Tag Archives: Johanna Emeney

Poetry Shelf – Spring Season’s poetry fans: Lynn Freeman picks Johanna Emeney

Shaken Down

 

In the hospital corridor,

the one two of my shoes

on hard lino,

then something

sounds broken—

 

a thermometer—

 

I have left people here

in rooms

and cabinets.

They’ve gone cold

in others’ hands.

 

The spine of me

spills

into so many

ball bearings…

 

Orderlies wheel

prone passengers.

Nurses pass

with busy eyes,

 

until one pauses

to put on gloves,

coveralls, booties.

She sticks up a sign

 

[DANGER HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE]

 

and calls

for a flashlight,

holds it at an angle

to find beads of me-

rcury lodged in cracks

between wall and floor.

 

Without a fuss

she gathers masking tape,

an eyedropper,

index cards,

and uses them to

corral what is herdable

into new glass tubing.

Her cards say:

MY MOTHER DIED

WHEN I WAS YOUNG TOO, LOVE

 

What miracle

to approach

naked breakage,

to chase it unafraid,

gather it up

and talk it back down

to something

resembling normal.

 

©Johanna Emeney,  Family History, Mākaro Press, 2017

 

 

 

Note from Lynn:

The spine of me

spills

into so many

ball bearings…

This image has stayed with me since I first read Shaken Down. Even before reading the footnotes, I felt this poem must have come from Johanna’s own experience, directly from her heart. Like most people, hospitals for me are places of memory, loss, fear and guilt. This poem, in a few lines, reminds us of how alien hospitals can feel, despite the kindness of the people doing the best to save the people we love.

 

Lynn Freeman is Presenter of RNZ National’s arts/culture programme Standing Room Only. She is a former NZ Book Awards judge and an avid reader.

 

Johanna Emeney lives in Auckland where she tutors at Massey University and co-facilitates the Michael King Young Writers Programme. She has been placed third and been commended in the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine and shortlisted for the International Montreal Poetry Prize. Her debut collection was entitled, Apple & Tree (2011).

 

 

 

 

Poets on Tour: Airini Beautrais and Maria McMillan take to the road, July 2017

Airini Beautrais and Maria McMillan have written up their poetry road trip. I am so hoping this becomes a thing – two poet friends on tour with new books.    

 

 

Flow_cover__41926.1492985261.jpg  The_Ski_Flier__98472.1493171166.jpg

both Victoria University Press, 2017

We’ve known each other since the early 2000s, and both of us have been writing poetry for even longer than that. Some common threads in our work include feminism, social justice, environmentalism, and an interest in the possibilities of form. Over a cup of tea one afternoon in Maria’s lounge we agreed that as we both had books coming out this year, we should go on tour. Maria had been working hard in non-poetry related paid gigs, Airini was battling some difficult personal circumstances, and some time on the road reading with other women poets seemed like just what the doctor (of creative writing) ordered.

Somehow the tour got planned amidst the mad mess of everyday life. Sarah Laing kindly agreed to let us use her drawings for promotional purposes. Airini made a DIY poster with the help of scissors, glue, wallpaper and blu-tack. The word went out. The car got packed.

 

On Friday 14 July Airini held a book launch for Flow: Whanganui River Poems, at the Whanganui regional museum. Maria was the main support act on the night, reading from her recently-released The Ski Flier (Airini had also read at Maria’s launch a month earlier). Jenny Bornholdt read a poem by Joanna Margaret Paul. Other local booklovers read some favourite Whanganui-linked poems. VUP publicist and talented novelist Kirsten McDougall gave a fantastic launch speech.

IMG_3930.JPG

Accidental ankh, Dannevirke

In the morning it was coffee, porridge and a quick trip to Whanganui’s famous SaveMart ‘The Mill’. Then onto the back roads of the Manawatu with a battered road atlas and smartphones which were largely ignored. We made it over the Pohangina Saddle, and lunched on launch leftovers in Dannevirke, where we discovered a church with a possibly accidental (we think maybe not) ankh – a perfect opportunity for posing with our books. On to Napier where it appeared we had entered a time warp. Airini’s dirty old Honda suddenly looked new alongside the vintage cars sweeping around the waterfront, driven by flappers and dapper gentlemen. The thought occurred to us that it was Deco weekend.

 

IMG_3937.JPG

Beattie and Forbes Booksellers with Marty and Emily

Beattie and Forbes Booksellers is a must-visit independent bookstore near the sea in Napier. They opened up on a Saturday evening so we could read, with Marty Smith and Emily Dobson. Old friends and new turned up, along with members of local poetry groups. It seems that anywhere you go in New Zealand, there’ll be a poetry group of some sort, and a reading will draw at least some of them out of the woodwork. A highlight of the evening was Emily reading a poem owing a debt to her young daughter, called ‘Thea’s ‘gina song,’ which ended ‘It’s a ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-BAGINA!’ Both Marty and Emily are accomplished poets and readers and it was a privilege to read alongside them.

 

IMG_3941.JPG

Maria at Waiomu Cafe

 

Sunday 16th we set off from Marty’s picturesque country house, on our big drive through to Thames. The roads had opened, but were still lined with snow.  We made it to our reading at Waiomu Beach Café with five minutes to spare. The café is in a beautiful spot and draws in regulars driving around the Coromandel coastal road. It’s run by Maria’s cousin Julie, who was an amazing host. Airini also met some extended family members at the reading. More FM were there, and interviewed us. We read in the outdoor courtyard, adjusting our volume according to the passing traffic. Over the road, a cop issued speeding tickets. A kereru landed in a tree alongside. We posed for more book photos under the pohutukawa, took Julie’s dog for a walk, and enjoyed the scenery.

 

IMG_3968.JPG

The Big House, Parnell with Tulia and Emma

Thames seems like the kind of place one could stay in forever, but on Monday morning we carried on to Auckland.  We parked the car and went to hear a reading at the Auckland Art Gallery with Steve Toussaint, Simone Kaho, Elizabeth Morton, Johanna Emeney and Michael Morrissey. Everyone read well, but a disgruntled audience member booed, hissed and heckled during question time at the end. Chair Siobhan Harvey did an excellent job of shouting him down. We looked at each other and wondered if this was how poetry readings always went in Auckland. But our reading that evening at the Big House in Parnell, with Simone Kaho and Tulia Thompson, was a very warm and homely affair. Many of the house’s 25 occupants joined us by the fire to listen and talk, and housemate Emma also read some of her poems with us.

 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Airini at Poetry Live, Auckland

 

Tuesday night’s gig was Poetry Live, at the Thirsty Dog on K Road. Like the Big House, Poetry Live is an institution that’s been going for decades. We were lucky to be there for the farewell to regular MC Kiri Piahana-Wong. There was a great turnout and the venue and audience were friendly and welcoming. We read by turns in our guest poet slot, feeling like proper rockstars against the backdrop of a drum kit and stage lighting.

By Wednesday we were tired, and ready to head home. We stopped for tea and toasted sandwiches in the Pink Cadillac diner in Turangi. We parted ways at the Desert Road, after which Maria had some variable hitchhiking experiences, and Airini zig-zagged back and forth around the mountains navigating road closures. We’d had a great time and were looking forward to the second leg.

IMG_3994.JPG

Vic Books in Wellington with Pip and Freya

 

The next leg kicked off on Friday 28 July with a lunchtime reading at Vic Books. We were joined by superstars Pip Adam, reading from her brand spanking new The New Animals, and Freya Daly Sadgrove, whose poetry is performative and highly entertaining. Maria read her poem, inspired by Pip, ‘In which I attain unimaginable greatness,’ in which the narrator attains superhero powers, achieves amazing feats, and at the end declares ‘This is how I begin. This is my first day.’

 

IMG_4001.JPG

Palmerston North with Helen and Jo

Palmerston North City Library on Saturday evening was possibly the highlight of the tour. The library is a great place to read, hosting numerous literary events throughout the year. The big windows feature poems by local Leonel Alvarado, and pedestrians have a way of peering in through the letters, wondering what’s going on in there. We’d decided on a dress up theme of ‘80s trash with our fabulous co-readers Helen Lehndorf and Jo Aitchison, which got us some funny looks in New World, but definitely improved our performances. Helen’s hair was particularly spectacular. We had a small crowd but a great vibe. A kebab and whisky party kept us awake until the wee small hours.

 

IMG_4009.JPG

Maria at Hightide Cafe

Helen’s chickens laid us our breakfast, and we revived ourselves with bottomless pots of tea. Maria’s superpowers became evident when she managed to drive us safely to our last gig, Poets to the People at Hightide Café in Paraparaumu. The sun was setting over Kāpiti as we drank coffee and listened to the open mike. Again, this is an event that’s been running for years, and there’s a sense the regulars know and love one another. We went home to a beautiful roast cooked by Maria’s partner Joe. The tour was over, but the fight continues! We had some great conversations in the car over those two weeks, and some good catch-ups with family and friends along the way. There was a lot of fighting talk, a lot of laughter and also a few tears. A big part of the tour was affirming ourselves as poets, mothers and radical women, and by the end of it, our unimaginable greatness was hard to deny.

 

Airini Beautrais and Maria McMillan, September 2017

 

 

my conversation with Airini

my review of The Ski Flier

VUP page for Airini

VUP page for Maria

 

 

 

 

Going West was a hit with me

 

Going West is a festival that devotes itself 100 per cent to showcasing an eclectic range of New Zealand writers: local, ultra-local (Westies), from out of Auckland. It draws upon fiction, poetry and nonficton and never fails to delight.

Due to the fire in the roof of Titirangi hall the festival moved into the beautiful ex Waitakere council chambers – better parking, not so far to drive for me, excellent green room, cosy space for sessions but I missed the hall and the bush and the village. As a temporary last minute venue – which must have been such stress on the team – it worked just fine.

As usual the food and shared conversations were excellent. Usually I go the whole weekend – but this year, just the Friday night and Saturday was possible. It means I sadly miss out on a suite of sessions today.

On Friday night we got to see our new Poet Laureate, Selina Tusitala Marsh in performance and, just as she sparks the poetic hearts of students in South Auckland (and elsewhere), she sparked the poetic hearts of festival goers. She delivered her Laureate ‘thank you’ speech again, a speech which acknowledges the people that have supported her, in the form of a list poem.  She read her poem for the Queen with generous anecdotes to accompany it along with the revenge poem (he who shall not be named did not shake her hand), and the poem on three Queens, the last being Alice Walker.

The tokotoko was passed round for everyone to touch and imbue the stick with individual mana. Skin prickling for so many of us.

Every New Zealand Poet Laureate has gifted something to poetry fans. Selina, one of our beloved poetry icons, with the charisma of Sam Hunt, Hone Tuwhare and Glenn Colquhoun, is one of the most important Laureate choices to date. Those of us lucky enough to hear her on Friday night, will know just what treasures we have in store.  It matters, as she says, that she is a brown face. It matters to every brown poet, every fledgling brown poet, and every student white and brown, who has yet to discover the liberating power of poetry.

It matters because Selina’s poetry shows how words can make music in the air, build vital connections to heart and mind, and challenge how we view the world.

If you get a chance to see her over the next few years – take it!

 

In a perfect and unplanned arc, Bill Manhire, our first Poet Laureate, and another beloved poetry icon, was part of the final session of the night. With jazz musician Norman Meehan, vocalist Hannah Griffin and Blair Latham on sax, we got to hear tracks from their new collaboration: Small Holes in the Silence. I have heard them before but the magic intensifies if anything on a subsequent hearing. The alchemy of word, musical score and manuka-honey voice is simply exquisite. It is absolutely breathtaking.

The next day, in our session, I described how listening to their new album/book, Tell Me My Name, is like a flotation aid. You listen and you lift above domestic routine, chores, head clutter. So yes, I floated home, adrift still in the after-effects.

 

Saturday was a long day, a good day. I had only managed a few hours sleep for various reasons so felt  like I was in between here and there, wwhich is the theme of the festival. On the way I passed so many ALTERNAT ROUTE signs I wondered if I would find my way home through all the detours that might then be in place. I felt like I was entering a found-poem trap and I would get stuck in it.

Sitting on stage with Bill and Norman for our session was a bit like sitting in a cafe – I wanted Norman to hit the keyboard and play melodies here and there. I loved the idea of him playing something while we listened to see what word score unfolded in our heads.  The inverse of Norman taking Bill’s poem and seeing what melody surfaces. It was fun to talk – people just happened to be listening!

Sadly I missed Diana Witchel and Steve Braunias – but I am going to make up for that and read the book: Driving to Treblinka. The audience loved this session.

I did hear Dame Anne Salmond in conversation with Moana Maniapoto and it was for many of us, an extraordinary thing. The conversation just flowed – it felt unafraid of anything: wisdom, human warmth, tough stuff, vulnerabilities, empathy.

In 1960 Anne met Māori and asked herself: ‘How come I’ve grown up in this country and know nothing about these people and this world?’

Eruera Stirling advised her: ‘If you are really interested in Māori Studies then the marae is the university for you.’

Anne: ‘I am a scholar but there’s a lot of stuff you can’t learn with your mind – you have to learn through your skin.’

Anne: doesn’t necessarily agree with the idea of one world with different views but prefers perhaps the  idea of a ‘mulitverse with different realities.’

Anne: ‘You can’t be an expert on the Treaty if you can’t speak Māori.’ She said  it would be like someone who couldn’t speak French acting as an expert on the French constitution.

Anne: ‘If the river is dying I am too.’

This is why I am both a reader and writer and a festival attendee. Because someone like Anne in conversation with someone like Moana can blast apart my thinking and feeling.

I have a copy of Tears of Rangi by my bed to read.

 

I got to hear Sarah Laing and Johanna Emeney read and talk. I have to say I love both the books (Mansfield and Me and Family History) and have written about both.  I love the way they showed that poetry/memoir does not need to stick to facts (Airini Beautrais said the same thing in her interview with me). The gold of this session was hearing the multi-talented Sarah read an extract with an enviable array of accents. Wow!

Loved hearing tastes of Pip Adams and Kirsten McDougall’s new novels – and the way the unreal can unravel the real in such innovative ways. They worked double hard not to spoil the reading experience, for those of us who still have the treat in store, by giving too much away. Just little tempting clues.

Loved hearing the very articulate Linda Cassells talk about the genesis of the Allen Curnow biography she edited after the death of her husband, Terry Sturm, and the way Bill Manhire stepped into the gap, with CK Stead ill,  read us a few poems, and shared a few anecdotes.

Thanks Going West. This was one very good festival – I was delighted to participate as both reader and writer.

 

 

 

 

Johanna Emeney reviews Jenny Powell’s memoir at Landfall online

Full review here

 

The Case of the Missing Body, while also on the subject of living with pain/disability, is an entirely different book to The Walking Stick Tree. It contains scientific writing, poetry and, predominantly, prose, to tell the story of a woman regaining the capacity to connect with herself physically.

Powell uses the pseudonymous Lily in the prologue of the book to introduce us to the central character (who will be ‘I’ throughout the book). From childhood, Lily has had a proprioceptive deficit and joint hypermobility syndrome, which, combined, and not properly identified or treated in her youth, have caused her considerable pain and distress. Now in mid-life she is anxious, lacking in confidence and, admirably, desirous of change: she joins a gym and employs a personal trainer.

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf Winter Season: Johanna Emeney off-piste

 

Shaken Down

 

In the hospital corridor,

the one two of my shoes

on hard lino,

then something

sounds broken—

 

a thermometer—

 

I have left people here

in rooms

and cabinets.

They’ve gone cold

in others’ hands.

 

The spine of me

spills

into so many

ball bearings…

 

Orderlies wheel

prone passengers.

Nurses pass

with busy eyes,

 

until one pauses

to put on gloves,

coveralls, booties.

She sticks up a sign

 

[DANGER HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE]

 

and calls

for a flashlight,

holds it at an angle

to find beads of me-

rcury lodged in cracks

between wall and floor.

 

Without a fuss

she gathers masking tape,

an eyedropper,

index cards,

and uses them to

corral what is herdable

into new glass tubing.

Her cards say:

MY MOTHER DIED

WHEN I WAS YOUNG TOO, LOVE

 

What miracle

to approach

naked breakage,

to chase it unafraid,

gather it up

and talk it back down

to something

resembling normal.

 

©Johanna Emeney,  Family History, Mākaro Press, 2017

 

Author note: “Shaken down” grew from two ideas rattling about—a fresh one and a memory:

1) A friend told me that one of the first jobs nurses learn is to shake down a thermometer.

2) I kept thinking of a nurse who had been exceptionally kind to me on the night my mother was killed. This nurse, probably about twenty years my senior, told me about losing her own mother, and how it had affected her.

This is the first poem I wrote that departs from naturalism, moving towards a very minor kind of magical realism. To start with, I was just trying to recapture the experience of walking alone down a hospital corridor, having lost my mother in a car accident, my father still in the ICU. The huge loneliness and disbelief still felt such that they called for more than a realist presentation. The broken thermometer, leaking its apparently irretrievable, noxious mercury, the I-speaker, her spine turning liquid and draining out of her body—together, they were what it was like.

The nurse in the poem who executes practical measures in tidying up the mess (I had to google “how to clean up a small Mercury spill”) is supposed to symbolise that beautiful truth about good nurses—their ability to balance the medical and the personal so adeptly.

Had I not ventured into territory more fantastical than my norm, I think the poem would have been sentimental and lacked emotional verisimilitude. That would have been a shame, because to express gratitude genuinely, you can’t sound mawkish or trite—in real life or in a poem.

 

Johanna Emeney’s two books of poetry are Apple & Tree (Cape Catley, 2011) and Family History (Mākaro Press, 2017). In 2018, Ibidem Press will publish her academic textbook The Rise of Autobiographical Medical Poetry and The Medical Humanities, based on her doctoral study, and she is currently working a chapter on poetry for Routledge’s Companion to Literature and Disability. Jo has a background in English Literature, Japanese and Education—subjects she read at Pembroke College, Cambridge. She works as a tutor at Massey University, Auckland, and co-facilitates the Michael King Young Writers Programme with Rosalind Ali.

 

From Paula: For Poetry Shelf’s Winter Season, I invited 12 poets to pick one of their own poems that marks a shift in direction, that is outside the usual tracks of their poetry, that moves out of character, that nudges comfort zones of writing. It might be subject matter, style, form, approach, tone, effect, motivation, borrowings, revelation, invention, experimentation, exclusions, inclusions, melody …. anything!

Johanna Emeney’s Family History: This book is a skin-shaking eye-pricking heart-skipping glorious read

FAMILY-HISTORY-FRONT

Johanna Emeney, Family History, Mākaro Press, 2017

 

My darling, this afternoon, I found three white parachutes

from a dandelion on my shoulder, seeds stuck in,

wings waiting – little angels of your imprint, your leaving.

 

from ‘Dandelion’

 

What you bring to a book affects the way you read it – as though already established trenches or crevices are more receptive, more alert to shared experiences. Johanna’s new poetry collection is a family history but the mother is placed centre stage; we are brought close to her breast cancer and shocked by her premature and unexpected death. The collection begins with gaps in the family photograph album and ends with blurry photos; it is as though these poems are held up to the gap, where light and dark dazzles and where edges blur. Early on a poem stalls me, as I too watch the ducklings ‘that cats dare not disturb.’  The snapshot tingles because I have never thought of ducklings this way, and it is as though I am seeing the world as something that must not be corrupted or thrown off course. The pathos lies in the way the poet is thrown off kilter; her family not ‘off limits.’

 

Even if one were to straggle,

to drop off the end

like a misplaced preposition,

lost for a moment in the long grass,

no cat would mess with it

because today belongs

to the ducklings

and all the other

spring things

that on some mornings

and some afternoons

are just plain off limits.

 

from ‘Ducklings’

 

You never know how you will react when faced with life-threatening illness, or when someone close to you is; you never know which details will stand out to elbow and nudge and stick. Johanna’s book traverses the sweet and the sour, the coordinates of illness, the pain, the anger and the way things can be luminous, sharp, elusive, blunted.  ‘Undertaking’ is a sestina, the perfect form to catch the undulations of grief that repeat and slap an attack of feeling – a little like the book does as a whole.

Things are palpable: gateways to grief, memories, a relationship presence, a relationship absence. ‘Ham bag’ was a humorous code for handbag between mother and daughter; when the poet (I am boldly granting the first-person pronoun autobiographical status) catches sight of a calico bag, she misses her mother again:

 

Ready to go? Got your hambag, darling?

And I say:

Yes, Mum, all the better to put my ham in,

and we’re beside ourselves again.

 

from ‘Ham bag’

 

I am sitting in a cafe at AWF17, a table of writers next to me, conversations adrift because I am adrift on the currents of this book. The writing stitches me and I feel the needle prick and sew, prick and sew, as I read. There is a fluency of writing, a lightness of line as the shadows swell and the hurt pulses. It is not the first time writing poetry stands as a keepsake, for the sake of mother, family, friends and self. For the sake of a reader who keeps reading the same lines over.

The final poem, ‘Glass bowl with pink swirls,’ is so simple yet so sharp, I think I am going to cry, despite the writers I know laughing and conversing at the next table. This is what writing can do. It can pull you down to the very tiny gestures that mark a day, that mark a life so that everything shifts a little. You can feel those internal trenches and crevices tremble. The glass bowl holds the mother’s hand, a last image, a last desire, as she feels the warm soap suds. The glass bowl, a keepsake; and the poem.

 

 

To perceive you seeing nothing and everything

to watch the loop of your hand in its benediction

or to sit at your feet with my hot cheek tilted

to meet the roll and stroke of soft fingers,

was to be most steady and most moved

by your tender infinitive. That keepsake.

 

from ‘Glass bowl with pink swirls’

 

This book is a breathtaking startling soothing toppling skin-shaking eye-pricking heart-skipping glorious read.

 

Johanna Emeney lives in Auckland where she tutors at Massey University and co-facilitates the Michael King Young Writers Programme. She has been placed third and been commended in the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine and shortlisted for the International Montreal Poetry Prize. Her debut collection was entitled, Apple & Tree (2011).

Mākaro Press  page

The collection is part of the 2017 HoopLa Series that also includes Jeffrey Paparoa Holman’s Dylan Junkie and Elizabeth Morton’s Wolf.

 

 

 

 

Some highlights in the 70th anniversary edition of Landfall

otago638671.jpg  otago638671.jpg  otago638671.jpg

Landfall 233 edited by David Eggleton

 

Last Sunday I was feeling travel worn, flat, depleted, sick and I could not settle on anything. The kind of day where you pick this up and put it down. You pick that and then this and then that and then this. And then find yourself back at the start again. It was only when I opened the new Landfall I found my self settling back and reading.

The 70th Birthday issue is terrific. It includes testimonies from Chris Price and Iain Sharp (both candid on the difficulties of editing a key literary journal), Philip Temple (on the controversial dismissal of Robin Dudding and efforts to revive the flagging enterprise) and Peter Simpson on Charles Brasch and Landfall. Simpson quotes Brasch musing on when to quit editing. He decided he must stop at 15 years – although it stretched to 20. He concluded:

‘I shall have nothing to live for, nothing I badly want to do, nothing I am forced to do in order to live …’

 

Sometimes I like to read a journal from first page to last page in order to follow the contours and harmonies of editing. This time it was pick n’ mix poetry. As I read I jotted down:

vibrant fresh vital diverse essential reading unfamiliar voices much-loved voices direct indirect

 

Adore the Art Portfolios by Chris Corson-Scott and Heather Straka.

 

Two prose pieces caught me eye first. Both surprising and stick like biddibids.

‘Last-ditch Daisies’ Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor

‘It’s All I Had’ Joanna Cho

 

Then the poetry:

 

‘Four Transformations on a theme of Philip’ by Anne Kennedy is like a return to her brother (1951 – 1973). Every time I pick the book up it falls open here and I read it again. The short lines shift patterns on the pages like little twitches of contemplation, memory, bright retrieved detail with indents, parentheses, fluency.

 

Catch me in the garden

and put me in a jar

 

the air where I was

in the palm of your hand

 

 

‘Morning Song’ by Emma Neale builds a loving grandfather portrait that weds sharp detail with war undertones spiky within a family’s daily life. It is sumptuous writing with things hiding off the edges.

 

Gramps stole eggs, green seeds of song, from their nests

to show us wonder; hairline cracks ran

our sooks’ hearts as we watched the robbed mothers fly home.

 

 

‘Mr Anderson, You Heartbreaker’ by Helen Rickerby teases and bites into Hans Christian Anderson and his depiction or wooing of women and harnesses Helen’s adult eyes on the Little Mermaid.

 

And really, if she’d just held onto her tongue

she could have sung him to her

reeled him in, drunk him down

one prince, on the rocks, coming up

 

 

‘Storm’ by Amanda Hunt is a glorious lyrical snapshot that slows down the pace of contemplation to the point each detail is under an enviable spotlight. ( I am reminded of how Janet Frame wanted to slow down the pace of her poems)

 

a butterfly flutter

of moth-soft feathers

glancing across my shoulder

 

‘Fear of Feathers’ by Michael Gould delivers a surprising passage through the lines to the final enticement ‘life is good.’

 

Some sounds of birds (unseen but heard)

may confound those with no sense of the absurd

 

‘Personal Space’ by Johanna Emeney refreshes the domestic poem beautifully and needs to be read in its completeness to catch the humour, the pathos, the politics, the poetry, the feeling. I am including the last stanza.

 

She should clear a space

beneath the sudden worry of crowded floors,

the scatter of feet; the shock of doors,

run downstairs and shut herself in

the last room at the bottom,

then spin, arms open,

to see just how wide

she has forgotten.

 

 

‘Inflammable’ by Anna Jackson is a poem that catches the dark and light of life and living beneath the flicker of candle light. It reminds me of the way a particular moment, against all the millions lost and faded, that is luminous on return.

 

The world was flammable we knew it was.

 

‘Art Is Weak’ by Nick Ascroft is smart and sharp and hooks you from the first line.

 

Conceptual art is not so empty sleeved

and brained.

 

‘The Bee Elle’ by Lynley Edmeades curls and coils deliciously around a physical view and subterranean ideas.

 

Everyone is hooked up

to various elsewheres

as if our bodies don’t matter.

 

‘How a New Zealand Sunrise is Different from Other Sunrises’ by Erik Kennedy is like a landscape poem standing on its head and is thus invigorating to read (I am a landscape poem fan for all kinds of reasons).

 

Pinks and yellows collude to orange the hillside,

but they trick you into thinking the hills are proper orange

on their own, like an oyster catcher’s lurid bill