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Essential New Zealand poems
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message 1: by Angie (last edited Jan 02, 2013 12:41PM) (new)

Angie (seren-lucy) | 1147 comments Essential New Zealand Poems by Lauris Dorothy Edmond is our very first category challenge. Our challenge for January is to read this book of New Zealand poetry.

Leave a message below if you will be participating in this challenge.


Megan | 137 comments I will be participating in this challenge I am glad we are looking at some poetry I also have a spare copy if anyone would like it

message 3: by Angie (new)

Angie (seren-lucy) | 1147 comments That's very kind, Megan. I'm unsure as to whether I'll join in with this one yet. Might wait until halfway through the month before deciding. I've already committed myself to a heap of challenges in other groups.

Darkpool | 1020 comments I'm in, have already ordered it from the library.

Kathleen Dixon (kiwikathleen) | 1477 comments And yes again. I am 2nd of 2 holds, with about 4 copies available so it should arrive in a few days.

Megan | 137 comments I guess it's hard to know where to start when you are reading a collection of poems. One of the things that immediately struck me about this collection was the order of the poems.

Bill Sewell explains, in the introduction, that the poems have been put in alphabetical, by poet, order. Personally I prefer this to thematic organisation - although that can work well, too. But I think I would have preferred order by date of poet's birth, or poem's publication. However, this order does mean that it is easy to find poets and poems that I like.

The goal of Edmond and Sewell, in putting together this anthology was to select poetry that is 'part of people's everyday experience, something instinctive and essential, something addressing them directly and powerfully - something with immediate impact'. Lauris Edmond died, January 2000, before the anthology was complete. It surprised me that this anthology was so old - but helped make sense of some of the selections.

For example, I wondered at the James Brown poem, 'Tremors', which I like, but don't love, but the time and criteria make sense of.

While I was searching for some James Brown I do like, I found this great website:

Certainly worth a look at.

The James Brown I really like is from The Year of the Bicycle (2006) James Brown...

an extract

'Like you, I have had disappointments.
I write mostly for my shelf.
If there's something
you want to hear,
you can sing it

Also, there is a good selection of Sam Hunt, whose poems I really love, and they really are just getting better.

I was glad to see Laura Ranger in there, and I thought that 'Kapiti' was one of her best poems - whatever came of Laura Ranger?

There is an indisputable New Zealand feel to many poems. For example, W. Hart-Smith, whom I had never read before - with 'Subject Matter' and 'Tractor'. In Tractor the poet likens the tractor to a paddle steamer, making me think of Whanganui River and the Waimarie, and Queenstown's Earnslaw, but the lines I loved in it were,

'the tractor wallows
across the ocean of the paddock
with a fine excitement of gulls
in its wake'

which brings such an immediate image, sensory and vivid, to mind.

Lots to savour in this book, and the organisation has had me reading poets I hadn't read before.

Darkpool | 1020 comments Started this this morning, and have been wondering how to tackle it. I agree with your thoughts on the order, Megan. I do like the idea of a chronological sort of collection so you can see how ideas and styles evolve, and maybe get insights about the was societal influences affect what is being written about and how... but alphabetical by author works too. I've tried to resist just dipping in - I don't want to miss any! - so I figure I'll just read it front to back, grazing my way through a dozen or so poems a day.

Darkpool | 1020 comments I like this one a lot!! (Blatant Resistance by Bub Bridger)

message 9: by Angie (new)

Angie (seren-lucy) | 1147 comments Lovely.

Megan | 137 comments I liked the Bub Bridger one too. This one by Cilla McQueen (p. 162) Timepiece

Is great. You have to scroll down past another Bub Bridger poem which is worth reading, to see it.

Megan | 137 comments This is an interesting perspective on the state of NZ poetry...I don't agree, as I personally think much 'poetry' suffers from being turgid doggerel (for instance - Katherine Mansfield's 'To L.H.B').

Crafting, and abiding by rules of metre, rhyme and form, does not a poem make. I quite like this definition of what a poem is, 'a poem is an arrangement of words containing meaning and musicality'. But even that does not really cover it. As TS Eliot said, 'what a poem means is as much what it means to others as what it means to the author'.

This small (almost) haiku within a poem of Emma Neale's called, And Are You Still Writing, kind of describes what a poem is, to me:

'a poem waited
Small, tight-skinned, self- contained:
A package left of the doorstep of an empty house.

It was to be a poem
About the spaces in between'

Darkpool | 1020 comments I'm still toddling my way through the poems, and coincidentally had just got up to Katherine Mansfield when I decided to put the book down and post an update!
Interesting link, Megan.

Kathleen Dixon (kiwikathleen) | 1477 comments I read a few poems of this each night, some of which I liked a lot, and many of which gave me no particular feelings either way. I think choosing short stories or poems for an anthology must always be exceedingly difficult, and trying to make a collection with a title like this can really only end up as a subjective and personal collection. Still, it covers a wide range of poets and a good span of time, so that's well done.

I'm not a connoisseur - I usually confess a somewhat superficial approach to poetry - but, as I've found when reading collections of short stories, I get turned off very quickly when I've read quite a few that don't immediately appeal. In reading poetry I then tend to criticize myself for not having a proper appreciation. That, of course, is rubbish - I can appreciate the work put in to a poem, and the use of rhyme (or not) and the scan, and the imagery of words, equally well without having to like a good poem.

So, as an exercise in reading poetry I quite enjoyed this. However, I think publishers of poetry collections could make them more visually interesting - certainly that would have enhanced my experience.

Megan | 137 comments That's a really good point Kathleen. I have a fairly old collection of poetry from the seventies which I use a lot because it is liberally illustrated with 'poetic' photography that is playing with how we interpret image. I find this close connection between images and poems actually helps poetry feel more connected and real.

Darkpool | 1020 comments Finally, finally finished! I get a bit slowed down by wanting to stop and read some of the poems aloud. I was particularly struck by the very last one in the book "In the Moonlight", whose writer was born in 1869, and was deeply irked that the only date we got on that was a publication date - 1945, long after the poet's death. I would really have preferred to know the year it was actually written.
Of the others I read yesterday I also particularly enjoyed the trio from Hone Tuwhare; they really insisted on being spoken, and the taste of the shapes in my mouth was immensely satisfying.

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