Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Emma Neale’s ‘Global’




Search for counter-attack

Replace with hold

Search for attack

Replace with attach
Search for murdered

Replace with heard

Search for killed

Replace with serenaded

Search for ambushed

Replace with invited

Search for missile launchers

Replace with, oh, red silk fans

Search for front line

Replace with lamp-lit threshold

Search for grenades

Replace with iris bulbs

Search for smart bombs

Replace with crayoned paper folded into lilies, swans

Search for generals

Replace with farmers, orchardists, gardeners, mechanics, doctors, veterinarians, school-teachers, artists, painters, housekeepers, marine biologists, zoologists, nurses, musicians

Search for combatants

Replace with counsellors, conductors, bus drivers, ecologists, train drivers, sailors, fire-fighters, ambulance drivers, historians, solar engineers, designers, seamstresses, artesian well-drillers, builders

Search for profits

Replace with prophets

Save as

New World.doc


Emma Neale

from Tender Machines  (Dunedin: OUP, 2015)



Emma Neale is the author of 6 novels and 6 collections of poetry. She is the current editor of Landfall.

Otago University page






Poetry Shelf summer reading: Lawrence Patchett’s The Burning River


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The Burning River Lawrence Patchett, Victoria University Press, 2019



Complete immersion in a novel is a wonderful thing. A precious thing. I have just spent the past few days inhabiting Lawrence Patchett’s The Burning River and it feels like I will carry this gripping book with me for a long time. It is exquisitely crafted, the sentences flow like honey, the rhythms are perfectly in tune with the subject matter. But it is the way this novel represents narrative as a form of listening that has affected me so much. It takes place in the unsettling and hazardous future of a re-imagined Aotearoa New Zealand. However, this strange and estranging future, with near dead rivers and herbs that heal, is dependent upon the author paying close and astute attention to our past. Especially to the past narratives of Māori and Pākehā, both entwined and in conflict. Different groups of people are connected by bloodlines, languages, cultural rituals and behaviours, and a fierce need to survive and protect family. The novel foreshadows the ominous state of the world, yet it offers hope, bridges, restorative moves. It maps the state of an individual heart. I am so affected as I read – reading is both despair and joy.

Let me say this again: I have never read a work of such acute listening, of attending to whānau language song trading nurturing nourishing planting remembering singing kõrero.

In his acknowledgements, Lawrence thanks Araon Randell  for assistance in making ‘the altered “patchwork” world of this world deeper and richer.’ The Burning River is like a patchwork quilt, comprising many luminous and connected pieces, stitched together with such caution, feeling, integrity, vulnerability, aroha, enduring mahi, attentiveness. It becomes a narrative quilt that you hold about your shoulders as you face a world that is burning and flooding, that is wounding and maiming, that is hungry and overfed, that is tending and loving.

I adore the presence of te reo because it is part of the fabric of the storytelling – not as an exercise, not as an exotic frill – but as an essential and uplifting belonging.

This novel is a significant arrival. Find a stretch of time and immerse yourself in its extraordinary currents. If you only read one book this month make it The Burning River. I have written this very small tribute off the cuff of finishing the book, in that half-mourning state where the real world seems unreal, because I still occupy the burning river, because now I am longing even more for everything to be good and fair and humane.


Ngā mihi nui Lawrence

thank you, thank you, thank you


Victoria University Press author page








Poetry Shelf Monday poem: ‘School House Bay’


School House Bay


I am wearing poetry

like an overcoat. No a thermal singlet.

I am wearing the wind off the uppity

waves and the green leaves that skim

and the black-barked beech

and the cobbled light.


You can’t see the poem.

I can see the new generation bush

and a single fantail that flits

like a dandelion wish.


My thermal singlet is heavy with ghosts.

It is only the start.

I am picnicking in the thought

of a young girl and her skipping rope.

She looks through the high window.

She draws a tōtara with her sharp pencil.

The grey sky is out of reach.


Does she know the Queens of England?

Does she wear a velvet dress to match the inkwell?

Does she hear the raucous tūī?

Can she pick Istanbul on a map and draw a rectangle?


The porthole slams shut in the wind.



Paula Green

from The Track, Seraph Press, 2019




Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Maeve Hughes’s ‘Understanding Transactions’


Understanding Transactions



Heat comes from hot things like

potatoes come from the earth

and gurgles come from babies

like birds come from trees

and I came from you

and your smiles

so many of them

came from me

and, mother, I know it.



Maeve Hughes from Horsepower




Maeve Hughes lives in a tall house in Wellington. She has studied Fine Arts and Creative Writing. Her first publication horse power won the 2018 Story Inc Prize for poetry and was launched in October of this year.


Read my review of horse power







Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Vaughan Rapatahana on Poems from the Edge of Extinction

P from EE.jpg


Read full article here

The anthology Poems from the Edge of Extinction (Chambers, UK, 2019) edited by well-known English poet, Chris McCabe, was launched at Poetry International, The Southbank Centre, London  in mid-October, 2019. He was the MC on this occasion, as well as for several other events during the festival. It is an important collection of poetry written in indigenous languages — including my own, te reo Māori — which are being threatened by dominant Hydra-like languages — like English and to a lesser extent others, such as Mandarin.

My perspective on why languages are under threat:

I have written extensively previously as regards the several agencies pushing English language Hydra-like dominion over indigenous languages across the globe, for primarily cultural-power and pecuniary reasons. Agencies such as the British Council, which continue to press for a worldwide spread of the language into traditionally non-English as a first language communities — so as to seek financial and cultural benefits for Britain. An approach as exemplified in their own words from their December 2019 Request for Proposal

‘… the organisation is seeking to investigate not merely the direct benefits of the spread of English (in terms of the direct financial benefit to the UK of the provision of English services and the improved skills and life chances of those learning it, both of which are relatively well known and have been widely explored in the past), but in particular the indirect benefits — in terms of greater knowledge of English driving the UK’s influence and attractiveness for trade, and improving the access of those learning English to opportunities, information and culture.’