Greetings Literary Aficionados

Getting started

By Gill Ward

It’s always a dilemma how to start a column and this greeting seems appropriate as all of you who read this, do so because you are interested in Literature and what’s going on locally in the area.

I’ll start off with a word about Poets to the People which was initially set up (eleven years ago!) to bring notable poets out here so that those who found it hard to get in to Wellington could have the chance to hear them.

The monthly poetry sessions

Glenn Colquhoun

Those who regularly join in our monthly event and are interested (and know about) literature in its many forms, appreciate, applaud, perform and celebrate our poets.

As well as welcoming our guest poet for the month others have the opportunity to share one of their own poems at the open mic.

We couldn’t have made it work for so long without you – or without the wonderful support of Leigh and her staff at High Tide Café. Thank you all for your enthusiasm and participation.

It was excellent to see the large turnout for Glenn Colquhoun last month. He enjoyed being with us and sharing his work in his unique style.

Earning a crust as well as writing poetry

Hone Tuwhare

I was thinking about Glenn being a doctor and Harvey Molloy being a teacher and extrapolated it somewhat by reflecting on other poets who also had to earn a living as well as writing poetry (as Richard Langston, a television  and radio journalist, said to me once ‘poetry makes thin children’).

So just as starters –

  • Robert Burns was a tax collector
  • T S. Eliot worked in a bank
  • Pablo Neruda was a diplomat
  • William Carlos Williams a doctor
  • Philip Larkin a librarian.

Thinking about our well known poets most of them work with in the field of literature both teaching and writing. Our much loved Hone Tuwhare started off as a boiler maker.

A distinguished literary man

We are fortunate to have another significant poet as our next guest Harry Ricketts.

You will all know of Harry, and many of you will be familiar with his work in both poetry and prose and some will have attended courses that Harry has taught.

He has read for us before so you’ll be aware of what an inspiring performance poet he is.

Just a few notes about Harry there is much, much more to say about him but just to give a brief and skimpy outline.

He has published several poetry collections, among them : Plunge (2001), Your Secret Life (2005) and Just Then (2012), His poetry has been included in many anthologies of New Zealand poetry.

Harry’s anthologies and books

Aside from his own literary writing, Ricketts has been an anthologist since the 1990s. His work in this field includes How You Doing?: A Selection of New Zealand Comic and Satiric Verse (1998), with Hugh Roberts, and a two-volume series of spiritual verse anthologies, co-edited with Paul Morris and Mike Grimshaw, before editing The Awa Book of New Zealand Sports Writing (2010).

A Wall Street journalist reviewer observed of The Unforgiving Minute that: ‘of all the Kipling biographies, Harry Ricketts is the most balanced.’

In 2010, with Paula Green, he co-authored the poetry primer 99 Ways into New Zealand Poetry (2010). He has also contributed scholarly entries to the Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature and reviewed books for Radio New Zealand National,

Harry’s poetry is wide ranging from tender to satirical and often very funny. But no matter which poem you read it will be accessible and will convey something. Always.

I want to tell you what David Eggleton said about Harry Ricketts in NZ Books:

“ Harry Ricketts brings into the sunlight the lumber stored in the attic of his mind…He authentically conveys the felt details of a lived life, the long mulled-over aftermath of his world-wide rites of passage.”

Poets to the People April session

Harry Ricketts will be reading from his new collection ‘Winter Eyes as well as older and more recent poems.

  • Sunday April 29th, 4 – 6pm, High Tide Café,
  • Marine Parade, Paraparaumu Beach
  • Refreshments available. $5 cover charge.

All welcome – tell your friends; bring a one page poem of your own to the open mic, (don’t worry – that’s optional!),


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