it's cilla

It's official – the NZ Poet Laureate for 2009-2011 is Southland's own Cilla McQueen, from Bluff. We in the north remember the warmth with which Cilla welcomed a gang of 22 poets to her home ground for the BLUFF 06 symposium. We remember the fabulous hospitality of Te Rau Aroha Marae where we stayed and where Cilla launched her CD, A Wind Harp, with that inimitable smoky voice and backing from the Blue Neutrinos. Then there was the trip to Rakiura (Stewart Island) for the second leg of the symposium, a big reading in the community hall at Oban. Cilla, we will never forget the south, and from all points north we salute you and extend our love and good wishes as you begin your laureateship. Arohanui!

Rob Allan, Tusiata Avia, Jeanne Bernhardt, Hilary Chung, Kay McKenzie Cooke, John Dolan, Jacob Edmond, Martin Edmond, Murray Edmond, David Eggleton, Cliff Fell, Brian Flaherty, Paula Green, Michael Harlow, Bernadette Hall, Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, David Howard, Alison Hunt, Michele Leggott, Bronwyn Lloyd, Therese Lloyd, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Emma Neale, Richard Reeve, Jack Ross, Helen Sword and Lisa Williams.

Here is Cilla's poem from OBAN 06, the online anthology that was compiled and launched during the symposium:


Diesel sounds aromatic
magenta, oxblood,
mineral smooth
any how as boronia

swivel that levers
a shoepolish lid,
key curls oily metal.
Poetry takes you apart,

puts you back different
as this day's passage
on shapeshifting water,
one to another island

swift as the stroke
of a pen the toothed strait
on the whale's path
chewed through, islets

scattered between,
text in motion
gimballed on muscling
swells, word-ware, cargo.

Bluff, April 2006

Images from top:
1. Cilla McQueen and Richard Reeve check the marine forecast en route for Rakiura on the Foveaux Express, 23 April 2005
2. Early morning at Te Rau Aroha Marae, the wharenui carved by Cliff Whiting
3. View from the harbour at Oban

Photo credits: Brian Flaherty and Alison Hunt


Kay Cooke said...

Thanks for mentioning my name wishing Cilla well, Michele. And thanks for your work as laureate. Passion, sincerity and strength come through to me as the hallmarks of your time.
I remember you at Bluff too and those attributes mentioned above (I'd include beauty as well) shone through during your time in Bluff and Rakiura. (It seems so long ago now!)

Meliors Simms said...

I remember vividly Cilla's support and encouragement for me as a very young poet in Dunedin some 20 years ago. Those kind words from an experienced poet I admired so very much have helped me through some dry patches since. I think Cilla will be a wonderful Poet Laureate, I look forward to her tenure.

Anonymous said...

when youse going to update?

Courtney Johnston said...

Sorry for the outage here on the blog while Cilla has been settling into her new role. Come back in October to see what we've been working on!