Tag Archives: Kete Books

Poetry Shelf noticebaord: Paula Green reviews AUP New Poets 8 at Kete Books

AUP New Poets 8: Lily Holloway, Tru Paraha, Modi Deng, Auckland University Press, 2021

Review extract:

Editor Anna Jackson has selected three distinctive poets for AUP New Poets 8 and has placed them in the perfect tonal order.

The title of Lily Holloway’s suite, a child in the alcove, reminds me of poetry’s alcove-like features. Poems can be miniature shelters, places of refuge, an interplay of dark and light, secret, mysterious, challenging, bulging with nooks and crannies. Reading the work is to read across myriad directions, to peer into captivating cubbyholes and, as Jackson writes in her terrific foreword, to read distance and depth.

Holloway is an award-winning writer and postgraduate student who has been published in numerous journals. I have long admired her poetry: her aural and linguistic deftness, the sweet measure of surprise, the variegated forms, the connecting undercurrents, the honey, the bitterness. Her poems run on the rewarding premise that poems don’t need the full explanation, that tactile detail and deft juxtapositions can unmask love, desire, razor edges, self-exposure. Pocket narratives are equally sublime.

Full review here

Listen to the three poets read

Auckland University Press page

Lily Holloway (born in 1998, she / they) is a queer writer and postgraduate English student. While she mostly writes poetry, she has also tried her hand at non-fiction, fiction and playwriting. You can find her work in places like Starling, Midway Journal, Scum, The Pantograph Punch and The Spinoff amongst various other literary nooks and crannies. In 2020 she was honoured to receive the Shimon Weinroth Prize in Poetry, the Kendrick Smithyman Scholarship in Poetry and second place in the Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Essay Competition. In her spare time she enjoys op-shopping, letter writing, visiting small towns and collecting vintage Teletubbies paraphernalia. She is passionate about survivor advocacy and taking up space. You can find a list of her writing at lilyholloway.co.nz.

Tru Paraha resides in Tāmaki Makaurau in the suburb of Tukituki Muka (aka Herne Bay). She works as a choreographer and director, having enjoyed an extensive career in experimental dance, theatre and audio-visual arts. She is currently in the final year of a postdoctoral research fellowship in the English and Drama department at the University of Auckland. Moving between choreography, philosophy and creative writing, Tru produces live performances, artists’ pages and poems drawing on materials from deep space. She is a member of the International Dark-Sky Association and advocate for the preservation of the night sky as a world cultural heritage.

Modi Deng is a pianist based in London, currently pursuing postgraduate performance studies on a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music. Her Chinese name 默笛 means ‘silent flute’, which her father drew from a poem by Tagore. Performances with her ensemble, the Korimako Trio, have taken her throughout the UK and her concerts have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and RNZ Concert. After growing up in Dunedin, she went on to complete a Master of Music with First Class Honours on a Marsden research scholarship, while completing a Bachelor of English at the University of Auckland. Modi cares deeply about literature (diaspora and poetry), music, psychology and her family.

Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Paula Green reviews Jenny Powell’s Meeting Rita at Kete Books

Meeting Rita, Jenny Powell, Cold Hub Press, 2021

Hanging around in the gallery

for a ticket-only discussion

of fashion, we were singles

leaning on opposite walls.

Judgement flicked like a whip

and we couldn’t change a thing.

Rita and I

were wearing the same coat.

from ‘Meeting Rita’

Meeting Rita is poetry as sumptuous brocade, rich in detail and shifting views. The writing is measured, finely-crafted, lyrical. Individual words, phrases and the building lines surprise and delight. Endnotes offer background contexts for each poem, fascinating detail acquired from the poet’s research.

Full review here

Cold Hub press page

Poetry Shelf noticeboard: my review of Fleur Adcock’s at Kete Books

I woke in the middle of the night with an @RNZ earthquake message and held the radio to my ear until dawn, drifting in and out of advice, alerts and individual stories from mayors and locals, with the anxiety like a snowball gathering Covid-level talk and Covid -rule breakers, and the incomprehensible news of threats against Muslims in Christchurch, and the brutality in women’s prisons, and the bullies in the police force, and how some people should not get airspace their behaviour and views are so damaging and ugly, and I am thinking how lucky I was to have those five days up north with my family at Sandy Bay, and food in my cupboards, and a stack of poetry books to read and review, and clean notebooks for my secret projects, and panadol for pain, and the tomato plants still laden, and water in the tank, and @ninetonoon with Kathryn Ryan keeping us posted with @SusieFergusonNZ and her heartwarming Te Reo Māori.

Poetry is the lifeline, the hand held out, the music in the ear, the saving grace, the little miracle on the page.

I reread Fleur Adcock’s The Mermaid’s Purse at Sandy Bay and this morning I was picturing myself back under the tree’s shade with the tide coming in, and the sun shining bright. I was back in the beach scene and back in the scenes of Fleur’s glorious poetry. Here is a sample from my review for for Kete Books:

The Mermaid’s Purse moves between places with vital attachments (New Zealand and Britain) and, in doing so, moves through the remembered, the felt, the imagined. I sit and read the collection, cover to cover, on holiday beside the dazzling ocean and white Northland sand. I am reading ‘Island Bay’, a poem near the start of the book and keep moving between the dazzle of Adcock’s lines and the dazzle of the sea. Here are the first two stanzas:


Bright specks of neverlastingness

float at me out of the blue air,

perhaps constructed by my retina


which these days constructs so much else,

or by the air itself, the limpid sky,

the sea drenched in its turquoise liquors


Both lucid and luminous, this exquisite poem sets the mind travelling. I’m reminded these poems were written in an old age. “Neverlasting” is the word that unthreads you. It leads to the infinite sky, and then to the inability of the ocean and life itself to stay still or the same, to old age.

Full review here