‘Come on, let’s push the inflatable out
on the night’s wide waters, see
how far it goes.’
Chris Price from ‘Venera’
Three German poets came to view the transit of Venus with three New Zealand poets at Uawa/ Tolaga Bay on June 6th 2012.
They observed the black dot. They wrote poems.
In the same year they met in Germany and translated a selection of each other’s poems before performing together at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Victoria University Press has just published a beautiful edition of the poems, in both English and German, with images, notes and interviews.
Hinemoana Baker, Glenn Colquhoun, Chris Price
Uwe Kolbe, Brigitte Oleschinski, Ulrike Almut Sandig
It is as though poetry is the inflatable that six poets pushed out into the ‘night’s wide waters’ of writing; into the passage of the black dot, the thought of Cook’s eye trained all those centuries back, into the little repetitions of stone or buttercup or light.
As you might expect no poem cluster is the same.
Each lift and slip of the inflatable is as much a lift and slip for the reader as it is the writer. A voyage of discovery, in a way.
I especially loved the way the poems took me back to that once-in-a-lifetime experience. How to make poetry of such things?
I was also drawn to the pairings of poets and the way they translated each other’s work.
As the ever enthusiastic Rick Stein says: There should be more of this. What other projects can we invent that bring poets together in such fertile ways?
The poems are simply and intricately addictive. Congratulations and thank you VUP! The book is a little gem.
Hinemoana Baker is a Wellington poet, musician and teacher. She is the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writer in Residence in 2015–16.
Urike Almut Sandig is a Berlin poet who works with various composers and musicians. She has received numerous awards and scholarships, most recently a scholarship from the Berlin Senate.
Glenn Colquhoun is a poet, children’s writer, and GP. In 2014 he represented New Zealand on the Commonwealth Poets United poetry project which celebrated the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Uwe Kolbe is a poet, translator and lecturer who lives in Hamburg. He has received many prizes and awards, most recently the Heinrich Mann Prize from the Academy of the Arts in Berlin, and the Meran Poetry Award.
Brigitte Oleschinski is a Berlin poet, essayist and performer. She received the prestigious Peter-Huchel-Preis in 1998. She is best known for her poetry collections Mental Heat Control (1990), Your Passport is Not Guilty (1997) and Geisterströmung (2004).
Chris Price is a Wellington poet, nonfiction writer, musician and teacher. Her most recent poetry collection is Beside Herself (2016).