Tag Archives: John Dennison

Poetry Shelf interviews Elizabeth Smither: ‘ I think poetry in many ways is a dare’

 

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Elizabeth Smither with Rusty and Sneaky

 

 

 

‘The Labradors have made nests already

simply by lying in the long grass

sucking the green into their bodies’

 

from ‘Lying in the long grass between two black Labradors’ in Night Horse

 

 

I recently read through the alluring stretch of Elizabeth Smither’s poetry; from Here Come the Clouds published in 1975, to the new collection, Night Horse, just released by Auckland University Press. I was drawn into melodious lines, pocket anecdotes, bright images and enviable movement. Harry Ricketts talked about the transformative quality of Elizabeth’s poems in an interview with Kathryn Ryan, and I agree. As you follow reading paths from the opening line, there is always  some form of transformation. The poetry, from debut until now, is meditative, andante, beautiful.

Elizabeth Smither has written 18 collections of poetry, five novels, five short story collections, journals, essays and reviews. She was New Zealand’s Poet Laureate (2001-3), was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry in 2008, the same year she received an Hon D. Litt from Auckland University. She has appeared widely at festivals and her work has been published in Australia, USA and UK.

To celebrate Night Horse (Auckland University Press, 2017), Elizabeth agreed to answer a few questions.

 

‘You can run as fast as Atalanta

who bowled three apples at her suitors

Double Red Delicious’

 

from ‘An apple tree for Ruby’ in Night Horse

 

What sparked your imagination as a child? Was reading a main attraction or did you also write? Did particular books endure?

Reading and writing. I liked to say long sentences to myself as I walked. The first thing I can remember writing about was my pet New Zealand White rabbit. All the usual books of the period: Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, A Girl of the Limberlost  which I found faintly terrifying. I can see these are the precursors of George Eliot and Jane Austen. As a teenager I had a crush on French writers: Colette, Gide, Mauriac, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Simenon. My father was a great novel reader and he impressed on me the sacrifices made by writers like Charles Dickens. I was scared of Quilp in The Old Curiosity Shop and never got past the page on which he appeared.

 

‘The cats are out by the letterboxes

at the ends of long driveways

waiting to see how the night will shape itself.’

 

from ‘Cat night’ in Night Horse

 

Your debut poetry collection, Here Come the Clouds, appeared in 1975, your eighteenth volume, Night Horse, was published in June this year. I see the same poetic attentiveness and ability to assemble detail that both stalls and surprises the reader. Do you see any changes in the way your write poems, or what you bring to poems, over the past decades?

Elizabeth Caffin wrote of an assured voice but I am unaware of it. I think it is more a question of a philosophy: Keats being lost in the leaves of a tree; being most ourselves when we are unconscious of what the self is; not feeling we are the centre of the universe but one of its parts. It is also a balancing act: the outside world meeting the interior; the sad existing alongside the pleasing, our mixed motives and our inability to ever know more than a fraction. In compensation we have the lovely leap of the imagination. I think poetry in many ways is a dare.

 

Have any poets or books affected or boosted your poetic directions?

Wallace Stevens was a huge discovery. I used to spend a year reading a major poet. Stevens, Roethke, Berryman, Plath, Sexton, Bishop, Lowell, Synder, The Beats, Black Mountain. Now I am less of a swot and read wherever I please. And when I am tired and jaded I re-read Hercule Poirot.

 

‘More moon tonight. 14 per cent  bigger

and closer to the earth. The whole sky

seems to leap to greet a visitor.’

 

from ‘Perigee moon’ in Night Horse

 

 

In 1975, very few women poets were getting published in New Zealand. Did you feel you were writing within a community of poets? Men or women? Was it difficult to get your first book out?

Part community, part social movement: Greer, Friedan, Steinem, Kedgley, Mead. The United Women’s Convention. We were all swallowing American poets at that time, looking for a freer way forward. My first book I owe to Sam Hunt who was visiting and found a folder of poems he gave to Alister Taylor. After Alister came McIndoe and then AUP.

 

‘Fast the pulse of the music, every beat

clear as a little stream running over stones’

 

from ‘At the ballet’ in Night Horse

 

Your new collection is a delight to read and offers so many poetic treats. I was thinking as I read that your poems are like little jackets that can be worn inside out and outside in. In stillness there is movement and in movement there is stillness; in musicality there is plainness and in plainness there is musicality. In the strange there is the ordinary and in the ordinary there is the strange. What do you like your poems to do?

I want them to do everything. Everything at once. I want them to feel and think (and feel the thinking in them as you read). I want them to be quick, in the old sense of the word: the opposite of dead. I want them to not know something and try to find it out – I would never write a poem with prior knowledge – I think ignorance can be bliss or at least start the motor. And as I write more I find out more and more about musicality. Isn’t one of the loveliest moments in music when harmony breaks through discord as though it is earned and you know that discord, instead of being a thicket or a dark wood, is part of it?

 

 

‘Down their sleeves (his jacket, her blouse)

run currents the early evening stars detect

and whose meaning is held in great museums’

 

from ‘Holding hands’ in Night Horse

 

I love that idea! What attracts you in the poetry of others?

Boldness, form (the pressure of it), language as clear as it can be, given the difficulty or otherwise of the content, not being self-centred, engaging the reader. Visceral was the quality Allen Curnow looked for when I had the temerity to leave a poem in his letterbox. ‘I poked it with a stick and it was alive.’ James Brown does it in ‘Flying Fuck’ (‘The Spinoff, June 9, 2017); Stephen Romer in some lines about cleaning a barn (‘Carcanet Eletter: Set Thy Love in Order)

            ‘Perhaps in our cool northern air

you rose some echelons

being lighter, the barn empty’

 

while Carol Ann Duffy excoriates Theresa May with lines that reach back to the roots of poetry:

‘The furious young

ran towards her through fields of wheat.’

 

 

‘Morals that are so pure they blaze

the sunlight back into the air’

 

from ‘A landscape of shining of leaves’ in Night Horse

 

Janet Frame worked hard to get the rhythm right in her poems and she wasn’t always satisfied (ah, the rogue self-doubt! I adore her musical effects). I find you are able to slow down the pace of your poems so that I linger as reader upon an image, a word, an anecdote, a side-thought to see what surfaces. Does this reflect your process as a writer?

I think, since I write in longhand, it may echo the pauses during composition.

 

Do you, like Janet and countless other poets, have poetry anxieties?

Just the big anxiety, the generalised one. To be better, to get closer, to go deeper, knowing that a rigorous equation awaits. I particularly felt this in ballet: any advance, even within the safety of a spotlight, opened a further and equivalent unknown. My other anxiety is that, having embarked on a poem at speed and decided on a stanza form, the stanzas won’t add up when I have finished.

 

‘Eggs in foil were hidden everywhere

until the taste of sweetness palled.

She sits in an armchair with her bear’

 

from ‘Ruby and fruit’ in Night Horse

 

Your poetry does not slip into a self-confession or grant a window on your most private life, yet it acts as an autobiographical record of your relations with the world, people, animals and objects. How do you see the relationship between autobiography and your poems?

Some of the recent autobiographical poems remind me a little of Elgar’s ‘Enigma Variations’. Ruminating portraits of friends or events illustrating a friend. The ‘Enigma Variations’ are tender but well-defined, different in tone. Autobiography, to me, has many hazards. We all excuse ourselves and even the most honest and analytic among us favour some perspectives over others. I feel confident that something of ourselves always gets in and reveals more than we can imagine. ‘Am I in this poem?’ has never worried me. I know I am.

 

Are there taboo areas?

No, never. It’s just a case of what you can handle.

 

 

‘It was all those unseen moments we do not see

the best of a friend, the best of a mother

competent and gracious in her solitude’

 

from ‘My mother’s house’ in Night Horse

 

‘Later you’ll scrub individual stains

from the white field: the rim of someone’s glass

down which a red droplet ran, a smear

of eggy quiche, a buttered crumb.’

 

from ‘The tablecloth’ in Night Horse

 

I especially love the ongoing friendship and granddaughter poems, but I particularly love the first poem, ‘My mother’s house.’ Kate Camp and I heard you read this at the National Library’s Circle of Laureates  and were so moved and uplifted that we asked for copies! Unseen, you are observing your mother move through the house from the street (you gave us this introduction) and see her in shifting lights. The moment is extraordinary; are we are at our truest self when we are not observed? There is the characteristic Smither movement through the poem, slow and attentive, to the point of tilt or surprise. The final lines reverberate and alter the pitch of looking: ‘but she who made it/who would soon walk into the last room/of her life and go to sleep in it.’  Do you have a poem or two in the collection that particularly resonate with you?

I’m fond of ‘The tablecloth’ after I observed my friend, Clay, scrubbing at a corner of a white damask tablecloth in the laundry after a dinner party. It reminded me of the old-fashioned way of washing linen in a river. It’s both a doll-sized tablecloth and something almost as large as the tablecloth for a royal banquet around which staff walk, measuring the placement of cutlery and the distance between each chair. ‘Ukulele for a dying child’ tumbles all over itself in an incoherent manner because the subject is so serious and no poet can do it justice. The grandmother poems will probably be ongoing because it is such an intense experience: something between a hovering angel and a lioness. Going back to your remark about ‘My mother’s house’ I agree with the truth that is available in our unobserved moments. Perhaps there is a balance between our social and our private moments which might comprise something Keats called ‘soul-making’.

 

‘Next morning she was called again

to undo the work of her marvellous wrists.

“Miss Bowerman, can you let out the water?”‘

 

from ‘Miss Bowerman and the hot water bottles’ in Night Horse

 

There is no formula for an ending but I often get an intake of breath, a tiny heart skip when I read your poems. What do you like endings to do?

The endings I like best have some extravagance in them, like the ending of ‘Cat Night’ where the road which still retains the day’s warmth turns into carriages and cocottes on the Champs-Elysées.

 

‘Let the street lights mark

the great promenade down which love will come

like black carriages on the Champs-Elysées.’

 

There’s a big difference between the size of a cat and a carriage but the emotion is the same.

 

 

Which New Zealand poets have you read in the past year or so that have struck or stuck?

Diana Bridge, Claire Orchard, John Dennison, yourself in New York, Michael Harlow, Geoff Cochrane and all the laureates.

 

Or from elsewhere?

Lots of Australians. I’ve just read Rosemary Dobson’s Collected Poems.

 

Do you read widely in other genres?

Yes, I particularly like hybrid forms – travelogues that turn into miniature poetry collections, diaries, memoirs that admit to no rules as if they understand the psychology of the reader who is liable to become bored, and also the limits of being an author. My main love remains the novel, followed closely by the short story and the detective story.

 

I was once asked to pick a single New Zealand poem I love to talk about on Summer Noelle. What poem would you pick?

Since Allen Curnow: Simply by Sailing in a New Direction, a biography by Terry Sturm, edited by Linda Cassells and Allen Curnow: Collected Poems, edited by Elizabeth Caffin and Terry Sturm are being published by AUP later this year, and since our pohutukawa are threatened by myrtle rust, I would pick ‘Spectacular Blossom’.

 

‘ – Can anyone choose

And call it beauty? – The victims

Are always beautiful.’

 

 

 

Auckland University Press Night Horse page and author page

Booksellers review by Emma Shi

Radio NZ National review by Harry Ricketts with Kathryn Ryan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf, Poet’s Choice: Sue Wootton makes her picks

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I really enjoyed Excerpts from a Natural History (Pokeno: Titus Books, 2015) by Holly Painter. A beguiling collection: witty, warm and smart. A beautifully designed book, too.

John Dennison’s Otherwise (Auckland: AUP, 2015) contains gentle, serious work. It’s refreshing for its calm and formal tone, as well as for its dedication to contemplation and celebration, both.

Recently I’ve been reading Mary Ruefle’s collected lectures: Madness, Rack, and Honey (Seattle/New York: Wave Books, 2012). Much here that fruitfully sustains, and just as much that fruitfully unsettles: “I suppose, as a poet, among my fears can be counted the deep-seated uneasiness surrounding the possibility that one day it will be revealed that I consecrated my life to an imbecility.”

Sue Wootton

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Poetry Shelf, Poet’s Choice: Lynn Davidson makes her picks

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There are so many books to catch up on now the PhD is done and dusted! But of the poetry I managed to read this year, these ones stayed with me. John Dennison’s Otherwise combines really fine crafting with breadth of vision and a deep interest in connectedness, including with other New Zealand writers. From ‘Lone Kauri (reprise)’: ‘So take for starters the surge-black fissure, / the waves which register the lunatic sense / it is all well beyond us.’

Lynn Jenner’s Lost and Gone Away brings us poetry in prose and the old world in the new: This from a reflection on the sculpture Rudderstone in the Wellington Botanic Gardens where amongst ‘Pacific’blue marble, there are ‘some small, irregularly shaped pieces of black…They are pieces of the Old World that came with us.’

Joan Fleming’s Failed Love Poems are energetically engaged with language and movement and the strange corners and shores of love that can hardly be articulated, but find articulation here: ‘Un-husbanded nuisance fire. Or grovel, or chisel down, chisel down’– from ‘The Invention of Enough.’

And finally the big excitement for me was a new book of poems by Kathleen Jamie, The Bonniest Company. This from ‘Arbour’:

…May is again pegged out

across the whole northern hemisphere, and today

is my birthday. Sudden hailstorms sting

this provisional asylum. We are not done yet.

Lynn Davidson

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Poetry Shelf, Poet’s Choice: Steven Toussaint picks a favourite read

 

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What does it mean to be a religious poet in an irreligious age? John Dennison’s debut collection Otherwise (AUP) offers us a generous glimpse. The fixtures of contemporary lyric—domestic eros, urban existentialism, memories of childhood, communion with nature—are renewed under Dennison’s theological gaze. In the astonishing poem, ‘The Immanent Frame’, he recasts the boundary-lines between the secular and the sacred. In contrast to the popular ‘subtraction story’ that frames religion as an ever-diminishing component within the vast horizons of modernity, Dennison intimates a still-vaster transcendent force driving all things, ‘while all the while is carried / through, unsensing each / extra mile which goes / itself.’ Dennison’s poems are enriched by their subtle recourse to the Christian mythos (for C.S. Lewis ‘a true myth’), and are never more impactful than when turned toward social commentary. ‘On Climate Change’ traverses the sham of boundless growth with an elegant parable (When was the last time Balaam’s Ass appeared in a poem this side of David Jones?!). In addition, Dennison is a sure and studied composer, as vigorous in ‘free verse’ as in his peerless pantoums. I detect continuity with distinctively Brittonic voices like Dylan Thomas, W.S. Graham, and R.S. Thomas, even Geoffrey Hill’s playful opprobrium in a poem like ‘After Geering.’ I look forward to reading what comes next from this talented poet.

Steven Toussaint

Poetry Shelf interviews John Dennison — ‘it does seem to be a recurrent question in the collection—love’s strangeness’

John Dennison

Photo credit: Robert Cross

 

John Dennison was born in Sydney in 1978, and grew up in Tawa. He has lived and studied in Wellington, Dunedin, and St Andrews, Scotland, and now lives with his family here in Wellington, where he is a university chaplain. His poems have appeared in magazines in the UK, New Zealand and Australia, and were anthologised in Carcanet’s New Poetries V (2011). A first collection, Otherwise, was published by AUP and Carcanet earlier this year.

To celebrate the arrival of this terrific debut, John agreed to be interviewed. I reviewed Otherwise here.

 

 

Did your childhood shape you as a poet? What did you like to read? Did you write as a child? What else did you like to do?

Life was rich and full as a kid. We’d no TV, and I spent a good deal of time in books and up trees, or absorbed in endless audiobooks. That’s attuned my ear to some degree; I’ve also my mother’s knack for picking up other voices. Dad had a handful of poetry LPs in his collection—Eliot reading his Quartets, a record of Hopkins’s verse, one of American poet Carl Sandburg weirdly, wonderfully intoning. We worshipped at an open Brethren assembly in Porirua—a lively, community-oriented, rather tribal affair. I think it was partly the Church that attuned me critically to language, and taught me to take words and address seriously. At the same time, the Church attuned me to the culture around, to the market and to public cant; I’ve still got a well-developed, somewhat from-the-margins suspicion of life as it’s sold and told by the powers that be. Another formative aspect of my childhood: I was born with severe club feet. The deformities were corrected early on, when I was a baby, but it shaped me. I think the pre-verbal memory of that wounding and re-shaping, and my later memories of struggling with sports, with running, has had an effect in some way. Growing up has, in one sense, been a growing into–accepting–the woundedness of my earliest weeks. All of this enters the poetry in some way.

 

When you started writing poems as a young adult, were there any poets in particular that you were drawn to (poems/poets as surrogate mentors)?

Gregory O’Brien was my flesh-and-blood example of how to be a poet—he was a key figure in my apprenticeship. I took a writing paper with him. More than the workshop, to be accorded dignity and friendship by this older, much more dedicated writer—that was gold. I was stoked to meet Michael Symmons Roberts, a Manchester poet, in person recently—he’s been another important model, via his work. Baxter always hovered in the background—ready mythology.

 

Did university life transform your poetry writing? Theories? Peers? Discoveries? Sidetracks?

It’s interesting that this question irks me—I guess I chafe at the recognition that the university has become the dominant patron of poetry in NZ and beyond, and I feel uneasy at such patronage. For all that I love the community of scholarship, and serve that community as a chaplain, I do wonder whether it might not impoverish one’s poetry and poetics to turn habitually to the university. There really is, for instance, wonder and joy, contemplation and professing, which the modern university is pretty much deaf to. But yes, for me the university put poetry on the table every breakfast without apology or concern, and with the kind of seriousness a thoughty 19-year-old man is bound to fall for. Poetry was a subject of study before it was a practice, and learning to read slowly and in good faith—assuming everything on the page signifies—was good apprenticeship in the craft. That, and reading poets’ own accounts of making. I guess I learned the traditions, those at home and those abroad—it was important to do that.

 

Are there any critical books on poetry that have sustained or shifted your approach to writing a poem?

There’s a few. Those of any real use were written by poets. David Jones’s reflections on poetry and sacramental theology in Epoch and Artist was a timely discovery. More recently, Wendell Berry’s essay ‘On the use of old forms’ has helped me to understand what is at stake in choosing to work one or other received tradition and form—terza rima, or a Shakespearean sonnet, as opposed to free verse, say. He describes the way in which such forms enable you to live forwards into the poem, calling you into the possibilities of the language via rhymes, metre, etc. Berry’s been a real practical help. There’s Neruda’s manifesto ‘Toward an Impure Poetry’—I love his refusal to make poetry a religion, to give it some priestly function. Otherwise, I’ve pocketed a handful of dictums: Hopkins in a letter to Bridges, ‘Take breath and read it with the ears’; also, a phrase Seamus Heaney misattributes to Mandelstam, ‘The Incarnation sets the world free for play’. Stunning.

 

What poets have mattered to you over the past year?

Jorie Graham’s Sea Change has been a recent discovery – it’s difficult, unstable ground, one of the more moving mediations on climate change and the larger state of things I’ve read. Really good public poetry. And her use of negative prefixes has really stuck with me. She’s been important. I’m grateful for Cliff Fell’s poems. Fell sets up large pressure systems—essay poems—in which the lyric voice rises to break the surface tension of the larger flow. In its Dante-esque scope, in its prolonged and evident apprenticeship, and in its pitch and reach across the several keyboards of the language, his stuff is brilliant.

 

What New Zealand poets have you been drawn to over time?

Again, Baxter loomed large early on—my Father worked with Colin Durning, Baxter’s friend, and so James K. was part of the fabric of things. I love the work of Bethell—she’s been important. More recently, it’s been Curnow and O’Sullivan.

 

Any other areas you are drawn to read in?

Well, apart from essays in poetics, I’m often reading contemplative theology: Augustine’s Confessions, most recently. I love a good essay on any topic—love the essay form. I’ve been slowly working through Chaim Potok’s novels which have been utterly captivating—My Name is Asher Lev, a story about a gifted artist born into a community of New York Hasidic Jews. And then, I read a lot of kids’ picture books at the moment.

 

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In my review of your debut collection, Otherwise, I identified one of the joys of the collection: ‘the way the poem grounds you in the marvellous detail of the here and now so you feel earthed, and then uplifts you to the transcendental possibilities of elsewhere.’ What are key things for you when you write a poem?

Mostly, poems begin with the musical suggestiveness of a line, or the emotional implications of an image, rather than in some premeditated transection of marvellous and the everyday. A poem is a thing made out of words pitched through some emotional acuity, in which language is pushed towards the condition of music and affective image. If there’s a trajectory I’m inclined to trace, that’s simply a piece with life more generally. It’s how I am. The coordinates you’ve remarked on—the marvellous of the here and now, transcendental possibilities—well, shoot, that’s the shape of things.

 

The poems are steeped in love. Did you set out to navigate love in poetic forms or is it a key and enduring ingredient in your ink?

No, nothing as confident as navigating love—gosh, I’m not sure how one could do that without stunning presumption. I just went fishing for poems. But it does seem to be a recurrent question in the collection—love’s strangeness, I hope, rather than the stuff that well-worn word normally conjures. I’m very interested in the way that the lyric, traditionally being concerned with a speaking ‘I’, can become a space of loving address. I’m not thinking of some poly-vocal instability, nor of self-esteeming self-talk; I’m thinking more of the kind of address you find in the Psalms – ‘why are you cast down within me, o my soul?’ It’s a kind of excoriating, unflinching yet loving address to the estranged self; I’m excited by finding ways to open the lyric up to that.

 

I mentioned the spiritual steppingstones in the collection (a particular path the reader can explore). Is poetry a vital means to explore your spirituality?

No, I’d not say that. At times the process of writing, with its emotional accuracies, serves as a mirror. You know, that moment when the finished thing speaks up and looks back and you say ‘gosh, is that who I am, is that what it is! Mercy!’ But no, poetry isn’t some kind of intuitive scripture; it’s not prayer. Prayer—that’s exploration. I’m very interested in prayer as a kind of activity which takes place in the middle voice (rather than the active or passive moods)—a kind of led, participation in an action one didn’t initiate. There is some kinship with the experience of writing a poem—negative capability, and so on. But there are important differences too.

 

Your critical book, Seamus Heaney and the Adequacy of Poetry, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press this year. What vital discoveries did you make about poetry as you wrote and researched this book?

The book is a critical history of Seamus Heaney’s prose poetics—the poetics which culminate in his brilliant volume of lectures, The Redress of Poetry. It’s the story of a young Catholic poet who abandons his childhood faith, transferring much of that religious impulse to poetry and a theory about poetry’s sufficiency in the face of history. It’s the story of a poet who believes his art has a restorative, morally pure function in the midst of the violence of public life—for Heaney, the Ulster Troubles. It’s also the story of the son of a cattle dealer from Co. Derry, who wins a scholarship to University and becomes one of the most lauded poets of his time—Harvard professorship, Nobel Prize, etc. So I learned a great deal about contemporary poetics and this post-Christian age. Personally, it helped me to sort out my own thinking on some key questions around poetry and life—for example, that I do not feel any need to ascribe to art some redemptive agency. Also, that I don’t believe a poem is morally pure or true by virtue of its self-verifying ‘rightness’—some poems are beautiful lies, and this problem should interest us.

 

What irks you in poetry?

Moral smugness; a lyric self-regard which cuts out the reader; despair as an existential pose; free-verse which is really prose with line-breaks; a lack of musicality; forms which are not needful.

 

What delights you?

An ear at work—alive to the mnemonic possibilities and serious play of language pushed towards a condition of music. A lyric voice which is undone in its moment of saying—the suspicion the poem has cost the poet something. A full keyboard of language and register in use (what could be more democratic?) Fully employed forms of which one becomes blithely unaware in their unfolding.

 

Some poets argue that there are no rules in poetry and all rules are to be broken. Do you agree? Do you have cardinal rules? Do you have rules you particularly like to break?

I guess I want to ask What is this talk of rules? A successful poem is not a matter of rule-keeping or breaking, but of faithfulness—trust in the possibilities of language and the various poetic traditions. Some forms have constraints, and I am very interested in the possibilities generated by working within and against these constraints. The question is not whether to use free-verse or strict forms, it’s about what’s needful, about the way each form sets up a micro-economy of agency and possibility within language. Free-verse, in an apparent paradox, foregrounds a kind of existential bind of constantly having to choose, having to assert control over language, to use it as a means of expression. In terza rima, on the other hand, one is constantly getting ahead of oneself (with the b-rhyme in the tercet) while glancing back from where you’ve been; it’s a promissory kind of form, constantly entrusting itself to unknown possibilities.

 

Finally if you were to be trapped for hours (in a waiting room, on a mountain, inside on a rainy day) what poetry book would you read?

Probably, right now, I’d take Thomas Merton’s Collected Poems, for its utter strangeness. It includes a very compelling and haunting sequence on the cargo cults in Papua New Guinea. I waded through it in my early twenties – probably due a revisit. And, given his surrealist edge, a waiting room inside a rainy mountain would be an ideal fit.

 

Auckland University Press page

this looks good! WRITERS ON MONDAYS Beach, Bach and Beyond: Three Poets

WRITERS ON MONDAYS

Beach, Bach and Beyond: Three Poets

Come and hear the latest in poetry, in a reading and discussion chaired by poet Cliff Fell. David Beach’s fourth collection, Jerusalem Sonnets, Love, Wellington Zoo, tackles, amongst other things, the inescapable presence of James K. Baxter for nay sonnet writer. Morgan Bach’s debut, Some of Us Eat the Seeds, welcomes a refreshing new voice that is in turns witty and sharp-edged. The international publication of Otherwise, John Dennison’s first collection, heralds a new, vivid and sensual voice in the New Zealand (and UK) poetry scene.

DATE:  Monday 20 July
TIME:   12.15-1.15pm
VENUE:  Te Papa Marae, Level 4, Te Papa
(please note that no food may be taken onto the Te Papa Marae)

Writers on Mondays is presented with the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, National Poetry Day and Circa Theatre.