Poetry NZ Issue 27
Issue 27

Alistair Paterson

Owen Bullock, Chris Abani, Raewyn Alexander, John Allison, Peter Bakowski, Janice M. Bostok, Louis Daniel Brodsky, Tony Chad, Jill Chan, Linda Connell, Kay McKenzie Cooke, Emily Dobson, Carrie Etter, Michael Farrell, Sue Fitchett, Janis Freegard, Bernard Gadd, Jeremy Gadd, Josh Goodwin, Anne Le Marquand Hartigan, Michael Hood, Jan Hutchison, May Iremonger, Janet R. Kirchheimer, Gary Langford, Louise Lever, Harvy McQueen, Catherine Mair, Mark Major, Margaret Mitcalfe, Mark Murphy, Ouyang Yu, Megan Parish, Sarah Penwarden, Mark Pirie, Denise Sammons, Kim Slemint, Lise Smith, Goran Tomcic, David John Vercoe, Sarah White

Raewyn Alexander

Alistair Paterson

This issue features the poetry of talented newcomer Owen Bullock, whose poetry reflects a background involving theatre, music (he plays several musical instruments), and experience in busking and juggling. Over forty other poets are also published in this issue, from New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Thailand and the United States.

Three sample poems can be found here: the orchard by Owen Bullock, Three Hummingbirds by Janis Freegard and Scorpions: the winds of change by David John Vercoe.


This issue continues the tradition established by Poetry NZ over the last ten years of presenting as wide a variety of poetry and as large a number of poets as possible within the constraints of time, space and available funding. It also tries, in terms of the wider poetry world, to offer work and comment that gives poets and their readers an idea of what's happening to poetry in New Zealand and elsewhere, and its current standing in regard to other social and cultural concerns and events. In fact, as far as poetry is concerned, a lot is going on. Increasingly in the English-speaking world, it's becoming an international phenomenon with poets seeking publication anywhere and everywhere poetry is listened to, published or read. It's the little magazines however, and increasingly the internet, that are giving poetry its push—not the newspapers, glossy magazines or television.

In this respect, issue 27 contains an article by Raewyn Alexander on poetry and the media. As she points out, literature and poetry don't always get a fair hearing in the mass media. In fact, almost all New Zealand newspapers and glossies confine their book reviews and articles on books to the back pages of what, by implication, their editors seem to think are the least popular and less interesting sections of such publications. Similarly and too often journalists claim they're in the business of reporting, not shaping, public events and the news, and if pressed will insist on their objectivity and offer the rejoinder that their bottom line is 'to make a buck, stay in business'.

But through what they publish and the way they present it, newspapers, magazines, and the electronic media subtly and profoundly shape public opinion and the values communities hold in common. Through confining book news to the back pages and obscure sections of their publications, newspapers and magazines denigrate literature, and poetry in particular, as of minor interest and little worth. And this is remarkably strange in view of multi-million dollar earnings from the international book market, the amount of money overseas publishers spend on advertising their wares, the undoubted success of bookshops and the on-going popularity of public libraries. Television, radio and the newspapers have the capacity to give poets and poetry similar recognition to that which they give to sport and sports people. That they choose not to, and that there's no equivalent of Britain's Times Literary Supplement is a sad reflection on their sense of values, and seems increasingly to be converting this country's poetry into an underground art form.

Alistair Paterson, September 2003

the orchard

rise into the air recording
the march of steps away from feijoas
the pull pull crisp crisp whisper of fruit
& your footfall tense under trees, balancing—
no fruit must fall to the earth
the rain heavy on your hood
clear tortuous plop from leaves
straight to an ear with a shiver
confided in you, eventually all fruit
looks the same

so much happening, therefore
opportunity to relax
& not consider outcome
to carry out plans without need
for what's built to be perfect—
you preach what you don't know

letting the book fall, the book's your link
& too many links make a chain
escape from books to the orchard
to endure, not what the trees do
they don't tolerate anything
suffering's in the wind, the mind,
the lowest level of identity

what I do means nothing
how I do is the pattern of thunderstorms
high pressure & greenhouse effects around the globe
you too, of course, 'I' is you, 'I' is everyone
Whitman knew it but they teased his ego
he knew that too, he's us
the fruit almost ripe

— Copyright Owen Bullock, 2003.

Three Hummingbirds

My mind is full of aspidistras. I went to the house of the glorious witch. We ate hummingbirds' eggs and small slices of persimmon glazed with honey. I wanted her to teach me how to fly, but all I could say was 'aspidistras'. In the courtyard, hummingbirds hummed—a sad tale of missing eggs. I took the hand of the glorious witch. We walked together among the persimmon trees. 'Teach me how to dream of aspidistras,' I begged her. She laughed her honey-glazed laugh and then, and then, we were flying like hummingbirds, high above the courtyard.

In the white stucco room with the man from Japan, we listened to some wilder shade of green. I sensed the presence of mules, underground. The man from Japan performed magic tricks with a cigarette. There was a cup on top of his wardrobe and I said: there's a cup on top of your wardrobe and he said: it's got spaghetti in it. I haven't laughed so much since I learned to fly. The underground mules toil subconsciously beneath the motorway. I'm wondering how far until breakfast.

Two days ago I was floating beneath the surface wondering whether to come up for air and today I'm all hummingbirds. My garden is full of persimmons and cups of spaghetti. I have flown with a witch until breakfast. A man from Japan made a white stucco room disappear which has got to be a good thing. I have played with mules and danced through aspidistras. Our minds, unfortunately, have minds of their own. Three hummingbirds. All humming.

— Copyright Janis Freegard, 2003.

Scorpions: the winds of change

Si, tis true
I am a very wealthy man.
I have many sheep, and
many goats
not to forget my fool!
a most pleasing fellow, is he.
makes me musik
elaborate inventions
shimmering cascades
mathematical charades
recites poetry, from the back of his brain!!
words, as rare
as rubies
wit and logic
skilfully engaged
sometimes I think
my fool is
more valuable than all of my
but then, I ask you
who would be the fool?

her thighs,

— Copyright David John Vercoe, 2003.