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.

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