Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Four paintings by Kiri Piahana-Wong

In the morning
the light touches the walls
like a painting
the morning sun falling in thin brushstrokes
her hair a dark tangle
his face blurred with sleep

Painting #1: How She Fell In Love With Him

In this painting, she is wearing
the red dress she likes to sleep in
and it has fallen to her waist

He is naked
his arm curves around her
his mouth pressing against her neck
in the place she most likes
him to kiss her

Painting #2: Their First Fight

In this painting, she is sitting
in the outside area of a bar
wearing a black lace dress.
The night is a solid block of
darkness behind her.

He is sitting next to her, wearing
a pale green shirt, his hair
dishevelled, his back slightly turned
to her, facing away.

Cars pour past in streaks of
bright light.

Painting #3: Whatever I Said, I Didn't Mean It

In this painting he is standing alone
on an empty beach.

The sky stretches away in a blaze of light.

Painting #4: The Reunion

In the last painting she is
standing looking down a road

She is wearing a purple and gold
dress and her hair has blown
back from her face.

It is early evening. Above her
the sky is golden, wide open
and empty.

This poem from night swimming (Anahera Press 2013) is published here by kind permission of the author.

Editor: Elizabeth Welsh

Kiri Piahana-Wong is a New Zealander of Māori (Ngāti Ranginui), Chinese and Pākehā (English) ancestry. She has degrees in Law and English literature from the University of Auckland and has had a varied working life, including roles as a legal editor, sailing instructor, freelance writer and event manager, and is the publisher at Anahera Press.

Kiri's poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies, most recently in Dear Heart: 150 New Zealand Love Poems (Godwit), Mauri Ola: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English (AUP), Trout, JAAM and Ora Nui. She is also a performance poet, poetry slam champion, and a former MC at Poetry Live, New Zealand's longest-running live poetry venue. Kiri lives at Laingholm on Auckland's west coast. Her first poetry collection, night swimming, was released at the beginning of May 2013.

I am delighted to share Kiri's poem 'Four paintings' from her inspired first collection, night swimming. Kiri was generous enough to share her personal inspiration behind this beautifully crafted poetic sequence with me: 'I was inspired by watching my partner, artist Jim Gaunt, at work. Watching him paint every day made me wonder what it would be like to see the world through a painter's eyes'. 

Coming to this poem, I immediately felt a distinct directness that I heartily admire in the four discrete images and sequences, conveying powerful emotive responses, which come to rest and settle in the final celebratory painting of openness and life. I am particularly drawn to the second section/painting in the sequence, with the almost theatrical 'caught in time' pose of the two lovers. The solid black night, with the woman merging into it, contrasted with the pale green of the man's shirt and the streaks of bright light trespassing on the scene is so impressionistic and painterly. 

I have known Kiri as a poet for many years, first meeting her as a fellow postgraduate student in a New Zealand poetry class in 2006. It is such a celebratory event to witness a fellow poet's artistic trajectory, and I am so delighted that Kiri has just published her first poetry collection. She is a woman of many, many talents, so as well as writing the collection, she is also the publisher! I highly recommend dipping into the pages of her collection. I am always fascinated by Kiri's fresh, honest approach to threading words together. She exudes calm, poise and a peaceful confidence and I can feel this in her poetry. 

Please do check out Kiri's collection, night swimming, at Anahera Press: http://www.anahera.co.nz/books/night-swimming

For more inspiring Tuesday Poems, look to our sidebar for the blogroll of poems and talented poets! There is always something for everyone.

This week's Tuesday Poem editor is Elizabeth Welsh, a freelance academic editor and poet from New Zealand, who is currently living in and travelling around Europe. She blogs about all things literary here.


lillyanne said...

How have I not met this poet before? Such lovely haunting imagery and such cool, balanced restraint. I can't stop re-reading.

Mary McCallum said...

A lovely tender post about a poet friend - and a poem shot through with colour and light. Beautiful. I will look out for her book with interest, especially as I'm doing some publishing myself now. Thank you Elizabeth and Kiri.

Claire Beynon said...

Beautifully visual words paintings. Thank you both.

The Poet said...

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Helen McKinlay said...

actually I want to borrow Mary's words 'shot with colour and light' and it is so clear and simple. Thank you both for sharing. Love the title of the book too!