Poetry Shelf review: Courtney Sina Meredith’s Burst Kisses on the Actual Wind

Burst Kisses on the Actual Wind, Courtney Sina Meredith, Beatnik Books, 2021

Courtney Sina Meredith’s mother, poet Kim Meredith, has edited Courtney’s new collection and has written a moving introduction. I love this. And I love the gratitude list at the back, where thanks is offered to her editor, publisher, true love, village and children. It infuses the book with love.

This is a book of love.

The opening poem is like a staircase, with the opening line (‘I am aware of my privilege. Could you connect me to my community?’) dropping a word, one by one, to become ‘community’. For me this collection is the incandescent, life-affirming bridge between ‘I’ and ‘community’.

And if the collection is a poem bridge, it is built with diverse material, every time you shift your eye it shifts form, becomes visually distinct. The love and themes that hold the collection together are a constant; think love, travel, dailiness, mother, daughter, lover. Self and community. I adore this fluctuation between constancy and a mobility of form. The mind and heart go flying. The mind and heart are grounded.

This is a book of self.

One poem resembles a vessel, a mouth, a self container. The opening and closing lines (‘How about being a woman?’) move, one extra word at a time, to the fullness of the middle line (‘How about being a young brown queer single educated professional creative woman?’). It is a song, a chant, a plea, a mantra. It resonates thorough the connection as a whole.

A second poem, ‘eye’, removes the letter ‘i’, and enacts missing self, elusiveness, restless, regret, arrival, departure. The peppery gaps are signposting the vagabond ‘I’, so full of possibilities.

This is a book of travel.

Foreign cities, physical travel away from home, charting the distractions and attractions of elsewhere (New York, London, Mexico City, Iowa, maybe Chicago). Yet the travel is also internal, inscribing the pathways home, to an interior home. Coming home to self. Poetry is most definitely a sublime means of travel.

This is a book of the matter of fact and this is a book of the intensely moving.

I made a big curry for all of my friends.
One of them gave me Twenty Love Poems and a Song of

My cousin went to see another friend at a bar. A guy
asked them for a threesome. They said no.

I read about Nelson when everybody left.


from ‘Aso fanau’

I have stolen away into the secret room

mothers build inside their daughters

I am feeding on a dowry centuries old

the bones sucked dry

a feast of bright quiet.


My mother’s dreams are here

beside the red gold river

born of shame and laughter

the shifting bank won’t hold.


from ‘I have stolen away into the secret room’


Courtney’s poetry is so lovingly crafted, the silence as potent as the kinetic line, the evocation of the physical, the need to feel the word and the day and the vital connections. In Burst Kisses on the Actual Wind, the poems open out, gloriously, and as readers we are invited to step in. My only misgiving is the smaller font is a challenge for the visually impaired. But this is a joy to read. A beautiful object thanks to Beatnik. In the final poem, ‘Avondale Heights’, the poet is home, and in the final line, ‘The horizon is vast’, the possibilities of life stretch wide. And that includes poetry. Sublime.

Courtney Sina Meredith is a distinguished poet, playwright, fiction writer, performer, children’s author and essayist, with her works being translated and published around the world. A leading figure in the New Zealand arts sector, Courtney is the Director of Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust, an organisation committed to championing Oceanic arts and artists. Courtney’s award-winning works include her play Rushing Dolls, poetry Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick, short stories Tail of the Taniwha and children’s book The Adventures of Tupaia. Burst Kisses On The Actual Wind is Courtney’s new collection of poetry, the book was released in 2021 by Beatnik Books. 

Beatnik Books page

Courtney reads from Burnt Kisses on the Wind

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