Category Archives: NZ Poetry reading

Maitreyabandhu in conversation with Jenny Bornholdt and Bill Manhire

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Maitreyabandhu, from the London Buddhist Centre, will be in conversation with Jenny Bornholdt and Bill Manhire about their life and work, New Zealand and the purpose of poetry.

City Gallery Wellington, Te Ngākau Civic Square
Tuesday 18 December, 6pm-7.30pm

All welcome. Donation entry to help cover venue costs.

Books will be for sale courtesy of Vic Books.

Poetry Shelf audio spot: Helen Heath reads two new poems from Are Friends Electric








‘Greg and the bird’

and the bird’



‘A rise of starlings’



Helen Heath’s debut collection, Graft, won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book for Poetry Award. It was also shortlisted for the Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize (the first poetry or fiction shortlisted). Helen has a PhD in Creative Writing from Victoria University of Wellington’s IIML. Her new collection, Are Friends Electric, is a poetic smorgasbord that offers diverse and satisfying engagements.


Paula Green and Helen Heath in conversation

Victoria University Press page











Poetry Shelf audio spot: Emma Neale reads ‘Man Up’







‘Man Up’ from Tender Machines, Otago University Press, 2015


Emma Neale received the inaugural NZSA/Janet Frame Memorial Award, the Kathleen Grattan Award for an unpublished poetry manuscript (The Truth Garden), the University of Otago Burns Fellowship and the NZSA/Beatson Fellowship. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Sarah Broom Poetry Award and the Bridport Poetry Prize, and her poetry collection, Tender Machines, was long-listed in the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Her novel, Billy Bird, was short-listed for the Acorn Prize in the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards and long-listed for the International Dublin Literary Award. She is the current editor of Landfall.


Otago University Press page







A taste of friendship: an audio sampling – four poets reading in Palmerston North



I am heading to Palmerston North next week to do a a few things at the RealM Manawatu conference so thought I would organise a poetry reading with friends.

Johanna Aitchison, Helen Lehndorf and Tim Upperton don’t live in the same city as me, I’ve hardly ever met them, but I have had enduring friendships with their writing. When I was trawling through the poetry archives for a year or so, for Wild Honey, I was captivated by friendships among the early women poets. These involved exchanging letters, drinking tea and sharing secrets but also included sustained engagements with each other’s writing. I liked that.

I got to thinking about the diverse communities we write in and how we also have support crews whether people or poetry: poetry friendships. I most certainly do.

So on Wednesday 13th June, at 6.30 pm,  I will be in conversation with Helen, Johanna and Tim at the Palmerston North Central Library. In the meantime you can hear a poem from each of us  – an online miniature poetry reading.


An audio tasting platter



Photo credit: Barira Nazir


Johanna Aitchison reading ‘Cockroach’


Johanna Aitchison is a doctoral candidate at Massey University examining alter egos in contemporary lyric poetry. Her hobbies are running, op-shopping, and she’s always keen for a good karaoke session.








Helen Lehndorf reading ‘the things you are not ready for’


Helen Lehndorf is a writer and writing teacher. Her book ‘The Comforter’ made the New Zealand Listener’s ‘Best 100 Books of 2012 and her poem ‘Wabi-sabi’ was selected for Best New Zealand Poems in 2011. Her second book, about the practice of journaling, ‘Write to the Centre’ was published by Haunui Press in 2016. Her essay ‘The Sensory Seeker’ appeared in Massey University’s 2017 anthology ‘Home’. She loves permaculture, community activism and helping people access their innate creativity.




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You can hear Tim Upperton read ‘My Lazy Eye’ at The Pantograph Punch here

and he reads ‘The truth about Palmerston North’ with a discussion by the editors at Poetry Foundation here



Tim Upperton’s second poetry collection, The Night We Ate The Baby (Haunui Press), was an Ockham New Zealand Book Awards finalist in 2016. He won the Caselberg International Poetry Competition in 2012 and again in 2013. His poems have been published widely in magazines and journals including Sport, Landfall, NZ Listener, and North and South in New Zealand, and Poetry, Shenandoah, and Agni in America.  His work is also anthologised in The Best of Best New Zealand Poems (Victoria University Press), Essential New Zealand Poems (Random House), Villanelles (Everyman), and Obsession: Sestinas in the Twenty-First Century (Dartmouth University Press). He reviews books occasionally for the NZ Listener, Metro, The Pantograph Punch, Landfall, and The Spinoff, and is completing a Creative Writing PhD researching the poetry of Frederick Seidel.




And here is me reading ‘School House Bay’:







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Poetry Shelf audio spot: Amy Brown reads 13th August 2016




The image is by Auckland artist, Peter Gouge, who drew it for Amy’s son Robin.



’13th August 2016′  is the first entry in what I’m calling Neon Daze: a verse journal of the first four months,


Amy Brown grew up in Hawkes Bay and now lives in Melbourne, where she teaches Literature and Philosophy. Her last book, The Odour of Sanctity, was published by VUP in 2013.








Poetry Shelf audio spot: award winner Hannah Mettner reads ‘Cat Chakra Alignments’







Hannah Mettner, ‘Cat Chakra Alignments’, Fully Clothed and So Forgetful, Victoria University Press, 2017 


Hannah Mettner is a poet, librarian and mum in Wellington. She co-edits Sweet Mammalian, an online poetry journal, with Morgan Bach and Sugar Magnolia Wilson. Her first collection, Fully Clothed and So Forgetful was published by Victoria University Press in 2017, and won the Jessie Mackay award for the best first book in poetry.


Victoria University Press page








Poetry Shelf audio spot: AWF guest Airini Beautrais reads ‘Listening’

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In case you don’t get to hear Airini Beautrais read at the Auckland Writers Festival this weekend – you can hear her reading a new poem.





Your love’s a country I will never see

again, a horse that will not take the bit,

a dusty dress I am too fat to fit,

(read: passionate – you’d bust too easily),

a box I’ve locked and then misplaced the key,

a post card I will never receive, a hit

I simply missed, a dog that will not sit,

a prize catch on the hook that wriggles free.

But still I am a wide receiving dish,

listening, listening to signals from the sky

until my ears are thrashed. The cries of birds,

the groans of growing trees, movements of fish,

the rumbling earth, crowd out the sounds that I

am searching for: mute thunder of your words.

© Airini Beautrais



Airini Beautrais lives in Whanganui. Her most recent book of poetry is Flow: Whanganui River Poems (Victoria University Press, 2017). ‘Listening’ is from a work in progress, a narrative sonnet sequence.


You can catch Airini at the Auckland Writers Festival:

Friday May 18th 5.30 until 6.30   Homage to the River   Upper NZI Room

Friday May 18th 6 until 7.30   Call on O’Connell    90 minutes literary mayhem on O’Connell Street

Sunday May 20  10.30 – 11.30 The Art of the Poem with James Brown, Choman Hardi and Terese Svoboda.  Upper NZI Room