Category Archives: NZ author

A suite of poems from Northland/ Te Tai Tokerau poets



Poetry Posse: Northland’s only performance poetry troupe.


Michael Botur has curated a suite of poems from Northland/ Te Tai Tokerau poets to showcase on Poetry Shelf. There are four here – but there easily could have been ten representing a vibrant and vital poetry scene. I grew up in Northland – its soil is in my blood and bones and every time I hit the top of the Brynderwyn Range I feel home and at home. This is where I first started writing poems, where James K Baxter stood on the Kamo High School stage a week or so before he died, where I discovered Hone Tuwhare in the school library. To get a poetry line to what is happening now, so many decades later, gave me goosebumps. Kia ora.



Two poems from Vivian Thonger


Gardening with grandmother

for Elizabeth Bishop


Child, stove in


in bed, secretly:

stove in her bed,

her teacup, her almanac.     Bed


the tears, black the stove,

brown the bread.

Man the kettle,

iron the buttons.     Time

the clever dark tea,


marvel with crayons

on the pathway.

House old jokes,

fall between

winding moons.     Dance


like rain on another

hot old, failing old roof.     Carefully

open half-rigid

grandmother, string

her up, birdlike.


Plant her out

in chilly September.


©Vivian Thonger



Stop hey what’s that sound? (Haruru sonnet)

An engine throbs over hills to the north.

I expect the farmer in his 4×4

to crest in silhouette, cattle cantering ahead,

dog barks and bull bellows trailing

the procession of cutesy cutouts.


The hill is still. The engine revs. Perhaps

a ‘copter’s hurtling to the beach,

to hoist aboard a battered kayaker

coughed up onshore, his empty craft bobbing

off among the rocks, hijacked by dolphins.


Wrong. A plane emerges, shades of WW2,

twin vapour plumes expand and blanket

gorseflower culverts full of yellow cheer.

Roundup, not romance. I’m new here.

©Vivian Thonger


Vivian Thonger is a Kerikeri poet, writer, performer, actor and musician with degrees in psychology and creative writing. Member of Northland’s Poetry Posse; regular participant at Whangarei’s monthly Dirty Word event. Poetry published in Offshoots 13+14Fast Fibres 2,3,4+5. See here.


Two poems from Piet Nieuwland



Walking to the sea to breathe

We go at dusk, dark

Waves coloured copper, emerald

Take refuge in the night, your voice

Between the mirror and the mirror

Stars taught me to write

A new semantic in light playing on the warp

And abra cloud silk wind weft

Its dialect, weightless as

Oceanic neutrinos and spring jasmines on

A path to nowhere that overflows

With kisses and bejewelled aureoles

Laughing a luminescent charm

Those kaleidoscope eyes, chocolate

In a garden of pomegranate and orange

Tulips and amaranth, blood

In the clay of our flesh

© Piet Nieuwland


An Indium Morning

Between Te Whara and Paepae o Tū

Pohutukawa elbows knotted

With an asymptotic curve of fine holocene sands

Taonga islands drifting through a sifting, shifting lens

Where we landed,

Cloud caverns of frontal activity loom

A spring tide in spring pulls the dunes down

Ice plants melt in the white sun

In a season of fires

A red kete, red tee shirt

Ebony bikini, blushing cheeks

Red billed gull quartet

He korero[1], plays the ivory surf

The fertile ocean carved whakairo

Into literatures of foam and air

A pizzicato for children

Ngaruaroha, her cello, violins

Trembling like the toiling clouds

Haere mai te kara

Ka nuku nuku

Ka neke neke

© Piet Nieuwland


Piet Nieuwland has poems and flash fiction appear in numerous print and online journals published in New Zealand, Australia, United States of America, and Canada. He is a performance poet, book reviewer, edits Fast Fibres Poetry and lives near Whangarei.



Two poems from Vaughan Gunson


Right now

This won’t be news to you,

but it’s always worth noting, scribbling on a tablet

those times when you’re snug

with the world, like an Avocado stone

inside the pale green oily flesh of the fruit


and I don’t know

whether to extend this idea into a neat

or twisted metaphor about life

and the tree with an egg-shaped fruit

with skin like an Armadillo’s shell, even though

I’ve never touched an Armadillo, being

just the first thing that came to me, and maybe

I’m starting at the beginning of the alphabet



are often just the start of something,

like that philosophical treatise you’re confident

will be the last word on Schopenhauer.

That’s what it feels like when you begin writing,

thinking you have all the answers.

Or maybe it’s like having the very best sex

after the very best conversation

when you ascend into each other


and then it’s over,

that philosophical treatise didn’t even last a page,

and no comparison was made

between loving life     right now

and a fruit or animal starting with the letter ‘B’.


© Vaughan Gunson



Detouring, if on hunch, taken perhaps by a message imbedded on a faded sign,

which invites you, in an old fashioned way,

to leave the criss-crossed tourist route


to sail along a wide street, used once

by carriages and proper women in white

embroidered dresses, and barefooted kids

in collars; a temporary stretch of bitumen


and stone, before the mud and puddles

return, that our quiet ancestors knew

in their distant photos, who looked down

more often to the unevenness of ground


we’ve strived to flatten. Look both ways

at the easy floating trees and timbered walls―

you won’t see our rough desires and coarse

pleasures; the blistering from all we polish.


© Vaughan Gunson


Vaughan Gunson lives in Hikurangi, north of Whangarei. He’s an occasional writer of poems and a regular columnist on light and heavy matters for the Northern Advocate newspaper. A small selection of poems and columns can be found here.



Two poems from Michael Botur


Don’t Look Down

Don’t look down, maintain your tightrope traipse

Ignore that you’re a blob on a rock in space

And a slim Darwinian coinflip made you exist in the first place.

This race of ruthless apes frustrates, so keep the faith.


Don’t look down when you can’t keep chill about the daycare and doctor’s bills

When all your friends seem to be on Bondi Beach holidays, eating Instragram canapes

When prices rise like a flooding tide and your income ain’t gone up since two thousand five

A millennial, with fuck-all, everything seems to scream without a home loan for property that’s overpriced you won’t survive.


Don’t look down and doubt your little miracles. They’ll light your day with rainbow fingerpaint

Then go from gleeful squeals to meningococcal in the brain whether or not you pray

But don’t conclude the earth’s a black and unforgiving place

With earthquakes and fates undeserved; it worsens if you look down and lose faith.


Some days nice guys finish thousandth place while snakes get to golden parachute away

Other days you wake and the news is nothing but nooses, another Robin Williams gone,

another Bourdain, Cornell or Chester Bennington.

Water and air are free but there’s no land left to live on.


Survive your tightrope life. Don’t let malice upset your balance.

Leave imposter syndrome at home. Pour your hearts out on Wednesdays to strangers on a stage.

Recycle. Exercise. Admire the skyline. Be grateful for rain.

Don’t let WINZ get under your skin. Don’t scream at redneck Letters to the Editor in vain

Balance pride in the left hand, regrets on the right

Good times behind, and eyes on the other side.

© Michael Botur


Somebody To Smoke With

I sat the Friday night in a Subaru

in a car park with male ape mates in oversized

XL white

t-shirts sucking on pipes

Just for somebody to smoke with


Did three weeks sweaty sunburned work

pushing a post hole borer in the dirt

with an ex-con who shared his pipe,

wet with spit from our lips.

At knock-off we said Fuck it, wiped ourselves down

with a paint-stiffened towel,


shared a bucket of crunchy KFC motivated by munchies,

washed it down with cans of bourbon cola Cody’s

pleased to have a bro to share a cone and a Family Feast. We


grown men make out like we are staunch, strong, chill, unafraid

like we ain’t at pains to get laid and praised

cause we could get hit by a bus any day

Men in their 30s, 40s, 50s. Men in matching patches, hoodies,


Men in rugby stubbies. Men in cycle-lycra.

Men having mid-life crises.

Men ram-raiding Unichem pharmacies

at 4.15 on a Thursday morning, squealing tyres and guilty pleas

And getting bulldogs and BPs tattooed on our cheeks


Consigning us to a life we can’t come back from,

like tryina climb a hydroslide

All cause we wanted somebody to be a bloke with

To feel less alone, somebody to smoke with.

© Michael Botur


Michael Botur, born 1984, is of Polish and British ancestry, hails from Christchurch and lives in Whangarei. He has published one novel, five short story collections and tonnes of journalism.





Michael Botur best author photo 4 cropped.jpg





Poetry Shelf Audio Spot: Nina Powles reads ‘Mid-Autumn Moon Festival 2016’



Nina Headshot (32 of 72).jpg

Photo credit: Sophie Davidson



‘Mid-Autumn Moon Festival 2016’ was originally published in Starling 5.


Nina Powles is from Wellington and currently lives in London. She is the author of Luminescent (Seraph Press, 2017) and is poetry editor at The Shanghai Literary Review. Her poetry pamphlet Field Notes on a Downpour is forthcoming from If A Leaf Falls Press in late 2018. Nina is on the shortlist for the  the inaugural Women Poets’ Prize (UK).







Nina Powles makes shortlist for inaugural Women Poets’ Prize


The Rebecca Swift Foundation is deeply excited to share the shortlist for the inaugural Women Poets’ Prize.  See here

Shortlist includes Nina:

Nina Mingya Powles
Nina Mingya Powles is a writer from New Zealand living in London. She is the author of Luminescent (2017) and Girls of the Drift (2014), and her poetry pamphlet Field Notes on a Downpour is forthcoming from If A Leaf Falls Press. She is Poetry Editor at the Shanghai Review, and won the 2018 Jane Martin Poetry Prize. @ninamingya


The Rebecca Swift Foundation is a UK registered charity set up in memory of Rebecca Swift – a much-loved editor, novelist, diarist, poet, and founder and director of The Literary Consultancy from its foundation in 1996 until her early death in April 2017.


Launching a year on from Rebecca’s passing, 2018 marks the inaugural Women Poets’ Prize – a biennial award seeking to honour Rebecca’s two key passions: poetry and the empowerment of women.


The Prize will be awarded to three female-identifying poets. Each winner will be carefully matched with a poetry mentor in addition to a pastoral coach, facilitating a holistic body of support that nurtures craft and personal wellbeing in equal measure. The Prize will also offer a programme of support and creative professional development opportunities with the Foundation’s partners: Faber and Faber, The Literary Consultancy, RADA, City Lit, Verve Festival, Bath Spa University, and The Poetry School. In addition to these opportunities which constitute the Women Poets’ Prize professional grant, each successful poet will each receive a cash bursary of £1,000.



Anne Kennedy’s launch: The Ice Shelf

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The Ice Shelf, Anne Kennedy, Victoria University Press, 2018



Richard von Sturmer launched Anne Kennedy’s new novel, The Ice Shelf, with a terrific speech. He had devoured a large chunk of the book then stopped because he was drawn to find the right place to finish it. He ended up in an elsewhere motel named Cicada, in  Kihikihi, a small town near Te Awamutu.

The readings of the book, both comic and serious, meant  today I can’t settle to anything else. I just want to open up the book and get reading.

Lovely to see The Women’s Bookshop packed with local writers and readers along with publisher Fergus Barrowman – as Richard said the book resembles an iceberg that has floated off into the world and will perhaps melt in our imaginations. Such an image matches the spectacular cover by Ant Sang and the spectacular presence of Antarctica – with its implications of silence, beauty, threat. I drifted off from the details of the book because there is nothing better than launching into a book from the spark of a cover and the pivot of a title. Into the exhilarating blast of the unknown.









Poetry Shelf in conversation with Erik Kennedy



Erik Kennedy has followed his poetry chapbook, Twenty-Six Factions (Cold Hub Press, 2017) with his debut collection, There’s No Place Like the Internet in Springtime (Victoria University Press, 2018). He edits the online journal Queen Mob’s Teahouse. He lives in Christchurch. His first-full length collection sparks with multiple fascinations, experience, thought, wit, politics, optical delights and aural treats. It is a book of harmonics and elastic thinking, and is a pleasure to read.




To celebrate the book Erik and I embarked on a slow-paced email conversation.



Paula: Did you read, write or hear poetry as a child? As a teenager?

Erik: I wouldn’t say that I grew up in a poetical household, but it was certainly a bookish one. My early touchstones were mostly fact-filled books: The Book of Lists, Jacques Cousteau, The Rand McNally Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft, atlases. We had that two-volume complete OED that comes with a magnifying glass, which I never used, and instead I liked to bring my eyes quite close to the tiny, tiny type on the huge pages. I was born in 1980, so I am part of the last cohort that had a childhood without the internet.

I came to poetry in my early teens. I was converted by my father’s old university poetry textbook, which was an early edition of An Introduction to Poetry by X. J. Kennedy (no relation). Then I realised that we had a lot more of this ‘poetry’ stuff in the house, and that even bookshops in suburban New Jersey would sell you poetry if you wanted it. I became obsessed with it. I was an only child with addictive tendencies. I started writing my own poems, and I liked it so much that I thought I should write hundreds of them. For a while I kept a chart of my productivity. For a while I thought six poems per day was a decent target.

Eventually I became saner and realised that reading was more important than writing, but the funny thing is, I wasn’t wrong about the benefits of writing tons of poems. At the time I thought I should do it because I assumed they were all brilliant and worth recording. Now I do it because I know that half of them will be rubbish.


Paula: Oh I love the image of the chart. I wonder if you will look through the rubbish pile one day and see some of the poems glow? I am intrigued by the way relationships change with a poem over time. I am also wondering with your enviable productivity if you write a poem quickly or it is agonisingly slow?

Erik: These days I’m more likely to abandon a poem than to revise it extensively, so I guess I go along at a fair clip. (If taking a week on a poem is writing ‘quickly’.) A couple of poems in the book – like ‘The Shame’, for instance – were written in one sitting. Poets reading this will be familiar with how amazing a feeling this is. Like bowling a perfect game on Christmas Eve, or finding a fifty dollar note in a seldom-worn coat.

I’m not very sentimental about particular poems. I tend to revisit certain subjects regularly – climate change, the atheist’s perspective on religion, inequality, mortality and the fear of death – so it’s unlikely that any given poem I write will be my last word on the matter. This takes off some of the pressure to get it perfect. This isn’t to say that I don’t like my poems or have particular favourites. But often it’s reader or audience reaction that earns a poem a place in my affections. I want my work to connect with people, and that connection is something that’s probably more important than my own super-subjective feelings about my work. This is one reason why I send my poems out so much and why I do as many readings as I can. Hopefully it all adds up to something in the end.


Paula: Writing is such a private thing – we send our work into the world and so often don’t eavesdrop on the reader. When an audience gasps after you read a poem it is gold!


There’s no place like the internet in springtime!

Everything foals a new thing like itself,

and old things are respectful in their pastures

and only argue over if it’s best

to let the snow melt or to make it melt.


from ‘There’s No Place Like the Internet in Springtime’



The order within disorder

is a spice-rack in a shipwreck,

an abacus in the corner

at the ruined abbey of Glenluce,

or hill-roads amid the scree

where earthquakes preside.

It is also a probe

in orbit around a comet,

a self-tightening noose,

a precise polypeptide

in a gummy primordial soup


from ‘I Can’t Even’


Your collection navigates eclectic subject matter but I was initially drawn to the interplay between a virtual world and a classical world. I began to muse on how poetry fits into movement between the arrival of the internet and a legacy of classical knowledge. Do both feed your curiosities as a poet? Does the internet make a difference to you as poet? I really love the lines in ‘I Can’t Even’:


The things we write we transform:

the far becomes the distant,

the distant becomes the invisible,

the invisible becomes the new


Erik: I sometimes (over-ambitiously!) describe the book as a collision between the digital and the pastoral – like responding to Marlowe’s ‘The Passionate Shepherd to His Love’ with an image macro. It seems to me that poetry is good at representing collisions like this, given that so much of the art as it’s practised now is about surprising juxtapositions and skewed perspectives. Even some of the famous ‘definitions’ of poetry get at this. Take one of Carl Sandburg’s hare-brained formulations: ‘Poetry is a puppet-show, where riders of skyrockets and divers of sea fathoms gossip about the sixth sense and the fourth dimension.’ This is barking, obviously, but it’s a way of saying, ‘Well, I add a and b together and I get x, and I’m not really sure why.’ And I understand that. That’s how it feels to me, too.

You’re right to sense that I care deeply about history. I’ve always cared as much about the seed drill as I have about @dril. It seems to me that on the c. 2018 internet all of history exists simultaneously. This was previously possible in the arts, but I don’t think that our daily lives were filled with the disorientating, mind-bending glory of it all until we had social media. I’m thinking of the @medievalpoc Twitter account, Daniel Mallory Ortberg’s legendary art/lit/textspeak mash-ups on The Toast (a few years old, but not forgotten), even Jim’ll Paint It (if old British telly counts as history). I could go on forever. We are blessed to live in these times.

But, in a way, I don’t think it is internet culture itself that has primarily affected my work, although I like Weird Twitter as much as the next idiot. I think instead the ability to plug into existing literary cultures has allowed my work to be broader than it would have been otherwise. This is part of the general, larger process of globalisation and cultural cross-pollination that we’re all living with and contributing to. I’m not the first person to say this, but I feel like I just know a lot more about the various poetries there are out there than I used to. And if I didn’t, I’d probably still be writing the same kinds of poems I wrote when I was twenty . . . and trust me, that would not be a good thing.


Paula: Engagement with diverse poetries seems so important and for me that involves reading outside my comfort zone, my poetry loves. I also love the idea of poetry reacting to collisions, intersections, juxtapositions. Interestingly when I was jotting down notes I wrote the words ‘detail’, ‘things’ and ‘juxtaposition’ but not just for the embedded ideas. Yes, the detail in the poems is striking in itself, but I was drawn to the ‘static’ or the  ‘conversation’ or ‘kinetic energy’ between things as I read.


Two feet of snow at my parents’ place, in another season.

Here, the cicadas sing like Christian women’s choirs

in a disused cotton mill. Belief is a kind of weather.

I haven’t seen proper snow for three years.


from ‘Letter from the Estuary’


I can jump about this stanza for ages. How important are the connections or bridges (and perhaps disconnections) between things as you write? Is there a poem where it is particularly important?

Erik: Perhaps you already know that James Brown has (gently) mocked my thought processes in that stanza of ‘Letter from the Estuary’ in a poem called ‘Liking Similes’? From his poem:


When I hear cicadas, their singing always reminds me of
Christian women’s choirs in a disused cotton mill.
I picture the conductor’s arms bent in supplication
as she tries to draw forth the correct ‘cicadian’ rhythm
from the collective gasp of Christian women.


And it goes on in that vein for about 400 words! I recommend it enthusiastically. I’m a strong believer in trying to surprise readers. Maybe sometimes I try too hard. Maybe sometimes that effort borders on the absurd. But a certain amount of risk is necessary if you’re going to write either very good or very bad poems. I’d like to be remembered as someone who wrote both.

I think James has got my style down, though! Or at least he’s got the logic of it, if not the exact tone. I’m lucky enough to be in a great critgroup – four other poets I trust, with whom I meet once a month. I often get told that my poems operate in predictable ways because they argue more than they emote. I think that aspect of my writing is easy to parody, and I don’t mind that. What’s wrong with using poems to work out problems? One of the oldest, simplest, and most enjoyable poems in the book, called ‘Growing Fears That the Leadership Contest Has Been Hijacked by Far-Left Infiltrators’, is a series of propositions, which, if answered in the affirmative, all seem to say that the reader is a proper socialist. That’s the sort of connection that’s most important to me – connections that lead to a punch line rather than ones that merely establish a mood.


Paula: Well, heck, I love jumping about that stanza and indeed the whole collection. Do you have a favourite poem in the collection – where the poem just clicked into place and lifted?

Erik: When it comes to my poems, I’m like a parent. I’m like a parent who loves all his children equally. I’m like a parent who acknowledges his children’s limitations. I’m like a parent who hopes his next children will be better than the ones he already has are. I’m like a parent who thinks his children would have been better off if they had been born in another time and place, when children rhymed and scanned. Maybe this is a faulty simile from someone who hasn’t got any kids.

What I’m trying to say is that I have a lot of favourite poems, and they all do different things, and I’m not vain enough to think that they’re all perfect. In fact, I have frosty relations with some of my poems. I won’t renounce them, but I hope I can replace them with better ones in future.

So instead of a one-poem answer, I hope you’ll let me nominate a few poems that I think fulfil their ambitions pretty well:


Favourite love poem: ‘Love Poem with Seagull’

Favourite poem about aesthetics: ‘I Rank All the Beautiful Things There Are’ (which appears in a slightly different version in the book)

Favourite rambling philosophical poem: ‘The School of Naps’

Favourite ‘history poem’: ‘Public Power’

Favourite ‘New Zealand poem’: ‘Letter from the Estuary’

Favourite eco-poem: ‘I Am an Animal Benefiting from Climate Change’ (not online)

Favourite poem that isn’t online: ‘Double Saw Final at the Canterbury A&P Show’ (also not online)


Paula: Oh, how perfect. I have been thinking of running a series on my blog where I get a poet to recommend a favourite poem (and go through categories!). I was thinking of poems by other poets though. I love your list; it is a reminder that poetry does all kinds of things on all kinds of subject matter with all kinds of stylistic leanings and you enagge with them for different reasons.

I had a conversation with a writer who, like me, finds writing makes her happy. It can be a challenge, demanding much of/from you, but it makes me happy. I jotted down a couple of lines from three terrific poems near the end of your book that feature ‘happy’, ‘glad’, ‘contentment’. For some reasons these three poems gave me goosebumps.


From ‘The School of Naps’: When you’re happy you have a responsibility to those who are unhappy / to do your best with it.’

From ‘The Contentment Poem’: ‘I’ve got the garden just how I like it and that, obviously, / is just how I like it.’

From ‘Today’: ‘And I, alone and glad, have missed these things.’


Does writing make you happy or is it a painful part of your life as it is with some writers?


Erik: Are there really poets who cause themselves pain when they write? Of course I love writing. I’ll never be more alive – ever – than when I feel an unmistakably good line come into my head. To me, that’s what humanity is: the moment when you acknowledge yourself as a self-aware, clever being. (Knowing that you’ve written a good poem is like juggling in the mirror.) At the moment of my death I will probably say something like, ‘One more line, please.’ One line in Latin on one’s tombstone below one’s name: Magis. More.

Obviously, I hate the process of writing as much as everyone else does; 999 lines in a thousand are just craft, not art. But I will chase the feeling of that serendipitous line across all of time and space. I suppose it’s why I’m a poet rather than a novelist – I can capture that feeling more easily in ten choice words than in ten chapters. Poetry is a shortcut to pleasure, and none of us should ever apologise for taking that shortcut.


Paula: Bill Manhire quotes Randall Jarrell in his (Bill’s!) poem ‘The Victims of Lightning’ – good poets might get struck by lightning five or six times in a thunderstorm – a great poet maybe a dozen. Sometimes it feels like that – where did this poem come from? How on earth did it hit the page and sound like this!

I am really drawn to the lists in your poems – there is something that both surprises and comforts about list poems or poems that play with lists. What is the attraction?


Erik: A natural rage for order, I suppose! I hope I don’t write many ‘list poems’, though. I’m happy enough to write poems that contain lists, but when lists are the poem I’m not usually very happy. It’s the same with anaphora, parallel structure, whatever. Like any rhetorical gimmick, these devices make useful servants and oppressive masters. I was reading Clint Smith’s ‘the drone’ the other day and I was thinking that it is a good example of a poem that develops and emerges naturally from its confines to say something necessary. And the structure helped it say what it said; it wasn’t just there when it got said, hanging around or getting in the way.


So when I write things like this:


I rank all the beautiful things there are

starting with self-sacrifice, then supernovas,

the brain, love, virga, Korean pottery,

lemurs, cuckoo clocks, suits of armour for horses,

a child’s first words, mercy, bread, and so on.


from ‘I Rank All the Beautiful Things There Are’


Or this:


The human ingenuity I admire

is limited, implausible, post hoc,

folksy, unconsidered, overthought,

ecstatic, garden-shed, Corinthian,

exhausting, nebulous, and somehow sexy.


from ‘I’m Impressed’


I am indulging myself, yes, but I am also pointing to the richness and strangeness of experience, which is a subject that those two poems share. Lists are a nice way to establish breadth. As someone who (likes to think that he) writes on a broad range of subjects, many of them not personal ones, they help me show that I have considered things, that I aware of the possibilities and I love them. Maybe that’s why I like lists and deploy them.


Paula: I am reluctant to wrap our conversation up as it has been such fun, but can we finish with a list – around five New Zealand poems that have struck you for different reasons?

Erik: In no particular order, and with no comment: Nick Ascroft’s ‘Five Limericks on Grief’, Hera Lindsay Bird’s ‘The da Vinci Code’, Alistair Te Ariki Campbell’s ‘Waiting for the Pākehā’, Ashleigh Young’s ‘Ghost Bear’, and James K. Baxter’s ‘Elegy for My Father’s Father’. Thanks! This has been great!

Paula: Indeed! Poetry delight.



Erik reads ‘Tour Grandfather’s Stories’

Victoria University Press page

Erik’s website








Two bird poems from Brian Turner


Birds Bathing


A friend reports watching ‘a conflagration

of birds feasting, fighting and bathing

in their personal lake.’ And I’m eyeing


my blackbirds, fussy frenzied delinquents

flinging food scraps from the compost heap,

a speckle of sparrows pecking seeds


and my ginger and white long-haired puss

sleeping under the scruffy hedge. All

are oblivious of a continuation of clouds


and showery spasms of rain slowly descending.



No Flurries


Each morning I put out

more sugared water,

bird seed and dripping,

so much in abundance

that in their darting

antic fluttering flurry

they’ve little if any

interest in me. So

it’s good to be able

to provide and not

require gratitude.

When you understand

that it settles you

down. No flurries.


©Brian Turner


Brian Turner is best-known for his poetry and numerous books of non-fiction. He was the Te Mata Estate NZ Poet Laureate 2003-05. Turner won the 1978 Commonwealth Poetry Prize and the 1993 New Zealand Book Award for Poetry for his collection Beyond. In 1994-5 he held an Arts Council Scholarship in Letters. He was Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago in 1984 and Writer in Residence at the University of Canterbury in 1997. He was the Te Mata Estate NZ Poet Laureate 2003-05.

In 2009 he was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry. He lives down south, in Central Otago’s quirky small town of Oturehua.