Monthly Archives: October 2017

Poetry Shelf Spring Season’s poetry fans: Morrin Rout picks Fiona Farrell


No words to start. No
names. Trees learned
the land by touching
it with dumb fingers.

The names flew in
and hovered, light
as mayflies, skimming
the river of the white
calf, the hill of gorse,
the crag of the cat.

They shifted shape,
became other things.
The river is black
now and deep, the
hill is the hill of
hanging, and the
cats have been
butted from the
crags by shaggy

As my house
stands on the lip
of the bailer of a
black canoe.

And on a heap
of broken timber.

And on a green shoot.

And on the rocky
point of a man.

Or named Long Bay,
plain words,
printed out
in daffodils.

But already, look:
they’ve multiplied.

Gone wild.

Danced over the lines.
Invaded the field.

They are popping up
in odd places, as if they
have forgotten completely

how to spell.


©Fiona Farrell, The Pop-up Book of Invasions (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2007).


Note from Morrin: Fiona’s poem continues to delight me and reward each reading. I too live on Banks Peninsula and feel at times precarious. Words and names mutate and the landscape continually reminds us that we are newcomers and much has gone before. I love the image of the daffodils being bidden to spell out the name of the bay but over time breaking free and defying human intent.

Morrin Rout has co-produced and presented ‘Bookenz’ on PlainsFM 96,9 for over 20 years and is the director of the Hagley Writers’ Institute in Christchurch.

Multiple award -winner, Fiona Farrell writes across a variety of genres; she has been a finalist in all three categories at the NZ Book Awards, for fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The critically acclaimed, The Villa at the Edge of the Empire, the factual half of a two-volume work, examines the rebuilding of a city through the twinned lenses of non-fiction and fiction. The accompanying novel, ‘Decline and Fall on Savage Street’ has just been published.

Poetry Shelf Spring Season’s poetry fans: Gina Cole picks Selina Tusitala Marsh

In Creative Writing Class

the pākehā man
calls the kailoma Fijian woman
the Māori woman
and the ‘afakasi Samoan woman
because they have the experience
of being doubly oppressed
at a time when they qualify
for certain scholarships
when their demographic
is fashionable and interesting
their life experiences
make their writing more convincing
their stories are rich and deep
hot chocolatey and steamy
his are staid, North Shore-ish
lukewarmish gumboot tea

the los atrevido
wait for him to finish
his first world problems
in their global village
their serpent tongues aim
for the space above his collar
they fire simultaneously
no one even hears him holler

©Selina Tusitala Marsh from Tightrope (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2017)




Note from Gina: I love this poem because I have attended many creative writing classes. I am also a kailoma Fijian woman, and I have been in a creative writing class with Selina. In most writing classes that I have attended, I have been one of a minority of Māori and Pasifika writers in the class. I love how the title reads as a play on each word in all their different meanings, especially “class”. I love the last stanza and the description of the women as “los atrevido”. I had to look up what that meant. I found that it translates as – the daring, the badass, the bold. I love that daring in the poem, and that Selina is the new daring, badass, bold Poet Laureate for Aotearoa.

Gina Cole is of Fijian, Scottish and Welsh descent. She lives in Auckland. She writes fiction and poetry. She is a Barrister specialising in Family Law and has a Master of Creative Writing from Auckland University. In 2016, Huia Publishers published Gina’s debut book of short stories Black Ice Matter. Black Ice Matter won the 2017 Hubert Church Prize for Best First Book Fiction at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

Selina Tusitala Marsh is of Samoan, Tuvaluan, English and French descent. She was the First Pacific Islander to graduate with a PhD in English at the University of Auckland where she currently is an Associate Professor. Her first collection, Fast Talkin’ PI, won the Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry in 2010. As Commonwealth Poet (2016) she composed and performed a poem for the Queen at Westminster Abbey. She is New Zealand’s current Poet Laureate.

Poetry Shelf Spring Season -poetry fans make picks




This year I have hosted four seasons on Poetry Shelf, and I am tempted to do it again next year with four new themes.

For Spring Season 2017, I invited poetry fans from diverse fields to pick a New Zealand poem they loved and write a brief note about it.


As I am reading my way through New Zealand women’s poetry for my big book, I keep rediscovering poems that strike me in new ways and I immediately want to share with the world. I am sitting in my kitchen, and I just shout out to the bush: This is so skin-pricklingly GOOD!

I have just read my way through Jenny Bornholdt’s collections and found my old favourites, poems like ‘The Rocky Shore,’ still resonate so surely. At the moment, I am rereading Emma Neale, and her very best poems are extraordinary occasions that draw upon the wide reach of the world along with the more intimate alcoves of mother and poet.

What difference does a poem make in a disgruntled world precariously on edge? I don’t know! I just know that it gives voice to the ordinary and to the astonishing. You can read a poem with a cup of tea like a kick-start gingernut – and it is the most wonderfully satisfying ritual.

Thanks to all the poets and publishers who gave permission and to all the poetry fans who picked the poems and wrote the notes.

Over the next two weeks I am posting 16 poems.








The winners of Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize 2017

And the Winner Is …

The winners of the Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize 2017 have been announced, and this year the winning poets (first and runner up) are both Dunedin based writers –

Winning poem: Road to Murdering Beach by Majella Cullinane (Dunedin)

Runner-up: Finding Billy Collins in the fiction shelves by Ruth Arnison (Dunedin)

Four poets also received a highly commended from judge Riemke Ensing, and these were –

Bridge – Carolyn McCurdie (Dunedin), Lumb Bank – Sarah Grout (Auckland/London), Notes from a refugee – Ruth Hanover (Christchurch), and Cambodia (a deconstructed country) – Susan Howard (Warkworth)

The Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize 2017 is in its sixth year, and rewards the winner with a $500 prize plus a week-long residency at the Caselberg House in Broad Bay on the Otago Peninsula.

Auckland poet Riemke Ensing was this year’s judge, and she said of Cullinane’s winning poem, Road to Murdering Beach, “I liked the confident way it addressed the reader in a very conversational colloquial voice; the way a narrative was told with minimal detail, concentrating instead on imagery to convey the ‘feel’ of the story as we plunge through ‘the charcoal sky of dusk beneath the sea.’ She added “It made me want to find out more about the past of this beautiful beach”

Majella Cullinane is a PhD candidate in Creative Practice at the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies, University of Otago, Dunedin. Originally from Ireland, she’s lived in New Zealand since 2008. In 2014 she was awarded the Robert Burns Fellowship. She published her first collection, Guarding The Flame (Salmon Poetry), in 2011, and her second is forthcoming in 2018.

Ruth Arnison’s poems have appeared in journals and ezines including Deep South, Takahe, Cadenza, and Orbis.  She is also well known as the editor of Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ), an arts in health charity which distributes 6700 free poetry cards every season to medical waiting rooms, rest homes, prisons and hospices.

Cullinane and Arnison’s winning poems, along with Riemke Ensing’s judge’s report, will be published in the forthcoming edition of Landfall magazine – Landfall 234 (published in November 2017).  All the winning poems will also be posted on the Caselberg Trust website after Landfall is published.

The Caselberg Trust will also be hosting a Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize 2017 awards evening at the /, Cumberland Street, Dunedin, at 5.30pm Thursday 30 November.  Judge Riemke Ensing will read her judge’s report, and talk about this year’s entries.  Winning poets will be invited to read their poems.

Poetry conversation on a Madrid rooftop – Carolyn McCurdie

Poem on the Terrace – Planting Cabbages de Carolyn McCurdie

‘Poem on the Terrace – poetas neozelandeses’. Una serie para dar a conocer la poesía de las antípodas de España. Los neozelandeses, Charles Olsen y Anna Borrie, recitan y comentan un poema en una agradable terraza de Madrid.

En este capítulo leen ‘Planting Cabbages’ de Carolyn McCurdie. Pueden leer más sobre la autora, y leer su poema en castellano, en Palabras Prestadas.

We present ‘Poem on the Terrace – New Zealand Poets’, where we introduce kiwi poets to a Spanish audience. Charles Olsen and Anna Borrie recite and discuss a poem on a relaxed Madrid roof terrace.

In this chapter they read ‘Planting Cabbages’ by Carolyn McCurdie. Find out more about the author at the Otago Writers Network.

Listen here.
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Anna Jackson’s Dear Tombs, Dear Horizon launching with Last Stop Before Insomnia / Dernier Arrêt Avant l’Insomnie

From Seraph Press:

We hope you can join us to celebrate the launch of these two exciting new chapbooks with a French connection, both of which grew out of Anna Jackson’s time as Katherine Mansfield Fellow in 2016.


When: Thursday 26 October 2017, 5.30 pm
Where: Vic Books, Easterfield Building, Kelburn Parade, Wellington

All welcome.

About the books:

Dear Tombs, Dear Horizon
by Anna Jackson

In 2016, while the Katherine Mansfield Fellow in Menton, France, Anna Jackson began recording some of her thoughts and impressions in a notebook. Over the three months of her tenure this grew into a lively and charming poetic essay, which weaves her own experiences with her engagement with other writers and texts, including her predecessor Katherine Mansfield.




Last Stop Before Insomnia / Dernier Arrêt Avant l’Insomnie

by Marlene Tissot, translated by translated by Anna Jackson and Geneviève Chevallier
Seraph Press Translation Series No. 3

This bi-lingual taster of deliciously playful poetry by French poet Marlene Tissot takes you on a wild ride through the existential, the sensual and the sleep-deprived.
To find out more about the books, or to buy them online, visit here.