absence or – the Witch –

BY Bella Li

THEME LEADER Justin Clemens

SUPPORTED BY University of Melbourne, as part of the NGV Triennial – exploring the emerging intersections of art, design, science and society.

Bella Li is a Melbourne writer and editor. For Triennial Voices, Bella has contributed extracts from her books Argosy (Vagabond Press, 2017) and Lost Lake (Vagabond Press, forthcoming in 2018), which explore the theme of change through the media of poetry and collage.

Bella Li is the author of Maps, Cargo (Vagabond Press, 2013), shortlisted for the 2014 Wesley Michel Wright Prize, and Argosy (Vagabond Press, 2017)—a book of poetry, collage and photography—commended in the 2017 Wesley Michel Wright Prize and shortlisted for the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.


This work was commissioned for and published in Edition 31 of Peril Magazine (August 2017).

The epigraph is from Emily Dickinson, The Envelope Poems, with transcriptions by Marta L. Werner and Jen Bervin (New York: New Directions, 2016).

Part titles and phrases were sourced from the following texts: Cotton Mather, Wonders of the Invisible World (1693); The Witch: A New-England Folktale, directed by Robert Eggers (2016); W. Sinclair, Life of the Honeybee (Loughborough: Wills & Hepworth, 1969).

Images for collages were sourced from the following texts: W. Sinclair, Life of the Honeybee (Loughborough: Wills & Hepworth, 1969), with illustrations by Jill Payne; Woman’s Day (May 1964; October 1964; September 1965; November 1965).