PNG, poetry, and pseudonyms

Silence is not unusual at ‘hydrolith’, but the tumbleweeds have been particularly wild this year. It’s been a busy year, and an introspective one. Travel, study, writing, editing, and personal life have kept me off social media for most of the year.

Over winter I disappeared from Australia and introduced my wife to Papua New Guinea, my first home. Our amazing experience included being adopted by the remote village of Mengino–we were given a traditional wedding ceremony, new names, and the right to build a house in the village. No plans for the latter, but one of my new duties is to spread the word about the wilderness and people of Crater Mountain, in Eastern Highlands Province. The photo above appears in the current edition of Cosmos magazine–Leslie (centre) is going to be thrilled. The caption reads: “Chris and Tara Lynch of Taringa in Queensland had a captive audience when they pulled out Cosmos while visiting the Crater Mountain region of Papua New Guinea–they were even forced to give an impromptu astronomy lesson. Although it’s a remote region, the villagers have their own word for climate change and are up to date with technology, thanks to the recent arrival of their first solar panel and mobile phone–despite having no reception!” More about Mengino anon.

Thinking about what it means to be called ‘Paruwa’ (literally, a montane red orchid) got me thinking about names. I’ve never been particularly attached to my name, for no particular reason. Despite sharing ‘Chris Lynch’ with a successful Australian businessman, a relatively well-known Scottish author, and the 17th century Mayor of Galway, I don’t have any plans to change mine. But my experience of being Ashioto while walking Japan, and now becoming Paruwa, has convinced me that it’s time to retire an old name: hydrolith. A handle I’ve had since my late teens, it’s usefully defined my online footprint for the past decade. The name no longer speaks to me, though, so I’m in the process of revamping and reconceptualising this website for an early 2011 relaunch under a new name. Still haven’t quite decided what that new name will be, but it will better encapsulate where I’m headed with my writing.

I’m interested to know: what have you’ve liked about ‘hydrolith’ over the years? What would you like to see more or less of in future? And how important are names to you, anyway? I’d appreciate any thoughts you have on the matter.


My 365 poems project faltered early on, but in many ways 2010 has been defined by poetry. The last six months of introspection has produced dozens of new poems, and some of them are starting to see the light of day:

  • A couple of my poems about PNG were published earlier in the year in Blackmail Press 27, a Pacific-themed edition of the NZ poetry zine. Follow the link to have a read.
  • My poem ‘Pop-pop’s Backgammon Set’ won the Page Seventeen Open Mic competition for Brisbane, and is appearing in Issue 8 of Page Seventeen, an annual collection of short fiction and poetry. Issue 8 will be launched on Saturday 13th November, from 1pm, at Burrinja Cafe, Melbourne. Print copies will be available on the day for $15 (cash only), or can be pre-ordered online from Page Seventeen.
  • I’m happy to announce that a small collection of my poems will be appearing alongside the poetry of John Koenig in Brisbane New Voices II, a limited edition poetry chapbook edited by Graham Nunn. We’ll be launching at Riverbend Books in Brisbane in February next year. I’ll have more details closer to the event.
  • Finally, the ridiculously productive Graham interviewed me as part of Queensland Writer’s Week last month–the interview includes an early draft of a recent poem, Blood of the Mantis. One of my poems will be showing up in another chapbook launching at Speedpoets on 5th December.


  • 1st November kicked off NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I’m not officially signed on, but will be furiously working on Secret Project 01, a novel, plus continuing to draft a manuscript of poetry and prose about my Japan walk.
  • The Tangled Bank: Love, Wonder, and Evolution has been available in e-book form for months, but the POD and limited editions of the book are about to see the light of day as well. Very excited about this! It’s been a long and difficult process but it’s finally coming together. More on the Tangled Bank Press site in the coming days–in the meantime, mark 24th November in the diary.
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2 Responses to PNG, poetry, and pseudonyms

  1. Bill says:

    Greetings, Chris —


    "Silence is not unusual at ‘hydrolith’, but the tumbleweeds have been particularly wild this year. It’s been a busy year, and an introspective one. Travel, study, writing, editing, and personal life have kept me off social media for most of the year."

    Gee, I could hardly put it better in terms of my own situation. Also, I understand the limitations of / outgrowing of names. Glad to hear you are contemplating this, and trying out / taking on new names, because the process, regardless of when / where / whether you ultimately change the outward identity, can lead to questioning assumptions, tapping hidden potential, and other forms of positive growth.

    In terms of what I've liked about hydrolith? Your postings on your itinerant travels stand out most strongly in my mind.

    Anyway, it's good to hear from you today, and to learn a bit about your recent exploits. Thanks!


  2. andy lynch says:

    "Change is constant." B. Disraeli

    People tend to morph through different phases of life, so a change of pen name would be logical and right too.
    Hydrolith has had several phases and an interesting journey so far. I would be interested in a closer look at the defining moments of the journey; the what, when, why, how of "writing", poems in particular, "science", "languages", "army" going in and out of the army.

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