Category Archives: NZ poetry

National Poetry Day: Rising Stars II in Dunedin

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On National Poetry Day (August 25th) young Dunedin poets will perform their original work to a live audience.

Rising Stars II runs alongside the ‘Profile of 20 Young Poets’ radio series and podcast airing on Otago Access Radio, where young Dunedin artists talk about their writing and inspiration.

You can hear full episodes from this series here

Join us on the ground floor of the Dunedin Public Library to celebrate these young Dunedin poets!

25th August 2017 – 4:30pm
Gig City Cube, Ground Floor, Dunedin Public Library

Vaughan Rapatahana challenges sexism in NZ Literature @pantographpunch


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As you can imagine this article hits home sharply, especially as I am writing a book on New Zealand women’s poetry. My book aims to open multiple pathways into what was, at one point, viewed as a foreign country: women’s poems.

We have come so far, especially in view of Pākehā women – unbearably less so if you are not white-skinned – but I still find examples of gender bias and blindness, alongside the dynamic, fertile and eclectic visibility of women writing, critiquing, publishing, winning, speaking out, showcasing, connecting.

Thanks Vaughan, Sarah Jane Barnett and Pantograph Punch for provoking us to think and rethink.

Read the piece here.


A taste:

In a searing and articulate essay, Vaughan Rapatahana takes Aotearoa New Zealand literature to task for locker room schoolgirl-grooming, women-baiting, and sexism that arises from a violent and suppressed masculinity. 

You, being a modern poet
Must write real he-man stuff
So you will take slabs of prose
And cuts it into chunks like this;
There need be no rhyme nor reason in it …
No top-notch New Zealand poet any longer
Writes ballads like Jessie Mackay
Or bird-songs like Eileen Duggan
Or lyricisms like Helena Henderson
Or tree-poems like Nellie Macleod …
And anyway they‘re only women

(‘Without Malice’ by Alien in O’Leary 179-180).

Introduction, an historical overview

Yes, I have read all the books, all the pertinent material pertaining. New Zealand has always been a sexist society, a patriarchal panoply of male power, controlling and suppressing female prowess – as so well exemplified in its literary structures. Sexism in literature is a reflection of a wider societal sexism whereby a deliberately constructed literary masculinity ruled up until the 1970s or at least the 80s. Historian Jock Phillips pronounced in 1987 that ‘the traditional male stereotype is now weakening in New Zealand’ (289), while academic Kai Jensen pronounced, ‘…the mid 1960s…was the end of a thirty-year sequence of growth, dominance and decline in what we may call “high masculinism”’ (107). While the latter admitted to some continued sexism in New Zealand Letters from male writers after this time, it was now, ‘a tenuous residual presence’ (157).





Selina Tusitala Marsh’s invitation to Māori and Pasifika writers



This is the one event I am not going to miss on NZ Poetry Day!

From Selina:

‘Talofa Maori and Pasifika Writers – I’m using the launch to get teachers and writers kanohi-ki-te-kanohi, at least with your books! If you’re coming, please email Carole at the Women’s Bookshop to make sure they have your book in stock to sell on the night! If you’re not coming, but would like your book available on the night, please still email them! Let’s get Reading Brown on National Poetry Day!’


Launch details of Selina’s Tightrope

August 25th: 4.30 to 6 pm

Venue: Fale Pasifika

Location: Fale Pasifika, University of Auckland, Auckland, 1010


A new series – Poem on the Terrace: Charles Olsen and Anna Borrie read NZ poetry on a Madrid rooftop

Listen here.
First up: my ‘Bethells Beach’ from The Baker’s Thumbprint (Seraph Press).  Quite a thrill hearing it in Spanish and then English.
 ‘We present ‘Poem on the Terrace – New Zealand Poets’, where we introduce kiwi poets to a Spanish-speaking audience. Once a week Anna Borrie and I recite and discuss a poem on a relaxed Madrid roof terrace. (Subtitles are available in English.)’


Poem on the Terrace – Bethells Beach de Paula Green

Presentamos ‘Poem on the Terrace – poetas neozelandeses’. Una serie para dar a conocer la poesía de las antípodas de España. Los neozelandeses, Charles Olsen y Anna Borrie, recitan y comentan un poema en una agradable terraza de Madrid.

En este capítulo leen ‘La playa Bethalls’ de Paula Green de su libro The Baker’s Thumbprint (Seraph Press, 2013). Pueden leer más sobre la autora, además de dos de sus poemas traducidos al castellano, en Palabras Prestadas.

We present ‘Poem on the Terrace – New Zealand Poets’, where we introduce kiwi poets to a Spanish audience. Charles Olsen and Anna Borrie recite and discuss a poem on a relaxed Madrid roof terrace.

In this chapter they read ‘Bethells Beach’ by Paula Green from her book The Baker’s Thumbprint (Seraph Press, 2013). Find out more about the author on NZ Poetry Shelf

I talk children’s poetry with Lynn Freeman



from Groovy Fish

It was such a pleasure having this chat with Lynn in the studio before my memorable taxi ride.

I can’t believe I forgot my all-time favourite New Zealand children’s poet, Margaret Mahy whose word play and leaping imagination astonishes me more than that of anyone else. I was full to the brim with award-day nerves but still ….  a thousand apologies.

The Sapling will post an A to Z of my favourite children’s poetry books on Poetry Day.

Listen here.

Poetry Shelf Winter Season: C. K. Stead off-piste


Ten to midnight


She was, she tells me

the one without a partner

until I came

with a bottle of bubbly and two plastic cups

and a small box of rose petals.


‘You realize my age?’ I ask

(uncertain what it is).

‘Of course,’ she says.

‘This was half a century ago.’


So we danced and danced

until just before midnight

when I walked out

into the Bavarian dark.

‘I’ve never forgiven you,’ she says.

‘Where did you go? Where have you been?’


And here I am again

dinner jacket, bow tie

with the bottle, the plastic cups,

the rose petals.


Where is the dark side to this,

its sinister underbelly?


I cannot find it, am blind

and happy as we dance

in the town square,

surprised we move so freely

so gracefully over the cobbles

under a Munich moon

and a town hall clock telling me

it is ten to midnight.


© C. K. Stead


Author’s note: There are a number of points where my poems have taken a new turn but by now each one has become part of my armoury (so to speak) so it wouldn’t look as new or surprising as it felt at the time. But there’s a group of poems written recently which have a new feel about them – maybe a change of direction without being an about-face. I’m calling them collectively Nocturnes.

C. K. Stead is New Zealand’s current Poet Laureate. His most recent books include The Name on the Door is Not Mine, a collection of revised and previously unpublished short stories, and Shelf Life. His latest collection of poems, In the mirror, and dancing, will be published in August as a limited edition hand-printed by Brendan O’Brien.


To celebrate his new collection, Stead will participate in a reading/ conversation at the National Library:

A reading/conversation to mark the conclusion of C. K. Stead’s tenure as New Zealand Poet Laureate and to celebrate the publication of his In the mirror, and dancing, with illustrations by Douglas MacDiarmid.

Karl will read from the new book and discuss poetry, art, youth, the creative life and related matters with Douglas MacDiarmid’s niece and biographer Anna Cahill. They will be joined by hand-press printer Brendan O’Brien, who produced the book, with poet Gregory O’Brien in the chair.

National Library of New Zealand
Molesworth Street, Wellington
Ground floor, 12.10-1.10pm
Wednesday 9 August 2017

Free admission,
No RSVP’s so be seated early.



From Paula: For Poetry Shelf’s Winter Season, I invited 12 poets to pick one of their own poems that marks a shift in direction, that is outside the usual tracks of their poetry, that moves out of character, that nudges comfort zones of writing. It might be subject matter, style, form, approach, tone, effect, motivation, borrowings, revelation, invention, experimentation, exclusions, inclusions, melody …. anything!

With our current Poet Laureate, this is a winter-season wrap.

Thanks poets, and thanks readers.