Ask No Questions – a memoir by Eva Collins

Eva and her family left Poland during the Cold War. Her verse memoir describing this period is published by Puncher & Wattmann. She graduated with two BA degrees, (Philosophy and Fine Art Photography) an MA in Contemporary Art, a Diploma in Professional Writing and a Graduate Certificate in Secondary Teaching.

As a writer and photographer, she captures evocative images with camera and pen, paying tribute to precious, fleeting moments and unsung heroes. She has published poetry and articles and exhibited photography and short films.


Ask No Questions is a refrain that Eva Collins heard her parents say whenever she questioned their decisions whilst living in Communist Poland.

Heartbroken to leave her homeland, 12-year-old Eva recounts her family’s departure, their boat trip, impressions of other countries and the culture shock she experienced in coming to Australia in the 1950s.

Eva uses simple language to convey powerful images. Its restrained form matches the caution and alertness her parents felt whilst living under the surveillance regime and widespread anti-Semitism.

At the book launch.

Eva’s father’s decision to go to the other side of the world was ‘to be as far away from Moscow as possible’, sadly topical today with the war in Ukraine.

Aside from the actual story, the theme has universal implications. It applies to all migrants and refugees from anywhere. Eva says she has used pathos and also humour to carry the message across.

At the book launch. Eva with MC, Rosie Lew AM

Ask No Questions fits with the Intercultural Capabilities of the Victorian Curriculum prescription for the Year 10 students.


What was the hardest part about writing Ask No Questions and how did you overcome it?

The hardest thing about writing my book was to know what to include or what to exclude.

On one hand I wanted to include enough detail so that a full picture of the story would be there to immerse the reader. On the other hand, I didn’t want to make it too long or overstated.

I hope I overcame it by putting in enough detail to make the reader ‘hungry for more’. As a result the story is a little understated, but the language is accessible to everyone and the images powerful enough to carry the meaning.

What is the hardest thing about being an author?

As an author my aim was to write in a spare, simple informal language as otherwise it would come across as lofty and pompous.

It was easy to overcome, as I prefer direct, every-day language. It’s the images which are most important rather than formal words.

Eva’s book can be purchased via her publisher here.