Ingleburn poet told tales of life and love

INGLEBURN has lost one of its best known elders, Paula Gruden, who died on January 26 aged 92.

Although known to many locals, it was not common knowledge that in literary circles she was highly recognised and praised for her work as a poet, translator and ditor.

Carol Gruden, principal of Woodland Road Public School at St Helens Park, said her mother-in-law wrote in both English and her native language, Slovene, and had published two books, while her poems are included in Australian and Slavonic publications.

‘‘Threaded throughout her work are the themes of life, love and struggles of living in Campbelltown, Australia over six decades,’’ Mrs Gruden told the Advertiser.

‘‘Her extensive body of work is written with unique imagery and mastery of words.

‘‘One of her accomplishments included mastering the haiku poetic form in the Slovene language, one of only three people to achieve this in a different language.’’

Paula was born on Valentine’s Day in 1921 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. During World War II she was transported to Germany for forced labour and then later worked in Trieste as a translator for the Allied military administration.

In 1948 she immigrated to Australia and was involved with the Snowy Mountain Scheme. In 1953 with her husband John and young son, Danny, Paula made Ingleburn her home when the area was nothing but bush with a few scattered farms.

‘‘Paula loved Australia and commented that it allowed her to heal her heart of pain after the war,’’ Mrs Gruden said.

‘‘Her writings, with Australian backdrops and themes, were widely published in Slovenia making her an unofficial ambassador for this country and region.

‘‘In 1980 she was selected to meet Queen Elizabeth during her royal visit in recognition of her literacy achievements. From 1981 to 1982 Paula was on the judging panel for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.’’

Her life will be remembered at a memorial service to be held at Forest Lawn Crematorium Leppington today, February 5, at 12.30pm.

Paula Gruden and her family at Oxford Rd, Ingleburn, in 1958

Paula Gruden and her family at Oxford Rd, Ingleburn, in 1958

Paula Gruden aged 20

Paula Gruden aged 20

Paula Gruden aged 92

Paula Gruden aged 92