Tag Archives: The next word

The Next Word at the Alexander Turnbull Library is a poem oasis


All photo credits:  Imaging Services, Turnbull Library


Hannah Metttner and Brendan O’Brien have curated an exhibition of contemporary poetry at the Alexander Turnbull Library. The key aim is to offer an overview of the past thirty years in various spots in the gallery. There is an art video put together by Hana Pera Aoake and and a carousel showcasing a James Brown poem on the ground floor.

The little reading room is a poetry treat.

The curators have drawn from the poetry riches of the Alexander Turnbull Library to set up reading pathways between poems and poets, in the books on display, yet the eye is also drawn to poetry as visual object. You land upon a poem and alight upon an exquisite image. There are countless possibilities for travel: politics, aesthetics, music, confession, place, time, edge, rebellion, love.

Poetry is lovingly tended.

I am reminded that our poetry families are distinctive and diverse with many connections and necessary bridges. Nina Powles’s set of booklets, Luminescent, was a 2017 highlight for me; then again I am struck by the way so many of these books have glowed (Morgan Bach, Hinemoana Baker, Hera Lindsay Bird, Hannah Mettner, Chris Price, Joan Fleming, Bernadette Hall with Rachel O’Neill).

I love the way a book falls open at a poem in the glass case and we must stall on that to give a single poem devoted attention.

There are posters and prints and trips back in time (Sam Hunt, Ian Wedde, Hone Tuwhare, James k Baxter).

I went into the room after doing my final book checks at the library and it felt like an oasis, a place of retreat where the joy of poetry is the joy of stalling and savouring.

I highly recommend a visit before it closes on March 24th.

There is a lunchtime reading (12:15-1) on March 22nd with Chris Tse, Therese Lloyd, Anna Jackson, Gem Wilder and Sugar Magnolia Wilson. I am tempted to fly down!

There also some postcards on offer including my Suffragette poem.

One visit is not enough! I plan to loiter there before our Call Me Royal event next week.