Poetry Saves Time

Our resident Poet Laureate, Gill Ward asks: ‘Time to read? No? Well that is one benefit of liking to read poetry. 

Gill Ward

 It doesn’t take long.

 It’s short (mostly). 

You are unlikely to lose your page/place. 

It warms you in winter.

So what could be better than a collection of a poet you like? However, recently I have been reading anthologies of international poetry.  A couple of universal favourites like poems we all know from childhood and later. Familiar poetry is so comforting. Like a popular song, you know what comes next even if you don’t know the poem off by heart. 

 I have far too many poetry books – or any sort of books for that matter.  They are so hard to part with – my old friends!

Sometimes I buy them new or from an opshop but many of them have a story behind them.

For instance, a stellar international anthology called A Book of Luminous things (pub.1998) and edited by the Lithuanian Noble laureate poet Czeslaw Milosz .

He chose the poems personally, over 300 pages of them, and many are translated from languages all over the world, and often by him. 

He was active in the Polish Resistance in WWII and later served in the Polish diplomatic corps.

I picked this book up from the book shelf in the Raumati Social Club (café) some years ago. I had to stifle a strong desire to steal it, but hope by not doing that several others have had a chance to enjoy those poems.

Instead I came home and searched online and found a copy so now it nestles in the book case, lies under the chair, sits by my computer, crawls under a cushion on the couch or tangles in the bedclothes.

My books have no manners!’

My books have no manners they all do this.
 

I have far too many poetry books – or any sort of books for that matter.  They are so hard to part with – my old friends! Sometimes I buy them new or from an opshop but many of them have a story behind them.

For instance, a stellar international anthology called A Book of Luminous things (pub.1998) and edited by the Lithuanian Noble laureate poet Czeslaw Milosz .

He chose the poems personally, over 300 pages of them, and many are translated from languages all over the world, and often by him. 

He was active in the Polish Resistance in WWII and later served in the Polish diplomatic corps.

I picked this book up from the book shelf in the Raumati Social Club (café) some years ago. I had to stifle a strong desire to steal it, but hope by not doing that several others have had a chance to enjoy those poems.

Instead I came home and searched online and found a copy so now it nestles in the book case, lies under the chair, sits by my computer, crawls under a cushion on the couch or tangles in the bedclothes. My books have no manners they all do this.

Beng Alive’

Another favourite anthology is Being Alive (ed. Neil Astley, 1998 Bloodaxe books UK. over 500 pages of poets and poetry.

Astley had edited over 1000 poetry books at that point. I was staying with friends and picked up this book to read.

The chap who owned it had said, ‘There are some good poems in that book. I got it free from a box outside the shop.’

So the next day I walked all around the small town looking for a book shop that had a box outside it. No luck so I thought I’d better read it all before I went home. People must have noticed as the next day he walked over to me, took the book from my hands and held it out saying, ‘Gill this is now your book.’

I was overcome and asked where he had got it, what shop?  ‘Outside the St John’s op shop,’ he answered. I’m still puzzling how he saw it before me.

The NZ poets in the 500

This book has somewhere around 500 poets in it and we have 9 New Zealand poets included. I felt so proud. Here are our nine:  James. K. Baxter, Ruth Dallas, Lauris Edmond, *Fiona Farrell, Denis Glover, Anna Jackson, M. K. Joseph, Michael Harlow, and Elizabeth Smither.

*Guest poet at Poets to the people in May.

I have now reached my word allowance  I have much more to say and six anthologies, so proud to be chosen are now sulking here on my desk.

Poets to the People July 28th guest Trish Harris.

The moral of this tirade is: If you are short of time, grab a poem or two and hide from the winter. Spring is on the way; and Matariki has once more given us a New Year to make the most of.

Hei konei rā

Gill

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