Poetry Shelf connections: Nelson’s VOLUME bookshop and what I am feeling


Reading Courtney with Estelle’s portrait of Frida


National treasure Kim Hill opened today’s Saturday morning programme by saying it’s important to be cheerful for the sake of our kids, but it’s okay to feel sad … for just a moment.

I agree. Yesterday I felt sad and overwhelmed and doubtful about the point of keeping two blogs going. I felt gut punched by the demise of so many of our magazines, The Listener in particular (I am a subscriber). Each magazine will be mourned by different groups of people. I mourn the loss of space to celebrate the arts, our vibrant book culture, movies, music, theatre, dance, ideas, along with sport, politics, food, and our lives here in Aotearoa, both ordinary and extraordinary.

I wake at ungodly hours and write poems.

I plant seeds and bake bread and have all kinds of strategies for gladness. Breast cancer gifted me that. But yesterday I felt sad and some of that sadness clings today. I am sitting here wondering whether to switch my computer off until the locks are opened. The internet is a blessing, I find so much to connect with, but it is also a bombardment with invitations to visit this virtual gallery, that mountain, this coastline, that e book, to read this poetry, watch this comic routine, animal antics, Covid facts, quiz, video cuteness.

What to do?

How to be?

I am a hideaway person. I’d rather stay at home. I always feel awkward after public outings. I feel awkward after exposing myself on my blogs. I love performing but I really love being behind the scenes, building an open home for poetry, and in these new challenging times, anything to do with books, and writing and reading. But yesterday in my sadness I felt responsible for adding to the bombardment, for asking authors to contribute this and that to both my blogs.

What to do?

How to be?

But then I think of the child who has sent me a poem from Southland, a comic strip from Wellington, a photo montage, a video, poems from Auckland, Christchurch, little towns. The joy on faces in photos.

That one child, that daisy-chain of children, will keep Poetry Box going.

We are all feeling tough feelings, facing humps and spikes and sad moments. But I am so hoping we can fan these joyful moments. If my blogs can do this, even in the smallest humblest way, then I will keep my open houses going. No matter the spikes.


The other day I got my weekly newsletter from VOLUME bookshop in Nelson. They were offering the chance to order some discounted books that would be delivered once we are out of lockdown. I am in a position where I can still buy books so I leapt at the chance.

I decided to take it one step further and revive my phone-a-bookshop idea and get Stella and Thomas to email a pick (based on what I had picked!) which I added to my pile.

You can join up to VOLUME’s excellent weekly letter and order books here. Stella and Thomas do excellent book reviews!

Here are the books I picked followed by VOLUME’s recommendations:


My picks:


Screen Shot 2020-04-04 at 9.30.01 AM.png

Thomas’s review here


Screen Shot 2020-04-04 at 9.31.11 AM


read more here


Screen Shot 2020-04-04 at 9.35.35 AM


Read more here


Screen Shot 2020-04-04 at 9.37.24 AM


Read Thomas’s review here


Screen Shot 2020-04-04 at 9.38.35 AM



VOLUME’s picks:


Screen Shot 2020-04-04 at 9.24.07 AM.png

read Stella’s review  here



Screen Shot 2020-04-04 at 9.25.50 AM.png

read Thomas’s review here

and he added this one which I couldn’t resist:

Screen Shot 2020-04-04 at 9.27.26 AM.png

full details here







Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s