Three poems from Peter Bland’s new collection


In the praise of the familiar …


like the same worn chair

that’s shaped

my body, the same

smooth cup that soothes

cracked lips, the same

old view through

the same stained window

of birds in the bird-bath

fighting for crumbs. It’s

wonderful knowing

what to expect, the way

night follows day

no matter what. I thrill

to the clatter

of what’s done and dusted

presenting itself

as eternally fresh.





These are the years

of the lone park bench,

of empty harbours

and sunken ships. And yet

there’s a spaciousness

to this abandon

that keeps


it’s a sort of love. So

why should I fear

such a rich aloneness

when I’ve spent  lifetime

creating it for myself?




Now there can only be love poems


Now there can only be

love poems. All

those angry words

will, in the end,

have to let go

and live where only love

can live. Its got

something to do

with passing time

and earth’s deep silences

and your shy smile,

and everything we did

or didn’t do. But now

there can only be

love poems. There’s

no time for anything else.


©Peter Bland, from Voodoo  (Steele Roberts, 2018)


Peter Bland recently sent me his two latest poetry collections from Steele Roberts – Voodoo and The Happy Garden: New & Selected Poems for Children – and told me to use them anyway I liked on my blogs.  In his letter, Peter was concerned about the visibility of poetry in bookshops and review space. The NZ Book Council’s 2018 book reading survey  suggests we are definitely reading poetry but I wonder if we are buying it to the same degree? Our National Poetry Day suggests we have myriad poetry communities doing all manner of things with an explosion of small presses and journals matching the output of the university presses dedicated to poetry. Yet as much as I try, it is a real challenge keeping a finger on our local poetry pulse. Often a publication escapes my attention because I just don’t know of its existence.

So I am delighted to celebrate the arrival of two books from Peter Bland, one of our poetry elders.

I posted a poem from the children’s collection on Poetry Box (he is one of our best children’s poets) but I was hard pressed to pick just one from Voodoo. I wanted to post the whole book! The poems in the new collection exhibit the species of reflective state that often appears in old age and that produces fertile and thought-provoking poetry. Peter pares everything  back to the essential detail, an idea that lingers, a mood that governs an image, a recollection, a pulsating thing. Peter  has gifted us numerous much-loved poetry collections – this one is also a real treasure. The world slows down as you read, to the vital moment, the person and place that matters.


Steele Roberts page

Peter Bland talks to Karyn Hay about his two new collections

NZ Book council author page










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