The NZ Herald invited to share some thoughts on poetry for National Poetry Day. Here is my contribution in full, including a favourite poem and a list of poems that have stuck to me.
Paula with Courtney Sina Meredith’s fabulous Tail of the Taniwha
Josephine likes lyric poetry
Josephine likes the way a poet will pull in a bird or a ladder
or an old coat and the bird and the ladder and the old coat
will tremble and shiver and ebb and flow just like the sea
so you will fall upon the fullness of each and it will make
you shift on your chair and almost stop breathing.
From New York Pocket Book Seraph Press, 2016
Poetry is a form of music. There are no rules you can’t break. Poems can tell stories, make lists, leave things out, share secrets, make things up, confess things, protest in a loud voice. A good poem can take you out in the world and turn you upside down so everything looks different. It can push you down a steep slope that is really exhilarating or put you in front of something strange or wonderful so you just have to stop and linger as though you are in a bush clearing or on an unfamiliar street or peeking through a door ajar. Sometime the hairs on the back of your arm might stand on end, especially when you hear a good poem read out loud (Bill Manhire, Michele Leggott, David Eggleton). Good poems can sometimes misbehave (Hera Lindsay Bird) or make you suck your cheeks in because they tang with life (Emma Neale) or make you swop shoes (Sarah Jane Barnett, Anna Jackson, Helen Rickerby). We don’t have to get everything in a poem. A good poem is where a poet takes shoes and socks off and stands in a southern stream in the middle of winter. Anything is possible. Some poems don’t suit us and some poems are a match made in heaven (Tusiata Avia, Bernadette Hall, Joan Fleming, Ian Wedde, Chris Price, Gregory O’Brien, Murray Edmond, Elizabeth Smither, Steven Toussaint).
A favourite poem
I love Rachel Bush’s ‘Sing Them’ because she is singing out of near death, unfolding lines until they ‘float,’ and there is love and memory, even at ‘the cold leftover end/ of the rind of winter,’ and I feel sad as I read but she lets the world shine and each phrase is extraordinary.
Ten New Zealand poems that have stuck to me (sticky poems)
Jenny Bornholdt ‘The Rocky Shore’
James Brown ‘The Bicycle’
Anne Kennedy ‘Sing-Song’
Michele Leggott ‘Blue Irises’
Margaret Mahy ‘Down the Back of the Chair’
Bill Manhire ‘Hotel Emergencies’
Selina Tusitala Marsh ‘Fast Talking PI’
Cilla McQueen ‘Being Here’
CK Stead ‘Auckland’
Hone Tuwhare ‘Rain’