Gill Ward Farewells Kāpiti Poet Julie Leibrich

Well days are getting longer ( well, soon — Ed) and maybe that means more time to write and read. Maybe? says Gill Ward.

Seems we can still fill our days with many activities even if it isn’t reading or writing.

Those of us who knew and loved Julie Leibrich have been in a sort of numbness since her sudden death. Hall Gimpelson, whose family was very close to Julie wrote her a tender poem which he read at her memorial gathering. I asked him if I could share it. Here it is:

Plain Pine

She chose plain pine.

Lovely.   Yes.   So her.

Plain pine now holding

what’s left of a life

that was never plain,

yes, sometimes difficult,

but a life of caring,

a life able to birth poetry.

But touching, for that one last time,

plain pine, so unsatisfyingly

distant, sterile from the hugs

she so loved.

Thank you Hal. Julie is sorely missed.

Life with The Listener

This year I have been getting the new version of the Listener. I must say it is a little overwhelming – so much to read!

They are piling up – when Monday has is it in my letter box I am barely through the previous issue. It is so encouraging to see a poem every week and the most recent copy had so much about poets and poetry book reviews that I suddenly thought ‘Is it national poetry week?’ (of course that takes place in August).

David Eggleton

The leading poet in the reviews was our current Poet Laureate, David Eggleton, (his position was extended owing to covid restrictions).

The review written by Tim Upperton provided information about Eggleton‘s life and work and his latest volume of selected poems, ‘The Wilder Years’ (Otago University Press).

Eggleton started reciting poetry in the NZ rock music scene of the early 1980s and he then toured on the cabaret circuit in Australia, America, Europe and won the London Time Out  Street Entertainer of the Year award for Poetry. (I love that bit of information about him!).

Upperton has given detailed observations about the poetry and Eggleton’s “distinctive style, his way of looking and speaking.”  Paraparumu Library has the Listener and I believe keeps an extra copy for reference, (May 15-21 2021). I will request they buy Eggleton’s book.

Also reviewed was important poet Siobhan Harvey’s latest collection Ghosts (Otago University Press)  and Courteny Sina Meredith’s Burst Kisses on the Actual Winds who describes herself as  “a brown queer single educated professional creative woman”. Sounds fun!

A reading in Petone

Recently I went to a reading in Petone Bookshop Schrodingers.

Richard Langston and Michael Fizsimons

I have Richard’s latest collection Five O’clock Shadow (The Cuba Press) and was looking forward to Michael’s second book, Michael, I Thought You Were Dead. (The Cuba Press)

Michael has been bravely facing cancer but still has a great sense of humour. The poems are moving and have a streak of sadness without being sentimental. We go along with him metaphorically holding his hand. A privilege.

And…one more thing

One last quick recommendation: More Favourable Waters; (Cuba Press) Aotearoa Poets respond to Dante’s Purgatory. (This was dedicated to the memory of Clive James. 

I have and treasure his formidable translation of The Divine Comedy. Here 33 Poets were paired with a passage from a canto in Dante’s Purgatory and asked to write a poem that responds to and includes the assigned passage.

It follows a tradition of translating Dante into our own time place and circumstances. The interpretations are varied and speak through the ethnic and cultural voices of the poets.

You will know the work of many of the writers and some you will know personally. I’ll check that one out at the library too.

Wishing you Good Reading and active brains,

 Noho ora mai


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