Tag Archives: Jamie Trower

a poem from Jamie Trower’s new collection – A Sign of Light


My feet, stained


black by the sand—and bare as pink paws—push into the spongy
sand and force away little pools of trill. A car. A blister of echoes.
A bird weeping in the mangroves. Two drunk women shrieking
names. The wind moves along the sand of this beach. There are
so many senses at work tonight. This one sound is a company of
horses cantering together across the darkness.

These voices I am hearing in my mind are ever changing, hot and
cold. I imagine them dangling from the sky as long drapes of silk.
I dance with them, yes, like we used to. I hang them on the edge of
the beach, where dirt meets sand, where Dog snivels a bird’s nest,
inspecting for play. I camped here last night and lit a fire to keep my
feet warm. So I could catch the night illuminating the bay again …
so I could hang the changing voices on this bright moon.



©Jamie Trower, A Sign of Light, The Cuba Press, 2018



Jamie Trower was born in Brighton, England, and immigrated to New Zealand in 1995 with his family. An Auckland-based poet and actor, Trower performs both on the page and on the stage, and has studied English and Drama at the University of Auckland.  Anatomy, his debut poetry, was published in 2015 by Mākaro Press’s Submarine imprint.

The Cuba Press author page









Poetry Shelf: Invitation Interviews – Mary McCallum interviews Jamie Trower

Trower Jamie WEB   Anatomy-front-cover-final-183x300

Mary McCallum of Mākaro Press interviews debut poet Jamie Trower about his collection Anatomy, which they published under their Submarine imprint in 2015.

(for my review of the book see here)


Mary McCallum: As a new poetry publisher we get a lot of emails from people wanting to submit their collections of poetry. Some of those emails are like explosive devices — as soon as you open them you know you’re in danger. All the tiny words on the screen shimmer with the excitement of being written by someone for whom words are not simply tools or exciting ways to evoke the world of experience or imagination, but tiny rockets that have changed or saved a life.

This was the case when I opened an email from Aucklander Jamie Trower – a young man in his early twenties who had only just discovered poetry, but who had nonetheless crafted a whole collection that he wanted me to read. A collection of poems that charted his recovery from a terrible childhood brain injury that could have killed him.

What a ride. It felt to me reading Anatomy for the first time – and I continue to feel this – that Jamie had given himself permission to write how he wanted to write, and discover what he wanted to discover using words in a way that he’d never thought possible. With obvious delight he raged on the page, and laughed at and interrogated it. Words came and he connected them and lit the fuse. Which is not to say Jamie wasn’t open to editing. He was. He loved the whole process … more of a chance to play with words, more connections to fire. We published it, dear reader, and this week I talked to Jamie about the book so close to his heart – how he wrote it and why, and where to now.


M: What made you start to write poetry?
J: In the months of rehab after I sustained a severe brain injury as a nine-year-old, I learned to use a typewriter. I wrote sporadic, jumbled notes of how I was feeling and the changes I noticed in my wheelchair-bound body. I really started writing poetry after taking a creative writing course at the University of Auckland two years ago. It was then that I went back to the notes that I wrote in rehab and found myself expanding and stretching the words into poetry.

M: What do you like about it?
J: The beauty and ease of poetry. How a single moment can be expanded on, heightened, strengthened, transformed, stretched, redefined and moulded in a couple of lines. How a writer can adapt a thought, a feeling or an event so easily through compressed, rhythmic language.

M: Who are your poetry heroes? Are there any poets you try and emulate?
J: I am in awe of Sam Hunt, Paul Muldoon, Ben Okri – the list goes on! I think their writings are compelling and eloquently formed. I draw on their poetry quite a bit – how they use simple thoughts and words to create a big impact.
M: Your poetry collection feels like one long narrative poem about what you went through when you had a brain injury as a child – rather than lots of separate poems – do you see it that way?
J: Anatomy is definitely narrative in its structure: a start, middle and end. I tried to separate the poetic canvas by titling the poems – making it feel like more of a collection rather than a narrative – and pairing it with a traditional form of storytelling. I decided in the editing process to parallel poetry with prose to guide the reader, and to allow the emotion I felt to show through more.
M: In Anatomy you indicate the typewriter was an important tool in your rehab – is poetry also important as a form of therapy in getting over what happened to you?
J: Poetry will always be my rehab, my therapy, my hospital, my home. This use of self-expression and self-examination helped me (and still does) realise that I needed to take control of my own body, my own disability. I hope to continue to use the lessons that poetry has taught me for many years to come.

M: What are you writing now?
J: I’m writing my next poetry collection, and I’m brainstorming a novel on the side. I’m excited to see what comes of it!

M: Who are you reading?
J: Right now I’m reading Michele Leggott’s Heartland (for the tenth time, it feels). She very kindly came to the launch of Anatomy, which was very, very cool.

Mākaro Press page

Poetry Shelf review: Jamie Trower’s Anatomy – it is poetry as reboot

Anatomy-front-cover-final-183x300   Anatomy-front-cover-final-183x300

Jamie Trower  Anatomy   Mākaro Press 2015


At the age of nine, Jamie Trower suffered a traumatic head injury when skiing on the slopes of Ruapehu. After months in a coma, he spent two years at the Wilson Centre in Auckland. Jamie is currently based in Auckland where he is studying English and Drama at the University of Auckland. Anatomy is his debut poetry collection.

Anatomy rebuilds anatomy. The word ‘disability’ (disabled, disable, disablement) is like a shadow protagonist that Jamie pitches against and from. It felt like a physical presence, an entity to interrogate as Jamie navigates his recovery paths. To read our way into and out of ‘disability’ is to thwart ‘unable’ and latch upon ‘enable.’ It is to follow Jamie from the accident and rocks to his cloud nine.

I felt a little nervous opening the book, as in the middle of my PhD, I smashed into a glass door and suffered the effects of post-concussion syndrome for about a year. Everything was thrown in the air as I struggled to make sense of the world let alone my academic research. My ability to speak and write and c0mprehend (and hang out the washing, cook dinner) was utterly compromised. Once I started reading Anatomy, the twitchiness at revisiting the memory of my vulnerable head faded.

This book is poetry as record, it is poetry as reboot and poetry as rehabilitation. Writing becomes a way of refurbishing self and moving through. You are carried along by the fluency of the line, so lyrically, yet there is the white space of hiccup. Some words are stretched out as though we say them slowly ( d i s a b i l i t y,   t h i n g). Some words drop down the page like a teetering step ladder to cloud nine or back down to earth. The poetic choices heighten the struggle to recover, and to face what recovery means.

This is a poetry collection that moves and elevates you, that records a devastating experience at the most personal of levels, and that plays with what words can do (from the first clacks and clatters on the old typewriter he was given by his teacher). Wonderful!


from ‘( m a y b e ,   t o m o r r o w )’


m i g h t


from teenage boy


n a p p y      &      pacifier,


to a mighty sea bird –

to a juvenile juggernaut

– dancing

in the wild …


to whistle

in rainbows

of thistles,

(ocean spray) …


Mākaro Press page