The Situation 2021: Peter Olds

The Situation 2021

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2021’ is a continuation of ‘The Situation 2020’. 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

Wild beans & a white butterfly 

In the nun's cottage
we have white rice,
a tin of curry powder

and some watercress
the girls had gathered
from the paddock creek.

Along the fence wire
below the Convent
I picked some green beans

growing wild
on a scrawny vine,
then took them back

to the cottage —
made a feed from boiled rice,
watercress, curry powder

and wild beans
We'd been half-starved
for weeks, feeding

on eel and fried bread . . .
The beans and watercress
went down a treat

something Holy from
fence and creek.
We were the children

of Jerusalem and the Great
Guru was down the river
going round the towns

giving aroha-talks for money
and reciting poetry —
smoking up large, stuffing

himself on pork and Chinese
kai . . . A white butterfly
flies into the cottage.

Peter Olds

Hail & Water

(Letter to Stephen Oliver),

I've never seen hail & water fall
so much in such a short time. The
roads turned into rivers, gutters
disappeared under six inches of
hail. Cars stopped, jaws dropped . . .
One had pictures of the Flood, &
wondered when the fucking Ark
was going to make an appearance!
The sky turned black as night,
sirens wailed, streetlights blinked
at stalled streets, the air streaked
like some New York modern painting:
Surreal, unreal, leaving high tide
marks of ice in the doorways of
mid-town shops

Peter Olds

Peter Olds biography

Peter Olds was born in Christchurch in 1944, he left school at sixteen and after meeting James K. Baxter in Dunedin in the 1960s, began writing poetry. He was a Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago in 1978. In 2005 he was an inaugural recipient of the Janet Frame Literary Trust Award for Poetry. He lives in Dunedin. His previously published collections include Lady Moss Revived (1972), Freeway (1974), Beethoven’s Guitar (1980), It Was a Tuesday Morning: Selected Poems 1972-2001 (2004), Poetry Reading at Kaka Point (2006), Under the Dundas Street Bridge (2012), and You fit the description: The Selected Poems of Peter Olds, with an introduction by Ian Wedde, which was published by Cold Hub Press in 2014.

Peter Olds. Image by Anne-Marie Davis.

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