Poetry NZ Issue 34
Issue 34

Alistair Paterson

Bernard Gadd, Andy Armitage, Cherie Barford, Joy Blair, Jill Chan, Jennifer Compton, Marcel Currin, Riemke Ensing, Jan FitzGerald, Robin Fry, Christien Gholson , George Gott , Matt Harris, Helen Heath, Jan Hutchison, Stephanie Ioka, Jan Kemp, Catherine Mair, Robynanne D Milford, John Millett, Pooja Mittal, Heidi North, Mark Pirie, Kerry Popplewell, Patricia Prime, Nicholas Reid, Jack Ross, Dan Salmon, d. n. simmers, Ashleigh Southam, Gareth Strachan , Ginny Sullivan, Robert Sullivan, Paul Sutherland , Nancy J. Thompson, Jo Thorpe, Marcus Turver, Rodney Williams

Vivian Fu, The poet and doctor as one — the theme of responsibility in the work of William Carlos and Glenn Colquhoun

Raewyn Alexander, from the swimming pool question by Michael Morrissey

Books in brief:
Alistair Paterson

Issue 34 features the work of Bernard Gadd, a New Zealand poet, editor and anthologist. Two sample poems can be found here: Legends of Phar Lap by Bernard Gadd, and Out of the archives by Nancy J. Thompson.


A trip to London, Surrey and the South of England in 2006 permitted me to make a number of visits to British libraries and bookshops including Waterstones, a very large bookshop in London's Trafalgar Square. It was enlightening (and dismaying) to discover very few poetry collections, anthologies of poetry or poetry magazines in any of these locations and little or no contemporary poetry of any kind – British or otherwise. The poetry sections of bookshops and libraries occupy a minuscule amount of shelving, and what's there is almost entirely British 'mainstream', more or less as described by Sarah Broom in PNZ 33 – technically sound but relatively boring and written in a narrow range of conservative styles confirming a view that what appears in most New Zealand literary journals is much more vigorous and exciting.

And again, as demonstrated by Sarah Broom and as often seen in PNZ, there's vigorous and exciting poetry in the UK, but the near impossibility of ending it there is a sad reflection on the current state of poetry in the British Isles. Worse, and in spite of an assiduous search in London and Southwest England, it was even more difficult to and any New Zealand poetry or action there except for a woebegone copy of Maurice Gee's Plumb in the rather modest West Horsley Library. In contrast however, even the smallest of corner stores offered a reasonable selection of New Zealand wines! This is significant because it demonstrates how well New Zealand's wine producers have done in accessing the British market, while New Zealand book publishers have done so very poorly in comparison.

British publishers, whose long-established outlets in New Zealand sell millions of dollars worth of books in this country, appear to have little or no interest in trying to market elsewhere the few New Zealand books they publish here. New Zealand book publishers exacerbate this failure, never having adopted the common-sense solution of the wine makers, nor established their own promotion and distribution network in Britain. They prefer going to Frankfurt and other overseas book fairs with little success in trying to sell subsidiary rights to overseas publishers.

It is possible to interest British readers in what's written elsewhere. In 2004 I read and spoke at Lauderdale House in London, and last October at very short notice I read at the Guildford (UK) Book Festival. Both events created a very good response to New Zealand writing. Poetry and action publishers in New Zealand need to take a more vigorous and creative approach to marketing and distributing New Zealand writing overseas.

Alistair Paterson, March 2007

Legends of Phar Lap

I was a prince
of horses
an Augustus

paeans and limericks are long overdue
it's not I'm forgotten by all but few
but odes on a horse are not often perhaps
what writers can offer to kiwi Phar Laps

you'd have thought I'd have won
palladium stables
jockeys in gear
of Ethiopian glamour

I've still a sort of sainthood
a carcase divided
for shrines
and a market
in nail and shoe relics

whatever the rules that someone might bend
you know that I thundered along to the end
Depression time's thrippenny bettor's best friend
the honest oat-eater renown that's Phar Lap's

I was speed
a banker's account
forever red

my dreams were
canters on pasture
congress with mares

carrots and apples sweet
on the tongue

the name was hardly my choice to be frank
didn't redound as of premiere rank
though handy for punters to yell from the bank
as they knew from the cage that the race was Phar Lap's

in the end
I was another
abattoir beast

not an elegy marks such a slaughter by thugs
and the losses awaiting the best-betting mugs
but lines as if poured from discountable jugs
a literary literal last Lap collapse

— Copyright Bernard Gadd, 2007.

Out of the archives

Wild swans take the path of the sun . . . the wise step right out of the world. 175

Where have you gone, Amelia Earhart? You were
a photo op immortalized.
And wasn't Beech-Nut proud,
the village crowd thrilled
when you dropped in?
The hell of it is,
I can't remember
what you were selling

chewing gum, or coffee,
or ham
only the shock of seeing you in black and white
beaming back at me
from tired old files.

Amelia, you touched down, then left. Your cherry Life-Saver smile
should have banished
any depression,

but didn't. The village
still exists. The gray factory
still grinds. The air no longer reeks of peppermint,

but faces still are grim,

as if everybody in the village learned
you'd been plotting your escape the whole time,
and secretly packing away
the competition's Chiclets. (candy?)

— Copyright Nancy J. Thompson, 2007.