Poetry Shelf noticeboard: The Prime Minister’s Awards for Literature Achievement went live

Last night I watched the live stream of The Prime Minister’s Awards for Literature Achievement hosted by John Campbell. I flicked it on for a quick glance before reading my book, but stayed until the end. I loved the warm celebration of books and writing.

The recipients:

Sir Tīmoti Kāretu (non-fiction)
Jenny Bornholdt (poetry)
Tessa Duder (fiction)

The roving conversation was a delight. And yes! poetry does not stick to the truth or, as Jenny said, poems form their own truths. Jenny read ‘In the garden’, a poem from her first collection, This Big Face (Victoria University Press, 1988). Here are the opening lines:

In the garden

the bulbs run riot

root systems

go all over the place


Jenny then read ‘Something is Everywhere’ from her latest collection, Lost and Somewhere Else (Victoria University Press, 2019). She told us she wrote this poem for her father-in-law, after he had told her ‘something is everywhere’, as she sat by his bed in his final days. It is jewel of a poem. A lightning rod of poem, and to hear her read it aloud is even better. It is worth tuning in just for this poem. Here are the opening lines:

Asparagus everywhere

in the garden, like eggs

laid by wayward hens.

The river, too, is

everywhere, rising up

I have long been a fan of Jenny’s poetry and the anthologies she has worked on. So warm congratulations – and an invitation to you to take a listen. It is rather special.

Listen on Facebook

Listen on YouTube

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