Our current NZ Poet Laureate, Vincent O’Sullivan, has edited Best NZ Poems 2014. It is an eclectic taste of why New Zealand poetry is so very very good at the moment. Congratulations!
Here is a taste of Vincent’s introduction:
“Last year I joked, more accurately than I realised, that there are now more publishing poets in New Zealand than there are commissioned officers in our armed forces. And that was before I considered the three thousand poems that turned out for inspection in 2014. There’s at least a clarity if we’re just noting numbers. But talk of poetry may quickly fall into generalisation and defence of a corner, when it comes to poems that interest us deeply. We are always reading towards the elitism of our own taste, whether or not we quite put it like that. Geoff Page, the editor of the excellent Best Australian Poems 2014, wryly picks up on this when he writes, ‘Our time on earth is finite, and we are invariably hierarchical.’ It’s not a big step from there, of course, to the necessary corrective that we are always teetering on the verge of possible error.
Inevitably then, the discomfort other editors too have felt with that title, ‘Best Poems’. I wish it weren’t called that, because I have never heard a compelling argument to take it seriously. As a philosopher might say, it is a ‘category error’. Instead, what you have are twenty-five poems that I admired when I first came on them, continue to admire as I read them again, and am fairly certain that next time round they will still attract me with the particular kind of attention they give to how something is said, or for their technical elegance, or for the finally indefinable lift that good poetry provides. But let’s not make out that anything more definitive than personal choice is going on. One reader’s shortlist may be another reader’s rejects. Yet what a privilege, and a celebratory one, to be handed the chance to invite readers, ‘Look at these, look at their variety, their elan, their vigour—isn’t that something?’”
Full introduction here