12 Questions for the Ockham NZ Book Awards poetry finalists: Briar Wood




Congratulations on your short-list placing!

Kia Ora.


What poetry books have you read in the past year?


Say Something Back – Denise Riley

The Bonniest Companie – Kathleen Jamie

Dark Sparring – Selina Tusitala Marsh

Citizen – Claudia Rankine

Deep River Talk Hone Tuwhare


What other reading attracts you?


Fiction – La Rose Louise Erdrich; Parable of the Sower Octavia Butler; A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing Eimear McBride; Sleeps Standing Moetu Witi Ihimaera with Hemi Kelly; Foreign Soil  Maxine Beneba Clarke

History  – Tuai Alison Jones and Kuni Kaa Jenkins; Inglorious Empire: What the British Did To India Shashi Tharoor

Journalism and Essays –   Feel Free Zadie Smith; False River Paula Morris; The Best and the Brightest David Halberstam


Name some key starting points (or themes) for your collection

wāhi, places, the ambience and etymology of words, kupu kōtuitui


Did anything surprise you as the poems come into being?

Yes, the thematic intensity and interconnections as the collection e-merged.


Find up to 5 individual words that pitch your book to a reader.

negotiating,  rerenga, ecoconscious, beò, karadow


Which poem particularly falls into place for you?



What matters most when you write a poem?

Aligning kupu


What do you loathe in poetry?

I don’t loathe anything or nothing in poetry.


Where do you like to write poems?

Near Maungatapere.


What are strengths and lacks in our poetry scenes?

Te reo writing and performance is a strength – there should be more promotion of it.

The performance and publishing scene is quite inclusive and can be more so.

More consistent newspaper reviews of poetry and media outlets paying to publish poems.


Have you seen a festival poetry session (anywhere) that has blown you off your seat (or had some other significant impact)?


Performances at hui for Te Hā ki Tāmaki – Contemporary Maori Writers by Whaitiri Mikaere and Te Kahu Rolleston pass on their energy and  aroha for te reo with an integrated intensity.


If you could curate a dream poetry session at The Auckland Writers Festival which poets would be there and who would mc or chair it?


Any of the poets could mc or chair it.

Kiri Piahana-Wong

Jacqs Carter

Te Kahu Rolleston

Paula Morris

David Eggleton

Brian Turner



Anahera press page

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