Current NZ Poet Laureate, Vincent O’Sullivan, has selected some new poems by Emma Neale to mark the shift between one year and the next. They are stunning poems, not only in the aural delights, the archival detail and each poem’s building momentum, but in the way the poet lays anchors in both a real world of sons and husband and an exhilarating world of ideas. These poems have shifted gear.
Emma was shortlisted for the Sarah Broom Award this year and read with fellow shortlisted poet, Kirsti Whalen, at the Auckland Writers Festival. To hear Emma read was to hear the poetic detail and music come into even richer life. A highlight for me this year.
Vincent O’Sullivan on Emma Neale:
‘There is something so celebratory about Emma Neale’s poetry, about its eager, informed, needle-eyed engagement with the contemporary world, that it seems the very thing for this final Poet Laureate blog of the year, for what we still, with our perverse and saving optimism, call ‘the festive season’. Thanks to Emma for these unpublished poems, for their kitchen-familiar and cosmic-wide attentions, for running the hot thread of such linguistic flare and precision through whatever occasion she takes up. These seem to me the kind of poems that begin with readers but end with partners, in their take on how things are, and how we talk of them. This is poetry in that ancient tradition of ‘speaking for us all’, of making scenes and events that we find are about ourselves all the time, even when they may at first move so confidently in that Rilkean dimension of ‘beauty and terror’. Good poems to end one year, and to begin another.’
For the selected poems see here.