Tag Archives: Hoopla Series

Hoopla Poetry 2018 – Auckland book launch


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Mākaro Press, Elizabeth, Reihana & Jo invite you to celebrate the Auckland launch of the 2018 Hoopla poetry collections.

Come to the Women’s Bookshop on Saturday 3rd November from 5pm to hear some wonderful poetry from our 2018 poets, have a glass of wine and some nibbles.

Books will be available for purchase at the launch.

HOOPLA aims to entice people to buy and read poetry books through the quality of its poets, the attraction of a series with three books launching at once, vibrant design and the accessibility of a clear narrative or theme. We like strong work that steps onto the tightrope without hesitation and gives the performance of its life.

Hoopla series



Three poems from Hoopla 16: Helen Jacobs, Harvey Molloy, Ish Doney


Mākaro Press recently released its third series of Hoopla poetry collections. Under the guiding eye of series editor, Mary McCallum, each year includes a debut, a mid-career and a late-career New Zealand poet. The design is uniform and eye-catching with simple but striking covers and fold-in jackets.

To celebrate this series, Mākaro Press has given Poetry Shelf permission to post a  poem from each collection (tough picking!)


This year sees a collection by young poet Ish Doney. Ish completed a design degree in Wellington, and currently lives in Scotland with an aim to move elsewhere soon. The poems generate a youthful zest, as they navigate love, loss, home, family, departure, distance. Feeling is paramount but, rather than smothering the poems, sets up shop in the pace of a line, sharp and surprising detail, images that prick your skin.



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Mid-career poet, Harvey Molloy has published widely both here and abroad. He was born in Lancashire but moved to New Zealand as a teenager and now lives in Wellington. As the key word on the cover indicates, these poems move through kaleidoscopic worlds.  This is a poet unafraid of directions a poem might take, of stories being told, of shifting forms, of a mind reflecting, contemplating, observing.Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 2.47.20 PM.png

Helen Jacobs (Elaine Jakobsson) was once the Mayor of Eastbourne, but moved to Christchurch in 1995. She has been publishing poems for 35 years both in New Zealand and abroad. Since her arrival in Christchurch in 1995, Helen has belonged to the Canterbury Poets Collective. At the age of 85, she has now relinquished some of her lifelong passions such as gardening and bush walks but not writing. Her new poems come out of old age with delicious vitality — her ear and eye are active participants in the world. The collection renews your relationships with the things that surround you.



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2016 Hoopla Series launching in the freshly opened Scorpio bookstore in Christchurch’s Hereford Street



Press release from Mākaro Press:
The audacious new poetry series HOOPLA, which launches three poets every April, is three years old this year. And with two Christchurch poets in the 2016 line-up it is launching in the freshly opened Scorpio bookstore in Hereford Street.

The series with its bright Faber-like covers has been a hit on the local poetry scene where most poets make their way individually. HOOPLA launches  a late-career, mid-career and debut poet at the same time, and is an imprint of Wellington’s Mākaro Press.

‘The idea,’ says publisher Mary McCallum of Mākaro Press, ‘ is that the poets and their books support each other out in the world: generating a combined energy at events, standing with each other at readings, providing a focus at bookstores. It’s a tough world out there for poetry, and so far we’ve loved the way the HOOPLA poets have worked together in their groups of three, and together as a wider whānau.’

The HOOPLA poets of 2014 and 2015 appeared together at Litcrawl in Wellington last year, in an event which saw them reading as a tag team on the theme of ‘love’. And the 2015 trio undertook a Melbourne road trip. There have been award nods too with Jennifer Compton’s Mr Clean and The Junkie long-listed for the Ockham prize this year, and Hoopla work selected for Best NZ Poems.

Much-loved Canterbury poet Elaine Jakobsson ( 87) is the late career poet for Hoopla 2016 with her book Withstanding. The theme of the collection is ‘age’. Wellingtonian teacher and activist Harvey Molloy is the mid-career poet with Udon by The Remarkables, theme: ‘worlds’, and the debut poet is Christchurch poet Ish Doney with Where the Fish Grow, theme: ‘leaving’. Ish returns from Scotland for the launch.

Previous HOOPLA poets are:  (2014) Michael Harlow, Helen Rickerby and Stefanie Lash; (2015) Jennifer Compton, Bryan Walpert and Carolyn McCurdie. The 2016 launch is on Saturday, 16 April, 3.30 pm at Scorpio’s Hereford Street store in the BNZ centre, launcher James Norcliffe, with a Wellington launch the next day 17 April at the Fringe bar, Allen St,  4-6pm. The Hoopla series is designed by William Carden-Horton and available through all good bookstores for $25 each.


Emma Neale’s terrific launch notes for Bones in the Octagon by Carolyn McCurdie

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Bones in the Octagon by Carolyn McCurdie, Mākaro Press, 2015 (part of The Hoopla Series 2015, see below for other two titles)

Launch notes – Emma Neale


I’ve spoken in public before about first coming across Carolyn’s fantasy novel for children, The Unquiet, in manuscript form at Longacre Press. I felt then a sense of breathless disbelief that something so sharp and lucidly poetic, was just sitting there, looking like any other mild-mannered typescript in the unsolicited submissions pile. It should have been thrust into the air gleaming like the sword from the stone in myth. Hyperbole, you might think, but the novel went on to be named in the Storylines Trust list of ‘Notable Books of 2007’, and I still stand by my description of it as a novel that seems Frameian in its use of gentle abstraction, natural imagery, and its empathy for the child’s eye view. Carolyn’s use of imagery there lay potent clues for what she also does in her poetry.

Mākaro Press have done a gorgeous job of producing this first collection of her poems —her first poems, but her third book. (There is also an ebook of short stories called Albatross, published by Rosa Mira books.) I love the feel of the whole Hoopla series as tactile objects — the fact you can slip them into your bag or capacious coat pocket like a Swiss army knife — bristling with tools for the mind — and the fact that it comes with two free bookmarks — (i.e. the side flaps) — or wings, symbolically ready for launch.

When I first started reading Bones in the Octagon, very early on I wanted to pluck out the phrase ‘shy iridescence’ to characterise Carolyn’s poems. But increasingly that came to seem lazy, insipid, because while the poems might have a kind of chromatic shimmer of mood and topic, the dart and race of illumination, the voice is anything but reticent. It is often, I think, steely. There is an inner resilience here; a voice that holds its strong, pure note even when face to face with everything from physical drought to domestic violence, psychological abuse, suppression, bereavement, political corruption, dislocation, and deep dread. Resurgent, the voice always lifts. And throughout, even when confronting darkness, it somehow still hums with wonder.

Carolyn’s poems can reach back to the first footprints and hungers of human civilisation, feeling out for connection to our earliest selves; they can hone in on the present, with condemnations of political expediency and brutality; they can have the dreamlike urgency of premonition; the shiver of fable lodged deep as inherited instincts, bred in the bone. Some, like ‘Making up the spare beds for the Brothers Grimm’, contain a sense of threat and corrupted relationships that go right down to the roots of a primal terror — there are traces here of abuse, damage, disillusion. Yet the touch is so light and the poetic control impeccable.

Often the voice in the book seems to speak in the firm but whispered imperatives of a mentor, parent, even a spirit guide. (Here is just a small sample: don’t cross, cross now, go through, walk with me, pack no bags, don’t look back, stand by her, watch out, shush, look there, please leave, come in, measure, wait…and again wait…. and wait.) There’s the sense of a markswoman with her arrow pulled back, tense, taut, not even quivering — then thwish — the poem is released.

Carolyn’s range is wide: she draws on world myth, local human and zoological history, the urban present, the transcendent imagination of childhood, a feeling of secular prayer and benediction. ‘Verbal Thai Chi’ is another way to describe the atmosphere of her work. She catches the heady lift of music ‘the intoxication of song’ as she calls it; she has a long view, of gradations of deep time — yet she is also vividly alert to the smallest shift in interaction between people right now, in the living minute. (I’ll just say here, watch out for the eyebrows.)

Her language, in its crisp repetitions, might imitate a bird in flight; her use of line break and white space can capture the way a ‘silence is vibrant’ […] ‘As when you enter a room/and conversation stops’ ; the careful accretion of information builds like a web of narrative, every strand or line holding the whole design in place. There can be gentle, plangent word play which shows the way the subconscious can both pun and express loss, can show the past so indelibly written on the mind’s memory maps.

Throughout the book, there is an awareness of the atavistic, of someone listening in closely to the primitive within us, but with something like a physician’s training and carefulness. It made me think of the title of a Les Murray collection, Translations from the Natural World, but where Murray’s work sprawls and layers, Carolyn seems to have a porous sensitivity that she still manages to whittle down to a fine wire of narrative; to forge the line till it strikes a clear, ringing note.

I could say so much more about Carolyn’s work, but I want to close by saying that as in her poem ‘Hut’, her work has corners that shelter tenderness, and offer us refuge. To use her own lines to sum up the strongest qualities in her work, and to make a ‘virtual’ toast to Carolyn here: “Fire, music, you. Another sip.”


Hoopla Native bird front cover copy Mr Clean & The Junkie front cover copy