Monthly Archives: December 2016

Two Poet Members of the NZ Order of Merit, with thanks




a snippet of my veggie garden going wild


It was a bit of shock getting a letter inviting me to accept a New Year’s Honour (Member of NZ Order of Merit). Like Eileen Duggan I felt a bit flabbergasted, embarrassed and touched by the invitation. I was busy reading my way through Eileen’s archives when I got the letter – which seemed slightly uncanny as I was reading her thoughts on her Queen’s Honour along with poetry, books and New Zealand.

I do want to thank everyone in New Zealand who supports poetry: all the poets, publishers, readers, booksellers, festival organisers, media, reviewers and children poetry fans.

It is a special honour and I am grateful.


And I am so delighted to see the very wonderful Bernadette Hall also honoured.

Helen Rickerby’s Seraph Press published poetry books by both Bernadette and I in 2016, coincidentally.


Best wishes for a fabulous year of poetry in 2017.





RIP Michele Amas (1961 -2016): a little poetry sampler

afterthedance.9780864735423__96024.1347922407.220.220.gif  afterthedance.9780864735423__96024.1347922407.220.220.gif  afterthedance.9780864735423__96024.1347922407.220.220.gif  afterthedance.9780864735423__96024.1347922407.220.220.gif  afterthedance.9780864735423__96024.1347922407.220.220.gif


This is sad news. After a long battle with cancer, Michele Amas died on Boxing Day. A poet and actor, her first collection of poetry, After the Dance, was published in 2006 and was nominated for best first book of poetry in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

Her poetry is an exquisite meeting point for domestic experience, self and flickering shards of the wider world. Each poem satisfies, so very much, with images that surprise, juxtapositions that spark and a delicious clarity of line. There is a tenderness, a maternal chord that feeds the poems and ignites every mother cell in your body as you read.

My thoughts go out to friends and family.



A sample from After the Dance (Victoria University Press, 2006):


from ‘One way to read her’:


Above her, look for the angle

of clouds,

deliberate, weather stretched



from ‘Daughter’:


Get off my back


this is not dancing

you have sharpened your spurs.



from ‘Golden Delicious’:


She is sunny

She is sunny side up, my girl

running to meet me.



from ‘Reasons for ladders’:


I climb on Gaudi’s shoulders

to a windowsill overlooking

Barcelona, but still I see

the daughter from the corner

of my eye.



from Temporary beds’:


I will bring an umbrella ceiling

to hold over you at night

to keep the dark from falling.



from ‘The Caversham Project (ii)’:


I never liked the srtory

Edna told me of her wedding day,

how Charles took her aside

after their vows

making her promise

never to contradict him.




from ‘After the dance’:


After the dance

a quiet love

settles, sleeps

in collars, in clothes

thrown over a chair.

The house is dreaming.



from ‘The Caversham Project (iii)’:


Why do her only two regrets –

never learning

to ride a bike

never spending a night

in a tent –

shake me.



from ‘Repair’:


I am taking all the women

in this family to Japan.

Dead and alive we will

travel by bus

up the archpelago

to sit under the cherry blossom.



A week of poems: Bernadette Hall’s ‘This for the end of a year’




This for the end of a year

        from a chorus of short-tongued alpine bees


Let us give thanks for the flushes and zones of colour

in the herb-field, for the alpine genera,

the wire rush and the tangle fern, the sheep sorrel

and the cats-ear, the gentians and the astelias and everything

that grows under the edge of a melting snow-bank.


Let us give thanks for the cranesbill geranium and

the mouse ear  myositis, for the ranunculus (little frog mouth,

little friend), for the feathered myrrh of the nival zone,

for the bog moss in the tarn,

for all that is and all that has been and all that is to come.


It is for us to keep our courage firm,

to nurse our appointed pain,

to await ‘that which springs ablaze of itself. ’



©Bernadette Hall

(first published under a different title in Life & Customs VUP 2013)






A week of poems: Gregory O’Brien’s ‘Poplar Tree, Tukituki River I and II’



Poplar tree, Tukituki River I


quarters of this



early summer–

tui brush

the sky’s blue

a quivering branch

signals another departure

endless comings and

goings–the blueness

of each black bird.




Poplar tree, Tukituki River II

Greenery, blue-

tail, tui



©Gregory O’Brien






A week of poems: Chris Price’s ‘Hasta la vista’




Hasta la vista

Things were fatal but not urgent.
We used more make-up and less speed.
We saw the hectic colour on one side
and the blank space on the other.
What went up came down then drilled its way
metres deep into the earth. Under
the turned table we learned to live
on our own chewing gum
while unfamiliar implements played
dinner music above our heads.
We adapted — it was what we knew
how to do — but the sugar cubes kept
getting smaller. Whereas before
we had been known by name,
now we only crept to the watering holes
under cover of darkness, then sat
with chins on our knees and waited while
the new customers declined our terms
in favour of their own impenetrable
argot. Sign met size and came off
second best, bedding down with lice
and livestock in the basement of
the air we used to own.  While
they were busy ransacking
the drawers there was still time to rue
our civilised discontents, but now
the sudden silence impends overthrow.
We stare at one another, suspended
in the pause before the shouting
and splintering Hollywood has, as it
turns out, so well prepared us for,
the breathless interval before our new
lives, hat and coatless in the snow.

©Chris Price    First published in Sport 38

A week of poems: Anne Kennedy’s ‘Island Bay has a new sea wall’



Island Bay has a new sea wall



The old sea wall was so grey

The new sea wall is so grey


The old sea wall was heavy as plutonium

The new sea wall is warm under my hand


Boats in the bay were from a painting

Boats in the bay wiggle their hips,

no-rhythm, they’re

white and nerdy


Old sea wall

New sea wall


Old sea wall met the sea like a fist bump.

Hello! Why, hello.

New sea wall fits with the sea

like lovers spooning

on and off


The old sea wall was a statue of a wall

The air trembles with sand and salt and light


There was the storm, the ravage, the pieces


Old sea wall was so Marguerite Duras

New sea wall is so Marguerite Duras


Old sea wall

New sea wall


Was curved like a public bar and Italian

fishermen leaned on it smoking

looking out to sea

New sea wall is so straight

glittering in the sun


Old sea wall was so wall

New sea wall is so new


After the storm the city council wanted

no wall at all!

Because all things


Old sea wall was so sea levels

New sea wall is so sea levels


The pieces, the people, the fight


Old sea wall was so gonesville

New sea wall is so concrete

so warm and gritty

island and sea


Old sea

New sea



©Anne Kennedy






A week of poems: Airini Beautrais’s ‘North Mole’



North Mole


We see Kupe climb out of his car

at the North Mole, pull his wetsuit

hood over his head, place foot after foot

on the sharp rocks towards where we are.

Hey man, he says, as he reaches the sand.

He’s given up on the gym –

it doesn’t motivate him.

He has more of a surfer’s mind. And the band?

Yeah, yeah, his music is going well.

He times his movements to the swell;

so many things could lie beyond the roll

of water, out past the end of the mole.

And each wave curling in to the shore

is like the sea saying what are you waiting for?


©Airini Beautrais

A week of poems: Joan Fleming’s ‘The mattress’





The mattress


The mattress


several hot

winters ago

on the dune

is a fantastical



art students


in the coastal


with their backs

to the reddirt


the thing

is being

eaten by


of making

such an object

with its look

of casual


its tessellate


its industrial


its coil

and cushion




its once-



its purpose


its sense of history







is possible

in the white


of the gallery

(not so much

in Nyirripi





the sorry


and the



Art Mattress


and convolutes



back at camp

the wire



as a butcher’s table

then later

we sleep

on it


©Joan Fleming




A week of poems: Joan Fleming’s ‘The kids’


Thousand apologies but I had to take this poem down as I couldn’t get the format right on the blog (crazy to have tried!) and my screen shots didn’t work in all browsers.

I am posting another fabulous Joan-Fleming poem instead.















A week of poems: Helen Rickerby’s ‘Thoughts while waiting next to the Katherine Mansfield statue, Midland Park, Wellington ‘



Thoughts while waiting next to the Katherine Mansfield statue, Midland Park, Wellington

Robot Katherine Mansfield
I am tired, and I want to slide
my hand into your elongated hand
clutch your smooth, chilled fingers
like a drowning girl
I am sure you would take me somewhere:
we’ll fly to Paris, perhaps, before the war, or
some raggy party in London, circa 1908
Or we could just wheel around the harbour like gulls
You could show me the house by the bay
and I won’t tell you it was damaged in one of those storms
(you already know)
Or are you tired too, from standing there
in all this weather?
Shall we just head to Fontainebleau
and we can lie down on those Persian carpets
rest our heads and close our eyes
just for a moment

©Helen Rickerby