Monthly Archives: August 2019

Poetry Shelf noticeboard – WRITERS ON MONDAYS

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The Next Page 1

A wonderful opportunity to hear a fresh mix of prose and poetry by the current cohort of writers in the Master of Arts in Creative Writing Programme at Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters. Caleb Harris, Ash Davida Jane, Elaine Webster, Cris Cucerzan, Rebecca Reilly, Geraldine Warren, Stacey Teague, Una Cruickshank, Mikee Sto-Domingo, and Fiona Lincoln are introduced (in that order) by Kate Duignan.

DATE: Monday 2 September
TIME: 12.15-1.15pm
VENUE: Te Marae, Level 4 Te Papa
(please note that no food may be taken onto Te Marae).

Writers on Mondays is presented by the International Institute of Modern Letters and The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

This series is open to the public and free of charge.

Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Jordan Hamel’s World Poetry Slam Fundraising Show

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Our favourite boi Jordan Hamel is spreading his wings and leaving his nest, and we’re gonna help him fly. Jordan will be competing in the Individual World Poetry Slam 2019 Championships in San Diego, California at the end of September (That’s in the goddamn USA!) So we’re having a little fundraising gig to help him out.

Hosted by MC extraordinaire Ben Fagan, the night will feature Jordan himself performing alongside a group of special guests who will be announced! There will be poetry/comedy/music and plenty more. All money raised on the night goes towards getting Jordan to the States to represent little old Aotearoa.

So come on down to Cavern Club, have some drinks, have some laughs and help us give Jordan a good send off.

Tickets $10 on the door.

Special edition zines will be for sale on the night.

Poetry Shelf noticeboard: novelist Ruby Porter in conversation at Time Out Bookstore

Author Talk: Attraction by Ruby Porter

Ruby will be in conversation with Cait Kneller, talking about her debut novel.

Attraction (the first recipient of the Michael Gifkins prize), follows three young women on a road trip through Auckland, Levin and Whāngārā.

An examination of the female experience, friendship, male jealousy and the legacy of family and colonialism, Attraction reckons with New Zealand’s colonialist history and the abusive ghosts of love and familial past.

This is our August Lit Reads title. See more here.

Free entry. BYO.

Ruby Porter is a tutor of creative writing at the University of Auckland. She has been published in Geometry Journal, Aotearotica, Spinoff and Wireless, and a selection of her poetry is available on NZEPC. In 2018, she also won the Wallace Foundation Short Fiction Contest.

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Poetry Shelf Friday talk spot: Celebrating poetry and communities at the NZ Booksellers Conference




The dirty dishwater sky

I see a rainbow

the harbour gleaming white

the sparkling nighttime sky tower

a strange statue of Moses

an early morning cleaner

the crinkled-slept-in-sheets sky


a collective poem made up on the spot by NZ Booksellers


On Sunday I was a key-note presenter with poet Gemma Browne at the booksellers conference in Auckland. The conference theme was Creating Communities – which feels really important as both an adult and children’s author. I dedicated Wild Honey to four women: Elizabeth Caffin, my first publisher; bookseller Carole Beu who has done so much for women readers and writers through The Women’s Bookshop; Michele Leggott who has brought women’s poetry to light and has written dazzling poetry of her own; Tusiata Avia who has inspired young and older women as both a teacher and inspiring poet, and who is a dear friend.

Most of my time as a writer is private, secret, quiet, and I like it like that. It is the writing process that gives me the greatest joy as a poet – not winning prizes or being famous or getting picked for anthologies or festivals. These can all be lovely surprises that give your ego little boosts, and more importantly boost book sales, but nothing beats that moment when pen hits paper and the words start flowing and you think – Where did that come from? How did I write that?

Yet I also write in multiple communities and that is important to me. I have a number of publishing families for a start. Then there are the two communities I have created through my blogs – Poetry Box and Poetry Shelf – that are made up of diverse readers and writers. I wanted to create a go-to place for poetry because poetry was becoming less and less visible in the media. Books would be published and I wouldn’t know unless I spotted them in a bookshop or got a launch invite.

Even now it is very rare that Poetry Shelf will be included in a list of online sites, newsletters or links devoted to advancing our engagement with New Zealand books. Yet Poetry Shelf keeps poetry fans in touch with what is happening in our diverse book/writing communities, signalling the books that are released, events, opportunities. I am building up an archive of recordings, interviews, commentaries and reviews. What will happen to all this material when I can no longer care for it? It seems so fragile.

One part of me wants to switch off my computer and phone, and tuck up into a novel in the hammock – because some days I am just treading water and making no difference.

As an author I am also part of our community of booksellers and am more than happy to do events in bookshops, yes to help promote my books but also to promote NZ poetry through various initiatives. I want to start a Bookseller Spot on both my blogs where booksellers recommend a NZ book they have loved or any poetry book they have loved. Or record a poem from a NZ book they have loved. Please get in touch:

I want to build and nurture a community of poets writing for children and make it easier for readers to find children’s poetry books. Is this possible? Do we want our children’s lives to be enriched by New Zealand poetry? It is the hardest thing – to get children’s poetry published,  reviewed and in prominent places in bookshops. Can we show that poetry – the liberating place of word play – is the most glorious tool for any child. The reluctant writer can juggle words in the air, the sophisticated writer can advance their skills, take up challenges, explore their engagement in a challenging world. Poetry makes a child feel warm inside and itch to read and write.

I want to build bridges and nourish sightlines between our distinctive, diverse and wide roaming poetry communities. Is this possible? Is it vital? Can we draw together in attentiveness across cities, regions, cultures, generations, styles, preoccupations, politics, poetics, voices? For example, I see Louise Wallace (The Starling) and Emma Neale (Landfall) trying to do this in diverse ways. I see Anne O’Brien working hard to do this with her team at AWF. And Claire Maby through Verb Wellington.

And there is nothing wrong with nourishing your own poetry family, your go-to community that supports and listens to and reads what you do. As VUP do with their breathtaking stable of poets, their elders and emerging voices. As do the grassroot presses, such as Seraph, Cold Hub and Compound Press. The small journals such Mimicry and Min-a-ret.

I turned up at the conference after three hours sleep (max!), a poached egg and a short black and had the loveliest conversation with Gem. We talked about poetry, Wild Honey and building communities. I felt invigorated to be in the same room as people who work so hard, imaginatively, passionately, inventively – to sell our books. These are booksellers but they are also most importantly readers.

We wrote a poem to break the ice – and now I have broken the ice I want to keep making poetry visible and making poetry connections. How do I do it? How do we do it?

If I were rich and bounding with energy I would visit every bookshop that invited me and get children and adults hooked on the joy and curiosities of poetry.

I would start up a children’s poetry press.

But I am not rich and I am not bounding with energy at the moment so I will keep thinking on my feet and inventing ways for my blogs to make connections, start conversations, and celebrate the way our book community is comprised of many communities. And keep telling myself that I am not alone. Poetry Shelf has done that!

PS At Mary Kisler‘s conference session dedicated to her fabulous book, Finding Frances Hodgkins, Nicola Legat and Sam Elworthy talked about the new initiative, Coalition for Books. Various organisations are coming together under the one umbrella to work for the collective good of authors, publishers, booksellers and festivals. And of course readers.

PPS After such an intense and wonderful month I am now back to sleeping. Thankfully. Wild Honey‘s arrival in the world had shocked me into a constant state of awakeness.






Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Anne Michaels’s Infinite Gradation is now available plus giveaway Wild Honeys via AWF

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This is one of my all-time favourite books by a poet. An astonishing read! Scoot down a get a copy.

We are pleased to announce that copies of Infinite Gradation by Anne Michaels, are now available at The Women’s Bookshop and Unity Books. Our Festival bookshop received many requests following Anne’s session, but the book was unfortunately not available in New Zealand at the time. Exploring the mystery at the heart of our mortality, this exquisite little book is about art and what art makes of death.

I spotted this on the AWF newsletter – plus three giveaway copies of Wild Honey.

You can read the newsletter and subscribe here.






Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Frankie McMillan book launch

Canterbury University Press and Scorpio Books are delighted to invite you to the launch of

The Father of Octopus Wrestling, and other small fictions

By Frankie McMillan

Launch speaker Tracy Farr

4pm, Saturday 31 August
Scorpio Books, BNZ Centre, 120 Hereford Street, Christchurch

We hope you can join us for the launch.

Warm regards,

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Poetry Shelf audio spot: essa may ranapiri reads ‘Glass Breaking ‘




essa may ranapiri reads ‘Glass Breaking’ from ransack VUP 2019




essa may ranapiri is a river full of run-off and a mountain that is money-gated, tangata takatāpui trapped in a colonised world. Their first book ransack is out from VUP now., please buy it they’re so poor. They write these poems to honour their tūpuna, they will write until they’re dead.

Victoria University Press page


Happy birthday dear Janet Frame


Janet and Frank Go Rowing


Against all odds Janet Frame and Frank Sargeson

have ended up in a dinghy on Lake Pupuke

in the middle of the night under a milky moon.

Their eyes have become accustomed to the eerie light

the way shadows loom and fade

the way sounds hit an unfamiliar pitch

the way the boat drifts fancy free.


To be awake when everyone else is sleeping

puts the world in sharp focus

even in the dark on the lolloping waves.



Janet and Frank Catch a Ferry


Janet Frame and Frank Sargeson have caught the ferry

over to Rangitoto for the day in a fit of spontaneity

with a picnic basket full of vegetables from Frank’s garden

(tomatoes lettuce radishes red peppers cucumber)

to go with the home-baked bread a friend had dropped off

some gingercake and some date scones

a hip flask of Frank’s brew and a flask of tea.


Janet is entertaining Frank with wordplay.

The sea’s cape is green today, she says.

To score we are a drifting, she adds.


They take the path towards the baches

and find a shady tree for the picnic blanket.

The water is like a dog’s tongue at the shore.

The sky is like an empty tropical fish tank.

It ought to be the perfect setting to read a novel

that takes you some place else,

but Janet and Frank are content

looking up at the sky and waiting

for the tropical fish to appear.




Paula Green

from The Baker’s Thumbprint, Seraph Press, 2013




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