Poetry Shelf health update

Dear Poetry Shelf fans

It is weird going public after keeping my personal hurdles private for so long! Talking so much about me rather than about you.

I am now at Day 153 and making great progress on my long slow bumpy uncertain recovery road. My specialist is pleased with where I am at, and reassures me that bumps are part of it. He says it probably takes a year to get to a smoother zone after a bone marrow transplant. Normal is a distant horizon and I try not to dwell on what I can’t do. What I can do is a far more helpful position to be in.

My recipe for a calm, happy, strong headspace includes reading, writing, blogging, baking, walking, doing jigsaws and watching things. Children’s books are essential, but I am also loving novels and poetry.

For the first time since I went to hospital, I recently hit a dark hole and found it really hard to focus on my mantra to Live and Love the Day. I think it was because my body has delivered all kinds of challenging bumps that I have weathered – I thought I had done so well getting though them all. Then it threw another one at me: dizziness, wooziness, light-headedness. Who knows when it will ease up! My head has been the key to keeping strong and calm and happy, and miraculously I have been able to write. So it threw me off course to be spinning-out, forgetful, foggy, near fainting.

Ah, the doubt. We all have doubt – I found myself double doubting in my dark hole that I could write or blog. Telling myself I was the crappiest writer and blogger in the world! But I kept/keep/will keep doing as way of being. Picking up a new poetry or children’s book is a vital diversion but I am making mistakes in my reviews. I don’t want to get names wrong or book details wrong. I want to honour and celebrate the fabulous books we are producing in Aotearoa. For the past week or so, I have wondered if I should put my blogs back on holiday – but no, I am selfish. They are too important to my well-being. They are my anchor and kite, my lifeline and source of joy.

I want to keep doing them but I want you to kindly tell me when I make mistakes. I will be grateful not offended.

If I don’t answer your email straightaway that is to be expected – but if too long goes by nudge me as I may have missed it.

Ah, the joy. My idea to get children to illustrate poems by authors is one of the most rewarding things I have done on Poetry Box. They are so keen to do it, it gives them truckloads of pleasure and satisfaction. It draws them closer to a poem and they create something where imagination knows no bounds. Rules and regulations are not paramount.

Your support is astonishing. Your understanding. I used the word ‘occasional’ to protect myself, knowing there will be days I can’t even turn my lap top on. Books I don’t review. Yet I always seem to have a gathering of posts ready to go, and am able to post poems and reviews most days. I am sticking with the word ‘occasional’!

Yes, it is a long slow bumpy recovery road, but having a happy zone, a support crew and a big stack of books to read and jigsaws to do, is gold. Having two new books in the world, so lovingly steered by Penguin, is also gold. I got sad I couldn’t be out in the world promoting them, but Poetry Box has helped. AND being part of our sublime writing communities matters so very much. You matter. Thank you.

Aroha nui
Paula x

8 thoughts on “Poetry Shelf health update

  1. ila@actrix.co.nz

    Dearest Paula

    You are an inspiration to all of us. I get your blog which is always uplifting but cannot reply properly as I’m not on facebook or anything else but regular email.

    Keep strong. We love you.

    Ila Selwyn


  2. gannetnic

    I’ve been loving your occasional poems posts, thank you! But your recovery always comes first, so take it easy, Paula. Trust your energy will rise after it has fallen; let go of any sense of obligation… ‘occasional’ is so great in its unpredictability and irregularity, and when you do share a poem or review, it’s all the more buzzy for that. Ka piki te ora, Nicola. X


  3. emilyperkinsefc808be83

    Dear Paula, no need to reply to this, just sending my love and good wishes to you – your fortitude and grace are remarkable. Bumps along the road must be part of recovery but really hard nonetheless.

    Wishing you a very very good summer.


    Emily xx



  4. rapatahana

    Mōrena a Paula. Ngā mihi mahana ki a koe nō te tāone iti o Mangakino. Tēnā koe mō tēnei īmēra e hoa. It is great to read that you are well on the way to recovery. I also have to say – once more – that New Zealand Poetry Shelf is a taonga, a vital necessity, and I appreciate all your curation of it. And I enter Rotorua Hospital on Monday morning myself for an operation. I too will be taking poetry books to read and review as part of the aftermath there. Te pai katoa (All the best). Vaughan Rapatahana Mangakino Aotearoa New Zealand & Tin Shui Wai Hong Kong & Santo Tomas, Pampanga Philippines

    Read New Zealand File https://www.read-nz.org/writer/rapatahana-vaughan/


    Liked by 1 person


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