Poetry Shelf noticeboard: National Poetry Slam winner Te Kahu Rolleston performs some of his poetry and speaks with Kathryn Ryan

Wonderful radio!

National Poetry Slam winner Te Kahu Rolleston performs some of his poetry and speaks with Kathryn Ryan about giving rangatahi voice to hopes and dreams through performance poetry. E Tū Whānau is running a spoken word competition, the kaupapa being “hopes and dreams for my world, my future, my whānau”.  Te Kahu’s offering tips and encouraging everyone to enter and get involved. He’s no stranger to enthusing young people.  Listen duration 31′ :32″ Add to playlistDownload

Listen

Alumni of the prestigious Banff Centre’s Indigenous Writing Programme, Te Kahu runs spoken word workshops with rangatahi in schools around the country to endear them to a life-long love of reading and spoken word poetry.  Te Kahu’s approach is to fill the room with joy and happiness, so learning – and writing – is a joy.

Poetry Shelf celebrates new books: Editor Pat White reads from Rejoice Instead: the Collected Poems of Peter Hooper

Rejoice Instead: the Collected Poems of Peter Hooper, ed and introd by Pat White,

Cold Hub Press, 2021

Pat White reads from Rejoice Instead (Part One)

Pat White reads from Rejoice Instead (Part Two)

Peter Hooper (1919–1991): was a West Coast poet, novelist, teacher, bookseller and conservationist. In a writing career that spanned the decades following World War II until his death in 1991, his reputation as a poet has tended to depend on poems published in slim volumes no longer easily accessible. The exception was Earth Marriage (Fragments III, 1972), a selection of previously published and new work with photographs of the West Coast, which sold two thousand copies within a year. A rather meagre Selected Poems was published by John McIndoe in 1977. Between 1977 and his death in 1991 Hooper published a trilogy of novels: A Song in the Forest (1979); People of the Long Water (1985); and Time and the Forest (1986) which won the New Zealand Book Award for fiction. A collection of short stories, The Goat Paddock and other stories appeared in 1981. Hooper also wrote and published extensively on conservation and environmental subjects.

Pat White is a writer and artist living near Fairlie. He has an MFA from Massey University, and an MA in Creative Writing from IIML Victoria University. In August 2018 Roger Hickin’s Cold Hub Press published Watching for the Wingbeat; new & selected poems. In 2017 Notes from the margins, his biography/memoir of the teacher, author, environmentalist, the West Coast’s Peter Hooper, was published. An exhibition, Gallipoli in search of family story, has been shown in museums and art galleries a number of times in recent years.

Cold Hub Press page

Pat White discusses Rejoice Instead: Collected Poems: Peter Hooper with Lynn Freeman on RNZ National

Poetry Shelf noticeboard: The Great Write Inn is a Weekend for Writers

The Great Write Inn is a Weekend for Writers: 16-17 October 2021 Created by writers for writers, featuring Catherine Chidgey, Diane Brown, Emily Writes, Fiona Farrell, Amy Scott, Fiona Cole, Emma Neale, Beverly Martens and other special guests.

You need to go to the site to check the full details out

Poetry Shelf: Aidan-B. Howard reviews This Twilight Menagerie

This Twilight Menagerie is a poetry anthology of a special importance and a special calibre. Forty years ago, Poetry Live! was launched in Auckland as a weekly meeting of poets and poetry lovers, driven initially by the late David Mitchell, himself a poet of some national and international renown. Over the following years, the diverse team that runs this event has released occasional ‘annuals’ (in the loosest sense of the word). This year, however, is something even beyond this.

  To mark the 40th anniversary of this gathering, a significant 218-page anthology has been released, containing works from 79 poets, past and present, most still alive, but a few gone to that great typewriter in the sky. Many of these contributors have endured most of that entire 40 years on the local scene; some used to attend in the earlier days, but have subsequently moved on; others are fresh and enjoying the new opportunities that a local, public platform affords them. But in all cases, these poets have offered us something that they have considered to be of some quality and of some respect to the long Poetry Live! tradition.

  And it is from here that we see again that “special calibre”. Because the editors this year have been able to choose from so many artists and so many works that were offered for consideration, that selection has ended up being one of the finest collections that we could hope to find, one that would sit with pride next to the various yearbooks or the larger, more famous anthologies. It has poets laureate and literary award winners alongside retired teachers, plumbers and architecture students, all with one thing in common – their love of poetry. Aotearoa New Zealand already holds, and for a long time has held, the record as the country that publishes more poetry books, per capita, than any other, and so what we have here, really, is a tradition within a tradition, a ‘commonwealth’ of the two.

  Having been an arts and literary reviewer since the early 1980s, I have come across the good, the bad and the indifferent, as we find throughout the creative world. But for the first time in countless years, we have a collection in which there is nothing half-hearted, nothing disrespectfully casual. Covering every topic from the love of one’s father to the love of our grandmothers, from the pride in one’s mana to the fascination in the moon or in an octopus, to statues, to music, from the outrageous death of twin babies to the conflicted death of a junkie. The reader, any reader, will find something for themselves, a poem, a verse, a line, maybe a mere word or phrase, that means much to them and invokes an image, a memory or an intrigue… and maybe even a desire to put pen to paper and write themselves.

     I want to give words to you.

          Words to caress your face,

          To run across your lips, and around your eyes.

     …

     I want to give you words

          That you will keep on your bookshelf,

          In your record case, and behind the door in your loo.

     Words that are ideas

          So that you can build sandcastles with them.

          And then I’ll give you words

          To hold back the flowing tide.

                         [Roger Hicks, Words (excerpt)]

Aidan-B. Howard

This Twilight Menagerie, Jamie Trower & Sam Clements Editors, $20 plus p&p, orderable by email at poetryanthology40@gmail.com 219pp 210x150mm

Aidan Howard was the chief arts reviewer on Craccum for 13 of the years from 1980 to 2000, including 7 years as the arts editor and one as the editor.

Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Ben Brown’s ‘Writing on the Moon’

Writing on the Moon

Writing on the moon

with a feather dipped

in light

The sickle of

tomorrow’s sun

reflecting possibilities

The shadow of

the world defines

unlimited imagining

Ben Brown (2020)

Ben Brown (Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Koroki, Ngāti Paoa) was born 1962 in Motueka, which is further away from him now than he cares to think about. He has been writing all his life for his own enjoyment and published his first children’s book in 1991. He is an award winning author who writes for children and adults across all genres, including poetry, which he also enjoys performing. Generally, if pressed, he will have something to say about anything. In May 2021 he was made the inaugural NZ Reading Ambassador for Children – Te Awhi Rito. He is also a father of two, which he considers his best work to date. He lives in Lyttelton above a pie shop across the road from the sea.

Poetry Shelf Theme Season: Twelve poems about kindness

Kindness, the word on our tongues, in this upheaval world, in these challenging times, as we navigate conflicting points of view, when our well being is under threat, when the planet is under threat, when some of us are going hungry, cold, without work, distanced from loved ones, suffer cruelty, endure hatred because of difference. Kindness is the word and kindness is the action, and it is the leaning in to understand. I had no idea what I would discover when I checked whether poetry features kindness, and indeed, at times, whether poems are a form of kindness. I think of poetry as a form of song, as excavation, challenge, discovery, tonic, storytelling, connection, as surprise and sustenance for both reader and writer. In the past year, as I face and have faced multiple challenges, poetry has become the ultimate kindness.

The poems I have selected are not necessarily about kindness but have a kindness presence that leads in multiple directions. Warm thanks to the poets and publishers who have supported my season of themes. The season ends mid August.

The poems

Give me an ordinary day

Ordinary days

Where the salt sings in the air

And the tūī rests in the tree outside our kitchen window

And the sun is occluded by cloud, so that the light

does not reach out and hurt our eyes

And we have eaten, and we have drunk

We have slept, and will sleep more

And the child is fed

And the books have been read

And the toys are strewn around the lounge

Give me an ordinary day

Ordinary days

Where I sit at my desk, working for hours

until the light dims

And you are outside in the garden,

clipping back the hedge and trees

And then I am standing at the sink, washing dishes,

And chopping up vegetables for dinner

We sit down together, we eat, our child is laughing

And you play Muddy Waters on the stereo

And later we lie in bed reading until midnight

Give me an ordinary day

Ordinary days

Where no one falls sick, no one is hurt

We have milk, we have bread and coffee and tea

Nothing is pressing, nothing to worry about today

The newspaper is full of entertainment news

The washing is clean, it has been folded and put away

Loss and disappointment pass us by

Outside it is busy, the street hums with sound

The children are trailing up the road to school

And busy commuters rush by talking on cellphones

Give me an ordinary day

And because I’m a dreamer, on my ordinary day

Nobody I loved ever died too young

My father is still right here, sitting in his chair,

where he always sits, looking out at the sea

I never lost anything I truly wanted

And nothing ever hurt me more than I could bear

The rain falls when we need it, the sun shines

People don’t argue, it’s easy to talk to everyone

Everyone is kind, we all put others before ourselves

The world isn’t dying, there is life thriving everywhere

Oh Lord, give me an ordinary day

Kiri Piahana-Wong

The guest house

    (for Al Noor and Linwood Mosques)

In this house

we have one rule:

                                                     bring only what you want to

                                                leave behind

we open doors

with both hands

passing batons

from death to life

come share with us

this tiny place

we built from broken tongues

and one-way boarding passes

from kauri bark

and scholarships

from kāitiaki

and kin

in this house

we are

                                               all broken

                                               all strange

                                               all guests  

we are holding

space for you

                                               stranger

                                               friend

come angry

come dazed

come hand against your frail

come open wounded

come heart between your knees

come sick and sleepless

come seeking shelter

come crawling in your lungs

come teeth inside your grief

come shattered peace

come foreign doubt

come unrequited sun

come shaken soil

come unbearable canyon

come desperately alone

come untuned blossom

come wild and hollow prayer

come celestial martyr

come singing doubt

come swimming to land

come weep

come whisper

come howl into embrace

come find

                                                a new thread

                                                a gentle light

                                                a glass jar to hold

                                                                         your dust

come closer

come in

you are welcome, brother

Mohamed Hassan

from National Anthem, Dead Bird Books, 2020                        

Prayer

I pray to you Shoulder Blades

my twelve-year-old daughter’s shining like wings

like frigate birds that can fly out past the sea where my father lives

and back in again.

I pray to you Water,

you tell me which way to go

even though it is so often through the howling.

I pray to you Static –

no, that is the sea.

I pray to you Headache,

you are always here, like a blessing from a heavy-handed priest.

I pray to you Seizure,

you shut my eyes and open them again.

I pray to you Mirror,

I know you are the evil one.

I pray to you Aunties who are cruel.

You are better than university and therapy

you teach me to write books

how to hurt and hurt and forgive,

(eventually to forgive,

one day to forgive,

right before death to forgive).

I pray to you Aunties who are kind.

All of you live in the sky now,

you are better than letters and telephones.

I pray to you Belt,

yours are marks of Easter.

I pray to you Great Rock in my throat,

every now and then I am better than I am now.

I pray to you Easter Sunday.

Nothing is resurrecting but the water from my eyes

it will die and rise up again

the rock is rolled away and no one appears

no shining man with blonde hair and blue eyes.

I pray to you Lungs,

I will keep you clean and the dear lungs around me.

I pray to you Child

for forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness.

I will probably wreck you as badly as I have been wrecked

leave the ship of your childhood, with you

handcuffed to the rigging,

me peering in at you through the portholes

both of us weeping for different reasons.

I pray to you Air

you are where all the things that look like you live

all the things I cannot see.

I pray to you Reader.

I pray to you.

Tusiata Avia

from The Savage Coloniser Book, Victoria University Press, 2020

sonnet xix

I’m thinking about it, how we’ll embrace each other

at the airport, then you’ll drive the long way home,

back down the island, sweet dear heart, sweet.

And I’m thinking about the crazy lady, how she strides

down Cuba Mall in full combat gear,

her face streaked with charcoal, how she barges

through the casual crowd, the coffee drinkers,

the eaters of sweet biscuits. ‘All clear,’ she shouts,

‘I’ve got it sorted, you may all stand down.’

What I should do, what I would do if this was a movie,

I’d go right up to her and I’d say, ‘Thank you,

I feel so much safer in this crazy world with you around.’       

Geoff would get it, waiting at the corner of Ghuznee Street.

It’s his kind of scene. In fact, he’d probably direct it.

Bernadette Hall

from Fancy Dancing: Selected Poems, Victoria University Press, 2020

Precious to them

You absolutely must be kind to animals

even the wild cats.

Grandad brought me a little tiny baby hare,

Don’t you tell your grandma

I’ve brought it inside and put it in the bed.

He put buttered milk arrowroot biscuits, slipped them

in my pockets to go down for early morning milking

You mustn’t tell your grandma, I’m putting all this butter

in the biscuits.

Marty Smith

from Horse with Hat, Victoria University Press, 2014, suggested by Amy Brown

kia atawhai – te huaketo 2020

kia atawhai ki ā koutou whānau

kia atawhai ki ā koutou whanaunga

kia atawhai ki ā koutou hoa

kia atawhai ki ā koutou kiritata

kia atawhai ki ā koutou hoamahi

kia atawhai ki ngā uakoao

kia atawhai ki ngā tangata o eru ata mātāwaka

kia atawhai ki ā koutou ano.

ka whakamatea i te huaketo

ki te atawhai.

kia atawhai.

be kind – the virus 2020

be kind to your families

be kind to your relatives

be kind to your friends

be kind to your neighbours

be kind to your workmates

be kind to strangers

be kind to people of other ethnicities

be kind to yourselves.

kill the virus

with kindness.

be kind.

Vaughan Rapatahana

The Lift

For Anna Jackson

it had been one of those days

that was part of one of those weeks, months

where people seemed angry

& I felt like the last runner in the relay race

taking the blame for not getting the baton

over the finish line fast enough

everyone scolding

I was worn down by it, diminished

& to top it off, the bus sailed past without seeing me

& I was late for the reading, another failure

so when Anna offered me a lift home

I could have cried

because it was the first nice thing

that had happened that day

so much bigger than a ride in a car

it was all about standing alone

in a big grey city

and somebody suddenly

handing you marigolds

Janis Freegard

first appeared on Janis’s blog

Honest Second

The art of advice

is balancing

what you think

is the right thing

with what you think

is the right thing to say,

keeping in mind

the psychological state

of the person whom you are advising,

your own integrity and beliefs,

as well as the repercussions

of your suggestions in the immediate

and distant futures—a complex mix,

especially in light of the fact that friendship

should always be kind first,

and honest second.

Johanna Emeney

from Felt, Massey University Press, 2021

A Radical Act in July

You are always smiling the cheese man says, my default position.

The cheese, locally made, sold in the farmers market,

but still not good enough for my newly converted vegan friend

who preaches of bobby calves, burping methane, accuses me

of not taking the problems of the world seriously enough.

Granted, there is much to be afraid of: unprecedented fires,

glaciers melting, sea lapping into expensive living rooms,

the pandemic threatening to go on the rampage again

and here still, lurking behind supermarket shelves,

or in the shadows outside our houses like a violent ex-husband.

Strongmen, stupid or calculating are in charge of too many countries,

we have the possibility of one ourselves now, a strong woman,

aiming to crush our current leader and her habit of kindness

while she holds back global warming and Covid 19

with a scowl. I can see why friends no longer watch the news,

why my sons say they will have no children,

why pulling the blankets over your head starts to seem

like a reasonable proposition but what good does that do

for my neighbour living alone, who, for the first time

in her long-life, surviving war, depression

and other trauma is afraid to go outside?

Perhaps there is reason enough for me not to smile,

one son lives in China and can’t come back for the lack

of a job. The other lives by the sea, but in a shed with no kitchen.

I hear my stretcher-bearer dad in his later years, talking

of Cassino and how they laughed when they weren’t screaming

how his mates all dreamed of coming home and finding

a girl. Some did and so we are here, and in being here

we have already won the lottery. So, I get up early

for the market, put on my red hat to spite the cold,

and greet the first crocus which has popped up overnight.

I try not to think it’s only July and is this a sign

and should I save the world by bypassing the cheese man

and the milk man who names his cows?

My dad was consumed by nightmares most of his life,

but at my age now, 69, he would leap into the lounge

in a forward roll to shock us into laughing. A gift,

though I didn’t see it at the time. Reason enough to smile,

practise kindness and optimism as a radical act

Diane Brown

Seabird

I have not forgotten that seabird

the one I saw with its wings

stretched across the hard road.

One eye open,

one closed.

I wanted to walk past

But the road is no place

for a burial –

I picked it up by the wings

took it to the

water and floated it

out to sea,

which was of no use

to the bird, it had ceased.

I like to think someone

was coaching me in the small,

never futile art,

of gentleness.

Richard Langston

from Five O’Clock Shadows, The Cuba press, 2020

Four stories about kindness

I had lunch with Y today, and she told me over gnocchi (me) and meatballs (her), about how she joined up with another dating website. She quickly filled in the online forms, all the ones about herself and her interests, until she came to one where she had to choose the five attributes she thought were the most important in a person. She looked at them for a while, and then grabbed a piece of paper and wrote out the thirty possible attributes in a list. She read the list. She put it down and went to bed. The next morning when she woke up she read the list again. She found her scissors and snipped around each word. She laid each rectangle on the table, arranged them in a possible order, shuffled them around, and then arranged them again. She went to work. When she came back in the evening they were still there, glowing slightly in the twilight. She sat down in front of them and made some minor adjustments. She discovered, somewhat to her surprise, that kindness is the most important thing to her. She went back to the web page and finished her application. Very soon she was registered and had been matched with ten men in her area. Soon after she had thirty-five messages. The next morning she had forty more. She deleted the messages and deleted her profile. Then she wrote five words on a piece of paper and pinned it to her wall.

*

I phone A, whose father is dying. Whether fast or slow, no one really knows, and no one wants to say it, but we all know this will probably be his last Christmas. She was, at this very moment, she tells me, writing in our Christmas card. She tells me that she’s been thinking a lot about kindness. About people who are kind even when it’s inconvenient, even when it hurts. I tell her she is a kind person. ‘There are times’, she says, ‘when I could have chosen to be kind, but I didn’t. Wasn’t. I’ve said things. Done things. I don’t want to do that – I don’t want to make people feel small.’ I think of my own list, my own regrets. It’s weeks later before we get our Christmas card. ‘What’s this word here?’ asks S, as he reads it. ‘Before lights.’ ‘Kind’, I say. ‘The word is kind.’

*

J is a scientific sort of person, and she wants to understand relationships, so she does what any good scientist would do and keeps a notebook in which she records her observations. She watches. And listens. And then she writes. She writes about the good ones, and about the bad ones. Her subjects are her friends, her family, her acquaintances and people she meets (or overhears) while travelling. None of them have given ethics approval. (She hasn’t asked.) She considers the characteristics of each relationship, both good and bad, and in-between. It is almost halfway through New Year’s Day and we are still eating breakfast. While her study is not yet finished, and so all results are of course provisional, she tells us one thing is clear to her already: that the characteristic shared by the best relationships is kindness.

*

I am talking to C in the back yard at the party and I tell him that the theme of the moment is kindness. He tells me that while, yes, he thinks kindness is important, he thinks he is sometimes (for which I read ‘often’) too kind. He puts up with things, he says, that he should not. He lets people have their way. He doesn’t want to hurt their feelings, but he doesn’t want to be a doormat anymore. I’m not always the quickest thinker, but I know there is something wrong here; I think I know that there is a difference between kindness and niceness, kindness and martyrdom. I am sure that being kind doesn’t mean giving in, going along with things you don’t like, denying yourself. I’m sure that being kind doesn’t mean you can’t give the hard word, when needed, doesn’t mean condoning bad behaviour. I try to explain this to C, who is kind, and also is a doormat sometimes, but I’m not sure he understands what I’m saying. I’m not sure if he heard me. Probably because we are both too busy giving each other advice.

Helen Rickerby

from How to Live, Auckland University Press, 2019

Letter to Hone

Dear Hone, by your Matua Tokotoko

sacred in my awkward arms,

its cool black mocking

my shallow grasp

I was

utterly blown away.

I am sitting beside you at Kaka Point

in an armchair with chrome arm-rests

very close to the stove.

You smile at me,

look back at the flames,

add a couple of logs,

take my hand in your bronze one,

doze awhile;

Open your bright dark eyes,

give precise instructions as to the location of the whisky bottle

on the kitchen shelf, and of two glasses.

I bring them like a lamb.

You pour a mighty dram.

Cilla McQueen

from The Radio Room, Otago University Press, 2010

The poets

Tusiata Avia is an internationally acclaimed poet, performer and children’s author. She has published 4 collections of poetry, 3 children’s books and her play ‘Wild Dogs Under My Skirt’ had its off-Broadway debut in NYC, where it took out The Fringe Encore Series 2019 Outstanding Production of the Year. Most recently Tusiata was awarded a 2020 Arts Foundation Laureate and a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to poetry and the arts. Tusiata’s most recent collection The Savage Coloniser Book won The Ockham NZ Book Award for Best Poetry Book 2021.

Diane Brown is a novelist, memoirist, and poet who runs Creative Writing Dunedin, teaching fiction, memoir and poetry. She has published eight books: two collections of poetry – Before the Divorce We Go To Disneyland, (Jessie Mackay Award Best First Book of Poetry, 1997) Tandem Press 1997 and Learning to Lie Together, Godwit, 2004; two novels, If The Tongue Fits, Tandem Press, 1999 and Eight Stages of Grace, Vintage, 2002—a verse novel which was a finalist in the Montana Book Awards, 2003. Also, a travel memoir, Liars and Lovers, Vintage, 2004; and a prose/poetic travel memoir; Here Comes Another.

Johanna Emeney is a senior Tutor at Massey University, Auckland. Felt (Massey University Press, 2021) is her third poetry collection, following Apple & Tree (Cape Catley, 2011) and Family History (Mākaro Press, 2017). You can find her interview with Kim Hill about the new collection here and purchase a book directly from MUP or as an eBook from iTunes or Amazon/Kind.

Janis Freegard is the author of several poetry collections, most recently Reading the Signs (The Cuba Press), and a novel, The Year of Falling. She lives in Wellington.  http://janisfreegard.com

Bernadette Hall lives in the Hurunui, North Canterbury. She retired from high-school teaching in 2005 in order to embrace a writing life. This sonnet touches on the years 2006 and 2011 when she lived in Wellington, working at the IIML. Her friendship with the Wellington poet, Geoff Cochrane, is referenced in several of her poems. Another significant friendship, begun in 1971, was instrumental in turning her towards poetry. That was with the poet/painter, Joanna Margaret Paul. A major work that she commissioned from Joanna in 1982, will travel the country for the next two years as part of a major exhibition of the artist’s work.

Mohamed Hassan is an award-winning journalist and writer from Auckland and Cairo. He was the winner of the 2015 NZ National Poetry Slam, a TEDx fellow and recipient of the Gold Trophy at the 2017 New York Radio Awards. His poetry has been watched and shared widely online and taught in schools internationally. His 2020 poetry collection National Anthem was shortlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards (2021).

Richard Langston is a poet, television director, and writer. ‘Five O’Clock Shadows’ is his sixth book of poems. His previous books are Things Lay in Pieces (2012), The Trouble Lamp (2009), The Newspaper Poems (2007), Henry, Come See the Blue (2005), and Boy (2003). He also writes about NZ music and posts interviews with musicians on the Phantom Billstickers website.

Poet and artist Cilla McQueen has lived and worked in Murihiku for the last 25 years. Cilla’s most recent works are In a Slant Light; a poet’s memoir (2016) and
Poeta: selected and new poems (2018), both from Otago University Press.

Kiri Piahana-Wong is a poet and editor, and she is the publisher at Anahera Press. She lives in Auckland.

Vaughan Rapatahana (Te Ātiawa) commutes between homes in Hong Kong, Philippines, and Aotearoa New Zealand. He is widely published across several genre in both his main languages, te reo Māori and English and his work has been translated into Bahasa Malaysia, Italian, French, Mandarin, Romanian, Spanish. Additionally, he has lived and worked for several years in the Republic of Nauru, PR China, Brunei Darussalam, and the Middle East.

Helen Rickerby lives in a cliff-top tower in Aro Valley. She’s the author of four collections of poetry, most recently How to Live (Auckland University Press, 2019), which won the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry at the 2020 Ockham Book Awards. Since 2004 she has single-handedly run boutique publishing company Seraph Press, which mostly publishes poetry.

Marty Smith is writing a non-fiction book tracking the daily lives of trainers and track-work riders as they go about their work at the Hastings racecourse. She finds the same kindness and gentleness there among people who primarily work with animals. On the poem: Grandad was very kind and gentle; Grandma had a rep for being ‘a bit ropey’. He was so kind that when my uncle Edward, told not to touch the gun, cocked it and shot the family dog, Grandad never said a thing to my heartbroken little uncle, just put his arm around him and took him home.

Ten poems about clouds

Twelve poems about ice

Ten poems about dreaming

Eleven poems about the moon

Twelve poems about knitting

Ten poems about water

Twelve poems about faraway

Fourteen poems about walking

Twelve poems about food

poems about home

poems about edge

poems about breakfast

Poetry Shelf noticeboard: The $10,000 Peter Porter Poetry Prize is now open

The $10,000 Peter Porter Poetry Prize is now open
Judged by Sarah Holland-Batt, Jaya Savige and Anders Villani 
First Prize: AU$6,000Four other shortlisted poets: AU$1,000 eachClosing date: Midnight, 4 October 2021 
Australian Book Review welcomes entries in the eighteenth Peter Porter Poetry Prize, one of Australia’s most lucrative and respected awards for poetry. Entries must be an original single-authored poem of not more than 70 lines written in English. 
The Porter Prize is worth a total of AU$10,000. It honours the life and work of the great Australian poet Peter Porter (1929–2010), an esteemed contributor to ABR for many years. 
The five shortlisted poems will be published in the January–February 2022 issue and the winner will be announced at a ceremony in January.
Click here to enter the 2022 Porter Prize
Entry costs 
Entry costs AU$15 for current ABR subscribers or AU$25 for non-subscribers*. Entrants who are not current ABR subscribers can choose to subscribe when submitting their poem for the special combined rates listed below:
Entry + ABR digital one-year subscription – $80Entry + Print one-year subscription (Australia) – $100Entry + Print one-year subscription (NZ and Asia) – $190Entry + Print one-year subscription (Rest of World) – $210 
*Non-subscribers will receive digital access to ABR free of charge for four months from entry.
Terms and Conditions / FAQs
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Poetry Shelf in the city: Breakfast with secondary-school English teachers

This morning I had breakfast and conversation with five fabulous secondary-school English teachers (Bronwyn, Susan, Terri, Tom and Christine) in Mt Eden and it was such a treat (here for the NZATE conference). I say no to pretty much everything at the moment, because I am focusing on my own writing, and keeping my two blogs going. It’s a rare occasion I get to have a cafe breakfast and talk poetry, and I just loved it! And yes poetry was the main topic of conversation. I gave each teacher a one-off offer to invite one standout young poet to send me a few poems – and I would write back to them, and perhaps post a poem on the blog. I tried starting an ongoing spot for secondary-school students awhile ago but it fizzled. But I love the idea of finding a way of posting poems by secondary-school students. Hmm. I need to muse on this.

I was talking off the cuff this morning but one thing I kept returning to was how we can take our whole body into a poem, whether we read or write it. Ears might come into play first because so often we pay attention to the sound of the poem. The way it makes music. Eyes are a way of hunting for the detail that moves a poem from the general to the specific. The look of the poem on the page. Its form. Its page space. Heart might be the essential pulse of a poem, the way we feel the world. And lungs, because poetry is also breath. Mind, because ideas can matter. Poem can be a form of inquiry, curiosity, experimentation. How does this all work when you are exploring a poem as a set of language features? You might think of a poem as a set of rhymes. Yes various sound rhymes, but also visual rhymes, feeling rhymes. Near rhymes, off rhymes. Ideas that rhyme. Recognition rhymes. A rhyme between you as reader or writer and the poem itself. I say rhyme but I could say chord or I could say connection. I often picture a bridge between myself and the poem, and sometimes I just can’t cross it. So I ask, why not? That instantly fascinates me, and I hunt for new entry points, a backdoor, a portal, a keyhole. Poetry for me is a way of opening up not closing down. Poetry, even at my age, is all about play, no matter how serious I get.

Afterwards, on my drive back to the coast, I mused on the ways poetry can spark students into finding their voice, into exposing diverse engagements with themselves and the world, with people, things, feelings, places, experiences and ideas that matter to them. I got to wondering to what degree our students read New Zealand fiction and poetry? I know there is an exciting groundswell of young poets from teens through to 20s. The work appearing on Starling underlines that. It seems so very important and is no doubt one reason we have Ben Brown as our inaugural Te Awhi Rito Reading Ambassador.

I got to read a poem from my New York Pocket Book (Seraph Press) that is so dear to me, the poetry prompted by the time Michael and our then teenage girls had ten nights in New York. Such an experience seems like a foreign country to us at the moment. And here I was today, reading a New York poem in a Mt Eden cafe to five English teachers, and it felt so unbelievably special I felt like crying. But I held up my latest collection The Track and got talking about creating a whole book in my head in a storm. Which is kinda how I feel now – writing and blogging in a storm to keep going. To keep one foot going after the next. To keep holding out the warmth and sustenance that poetry can offer.

Thank you NZATE for the breakfast invite. I am so grateful.