Shadow Stands Up

(The National Library warmly welcomes Ian Wedde to the position of New Zealand Poet Laureate. We think he’s going to do rather well.)

Mix and Mash has returned for its second year, offering big prizes and instant fame for the best remixes and mashups made with New Zealand content. Ian has kindly made his poem below, “Shadow Stands Up”, available for use in (or out of) the competition.

Shadow Stands Up

Shadow stands up under the
trees in Victoria Park
whose own filigree shadows lie
across matted russet leaves
on the sodden green turf that
the morning’s tai chi moves
barely mar – I see this from
the Link bus window as we
cross the intersection at
the bottom of the hill where
Kathmandu’s winter sale fails
to persuade me there’s much to
gain from any promise of
warmth other than what I get
when, while rain rattles against
the bedroom window at dawn,
I press my ear to the smooth
skin between Donna’s shoulder-
blades and hear, in the hollow
chamber where she’s making dream
words, a voice that’s not the
same as hers say eerily,
‘Shadow stands up.’ It’s morning.

“Shadow Stands Up” is licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 New Zealand (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0).

This is a first hesitant draft of what may be the first poem in a sequence of poems I now plan to be writing over the Laureate term. For me it’s been a great coincidence, to get the news about the Laureateship at pretty much the same time I’d begun to think about this sequence, which at this early stage is called "Shadow Stands Up" – which could easily change.

At the moment I think its themes are to do with memory, first of all – how memory stitches time into patterns and narratives that can’t exist in rational ways – and also to do with ghosts. Enough said. I am breaking one of my own rules here, by showing a version of something I’ve only just begun to write. With luck and some persistence, what seems to be getting under way here will grow and change into something else that I can’t anticipate at this early stage.

- Ian

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