Your new Poet Laureate

The National Library is thrilled to announce our selection of the New Zealand Poet Laureate for 2013-2015: Vincent O’Sullivan.

Photograph by Mark Beatty.

One of New Zealand’s most significant literary figures, Vincent will be a superb voice of and for the nation’s poetry. The British critic Chris Millar recently wrote of O’Sullivan’s work, "You can’t ask much more of a poet than wit, profundity and elegance, and they’re all here in spades."

While Vincent settles in, we welcome him to the site – here for him to use as he will for the next two years – with a poem from his most recent book, Us, Then.

Road from the Camp

A story here I wish I hadn’t heard –
a row of prisoners stitched with yellow stars
marching a summer road, oddly surprised
to pass a compound lined with circus bears,

with creatures of diverse and mottled kind,
remnants from simple entertainments lost.
Both sides look up, confused, the memories stir,
the bears perform their stunts for favours tossed

once their way by children, parents – scraps
for begging paws. Those mimed displays
a hundred years back, was it? Thinking how
they and these once met in civil ways.

This is the story of the final show,
the trawl of stars from village and from city.
The bears withdraw their paws, conclude their dance,
watching the humans pass with almost pity.