Over the past two years, Vincent O’Sullivan, current New Zealand Poet Laureate, has posted on the Laureate blog the work of poets he admires enormously. This has been a great way to dip and delve into New Zealand poetry. Rhian won the NZ Post Book Award for Poetry in 2011 with her debut collection (I was one of the judges) in year that was particularly strong in poetry. Fingers crossed these terrific new poems signal a new collection in the pipeline.
When Rhian Gallagher returned from almost two decades out of the country, and won the NZ Post Award in 2011, it seemed to me that there was a perceptible addition to what went on in our poetry. Here was a freshly attentive linguistic edge, a direct sensual intensity, a focus and gutsiness in writing of memory and regret, that seemed just that bit different from what any other writer here was doing. One reviewer called her poems ‘assiduously polished’, another picked up on ‘the visceral strength of her language’. What I admired then I find there again to admire in these unpublished poems. I’m glad my almost last laureate blog becomes the forum to display them.
– Vincent O’Sullivan
You can see the selected poems here.