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Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Lynley Edmeades ‘Nodding is Soft’


Nodding is Soft



I can only tell you. What I saw.

And all I can. Say is that you.

Wouldn’t have wanted. To see it

yourself no. Sir it was not.

For public. Consumption it was

very hard and very. Bad probably

the hardest and. Baddest thing

to see but yes. I saw. It I saw

it hard and it was. Bad but even

when I. Saw it I didn’t say. Wow

that is the hardest. Thing I’ve ever

seen I just. Said when. Are we

leaving and you. Said well we

can leave when. You’ve finished

looking at the. Thing you’re looking

at. And so I turned. Away but

already I. Knew it was. Not

worth telling you. About this

most hardest and. Baddest thing

it is not. Soft not like your. Nodding

is soft. But why are. You nodding

don’t you know. That this is. The

hardest and baddest. Thing. No you.

Don’t understand it is. The worst.

I can only. Tell you what.


Lynley Edmeades, Listening In, Otago University Press, 2019


Lynley Edmeades completed an MA at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 2012. Her first collection of poetry, As the Verb Tenses (Otago University Press, 2016) was longlisted for the Ockham NZ Book Awards for Poetry, and shortlisted for the UNESCO Bridges of Struga Best First Book Award. She has a PhD in avant-garde poetics and teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Otago.


Otago University Press page

Lynley in conversation with Lynn Freeman (it’s terrific) Standing Room Only


Poetry Shelf noticeboard: New NZSA President Mandy Hager on earning potential for NZ writers

Mandy Hager – newly elected NZSA President 2019-2021


Full piece here


Mandy Hager is the author of both fiction and non-fiction, for adults and teens. Her work has won multiple awards and this year she received the Storyline Margaret Mahy Medal for life-time achievement and a distinguished contribution to New Zealand’s literature for young people. Her most recent book, Hindsight: Pivotal moments in New Zealand history, is launched later this month. She has just been appointed as President of the NZ Society of Authors.

A recent Spinoff article (25.9.19) to mark Arts Week headlined a quote from Jacinda Ardern which said: ‘We can’t say we value our art if we don’t value our artists.’ This opinion piece from the PM states that, ‘as someone who is passionate about the arts and the role they play in our communities,’ she believes art is all about wellbeing. ‘Being able to create and access art contributes not only to our individual wellbeing, but is also an important factor in the wellbeing of our communities, and our society as a whole.

For anyone working in the arts, this sentiment is very welcome, especially from our Prime Minister, whose predecessor, John Key, said at the launch of the Literary heritage Trail in 2012: ‘while our literary heroes may never challenge the glory and respect given to our All Blacks, we still need role models to inspire us’ and who described our most recent Booker Prize winner, Eleanor Catton, as a ‘fictional writer.’

In the Spinoff article, Ms Ardern points to several good initiatives currently being undertaken to support sustainable careers in the arts, saying ‘creative industries, and the artists that work in them, already make a significant contribution to our economy, and our government is committed to supporting this growth . . . However, we cannot say we value our art if we do not value our artists. We know our artists are often marginalised. Recent data confirms that our artists’ average earnings are well below the New Zealand average, and even the most talented and resilient can find it challenging to establish a sustainable career . . . all New Zealand workers deserve a fair wage, because this government is focused on wellbeing, and because I believe in the power of art to make change.

It’s refreshing to hear someone championing the arts at such a high level but, unfortunately, on the ground, NZ writers are grappling with several serious issues that may have gained a sympathetic ear but little traction to date. These issues very much affect our wellbeing and our ability to achieve a sustainable career; in fact, I’d go as far as to say they currently breach our human rights under the Berne Convention and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). New Zealand is a signatory to both.

Our sister organisation, Copyright Licensing NZ (CLNZ), recently conducted a survey of writers that discovered, on average, writers earn around $15,200 per annum from their writing — below the minimum wage for a 40 hour week (approx. $20,000) and substantially less than a living wage (approx. $44,000). Just over half cited the need for further support from partners and/or relied on other employment to pay the bills (42% in jobs unrelated to writing.) This information comes at a time when failing youth and adult literacy is a hot topic — and funding for literature through Creative New Zealand appears to be falling. The 2020-2022 CNZ investment client funding for literature equals 2.09% of the total funding pool (3 years of funding at $4.1m from a pool of $198.8m), compared to, say, 4.83% in 2019, or visual arts, at 5.57%.




Poetry Shelf noticeboard: David Eggleton’s talk on Peter Olds

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David Eggleton‘s first post as our current Poet Laureate is a talk he gave on Peter Olds at Noticing Peter Olds, an informal symposium on the poetry of Peter Olds, organised by Jacob Edmond, Jenny Powell and Anna Jackson, and the University of Otago English Department, and held on Friday 27 September, 2019 in the University of Otago Business School building.

Rad full talk at the Poet Laureate site

I want to argue that in the poetry of Peter Olds, any day is a good day for taking a line for a walk. As his numerous small publications over the years indicate, his poetry steadily accumulates day by day, made up of lines jotted down and going in and out of notebooks. These lines are the notations of a self-trained observer — gnostic gnawings on the bare bones of reality mayhap, but they always grounded in empirical observation, in tactile factuality. Whereas for some poets to make chin music is to offer a ruminative chewing on the cud of cliché at the pitch that flying insects enter the room, Olds resists falling into that trap by a certain alertness, a certain mental toughness, and by his hard graft of material fought for and processed in an attentive logic of sounds, as in the poem ‘Bad Omakoroa’ from the 2001 collection Music Therapy, published by the Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop, which opens:

Walking past the place where Mrs D
was smashed to death by a speeding car
as she crossed the road to check her letterbox.
A pheasant breaks loudly from
the avocado, flies out of sight
behind a hedge of feijoa.
A blue heron circles the sky.
Pukeko scatter from a vegetable plot.






Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Madeleine Slavick reviews Hinemoana Baker’s Live at Aratoi


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Photo by Nicola Easthope


Madeleine Slavick is a poet, photographer and communications manager at Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History, Masterton. She has reviewed Hinemoana Baker’s recent performance there – a thoughtful review that is as much poetry as it is critique. Brava!


Read Madeleine’s full piece here but here is the beginning:



Funkhaus – the working title of Hinemoana Baker’s upcoming collection.  ‘Funk’ as in funk, and also ‘broadcast’ in German, as the ‘haus’ in Berlin where the poet-singer-songwriter once lived, or squatted, had been a GDR radio station.  A saxophonist was also there, and Hinemoana would be sleepless in her tiny cubicle.  Born in 1968, Hinemoana says she’s too old to live like that, but I don’t see her living any other way. She lives and dives at once. Follows the river out to sea. Hinemoana. Woman of the Ocean.





Poetry Shelf noticeboard: The 2020 Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat


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The 2020 Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat
28 February – 1 March 2020
Waikanae, New Zealand

Immerse yourself in writing and conversation this summer. There’s something for everyone–whether you’re new to writing, an established writer, or somewhere in-between. Happening from 28 February – 1 March 2020 on the beautiful Kāpiti Coast north of Wellington, the Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat is a two-day gathering for writers that encompasses intensive morning workshops, lively discussions and space to write, relax and engage with topics critical to your work.

Kahini is delighted to host established and award-winning New Zealand writers– Anahera Gildea, Catherine Chidgey, Chris Tse, Kerry Lane, Paddy Richardson and Pip Desmond –at the 2020 Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat. Each writer will teach morning workshops: in fiction, poetry, lyric essay, creative non-fiction, world building and editing. In the afternoons, they will lead discussions on topics pertinent to craft and literature in Aotearoa.

You’ll find community, encouragement, and a safe place in which to take artistic risks.

Find out more (including full programme) here










Poetry Shelf noticeboard: The 10th anniversary celebration of the 2009 anthology Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry

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You are warmly invited to a poetry reading:

The 10th anniversary celebration of the 2009 anthology Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand, edited by Mark Pirie and Tim Jones

Winner of the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Collected Work 2009


Star Words: Voyagers and Beyond: SF and Speculative Poetry

Wednesday 30 October 2019:  5.30-7.30pm

VicBooks Pipitea, 27 Lambton Quay

Details here

Contributors to the anthology can read their poems, as well as an Open Mic for new science fiction, speculative and fantasy poets to read in.

Michael O’Leary, publisher at Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop is interested in publishing a mini book anthology from the event, so please leave your email contact details in the Open Mic book that will be held by the organisers to enter your poems for consideration in the anthology.



Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Meg Doughty’s ‘Under the Moon as it Rises’


Under the Moon as it Rises

I love the thought of running
out under the moon as it rises
on warm sand, still warm
from the day Like me
like my skin hot
like when I was just born
My black hair the night
flanking the moon, impending
(to run toward it as it rises too)…

But I don’t live near beaches
near dunes Just a city
that runs to the water and ceases
runs down and over hills
that keep me as a fish
in a bowl a cat in a bowl
hemmed in and antsy
scratching for the sun to leave
and let me run over sand to sea

Carving valleys with my claws
a prayer to bring rain
to bring the hills down
or turn them to dunes
to waves to let me away
across the wild Soft and hot
sand black white and red
on my paw pads and unending
Running and running and running…


Meg Doughty


Meg Doughty: I am a reactionary writer who is fascinated by the everyday mystic. I completed my English Honours degree in June from Vic, where I was lucky to be taught by Anna Jackson. I grew up with a black cat and we read Meg and Mog books together, convincing me I was a witch. I am now living in the big smoke, Auckland.

Meg’s poem ‘Potion’ at Starling