Tag Archives: Lynn Freeman

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


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




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:




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


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).





C K Stead in conversation with Lynn Freeman is a delight @RNZNational

I love the new Christchurch poems that punctuated the interview. They are from the gorgeous book, In the Mirror and Dancing, that the National Library produced to mark the end of Karl’s Laureateship.

Listen here.

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Counting blessings @JohnJCampbell @CampbellLiveNZ


Running (again) into the beauty of Bethell’s this morning and instead of the zen-like empty head breathing in and out, or the line for a poem or a picture-book story flicking though, I began to count blessings. It has been a punch in the gut of many to axe (that brutal word) Campbell Live. And now a flurry of why this is so on social media and other places. I felt like I was running into a pocket of grief. A word that crops up in tweets, blogs and articles is John’s humanness. His ability to care. To take a stand. He is a good person and in this age of greed, violence and hunger we need good people. He shows us  … us. The little stories, the big stories. The famous people, the Joe Greens. Yes, I should be at my desk starting work on this fabulous new project I have invented, but today I feel stalled by grief at the implications of this loss.

The balm. To count sidetracking blessings as I ran into the wild beauty pitch of the West Coast.

1. National Radio and all its presenters, reporters. Thank heavens for Morning Report. For Guyon and Suzie. For the astute and searching mind of Kathryn Ryan, her humanness and that warmth. For Lynn Freeman for drawing us into our wider arts, so beautifully.

2. To courageous blogs such as Public Address. Thank you Russell Brown.

3.  To The Listener (thank you Jane Clifton) and Metro for showcasing New Zealand books and issues.

4. For The Herald for publishing incisive commentary. Thank you Toby Manhire (see Toby on John Campbell here).

5. For New Zealand publishers publishing New Zealand books against all odds. Thank you.

6. For New Zealand booksellers selling New Zealand books against all odds. Thank you.

7. For Anne O’Brien and her team creating an astonishing literary festival in Auckland that celebrated us here and now as much as the wider world. Thank you.

8. For everyone who has the courage to stand and make a difference in both a world and a ‘here’ that is damaged by greed, hunger, violence. To what extent are our decisions always motivated by the good of ourselves as opposed to the good of the whole?

Campbell Live, in whatever measure we care to assign, acted as a conscience of society — a role universities once exemplified in their ability to critique the ideologies, the customs, the structures, the laws, the expectations, the narratives and the images that both sustain and constrain us.

Thank you John Campbell. Heck, that moment when you came out to introduce Carol Ann Duffy, and there was this extraordinary lingering applause, with whoops and heartfelt cries, gave us goosebumps. Even then we were on the verge of tears. That is us now. In that auditorium, giving the whoops and the claps. But now it is a standing ovation. Cheers, John.