Gill’s Poetry Column

Gill Ward 011

‘First snow falls

On the half finished bridge’

By Gill Ward

Greetings poetry people.  More words from the world of literature.

The following are from Matsuo Basho (1644- 1694). Basho was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan.

During his lifetime Basho was recognised for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga, his poem Class D form; today, after centuries of commentary, he is recognised as the greatest master of Haiku (at the time called hokku). His poetry is internationally renowned, and in Japan many of his poems are reproduced on monuments and traditional sites.‘In my view a good poem is one in which the form of the verse and the joining of its parts seems as light as a shallow river flowing over its sandy bed.’

Basho was brought to mind by a poem from our latest poet at Valhalla café, Bryan Walpert.  Walpert was born and brought up in America and now teaches creative writing at Massey University.  He has published poetry, short stories and an academic monograph on American poetry. As well as some of his new poems he read from his collection, A History of Glass (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2011).  His poem, Class Discussion, contained this quote from Basho:

First snow falls

On the half finished bridge.

It is astonishing to realise how long ago Basho wrote words which are still quoted and appreciated today.

Our guest poet for the last Sunday in July – 28th – is Lynn Davidson.  Lynn is a friend of many of us. She is a well published poet with for books to her name.  Her latest book, Common Land (Victoria University Press) is wonderfully readable and generously autobiographical.  There is much in Lynn’s writing we can identify with (sorry about the preposition position!). It is moving and sensitive without being sentimental. I loved reading it and am looking forward to her sharing it with us.  Lynn has tutored at Massey University and at Whitireia, both at Kapiti and Porirua Campuses. Several of our readers at the open mic have attended her classes. Lynn will be down form Auckland for this session. Do come and support her – it’s great when we can have important local poets to star.

Good news on Valhalla

Really good news regarding Valhalla is that after our July Sunday reading they will be providing a $12 Sunday roast, so it would not only be a great idea to stay on but also supportive of the café if you booked ahead. It’s bound to be popular.  Book now (even if you can’t be at the poetry). Valhalla: Phone 9052010.

Please remember this, a kiss is still…oh no wrong words…just kidding to get your attention. Please remember the following: the Library is holding a function for National Poetry Day on August 16th.   

As well as this they are running a poetry competition as part of Poetry Day celebrations. What is important for you is that you get along to your library and collect a form for the poems you are going to enter into the competition.

You can also find it online and if you go to Kapiti Libraries web site and click on ‘news’ you will get the terms and conditions and entry form for the competition. Nothing ventured you know! Paper Plus is generously giving prizes but it’s not just about the prize. How satisfying to participate – give it a go!

That’s it for this month – except:


A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightening five or six times; a dozen or two dozen times and he is great.’

(Randall Jarrell)