KIN’s Poet Laureate Keeps Words Shimmering On The Shore

Back again and trying to be a little more diligent, writes Gill Ward.

Gill Ward

‘This last month has been busy for me, possibly thanks to our sad decision to close Poets to the People.

I now have more time to use on other things.

However, even without lockdown we would still be playing safe and being cautious with so many people in one intimate space and all using the same microphone.

All in all, a sensible choice

So all in all it was a sensible choice. Let’s keep supporting other poetry events here and in Wellington – we need to keep literature alive. 

U3A poetry group

I run a U3A group about New Zealand Poets and Poetry from the 1950’s to the present day.

It has been going for some years mostly with the same people.

Some have left for changed circumstances and some have died but we often remember and  talk about them at our meetings  most months – you know the saying –“You die twice once when you die and then when the last person says your name.”

That means even people who aren’t famous stick around for many decades! 

Think about it and remember to talk about the people you loved, once in a while. I digress (of course!)

Katherine Mansfield’s poetry

We have sometimes studied a poet who was before the 1950’s and recently one of the group mentioned Katherine Mansfield’s poetry.

Although it is widely agreed that her prose writing far surpassed her poetry, we decided to look at her poems.

I decided to dress it up a bit so looked up what sort of things she cooked and read her reference to cheese straws and cream puffs she had made.

So I made some, and I also sorted out cups and saucers and tiny linen napkins and a sugar bowl and jug from her era for a morning tea.

As it happens I own an original copy of the NZ newspaper with her family death notice (Kathleen Murray) and her obituary written in England so got these out. 

We were not very hopeful about the poems we would find but were cheered to have such a variety. One even seemed it could have been written by Pam Ayres! Here is a moving poem Mansfield wrote about her last illness:

Malade        Katherine  Mansfield

‘The man in the room next to mine

Has got the same complaint as I

When I wake in the night I hear him turning

And then he coughs

And then I cough

And he coughs again ––

This goes on for a long time –– 

Until I feel we are like two roosters

Calling to each other at a false dawn

From far away hidden farms.’

Subsequently I discovered KM’s birthday was on October 14th two weeks before our meeting. A coincidence or telepathy?

Poetry into schools, with Gill

Tomorrow I am taking a book about poetry each to ten primary schools from Paekakariki to Waikanae. These were bought with funds left over from Poets to the People.

We were a non-profit group and always made sure we had enough after any expenses to pay our next poet — so when we didn’t have one we decided that would be a fun thing to do with our leftover cash.

A shout out to Kay at Paper Plus who gave us a discount.

The last poet at Poets to the People

Bill Manhire was our last poet, although we didn’t know it at the time, so a very fitting last guest . Good to see Harry Ricketts there in the audience. Bill has a new book out soon so look for it.

Bill Manhire

In the post yesterday Mark Pirie’s  broadsheet  /26  featuring 15 important NZ  poets . Very reasonable at Unity books and a subscription will cost you only $12 for the twice a year publication. This one is a perfect small anthology of carefully chosen poets and poetry.

There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they areSomerset Maugham


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