Five poetry collections you've never read (or should again)

Literature

23.08.2017

Five poetry collections you've never read (or should again)

Books Editor Sarah Jane Barnett recommends five collections by Aotearoa poets. It's Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day tomorrow (check out our NPD picks), so even if you've read these collections it's a good time to read them again.


The Night We Ate The Baby by Tim Upperton

Palmy poet and teacher Tim Upperton's collection The Night We Ate The Baby was shortlisted for the 2016 Ockham Book Awards. It's just so good. Sharp, clever and cheerfully brutal, the poems include lines such as, 'The apple-trees vomit blossom' and 'The heart is a forest / in which the trees are felled, / one by one.' You'll read it in one sitting.

We Recommend: Read with a glass of beer and some Europop in the background.


Six Memorials by Ursula Bethell

These sorrowful poems were written between 1935 and 1940 by Ursula Bethell, arguably New Zealand's most famous early woman poet. Bethell wrote them for her companion (and I suggest lover) Effie Pollen who’d died suddenly. For six years Bethell wrote a memorial poem on the anniversary of Effie’s death, and they were never meant for publication. They will break your heart. Read all six poems at the NZ Electronic Poetry Centre.

Bonus Feature: Bernadette Hall's poem 'The Woolshed' about Ursula Bethell. 
We Recommend: Read while drinking warm cocoa. Prepare for a lie-down afterwards.


Fully Clothed and So Forgetful by Hannah Mettner

Mettner's intimate and fierce debut has love, motherhood, sexuality, family and anxiety. Anxiety! Why don't more people write about that jerk? Relationships with women are central to the collection – her girlfriend, the mother-daughter relationship, and enduring female friendships. We also get Gertrude Stein, Janet Paul, Adrienne Rich, and Katherine Mansfield. Fully clothed and so inspirational and messy and magnificent. 

We Recommend: Read with a G&T while wearing sequins and doc boots. 


Fast Talking PI by Selina Tusitala Marsh

Already an Aotearoa classic. In the collection Marsh, who is of Samoan, Tuvaluan, English, Scottish and French descent, traces personal, political and historical themes. It has been called 'generous,' 'tremendous' and 'kick-ass.' I made that last one up, but really how great is Marsh? She kickboxes during readings; last year she read to HRH Queen Elizabeth II; this year she's publishing her third collection Tightrope on National Poetry DayIt's time to refresh yourself on the Marsh oeuvre.

Bonus Feature: Selina Tusitala Marsh recites the title poem, 'Fast Talking PI'
We Recommend: Read with a strong espresso while listening to Tim Page


Nice Pretty Things and others by Rachel Bush

Published in 2011, Nice Pretty Things and others is full of deft, beautiful and immediate poems. Bush's writing is effortless. After reading this collection you'll walk outside and the world will seem brighter, peoples' faces kinder. Rachel Bush died last year, but not before getting to hold her fourth collection, Thought Horses. I am glad of that.

Bonus Feature: Nice Pretty Things and others includes the poem 'Side by side' about Ursula Bethell and Effie Pollen.
We Recommend: Read with a pot of peppermint tea on a quiet morning.


Feature Image: Morning Reading by George Moga | CC BY-NC 2.0. This guy likes poetry so much he's reading it at the Bucharest Half Marathon 2017. 

Leave Behind the Desire to Ask, “But Is This Poetry?”
Read Time: 10 mins
Veteran of Auckland’s spoken word scene Tim Heath...
Literature
Leave Behind the Desire to Ask, “But Is This Poetry?”
By Tim Heath
Write First, Apologise Later?
Read Time: 18 mins
Whose intimacy and whose pain can we write, and still...
Literature
Write First, Apologise Later?
By Joan Fleming
Ten Moments in Aotearoa Literature 2019
Read Time: 18 mins
We look back on the highs, lows and memorable moments...
Literature
Ten Moments in Aotearoa Literature 2019
By Pantograph Punch
Ake! Ake! Ake! On the Innovation and Expansion of Toi Māori
Read Time: 17 mins
We write best when we know ourselves. Sinead Overbye...
Literature
Ake! Ake! Ake! On the Innovation and Expansion of Toi Māori
By Sinead Overbye
Uneasy Seas: Attraction and Auē
Read Time: 8 mins
Jessie Bray Sharpin on two debut novels that reckon...
Literature
Uneasy Seas: Attraction and Auē
By Jessie Bray Sharpin
How to Read My Poem: Jane Arthur
Read Time: 16 mins
Jane Arthur takes us under the hood of her poem, ‘...
Literature
How to Read My Poem: Jane Arthur
By Jane Arthur
A Wild Ride: A Review of the Wild Card by Renée
Read Time: 6 mins
Kaupapa Māori Editor Ataria Sharman reviews Renée’...
Literature
A Wild Ride: A Review of the Wild Card by Renée
By Ataria Sharman
Baby Gatekeepers
Read Time: 20 mins
Approaching the end of her study, Pākehā publishing...
Literature
Baby Gatekeepers
By Madison Hamill