Poetry Shelf – Spring Season’s poetry fans: Catriona Ferguson picks Janet Frame



Wet Morning


Though earthworms are so cunningly contrived
without an opposing north and south wind
to blow the bones of Yes apart from the flesh of No,
yet in speech they are dumbly overturning,
in morning flood they are always drowned.

This morning they are trapped under the apple tree
by rain as wet as washing-day is wet and dry.
An abject way for the resilient anchorage of trees,
the official précis of woman and man,
the mobile pillbox of history, to die!


©Janet Frame, The Pocket Mirror (New York: George Braziller, 1967) posted with kind permission from Janet Frame Literary Trust.


Note from Catriona: Having been promised non-stop glorious weather in New Zealand I arrived from the chilly northern hemisphere to an unimpressive, soggy spring. I was taken aback by the Auckland rain; I grew up in Scotland and thought that I knew a thing or two about weather but apparently not. Happily, the first gift I received on arrival was a copy of The Pocket Mirror by Janet Frame. Frame’s ‘Wet Morning’ still reminds me of that time.


Catriona Ferguson is Director of the Publisher’s Association of New Zealand, which represents book, educational and digital publishers in New Zealand. She was formerly the Chief Executive of The New Zealand Book Council and has also worked for Creative New Zealand and the British Council.


Janet Frame, one of New Zealand’s most beloved authors, both at home and abroad, wrote in various genres, but one of her chief loves was poetry. She published one collection The Pocket Mirror, but wrote copious poems across the course of  her lifetime. With the prior blessing of Janet, and the help of her literary estate, Bill Manhire edited the posthumous The Goose Bath. The collection went on to win the 2007 New Zealand Book Award for Poetry.


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