Blog Archives

Young, gifted, female and brown, Elizabeth Crayford

Fale Aitu|Spirit House
Tusiata Avia
Victoria University Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9781776560646

Tail of the Taniwha
Courtney Sina Meredith
Beatnik Publishing, $30.00,
ISBN 9780992264895

Lucky Punch
Simone Kaho
Anahera Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9780473367510

Before Tusiata Avia’s Fale Aitu|Spirit House was published, she made a point of telling her mother what she’d written, to which her mother replied, “It all needs to come out.” Avia tells us this in an endnote, but it could stand as epigraph to all three books. Reading Avia’s work alongside Courtney Sina Meredith’s Tail of the Taniwha and Simone Kaho’s Lucky Punch is to be immersed, sometimes uncomfortably, in contemporary Pasifika culture from a female perspective. Each writer’s voice is distinctive, yet similar themes crop up again and again. Anyone who’s read Albert Wendt’s Leaves of the Banyan Tree, or Sia Figiel’s more recent Where We Once Belonged, both set in Samoa, will not be surprised by the level of violence in these new works. However, the “all” that Avia’s mother implies is alive and kicking in New Zealand in the 21st century.

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Posted in Literature, Plays, Poetry and Review

Infectious enjoyment, Fleur Adcock

Night Burns with a White Fire: The Essential Lauris Edmond
Frances Edmond and Sue Fitchett (eds)
Steele Roberts, $35.00,
ISBN 9780947493448

This enjoyable anthology doesn’t pretend to be anything but an act of loving homage; as the editors admit, they did not plan a scholarly book. It consists of poems and a smaller number of extracts from Lauris Edmond’s prose writings, edited by the two people whose names are on the title page, but largely chosen by Lauris’s friends, admirers, and members of her family, who were asked to submit suggestions. The arrangement is thematic, progressing through childbirth, family love, friendship, Wellington, travel and other topics, and ending with a powerfully affecting section about death. It includes a timeline, a bibliography, and an index of contributors; one of the incidental pleasures of reading the collection is to cross-check titles of individual pieces with this index to see who chose what.

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

“No country for old men”

Sydney-based New Zealand writer Paul Schimmel surveys the Hera Lindsay Bird phenomenon from across the ditch

Since Hera Lindsay Bird’s volume of poetry Hera Lindsay Bird was selected for the so-called long-list for the New Zealand book awards in poetry, and subsequently for the short list, I have become aware, from across the ditch, that a small-scale cult-like phenomenon seems to be emerging around her.

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Posted in Comment and Poetry

Rewards, challenges, surprise, Roger Robinson

The Collected Poems of Alistair Te Ariki Campbell
Victoria University Press, $50.00,
ISBN 9781776560677

Alistair Te Ariki Campbell always surprised us.

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

Poetry and politics, Sarah Sharp

Robert Burns: Poet and Revolutionist Harry Holland (Dougal McNeill ed) Steele Roberts, $30.00, ISBN 9780947493172 Writing during the 1920s, Harry Holland describes the celebration of Burns Night as an event which unites Scots around the world: be the Scot where

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

A slap in the face with a mohair glove, Anna Jackson

Hera Lindsay Bird Hera Lindsay Bird Victoria University Press, $25.00, ISBN 9781776560714 I have been reading Hera Lindsay Bird like a waitress pouring myself into the coffee … and then drinking it all before I get it as far as

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

Poetry and the poem, Michael Hulse

Selected Poems  Jenny Bornholdt Victoria University Press, $40.00, ISBN 9781776560660 If I begin by saying that Jenny Bornholdt gives the impression of being a very modest person, it’s not because this review is to be an assessment of her character,

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

A late flowering, Peter Russell

Karl Wolfskehl: Three Worlds / Drei Welten: Selected Poems: German and English Friedrich Voit (ed), Andrew Paul Wood (trans) Cold Hub Press, $45.00, ISBN 9780473358679 This book is a triumph: a triumph of the translator’s art, and a triumph in

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

Letters of aroha and respect, Olivia Bennett

The Art of Walking Upright Glenn Colquhoun Steele Roberts, $25.00, ISBN 1877228206 “The art of walking upright here is the art of using both feet”. For many New Zealanders, the very essence of being Kiwi is being part of a

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review and YA Reviewers

Mystery, wisdom and complication, Gregory O’Brien

The Lives of Coat Hangers Sudesh Mishra University of Otago Press, $25.00, ISBN 9781927322376 “A thing is a hole in a thing it is not.” I was reminded of American sculptor Carl Andre’s words, as I read Sudesh Mishra’s remarkable

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review
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