Poets To The People

Gill Ward reports: ‘February Greetings coming up… such a lovely time of the year. Maybe in many ways the best time; summer still with us and mellow Autumn still a little way off.

Au revoir and thanks to  High Tide and Leigh

We had a sad end to the year poetry wise. High Tide closed her doors. What a simply ideal place it has been for Poets to the People.  However, sometimes it’s best to follow your heart and Leigh had not had an easy year and had the courage to do just that.

So we do thank High Tide (all of them) and will start our new year and venue with affection for the years we spent sharing poetry at their café.

Gail to the rescue

But such blessings – up popped Gail Lewis to say ‘why didn’t you think of me?’  Of course I had but thought maybe it wasn’t allowable being in Coastlands. Perhaps they had rules?

Gail now owns Robert Harris Café and she was the owner of Lembas when we very first started Poets to the People. She knows all about us, what we do, how we operate and what a literary asset we are to the community.

Gail Lewis with her renowned mosaic sculputure next to Paraparaumu Library

So without the fanfares and dancing girls and marching men (in the interests of gender equality) here we go. There’s coffee and wine and snacks there too.

Poets to the People,  Robert Harris Café, Coastlands ,Sunday, Febraury 24, 4-6 pm  Guest Poet Nicola  Easthope.

No more clashes!

And just a word. I was disappointed to see we clash that day with another event. I do not want to disparage this endeavour because we are such a literary community and the more things we can organise the better, but having had our gathering on the last Sunday of every month for thirteen years  I was sad.

So let’s all remember to check other events when we plan one. Some people I know are going to do both and race to us a bit late. I would be delighted if anyone else did that! If you come late and it is for this reason please say, ’Gill said we can get in free.’

Elizabeth and I are working hard to organise this every month. We are entirely profit free and we use the cover charge to pay our poets and tip the staff of the café and the expenses that go with making the posters plus various incidentals which come up. It is time consuming but we do it simply for love and to acknowledge the importance of New Zealand literature. We love having your support!

Next, Bob Orr

Next month we have Bob Orr who has just published his 9th book, One hundred poems and a year. (Steele Roberts 2018).

Vaughan Rapatahana interviewed Bob on Jacket 2. This is an American website so you can read the whole interview. Here is a little about it:

Jacket2 offers commentary on modern and contemporary poetry and poetics. It says: ‘We publish articles, reviews, interviews, discussions and collaborative responses, archival documents, podcasts, and descriptions of poetry symposia and projects. We also publish discursive explorations and transcripts of material in the PennSound archive.’

Here’s a part of the interview:

“ Bob is also rather different to so many ‘modern’ poets, in that he has always paddled his own poetic waka (or canoe) in and through his own currents. Oaring across his own ocean, if you will.

Bob never completed any tertiary education. He never attended any  university ‘creative writing’ classes in an endeavour to craft his poetry ‘better.’ Up until very recently, when he was the 2017 University of Waikato Writer in Residence, he eschewed any applications for literary grants. He rarely, if ever, uses a computer to write with or on — he doesn’t even have an email address. Indeed, he continues to write with an old style ribbon-fed typewriter.

 Luddite people’s Poet

Bob Orr is a bit of a Luddite — all of which ensures that his stream of poetry flows deep from his heart and mind and is never obfuscated by the trends, tropes, and trivialities of the latest poetic fad. Like another key New Zealand poet, Sam Hunt, Bob Orr has always remained a people’s poet, by which I mean, a writer who keeps it simple, who never overreaches into pretentiousness and amorphous cleverdickism.”

I asked Bob if I could include a poem from his book, a book that echoes the sea and is beautiful to hold and read. I chose this one.


There’ll be snow on the Kaimais
this spring
but the koromiko will soothe us with its blossoms.
In the meantime I’ll bring from
the Hauraki Plains
held in my heart if not my hand
these rambling wild roses that
set the day free
between the two bridges of Waitakaruru
as September drifted
out to sea.


So thank  you and continue your interest in all things literary. I laughed when I read this the other day

‘Poetry is the stuff that poets write’

Anonymous schoolboy.

Yeah right – quite so!


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