Tag Archives: Louise Wallace

Chocolate & Poetry: an invitation



17 College Street, Te Aro, Wellington

6PM | 19 JUNE | TICKETS $30

details here

The taste of poetry, the sound of chocolate and the sense of books. We’ve matched medieval humours with contemporary New Zealand poets and some of the best chocolate you’ll find, ever.

Join us at Ekor Bookshop for a multi-sensual, medieval-medicine-inspired poetry reading and chocolate tasting.

Featuring: Nick Ascroft, Hannah Mettner, Louise Wallace, and Freya Daly Sadgrove.

Chocolate curated and introduced by Luke Owen Smith (The Chocolate Bar).

Chocolate (and poetry) included in ticket price.

Poetry Shelf The Summer Season: Poets pick poems – Bill Manhire picks Louise Wallace


Four Seasons on Poetry Shelf aims to widen the scope of voices, selections, opinions, poetry tastes, sidetracks, reading options in 2017 on the blog. Each season will be different.


First up, The Summer Season where, over the course of two weeks, New Zealand poets pick a favourite New Zealand poem and offer a few comments.

I have spent the past year reading, writing and researching my way through poetry by New Zealand women for my book. Sometimes a poem feels like a foreign country, a sea in which I haven’t the foggiest idea how to swim, and I feel like I am treading water, hopelessly. But sometimes, upon return, when the light catches the poem aslant (thanks Cilla McQueen!), I find myself swimming and it is heaven. Sometimes it’s just a matter of changing stroke, of navigating the tidal flow with different eyes. Different ears.

Reading outside your comfort zone, reading into the unfamiliar along with the much loved, is an absolute joy.

Yep, poetry is an absolute joy.


To launch the season, I am posting a poem Bill Manhire is very fond of:

‘Poi Girls’ by Louise Wallace (Since June, Victoria University Press, 2009).

Bill also suggested including a link to Louise’s excellent short note on the Best New Zealand Poems site. However Louise has granted permission to post both the poem and the comment. Thank you!

The Poi Girls

Kahu, Mere, and Faith
stand on the grass
by the corner.
They lean
on the fence and watch you
walk past –
spinning, twirling their poi.
The Poi Girls
say with their poi,
with each hard slap
of their poi.

On your way home
they’re in the same spot,
Kahu, Mere, and Faith.
Their older brothers and cousins
are fixing the car, out
on Mere’s lawn.
The boys stop as you
walk by.
They lean their hands
on the car’s sides and look out
from under the hood.
The Poi Girls
say with their poi.

You’re walking
down the dip
but you have left
your shoes at school.
The yellow seeds
stick to your feet,
and when you get up
the other side, The Poi Girls
are looking
at you.
The Poi Girls
say with their poi.
Piss off,
you tell them,
leave me alone.
You don’t need
their crap as well.

You stuff Pak ‘n Save bags
into white plastic
and tie
them up with string.
You walk past the corner
twirling and spinning,
you say with your Pak ‘n Save poi.
The Poi Girls chase you
down the street
but you are too little and fast
for them,
especially for Faith, the fat one,
the one with the lighter skin.

One day in the cloakroom
It’s just you and Thomas
and he tells you
you have beautiful eyes –
green and brown,
just like his girlfriend, Jade’s.
The Poi Girls burst in, twirling.
The Poi Girls
say with their poi,
your cheeks
pounding flush.

Your sister tells you
to run through the mud
and you say you will
and that you don’t even care.
So you run
and halfway you sink
to your waist
and down the dirt road
come The Poi Girls, slowing
to a stop.
The Poi Girls
say with their poi
and leave
with your sister
in tow, twirling.

It’s sunny but cold
that morning, on the way
to school.
Mere’s front lawn
is filled with cars,
and there are people in suits
and old koros with sticks
and The Poi Girls stand
out the front.
Mere doesn’t
look at you today,
so Kahu and Faith
glare twice as hard for her.
The Poi Girls’ poi
hang still
from their hands
and today
say nothing at all.

©Louise Wallace Since June, Victoria University Press, 2009.


Louise comments:  ‘ “The Poi Girls” is one of those rare poems that came to me almost fully-formed in the middle of the night. I scribbled it down then and there, and I wish this happened more often! I grew up in Gisborne and the essence of this poem comes from there. The poem is about childhood, curiosity and the nature of difference, but contains a certain menace too. Through the sound of the poi and its repetition I hoped to convey the weight and seriousness that events so often have when you experience them as a child.’


Best NZ Poems

Listen to the poem here.

Starling goes live at Wellington’s Meow Cafe

Screen shot 2016-02-09 at 12.41.14 PM



STARLING: A new online literary journal publishing poetry and prose by New Zealand writers under 25 years old. Founded by Louise Wallace & co-edited with Francis Cooke.

ISSUE 1 LIVE: Eight incredible young writers from our first issue will take to the stage to read their work:

Lily Ng / Georgie Johnson / Natalie Morrison / Rebecca Hawkes / Tayi Tibble / Sharon Lam / Phoebe Wright / Claudia Jardine

Come along to celebrate the arrival of Starling at this relaxed all-ages, free event. Bring your mates or bring your kids! Soak up some inspiration for the afternoon. Meow’s delicious coffee and food available for purchase, as well as beer and wine for those 18 and over if it happens to be one of those stellar sunny days Wellington is famous for.

Starling: Showcasing New Zealand’s Best Young Writers – to be edited by Louise Wallace & Marty Smith

Starling takes flight

Showcasing New Zealand’s Best Young Writers

A new opportunity for young writers has emerged today. Starling (www.starlingmag.com) is an online literary journal that will be published twice yearly, accepting poetry and prose from only New Zealanders under 25 years of age.

The founder and editor is poet, Louise Wallace, author of two collections of poetry and the current Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago. The journal will be an opportunity for young writers to showcase their work in a professional environment to a national audience. “There is nothing quite like this out there at the moment in New Zealand – certainly not with the national focus we hope to cultivate,” Wallace says. “It can be difficult for young writers to find publication with our more established print journals when they are competing for space with writers who have twenty or thirty or forty year’s experience. Starling levels the playing field.”

Wallace is keen to convey that the quality of the work will still be there. “Just because a writer is under a certain age, does not mean the quality of the work is any less. The journal has a high standard for acceptance and we are committed to presenting our contributors and their work seriously – in that way the submissions we receive and the writing we publish will be the best of the best.”

Starling is also focused on a community approach. Each issue of the journal will open with new work from an established New Zealand writer and will close with an interview with a person of note from the literary industry. Wallace says there are a few things that are crucial to the journal’s success. “The first is obviously getting young writers to submit. But we also need support from readers. We have a selection of posters available on our website that people can download and put up out in the real world to encourage submissions, and the website also allows supporters to sign up for email updates. Without these people taking that extra step, there will be no community.”

Submissions are now open for Issue 1, with a deadline of 20 October 2015, the issue to be published January 2016.

Wallace is joined by Co-editor, Francis Cooke, and Schools Coordinator, Marty Smith, who like Wallace, are graduates of the International Institute of Modern Letters MA programme. Cooke’s short stories have been published in a number of national journals, and Smith’s first collection of poems, Horse with Hat, won the Jesse Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry at the 2014 NZ Post Book awards, and was a finalist in the poetry category. Smith is also a high school teacher, and will work with Wallace to deliver the journal as a resource for New Zealand teachers in the classroom.

Ten things to love about Landfall 229



Shortly after Sport arrives in my box, I get a bright new issue of Landfall. My little list below maps my ‘loves’ so far — like little ‘like’ ‘share’ ‘favourite’ or ‘retweet’ buttons. Editors might compile a journal with an arc of contours (aural, thematic, emotional pitch, genre, experimentation, quietness and so on) as I have always done with an anthology so you move through shifting readerly experiences from start to finish. However, I never read a journal like this.  It’s dip and delve.

1. Straight to the review section to books I have missed, and books I have reviewed. Ha! I Have missed (all meanings intended) reading Ian Wedde’s The Grass Catcher: A digression about home (Victoria University Press). Martin Edmond’s scintillating review meditates on the implications of writing the past alongside his critique of Ian’s illuminations of his own. ‘Home’ was a key notion that came under scrutiny within my doctoral thesis and within the context of Italian women writing novels in the twentieth century. It still fascinates me. This review has sent me scuttling to buy the book. In particular: ‘This is not one of those writer’s memoirs that says: here is how I became the resplendent creature I am today. It is too multi-faceted, too in love with the world, you might say, to serve such a purpose.’

2. Rata Gordon’s poem  ‘Tinkering’ is like an electric train on electric tracks. You get to the end and you want to travel that route again. Wow!

3. Discovering Michael Harlow picked  Sue Wootton’s poem, ‘Luthier,’ as the winning entry in The Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize (2015). This poem is sumptuous in detail and that detail evokes mood, music, character, place in a transcendental kind of way. I would love to hear this poem read aloud to hear the poet lift and connect and pause, the hit of certain words on the line (flitch, slink, Sitka, bedrock). Sue demonstrates the way a poem can take a small moment/thought/action/thing and then open out intimately for the reader. A word that comes to mind and that is so overused when speaking poetry is luminous. But this poem is utterly and breathtakingly luminous.

4. Discovering Christina Conrad still writes poems.

5. Short poems can be very very good. So much happens in the white space that holds them This is the case with Louise Wallace’s ‘Mirage/Arizona.’

6. Tina Makeriti’s essay, ‘This Compulsion in Us.’ Strikes a chord because I am fascinated by museums too; enthralled by the things that stick to the objects that only you can see or hear or feel. Loved Tina’s exploration of a museum’s paradox, in that it preserves treasures yet ‘also captures and immobilises things that make sense only in motion, that should breathe and transform.’

7. Runner-up in The Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize (2015), the opening lines in Jessica le Bas’s ‘Four Photographs from a Window’ : ‘The first is a shot in the dark/ buttoned up and black suited’

8. An Elizabeth Smither short story that underlines what an exquisite hand she has when it comes to fiction (‘The Trees’).

9. The way Sue Reidy’s poem, ‘The primitive,’ became etched on my skin.

10. Lots more delights but I have to mention the Unity-Books, standout ad. A child reading a book, thank you!