I am up to my elbows in poetry research and am very grateful for access to the poetry taonga at the Alexander Turnbull Library.
To celebrate National Poetry Day, Fiona Oliver (Curator, NZ & Pacific Published Collections) posted this terrific piece:
‘If you were to take all the poetry books in the Turnbull Library and lay them end to end, they’d circle the earth at one-and-a-half times.
Ok, that was a fabrication; no one has any idea how far they’d stretch, except that, given the sheer number (more than several thousand), they’d go a very long way.
Maybe I was getting confused and had been thinking of intestines, which apparently are extraordinarily long. But then, aren’t poetry and intestines not that dissimilar – poetry being, metaphorically speaking (and poetry is nothing if not metaphorical), a spilling of guts, a venting of spleen, a digesting of experience, a laying-out of ideas and feelings and insights end to end in order to make sense of what it means to think or feel or see?’
I especially liked reading this:
‘The Library has avidly gathered and looked after this nation’s poetry (and that of Pacific nations) since it opened almost 100 years ago, in 1920. It’s all here as our documentary heritage.
We’re not censorious, but try to be comprehensive. You’ll find the old and forgotten, the newly minted, the famous, fine or rare, the transcendent and the truly awful. We care for the poetry of this country so all the people of New Zealand can read it, enjoy and use it.’
For the rest of the piece see here