Unleash the power of poetry

‘…I want to write a poem

                        like an impetuous kiss;
                        a poem like a sloth,
                        reaching for the last jungle branch
                        before the plantation begins…’

These lines from I want to write a poem, are from one of the two new poems by David, posted here for Poetry Day 2020. 'Clocks, Calendars, Nights, Days' is a recently revised version of the poem of the same name which appeared in David’s 2015 poetry collection The Conch Trumpet.

Thanks David, and more power to poets and poetry out there on poetry day. And every day.

 – Peter Ireland, National Library


Team Spirit

Cook Strait narrows and widens what we see.
Some possum tail curls into a quivery koru.
Moa bones assembled dissemble their origins.
The combed-over snow flurries off bare slopes.
Flickers of eyelids open on eyes bright
as new nailheads in rusty sheet iron.
We raise our phones till they vibrate in unison,
we save our bungy jumps for a mega-upload.
He's done decent time; he was once dog tucker,
and he's exited still breathing, but she was beaut
in an oil skin parka, out in the storm;
so then and there we all came through, more or
less as ordered, good as the apteryx.
The rains ravish ravines till wet slopes slip,
the back row rips it from the ruck in a rush.
Boots sink in mosses soft as rabbit fur.
At Skyscraper Park, they release the owls
to rouse bats that roost in the wrong places.
A good clean ball has been fed to the scrum,
they responded with oodles of niggle.
Lugged from Luggate to the Land of Mordor,
plucked from the maul, he legs it over to score.
That bloody go-getter's upping the ante,
squinnies into the wind, then steps backwards,
runs forward to pot the pill between posts.
Ball's lobbed to line-out, like an apple
with a grub inside thrown at the mongrel
worrying a sheep carcass to say, get lost.
A maggoty young barfly springs skywards
with the apocalyptic strength of ten.
Greasy ball moved fast as a passing glance,
a butterfly slides sideways in the breeze.
There's ample time to get a kick away.
The insider's insider receives ball, takes a punt,
follows like a hunting dog that's bailed a wild boar.
He's taken down, the ball's a headless chook
under the arm of a legless thinker.
A shoulder charge in a crowded beer barn
knocks wool from heads, brushes tea-tree from hair.
He's shaky as a lean-to in a southerly,
offers fifteen ways of saying, really?
Now ant turns antic and slug turns sluggard;
a try's been converted in extra time,
under doleful eyes of the losing side.

— David Eggleton

Clocks, Calendars, Nights, Days

Bitterness of bees dying out,
honeyless clouds, forest drought,
lights red, yellow, charcoal’s grain,
eyes smarting from a world on fire,
air thick with grit; cleave to it.
By clocks, calendars, nights, days.

Bog cotton frenzy of winter
dances erasure over hills,
leaf-litter's corrected by snow;
fog's quick to swallow the sea,
then start in on the shore.
By clocks, calendars, nights, days.

Skerricks of twigs skim high,
flung far from grips of fists;
remember to dip your bucket
deep into the morning sun,
but don’t drown in apathy.
By clocks, calendars, nights, days.

So, down in the earth’s mouth,
a slow song about the rain,
as you heave from the dark
to hear a thunderous beat
drumming on the old tin roof.
By clocks, calendars, nights, days.

By fast, by slow, by high, by deep;
by song, by dance, by laugh, by sleep;
by climb, by fall, by jump, by walk;
by chance, by breath, by cry, by talk;
by clocks, calendars, nights, days.
By clocks, calendars, nights, days.

— David Eggleton

I Want to Write a Poem

I want to write a poem
                        the colour of paracetamol,
                        the colour of Pinot Noir.
I want to write a poem
                        like an impetuous kiss;
                        a poem like a sloth,
                        reaching for the last jungle branch
                        before the plantation begins.
I want to write a poem
                        like a tight-rope walker
                        between the Twin Towers,
                        lit up by the rays of another sun
                        and a heavenly host of planets,
                        announcing God is great.
I want to write a poem
                        like a box kite,
                        a poem like a blue sky day,
                        a poem like a nor'wester in summer.
I want to write a poem
                        like a rusted car wreck,
                        like a collapsed bridge,
                        like a random punch,
                        like a sly foot-tap,
                        like a Māori haka,
                        like a fresh death mask,
                        like peel-off future proofing,
                        like the smile of a stolen girlfriend,
                        like the scent of Adieu Sagesse,
                        like gravestones, like time-bombs,
                        fractal geometry, orchestra tom-toms.
I want to write a poem
                        like the twilight zone,
                        like righteous incarceration,
                        like the steady pit-pat of the rain.

— David Eggleton

The Situation: Brian Potiki

The Situation 2020

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2020’ is a kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.

— David Eggleton


two breasts of wine, both red

 

give boys words,
not guns -
and girls words, not dolls -
to play with

most important,
fill the luxury hotels;
with poets and
give each a key to
the hotel wine cellar

 

 

an exile thinks of Bluff

 

at the north end of town
the footpaths have
twisted out of shape;
Bluff, if you like,
in its singlet

hillsides bare -
the gorse blooms pale there-
and the streets
(oh my dear!)
hang from the sides
like trousers
on the line

the old cemetery
faces Rakiura straight-on,
it’s only a glance away
but a long way in
memory

i’d be there now, really
if i could - 
but i’m stuck here
in the North Island
for good

—Brian Potiki

Brian Potiki biography

Brian Potiki and his partner Jill Walker. Image Bill Dacker.

Brian is a hardcore koro, with mokopuna spread between Hamilton and Blenheim. He fishes on Lake Rotoehu from a kayak. A musician, storyteller and playwright as well as a poet, his books include Aotearoa: Collected Poems and Songs, and Te Wai Pounamu, Your Music Remembers Me: four South Island history plays & their songs.

.

The Situation: Serie Barford

The Situation 2020

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2020’ is a kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.

— David Eggleton


If you were a tiputa

 

if you were a tiputa
I’d steal you from the museum

treat and preserve you

lift soil from your shoulders
with low pressure suction

divert the landslide
that swept you away

swab you with blotting paper
parcelled in acid free tissues

bathe you like a delicate artefact

lay you in humidification chambers
rehydrate your brittle parts

tenderly lacquer your frayed edges
patch gaping wounds with kozo

drape you over my shoulders
slumber within your bark cloth folds

press you against my heart

—Serie Barford

 

tiputa poncho-like garment made from barkcloth


The midwife and the cello


I was perched amongst pīngao
contemplating a paragliding instruction

Don’t look at what you want to miss

when a woman sat beside me

pointed at the lagoon’s mouth
breaking into hazardous surf

crooned   I’m a midwife
sing and play cello

I observed her eloquent hands
sand burying sprawling feet
lines networking a benevolent smile
dreads tied with frayed strips of cotton

remembered you returning home
buoyant with the miracle of birth

the baby with omniscient eyes
you eased into this world

how she lay within your arms

didn’t cry

—Serie Barford

Serie Barford biography

Smiling woman in front of a window with storks engraved on it.
Serie Barford. Image selfie by Serie Barford.

Serie was born in Aotearoa to a German-Samoan mother and a Palagi father. She was the recipient of a 2018 Pasifika residency at the Michael King Writers Centre. In 2019 Serie attended the launch of the Ukrainian version of her Tapa Talkpoetry collection in Kiev. Anahera Press plans to publish her latest poetry manuscript, Sleeping With Stones. Serie is currently writing poems and stories about the Casualisation of Toto/Blood in the Western Medical System.

The Situation: Fiona Farrell

The Situation 2020

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2020’ is a kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.

— David Eggleton


Excerpt from: Myth and Legend

The leader

We met them at a corner
on the road. Black tarmac
buckled over rise and dip,
the tap tap of a donkey’s
hooves.The man walked
as in the illustrations, the
woman rode upon the
donkey’s bones, hand
cupping her belly as if
it were a fig, ripe to
bursting. As in the
illustrations. Torn shirt,
faded blue and threadbare,
her skin cracking under
the sun.

They appeared beyond the
mirage, floating towards
us on water, weightless and
unafraid. And then she gave
a mighty groan, slid from
the donkey’s back and
squatted under a barren tree.

And it was as in the illustrations,
the sleek black circle of the
skull between folds of crimson
flesh, then his ferocious face,
his  shoulders slithering into
dry leaf and his fists already
raised. She howled, called us
to come and see. And it was as
in the illustrations, but without
camel, sheep or the flutter of
white wings.

We recognized him.

Here was our bold leader!

Our salvation!

But it was late and the sun
was sliding, the moon its
pale shadow. So we left
them there, trudged on.

We did not have time to
wait, hoping he might grow.

—Fiona Farrell


Fiona Farrell biography

Black background, blonde woman wearing black coat with hear brooch
Fiona Farrell. Image Caroline Davies.

Fiona Farrell’s first novel The Skinny Louie Book won the New Zealand Book Award in 1993. Since then three of her five novels have been shortlisted for the award, while four have been longlisted for the International Dublin IMPAC Award. Her poetry and non-fiction have also received recognition and her plays continue to be among the most frequently performed in Playmarket NZ’s catalogue. Her poetry and fiction appear in many anthologies. She has been a guest at festivals throughout New Zealand and overseas. In 2007 she received the Prime Minister’s Award for Fiction and in 2102, the ONZM for Services to Literature.

The Situation: Albert Wendt

The Situation 2020

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2020’ is a kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.

— David Eggleton

And so it is

we want so many things and much

What is real and not? What is the plan?

Our garden is an endless performance
of light and shadow  quick bird and insect palaver

The decisive wisdom of cut basil informs everything
teaches even the black rocks of the back fence to breathe

Blessed are the flowers  herbs and vegetables
Reina has planted in their healing loveliness

The hibiscus blooms want a language to describe their colour
I say the red of fresh blood or birth

A lone monarch butterfly flits from flower to flower
How temporary it all is how fleeting the attention

The boundary palm with the gigantic Afro is a fecund nest
for the squabble of birds that wake us in the mornings

In two weeks of succulent rain and heat our lawn
is a wild scramble of green that wants no limits

Into the breathless blue sky the pohutukawa
in the corner of our back yard stretches and stretches

Invisible in its foliage a warbler weaves a delicate song
I want to capture and remember like I try to hold

all the people I’ve loved or love
as they disappear into the space before memory

Yesterday I pulled up the compost lid
to a buffet of delicious decay and fat worms feasting

Soil  earth  is our return  our last need and answer
beyond addictive reason  fear and desire

Despite all else the day will fulfil its cycle of light and dark
and I’ll continue to want much and take my chances

 —Albert Wendt

 

Incantation

 Over the Waitakere the sky darkens and darkens

In its belly the faint blink of lightning
Barely audible thunder a few seconds later
Then thick rivulets of rain weave down
the bare branches of the kowhai beside him

Isabella  Te Wera  Tehaaora  Hohepa  Ashley  Tahu  Sina 
Caleb  Moengaroa  Amelia  Orlando  Maika
His mokopuna’s names slip  sparkle and burn in
the heart of his tongue  an incantation
which lifts him above the storm

He turns his palms upwards
but the storm doesn’t care to read them
Storms happen and the kowhai loses its leaves
according to the pacing and intention of the seasons
What is there at the end of leafing?

Some of his mokopuna will grow into prophetic readers
some will stumble early into the irresistible darkness
some will help wash and prepare his body for cremation
Outside his umbrella cover he extends his hands
Icy raindrops tattoo his palms but he can’t read the patterns

The caves along the rugged range of his history
 are stacked with carefully labelled files of loved ones
and the intruders he can’t exile into oblivion:
His father in his khaki work clothes is suddenly beside him 
whispering  ‘the storm has no power and will end shortly’

Fundamentalist faith  eyeless analysis and courage had been
his father’s basis of navigation with an all-knowing God
as central pivot of the Star Map he had made them all live by
until he was in the ultimate court and he couldn’t decipher
in speech his Map’s purpose and the dawn of the second coming

His mother has been a decisive eloquence over the sixty years since
she died of cancer and became his most precious presence
Always he has desired her understanding of the heart’s
whispering darkness and her acceptance of the future
and the unhealable pain of separation

The dark above the Waitakere has melted away
The rain has ceased but his hands are numb with cold
The bare branches of the kowhai are sleekly black with wet
The choice is to be here with his mokopuna and parents
The continuation is that of alofa and forgiveness

Isabella  Te Wera  Tehaaora  Hohepa  Ashley  Tahu  Sina 
Caleb  Moengaroa  Amelia  Orlando  Maika
Luisa  Tuaopepe …. the incantation will continue
to shape  soothe and unread his present

—Albert Wendt


Albert Wendt biography

Smiling Samoan man.
Albert Wendt. Image Raymond Sagapolutele

Maualaivao Albert Wendt is considered internationally as one of Samoa’s, Aotearoa’s, and the Pacific’s most influential novelists and poets. He has published numerous novels, and collections of poetry and short stories. He has won many honours and awards, including New Zealand’s highest honour, the Order of New Zealand.

The Situation: Riemke Ensing

The Situation 2020

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2020’ is a kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.

— David Eggleton


A different country

[Not all wounds are visible]

On the Turiwiri road across the river from Dargaville,
we’re in Dalmatia. Dally Alley, 1955.
The grapes are ready
and the vast wooden vats are halfway filled.
Filomena’s in her element.
In her bare feet she is stamping down her harvest.
Filomena, Anastazija. Such regal names for the young girl
from Vrgorac, here more than half a century later
on her piece of promised ‘golden land’. ‘The new Amerika’.
Her arms are bare. She’s hoisted up her floral dress.
There’s no one there to watch and why should she care.
Seven children and a widow now alone here
on this isolated stretch of river swamp.
In no time at all, her face is puce. The colour of wine.
From the open door of her house
that replicates her husband’s father’s house in Kozica,
Tito looks on from his photograph. A hero here too      [Marshall Josip]
enjoying the spirit of this woman so engrossed in her dance,
tenaciously holding on to what she knew before that ship
took her to this out-cast world’s end.

Far, far off you might hear tamburitza
plucking for a different life.

Riemke Ensing


If only

 

If only death could be like the movies.

 

A large French window. The grand view. A sky forever open and blue.

A barely discernible breeze gently in the fine summer curtains.

A chair, and silently a man’s arm falling in slow motion

A quiet build up of strings we know too, well.

Everything measured and stately

 

as now on this gleaming gondola I imagine you, gliding

down the ‘most beautiful street in the world’.

A mist has wrapped us round and we are veiled in black

as we watch you leave so effortlessly, it seems. The water

stirring its sensual limbs beneath your prow as you become one

with distance and gold and the ambient reflections

eloquent in their multitudinous caress.

Riemke Ensing

Riemke Ensing biography

Black and white photo of a woman standing in front of a barn door.
Riemke Ensing. Image James Ensing-Trussell.

Riemke Ensing has had 12-plus books of poetry published, including Talking Pictures – selected poems, published by HeadworX. Her volume Storm Warning – after McCahon was set to music by Alex van den Broek (who has used several of her poems for his compositions) and premiered at the Christchurch Word Festival 2014.

She has collaborated with several craft printers in the production of her work. These include Beth Serjeant (The Visionary and Black ) Tara McLeod of The Pear Tree Press, John Holmes of The Frayed Frisket Press and Ronald Holloway of the Griffin Press. 'A different country’, by The Pear Tree Press, has been handset and printed for Tara McLeod’s 8 Poems series and is forthcoming as a publication. An earlier version of 'If only’, was hand-set and published by Tara McLeod of The Pear Tree Press in 2017.

In 2012, Riemke Ensing received the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award, a prize given biennially in recognition of a distinguished contribution to New Zealand poetry.

The Situation: James Norcliffe

The Situation 2020

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2020’ is a kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.

— David Eggleton


Wolf Light

 

L’heure entre chien et loup

 

1

 

Wolf light: between your

out-breath and your in-breath;

your in-breath and your-out breath,

the stasis mimicking the real thing.

 

2

 

The time of fading

bees and dying ladybirds.

 

When the drone of distant motorways

drowns chittering and buzz:

the grey time where

all noise becomes white.

 

3

 

The little ones bring us stories.

They want us to read to them,

to embroider the bright illustrations

and make them even brighter.

 

How can we resist?

Lying is in our blood.

 

4

 

Buzz, drone, lies

and wolf light and after

wolf light: darkness.

After darkness: darkness

 

— James Norcliffe

 

The man who turned himself into a gun

 

 

At first he thought bullets;

then he expressed them.

 

He became gun-metal grey,

cold to the touch.

 

He wanted to press himself

into evil’s shoulder, be cradled there.

 

He wanted to be trained in evil’s grip,

evil’s telescopic sight in his sight.

 

Above all he wanted evil’s finger feeling for,

feathering, depressing his progressive trigger.

 

He was sleek, he was balanced:

no longer flesh, no longer sentient,

 

weighted,

then weightless

 

mechanically perfect,

perfectly mechanical.

 

— James Norcliffe


James Norcliffe biography

Man with a beard standing in front of a vine.
James Norcliffe. Image provided. 

James Norcliffe has published several collections of poetry and many novels for young people. His most recent poetry collection is Deadpan, published last year by Otago University Press. With Michelle Elvy and Frankie McMillan he edited Bonsai;(Canterbury University Press,) New Zealand’s first major collection of flash and short fiction, and this year with Michelle Elvy and Paula Morris, Ko Aotearoa Tātou — We Are New Zealand;(Otago University Press), an anthology celebrating diversity in New Zealand / Aotearoa.

The Situation: Diane Brown

The Situation 2020

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2020’ is a kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.

 — David Eggleton


Artefact

Joanna Paul's collection waiting, silent
for years in the revolving bookcase in the hall;
always new, apparently more relevant voices
to be reckoned with, but Paula's Wild Honey
draws like love poems back into the room.
It's early morning, I'm sitting on the couch
in the bay window when a small note
slips out from the pages, a love poem perhaps.

Alas, my writing: Please wait/ I am at UBS
getting some books/ can get lift to/work/me/3.05.
A life I don't have any more, but what job did I
ever have that started after three? No waitress
or barmaid. And who am I telling to wait? No
name, no hearts or kisses? My customary plainness,
a please, but is it a polite or a begging please?
My husband, in true biographer style,

interrogates the note. ‘I'm not so sure it's your writing,
or your life, where would you have left such a note?’
And again, ‘What work? It doesn't make sense,
you're not one to write specific times. Maybe the book
was second hand?’ He turns to the first page,
$15 written in pencil. 7/11j below it. Another mystery.
On a mid-week cloudy, spring day, my past, my story,
slipping out of my hands, like love poems.


— Diane Brown


Finding Yourself on the Other Side

— from Every Now and Then I Have Another Child

Haven't you sometimes discovered yourself teetering
on the edge of a lake or skyscraper with no memory
of how you got there? And yet you know it's not dementia,
it’s more like you've slipped into another life, running
            on a parallel track

one layer behind. In that life, I wander the streets
of my newly alienated city looking for the man who offered
to take the baby from the hotel to a place of safety,
even though he was a stranger to me. Perhaps he could see
            I was not up to mothering.

Across the square, their hands twitching on batons, police
stand by watching the homeless rioting. An old-fashioned
fire engine drives onto the footpath heading towards me.
 ‘Out of the fucking way, lady,’ the fireman yells. I jump sideways.
            ‘Watch out for my baby,’ I say,

patting her back, in the timeless way of a mother, although
I've forgotten the details of her birth. But we all feel that, don't we,
when handed a white-wrapped bundle the midwife says belongs
to you now and forever. A lie. There comes a time they must slip
            from your grasp.

— Diane Brown

Diane Brown biography

Woman looking at camera wearing a colourful top.
Diane Brown. Image Philip Temple

Diane Brown is a novelist, memoirist, and poet who runs her own creative writing school, Creative Writing Dunedin. Her publications include two collections of poetry - Before The Divorce We Go To Disneyland, and Learning to Lie Together; a novel, If The Tongue Fits, and verse novel, Eight Stages of Grace, a travel memoir, Liars and Lovers, a prose/poetic memoir, Here Comes Another Vital Moment and a poetic family memoir, Taking My Mother To The Opera. Her latest book is a long poetic narrative, Every Now and Then I Have Another Child, Otago University Press, 2020.

In 2013 she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to writing and education. She lives in Dunedin with her husband, author Philip Temple.

The Situation: Bernadette Hall

The Situation 2020

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2020’ is a kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.

   

— David Eggleton

from Fancy Dancing  


1. in conversation with the little cherry tree


So, there’s Duke Street and Castle Street and Great King Street

and Cumberland Street where the sign’s been wrenched off

(it’s such bad history ) and Malvern Street and Hunt Street

and Dundas Street where the big boys once threw Iti’s schoolbag

into the river. And there’s North East Valley right

at the edge of the compass where each of the wooden houses

has a carved architrave. There’s all the clamour

of the Santa Santa Parade, and Willowbank with the Compte de Paris

climbing all over the workmen’s cottages which brings us,

quite naturally, to the triplication of the Pacific heart

and the House of the Silver Triniti. And what about the music,

what about the groundlessness of the Lydian mode,

free of burden? To have flowered once is that reason enough,

my dear yedoensis, so heavy I’ve had to tie up your white aerials.


2.he kōrero pukapuka


Soft rain all night and the gravel paths fill up

with water. There are holes in the plumey grass,

that’s where the sheep are.  A child rattles

silver bells in a yellow frame. Waves bunch up

like Christmas. I left four of my rings in the green

tray when I passed through the Guardhouse.

Susan rang security from the library and I collected

them on my way out.  Such is my tiredness.

He’s learning things the hard way, the man

in the ugly prison track-pants. Every day he’s faking it

like the dream of big, easy chairs along a sun-washed

verandah.  But there’s no sunlight here, just a 22 hour

lockdown. ‘I wonder if I’ll see you round the traps,’

he says, ‘that’s if you ever manage to dig yourself out.


3.


A white sun held on a stem in the courtyard,

a rough paddock of barley grass and barbed wire.

The way the house is inhabited, starlings

in the water-trap, bumblebees under the shed.

The gauzy nets they’ve hung up in the old woman’s

room. ‘Did somebody die here once?’ ‘Yes.’

You want to meet the poet? Well, you’ll have

to take the inner city link bus and get off

at Three Lamps. He’ll tell you about the hemisphere,

the complex relationship between two parts

and a whole, where time is collapsed horizontally

and vertically.  As for your lover, sliding a fingernail

along your arm, well, that’s another story,

the way you mirror each other, Spiegel en Spiegel.


— Bernadette Hall

Bernadette Hall biography

Woman with a hat on leaning against a wall looking at a painting.
Artwork:FLIGHT by Robyn Webster. Image by Julie Williams. 

Bernadette Hall lives at Amberley Beach in the Hurunui, North Canterbury. A new collection of her work, ‘Fancy Dancing, new and selected poems 2007–2020’ will be published by Victoria University Press (VUP) in October this year. It includes a series of artworks by the Christchurch artist, Robyn Webster. ‘Flight’ is one of these.

Bernadette has a history of collaboration with the Dunedin artist, Kathryn Madill. For example in ‘The Merino Princess, selected poems 1989- 2001’ published by VUP in 2004. In September, their YA novella, ‘SUL, an Antarctic fable’ is due out from Scythe Press. It features 22 new paintings by Kathryn. The two had shared an Artists in Antarctica Award in December 2004.

In 2015 Bernadette received the Prime Minister’s Award for literary achievement in poetry and for her contribution to New Zealand literature. In 2016 she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

The Situation: Mary Macpherson

The Situation 2020

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2020’ is a kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.


— David Eggleton

Begin

i never know how to begin without / feeling dread in my heart / never know whether to wish

for wellness / or if i want an answer / well / i want one but not that one / never know what to

hope for / for you / hope is a winking word/ do you trust i have your interests at heart? / what

would be your hope? / freedom from people like me? / how could i know? / i wish i could ask

/ an official before talks begin / wish is the well i fall in


— Mary Macpherson


Need

The yellow leaf staring from our tiny lawn.

Our belief it’s a gift from the cat, and that gifts

exist in cat consciousness. Our need to know.

Our imaginary tree, deep in other trees, its leaves

drifting to inky rot. Our x-ray of night through which

a hunter travels, emitting delicate cries. The leaf we know

as Pseudopanax, its tissue drying under a billowing sky.

Our need to name. Our internet telling us it’s how

mothers teach their young to hunt. How a mother brings

bounty and makes it visible. Certain behaviourists

who say it’s a message to get up and play. Or is it care?

About us? Our need opening curtains

to a horse on the lawn.


— Mary Macpherson


Mary Macpherson biography

Mary Mcpherson. Image Peter Black.


Mary Macpherson is a Wellington poet and photographer. Her first poetry collection ‘Social Media’ was published in 2019 by The Cuba Press.