Creative Matters

Absent Without Leave: A Travel Memoir of Strange Mourning


  • Susan Bradley Smith La Trobe University



Creative non-fiction


This creative non-fiction essay is from a book in progress, a parenting memoir called ‘Hunting Flowers’. The edge with this memoir is that is written honestly in the (guilty) voice of a female academic who has 'run away' from home for work far too often - and gets into too much trouble, both at home and away. It covers two decades, five children, four continents, a few husbands, and more universities than sensible in any one life. Absent Without Leave in particular uses the confessional voice to tells stories not only against the self, but against the larger dramatis persona, the institutions and people we work with and for. The main thematic concern - is it ethical, this hunt for success, when we absent ourselves form our children? - is swallowed by the constant feminist nag: is this the only way to do it?

Author Biography

Susan Bradley Smith, La Trobe University

Susan Bradley Smith is an award-winning Australian writer and academic who has spent much of her adult life as an expatriate. Her latest books are the shortlisted poetry collection supermodernprayerbook and the memoir Friday Forever. She is currently working on a biography of Winston Churchill’s actress daughter Sarah, Lady Audley. She lives in Melbourne and teaches at La Trobe University, and is the founder director of the creative bibliotherapy practice, The Lemonade Academy





Creative Matters