Friday, July 30, 2010

The Tuesday Poem Blog Celebrates New Zealand's National Poetry Day

Friday 30 July is New Zealand's National Poetry Day and to celebrate both the day, New Zealanders writing poetry, and poetry in New Zealand, the Tuesday Poem blog is featuring a poem by each of the 3 finalists in the Poetry Category of the NZ Post Book Awards.

A brief bio of each of the three poets is presented below their featured poem. (Please note: the 3 finalists are listed in alphabetical order.)


Bernadette Hall: The Lustre Jug

The Lustre Jug

in praise of poetry

there is a question that the sky
asks daily of the sea, something about faith
and unfaith, maybe,
a shirring of the lovely surface,
the silver slip, the embossed artwork

name for me, love, the parts of the flower
and I will tell you how beautiful
the women were when they were young
how they shone in the presence
of God immanent stirring within them, stirring
within everything, how their eyes shone

and then there was always the question
of sex, the joy of it, and death and the poem,
how all three needed, how they still need nothing
more or less than abandonment,
the strewing of roses

name for me, love, the parts of the flower :
anther, aril, axil, bract, calyx, carpel, corolla,
glume, keel, ligule, ovary, pedicel, petal,
petiole, sepal, sinus, sheath, spikelet, sporangium,
stamen, stigma, stipule, tomentum, whorl

the wild geese call as they fly over the estuary,
long strings of them and paradise ducks
and two black swans, the one following the other,
creak creak the sound like a child’s swing

the arguments, the proofs twist down
but they don’t persuade, they never will,
unlike the axle creaking within the turning wheel

Note: This poem also insists on being a gift for Michele Leggott, NZ Poet Laureate 2008 -2009

(c) Bernadette Hall

Bernadette Hall is recognised as one of New Zealand's more distinctive poetic voices. She was the 1996 Burns Fellow at Otago University and an Artists in Antarctica Fellow in 2004. The author of nine poetry collections, her work has been published in a range of national and international anthologies. Hall was the 2006 Victoria University Writer in Residence and in 2007 held the Rathcoola Residency in Donoughmore, Ireland.


Michael Harlow: The Tram Conductor's Blue Cap

Bride with beautiful feet’

Under a sudden sunfall of bright
that strikes the dark in waiting,
we look to sing one pleasure or
another--trying to understand

the way we come to each other,
to let loose words in their looking,
whose language is telling what story,
ours; the right kind of adventure,

waiting for some goddess or other,
dear Sappho to arrive on a rill
of wind; to take your ease, to lean
back, to shout the world the right place

for love to come calling on the ‘wings
of pretty sparrows’. In all the right
places, the right touch to take with great
style the pleasures of your company

Water in one hand fire in the other,
we sing you to make the far, more
near, and the more love’s longing--
some die without it--but look: you

are as sunlight among flow√Čers, such
a ‘bride with pretty feet’, we make
the air be music with your name.

(c) Michael Harlow

Michael Harlow was born in the United States but arrived in New Zealand in 1968. In the 1980s, Harlow was an editor of the Caxton Press poetry series and poetry editor of Landfall. His poetry is distinctly European with a whimsical, questioning sensibility. His collaboration as librettist with the New Zealand composer Kit Powell is extensive. A practising Jungian psychotherapist, Harlow was awarded the 1986 Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship and was the 2009 Burns Fellow at the University of Otago.


Brian Turner: Just This

High Windows

If you want to compliment someone call him grounded.
If you want to do him a favour
pray that there’s more order than chaos, more love

than hatred and resentment in his life, that
transfiguration and redemption are acquaintances,
at least, and possibly friends. Let him be

wistful rather than woeful when looking out of high windows.
Allow him to prance, say he knew wonder and joy
and turned his back on the place called Last Resort.

Let him believe he told the truth, most of the time.

(c) Brian Turner

Brian Turner is a poet, essayist, biographer and editor and brings a fresh perspective to nature poetry, aiming to be at once personal but unsentimental in his approach. In 2009 Brian Turner received both the Lauris Edmond Award for Distinguished Contribution to Poetry and the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry in recognition of significant contribution to New Zealand literature. He has published numerous collections of poetry, as well as works of non-fiction.


In addition to our three featured poets, Tuesday Poem Blog poets are also posting a poem with "New Zealand" as a theme, or—for poets not from NZ—a poem on the joys of poetry and the making of poems. Please do check them out and enjoy Naional Poetry Day with us!



Tim Jones said...

Three fine poems, and three fine poets - it's a shame that there has to be only one winner!

Helen Lowe said...

I agree, Tim. I've read all 3 collections and I have to say they are all very strong contenders. But I was excited that Bernadette and Michael's choice of poems were in praise of poetry itself; Brian's a kind of 'prayer' for what it might mean to have a passing acquaintance with a good life.

Mary McCallum said...

I enjoyed reading these Helen - past midnight after a busy day of work and poetry. I like the way they all speak of wonder somehow, of transfiguration. They push out beyond the skin of the ordinary - there is wisdom here. These South Island poets eh?

Anonymous said...

There's something almost 'Rumi-esque' in all these poems -- a kind of heightened spirituality that's deeply in touch with nature. Beautiful.

I'm left thinking of my favorite Rumi line, 'There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.'

Pat White said...

I am glad I do not have to choose a winner from this clutch. It is interesting to me how much wisdom, which they all express one way or another, can become a celebration of drawing breath in the presence or acceptance of what life brings along - we're lucky on these islands to have people prepared to share that celebration of being alive, through the gift and discipline of language, through poems like these.

Elen Lackner-Poemas de amor. - Piano said...

Bautiful poems. I congratulation both. I greet you from Argentina. Elen Lackner