Monthly Archives: November 2018

a poem from Jamie Trower’s new collection – A Sign of Light


My feet, stained


black by the sand—and bare as pink paws—push into the spongy
sand and force away little pools of trill. A car. A blister of echoes.
A bird weeping in the mangroves. Two drunk women shrieking
names. The wind moves along the sand of this beach. There are
so many senses at work tonight. This one sound is a company of
horses cantering together across the darkness.

These voices I am hearing in my mind are ever changing, hot and
cold. I imagine them dangling from the sky as long drapes of silk.
I dance with them, yes, like we used to. I hang them on the edge of
the beach, where dirt meets sand, where Dog snivels a bird’s nest,
inspecting for play. I camped here last night and lit a fire to keep my
feet warm. So I could catch the night illuminating the bay again …
so I could hang the changing voices on this bright moon.



©Jamie Trower, A Sign of Light, The Cuba Press, 2018



Jamie Trower was born in Brighton, England, and immigrated to New Zealand in 1995 with his family. An Auckland-based poet and actor, Trower performs both on the page and on the stage, and has studied English and Drama at the University of Auckland.  Anatomy, his debut poetry, was published in 2015 by Mākaro Press’s Submarine imprint.

The Cuba Press author page









The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems 2018 – Winner Announced


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International Writers’ Workshop (IWW) is delighted to announce that the 2018 winner of The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems is Heather Bauchop of Dunedin.

The winning sequence, entitled ‘The Life in Small Deaths’, is described by Heather as a strangely-lengthed narrative poetry sequence that grew out of a 60,000 word manuscript banished to the bottom desk drawer several years ago as too long for submission to journals and too short for a full-length collection. It takes one of the characters and fills out their life; and in so doing, invents a whole new story in a whole new form. It is written as a narrative – to be read sequentially, but each poem has its own poise.

Stu Bagby of Auckland, who judged the $1000 prize, said at the prize giving that he looked for work that demanded to be read, and which surprised him with its use of imagery and description. He praised The Life in Small Deaths for its controlled, skilled writing of which the standard seldom flagged over what is a sizeable piece of work, and for its vivid imagery, slick word-play, and black humour. “It manages to be both amusing and thought provoking,” he said.

Runner-up is up-and-coming poet Gillian Roach of Auckland, a Masters of Creative Writing graduate from AUT who won the New Voices Emerging Poet competition earlier this year. Her sequence of 17 poems, She’s over there, love, is about family dynamics with a strong focus on the emotional labour required in caring roles. It is part of a larger collection she has been working on. It was praised by the judge for manipulating several themes with great skill and was almost the winner.

About the Prize

The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems has been made possible by a bequest from the Jocelyn Grattan Charitable Trust. It was a specific request of the late Jocelyn Grattan that her mother be recognised through an annual competition in recognition of her love for poetry and that the competition be for a sequence or cycle of poems with no limit on the length of the poems. It is one of two poetry competitions funded by the Trust, the other being the prestigious Kathleen Grattan Award run by the publishers of Landfall magazine.

About the Winner

Born in San Francisco to lost Scottish parents who migrated to Palmerston North via Aberdeen in 1972, Heather Bauchop is a public historian who has written on iwi history and historic heritage. She now lives in Dunedin. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in a number of journals, including Takahē (she was the winner of the 2016 Takahē short story competition with ‘Helicopter’) Headland, Alluvia and Poetry New Zealand, and in the 2017 anthology New Ink. In 2018, she was awarded a mentorship by the New Zealand Society of Authors. Her first collection Remembering a Place I’ve Never Been was published by Cold Hub Press in October 2018. She can be contacted by email at

Previous Winners

This is the 10th year the prize has been contested. Previous winners are Janet Newman (2017), Michael Giacon (2016), Maris O’Rourke (2015), Julie Ryan (2014), Belinda Diepenheim (2013), James Norcliffe (2012), Jillian Sullivan (2011), Janet Charman and Rosetta Allan (2010) and Alice Hooton (2009).


About IWW

International Writers’ Workshop NZ Inc was founded in 1976 by poet Barbara B Whyte and meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month from February to November in the Lindisfarne Room at St Aidans Church, 97 Onewa Road, Northcote.

IWW’s main aim is to inspire writers by means of workshops and competitions across fiction, nonfiction and poetry.


New international poetry prize

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The Brotherton Poetry Prize from the University of Leeds Poetry Centre


A new poetry prize aimed at nurturing previously unpublished poets is launched today by the University.

The Brotherton Poetry Prize from the University of Leeds Poetry Centre will be judged by Leeds’ Professor of Poetry Simon Armitage; writer, broadcaster and former University Chancellor Melvyn Bragg.

They will be joined by poets and University cultural fellows Dr Vahni Capildeo, winner of a Forward Prize in 2016 and Malika Booker, inaugural Poet in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Poetry centre Director Professor John Whale and University Librarian Stella Butler complete the judging panel.


The prize is open to anyone over 18 who has not yet published a full collection of poems. Entries should include up to five poems. The winner will receive £1,000 and the opportunity to develop their creative practice with the poetry centre. Four runners-up will each receive £200.

The poems of the shortlisted poets will be published as an anthology by respected publisher Carcanet, and all five will be invited to take part in a series of readings and events at the University of Leeds and other Yorkshire venues.


Full details here

Poetry Shelf audio spot: Mere Taito’s ‘Homework’



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Mere Taito is a Rotuman Islander poet and flash fiction writer living in Hamilton with her partner Neil and nephew Lapuke. She is the author of the illustrated chapbook of poetry titled, The Light and Dark in Our Stuff.




Paula Green and Jesse Mulligan discuss an Emma Neale poem in the Short Story Club



3.10 Thursday 29th November

Short Story Club

This week we discuss the poem Mere Mare by Emma Neale. It was first published in the Spinoff as one of its Friday poems and is in hte collection The Friday Poem edited by Steve Braunias – and we will give away a copy of that book to the person who writes us the most interesting email about Emma Neale’s poem.











a poem from Nicola Easthope’s new collection – Working the Tang



Working the tang, Birsay


These women are wrapped for the weather.

The fleece of long-nosed black sheep

so knitted into their skin, when their men

undress them there is often a little blood.


The weather wraps in gales of Arctic ice.

They gather seaweed: tremendous heaps

of tang and ware, dragged up the sloping beach

to the dry. These women burn


it steadily, crackling heather and hay in great pits

of stone until the white powder

of potash and soda is all that remains.

The men pound and pound,


cover with stones and turf. Leave overnight.

The ash shifts, cools, and lumps of toil

settle on their backs. They sleep with

the weight of a body on the chest.


Ghost dust drifts into livestock,

limpets. Fish are driven away.

The women are wrapped in the drapery

of ash, the cloak of salt, the taste of tang.


Their kelp-making for the laird’s gain.

Their backs spent for soap and glass.


©Nicola Easthope, from Working the Tang  The Cuba Press 2018




Nicola Easthope is a teacher and poet from the Kāpiti Coast. Her first book of poems, leaving my arms free to fly around you, was published by Steele Roberts Aotearoa in 2011. ‘Working the tang, Birsay’ is inspired by her Orcadian roots and the etymologies and experiences of the Norse word for seaweed (among other things). She was a guest poet at the Queensland Poetry Festival in 2012, and last month, the Tasmanian Poetry Festival.











Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Heidi North’s ‘Piha Beach, Winter’


Piha Beach, Winter 


My feet punch bruises in the black sand

and I am back in the burn of childhood summers


the circle of sentinel gulls

their grey wings tipped to catch the light


warn me back

but I go down to the white foam edge


bluebottles boated with their pretty poison

yield to the sharp edge of my stick


I go down to the place

where the wind kicks holes through my heart


and there is a child down there

too close to the ribbony horizon line


holding his blue kite

towards the updraft


still smiling as it lurches

against the wide white blaze of sky –


and I smile and laugh and I run with him because how can I tell him

all the brutal things are yet to come


©Heidi North


Heidi’s poem was written during her Nancy King Foundation residency in Piha in 2017.

Heidi North’s first poetry book Possibility of Flight was published by Mākaro Press in 2015. Her poetry and short stories have been published in New Zealand, Australia, the US and the UK. She won an international Irish award for her poetry in 2007, and has won New Zealand awards for her short fiction. She joined the Shanghai International Writers Programme in 2016 as the NZ fellow. She was awarded the Hachette/NZSA mentorship for 2017 to work on her first novel. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from The University of Auckland and lives in Auckland with her partner and their two children.




In the hammock: reading Fiona Kidman’s This Mortal Boy




Fiona Kidman This Mortal Boy Vintage, 2018


Fiona Kidman’s marvelous new novel features Albert Black – the ‘jukebox killer’ – the second-to-last person to be hanged in New Zealand. He had left his impoverished but loving family in Northern Ireland in the 1950s to seek a better life. He was barely an adult.

Having read extensive research material, Fiona recreated the events and relationships that led to Albert’s controversial execution. I knew the ending but I kept hoping the Irish mother or the anti-hanging supporters would change the outcome. Not possible. So I read the novel – so beautifully detailed, so alive in rendition – in  a state of sadness at human behaviour. I am not talking about what seems to be murder in the heat of the moment after physical attacks.

I am talking about the way we treat people – who are claimed as different – as inferior: those from other countries, with different coloured skin, different accents, who make sexual choices other than heterosexual. Albert Black loses his name and becomes ‘Paddy’ because his Irish identity is not worthy of attention. It seems like the legal system, the judges, the media and general public were swayed by cultural scorn.

I might have had ongoing heartache as I read but I also absorbed the pulsating life Fiona created. The dialogue, the characters, the locations, the signs of the times – these all work to make a sumptuous depiction of a particular place in a particular time. I just loved it. I was born in June in Auckland one month before the jukebox event took place on 26 July 1955. Were my parents talking about it in their rented Point Chevalier bungalow?  What did they make of the case?

The execution bothered Mt Eden’s Prison Superintendent, the defence lawyer, friends Albert had made, to the extent public disgust at the death penalty saw the campaign against it work towards change. The new Labour Government of 1957 -1960  (in contrast to the fierce support of previous PM Sydney Holland) commuted death sentences to life imprisonment. In 1961 a National Government introduced legislation to abolish the law and allowed non-party voting. With ten National Party members, and those from Labour, the law was changed.

This is the kind of book that makes you reflect deeply upon how we do things today – how our prison system works to advantage or disadvantage, how difference still contributes to a lack of societal or cultural privilege.

Some books stick to you. This compelling novel is one of them. Beautifully crafted, meticulously researched, with ample attention to the grittiness of life and both the kindness and cruelty of people. I adored it.


Vintage author page

Video clip: Fiona talks about the novel

Poetry Shelf audio spot: Saradha Koirala reads ‘Snapshot’

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Saradha Koirala reads ‘Snapshot’  from Photos from the Sky (Cuba Press, 2018)



Saradha Koirala is a writer and teacher living in Melbourne. Her book Lonesome When You Go won a Storylines Notable Book Award. She has published two previous poetry collections.