full piece here
I have barely touched on all the women poets I loved in these 10 Qs – it took a fair chunk of pages in Wild Honey and even then I didn’t have enough room. When I went to university I longed for an essay with enough room to go deep and wide so I stayed until I could write a PhD thesis. Now it is time for little tiny secret things.
I am so delighted to be celebrating the book with some of the poets at events in August and September. Watch this space!
Q1: Now that Wild Honey is off to print, are you feeling proud of it?
Yes, a thousand times yes. But also a tad anxious.
Q2: It’s a huge book and it’s been a monster project. Where did the idea for it first come from?
My university degrees considered Italian women writers, but when I left university I focused on my own poetry. I carried the Wild Honey seed from those days because New Zealand women poets felt like an unwritten story. All roads — my university life and my poetry life — led to Wild Honey.
Q3: How long has it taken you?
Four years writing and researching, but decades germinating.
Q4: It must have been a massive process of discovery. Tell us about one poet you are pleased to have come across and to have shone a spotlight on?
There were so many discoveries. Familiar poets appeared in surprising new lights as I lingered over their work, such as Fleur Adcock, Robin Hyde, Ursula Bethell, Nina Mingya Powles, Karlo Mila, Hinemoana Baker, Tusiata Avia, Alison Wong, Fiona Kidman, Emma Neale, Anna Jackson. I wanted to write whole books about each poet. I loved the work of Evelyn Patuawa-Nathan, unfamiliar to me, but was disappointed I could find only one book published in 1978. I wanted more!
Shining a light on Blanche Baughan was a delight. At first her poetry felt impenetrable, but then as I spent time in the archives, and her biography unfolded, her poems sang for me. She wrote from both heart and intellect, daring and empathy. Her extraordinary life story hides in traces in her poems as do her strong political ideas.