designed and established with her son David, the co-originator of the permaculture concept. Venie’s Wyndham property is documented in the case study Permaculture In The Bush.
In her late 50’s Venie began to write poetry and her first published anthology, The Sun Collection 1989, became a poetry “best seller”. At the same time, she applied her activist skills and commitment to the campaign to save native forests of the region, being arrested twice for obstructing log trucks. After 16 years of solo self reliant living she moved to the local town of Pambula where she penned her travel memoir, several more books of poetry and travelled widely as a performance poet.
After the unexpected death of Gerard (Gerald) in 2010 she left her community of choice to join her son David, daughter-in-law Su Dennett and grandson Oliver at Melliodora, their home and permaculture demonstration site in Hepburn, central Victoria. While waiting for the completion of the second handmade-house built for her by David, she wrote The Tea-house Poems, that has received wide acclaim. See Kevin Child’s article In Praise of Venie Holmgren: at 92 still an activist, adventurer and poet, published in the Guardian March 2015. During the last couple of years of life, her house mate Rick helped her with the publication of The Tea house Poems and, along with other local friends, satisfied Venie’s love of Scrabble. Venie’s last move of her long life, was up the road to Hepburn House where she made an impression on the staff with her sharp mind and tenacity.