New Zealand Poetry

New Zealand recently celebrated National Poetry Day. Well, some of us did, anyway. It’s quite possible that most of New Zealand was unaware that July 30 was National Poetry Day. But in Whangarei, 46 poets recently submitted their poems to a contest in honor of National Poetry Day and three judges chose the winners in two categories,

Old Hats (published) and New Hats (unpublished),

and a few days ago we all got together and heard the winning poems and lots of others too. So I’m now honoring my new NZ poet-friends here, too, by posting their winning poems below.

Old Hats:

Maestro by Anne McDonnell (first prize)

This writer is an architect.
He designs sentences
with a backbone of serviceable
corrugated iron words
soft flowing fabric words for warmth,
polished pebble words
and less pretentious gravel words
to drop good sense.

This writer is a builder
noted for common sense and expertise.
He assembles practical materials
uses basic tools to integrate and
join them, make fine adjustments.
Then demonstrating a tradesman’s skill
he hits us hard with blunt brick words
till we smart.

This writer is a craftsman and an artist.
He decides on designs
crafts the right finish
rejects the tawdry, the brittle veneers
and selects plain durability
a long lasting, discreet sheen.

But this writer is a poet and musician.
Only a maestro can weave
tempo, tune, tone into so few words
and make them sing.

My lover is a rainstorm by Martin Porter (second prize)

My lover is a thunderstorm
Grey ripples flickering
Tiny landscapes of stone
Upright, steadfast

And as I watch
My lover paints calligraphy
An illuminated landscape shrunken
waves of jointed, colourless bamboo
watery characters in
upright folds
with all the meaning of

The vacuum
Of the landscape words.

And I say Help me
I am outside, cold and wet

Drenched in chill fascination,
Rattling hollow spaces between drops
Distilling the dews of bronchial chambers.

Like the pine
I grasp the cliff
Dripping.

The morning sun
Drives my lover spectral
from my bed
fleeing colour
rising in

Waves breaking over the hills
Silver sky, silver water
Silver blues and greys
Silver greys, off-whites and almost black

Nothingness
as firm as the landscape it holds

And I say Help me, I am
bewildered, chilled
to the heart.

I know my lover from
Snatched glimpses through the grasses,

Snatched glimpses through the mist.

© 2008 Martin Porter

New Hats:

relating by Tim Howard (first prize)

Solomon’s baby smile reaches out
and curls me in. His welcome

is what makes a morning sparkle
these days. But there is something

more – he has worked out a High
Five to celebrate, connect. One

of our hands lifted upright – ringa tu –
the other echoing. And he reaches

out, we smiling both reach, and
touch. I see us up on the Sistine Chapel

ceiling, Sol and Papa, reaching, smiling.
Even a yearning in the stretch. Ol’

Michelangelo, you saw us there – with a
lifetime ahead to negotiate that gap.

Found by Jac Jenkins (second prize)

The thistledown falls

loudly in this heavy death.

Now here and then nowhere.

and the first breath of morning breaks

a glottal stop

and the quantum thrumming of my blood

ticks another tock

and the beat knocks its mourning

on a broken gong

and the rain falls on even when the clouds

are gone

The peach blossom melts

softly; Here springs a thistle

and my tears have found me.

Land for the wrong white crowd by Moae Armstrong (1st Hon. Mention)

Snow blinSnow blind whiteout whiteboard bored whites chalky white chalk dust
whiteness white mess watercress white lies outright lies out there lies

Lineout lies into the light quite right quite white honorary white might is right
mighty white milky white sleep tight you’re alright whites

Right whales white light bright light whiter than white white flag riff raff poor
whites diaspora white knights ring of confidence confidence trick confederation
declaration

Missionary position weary white woman Williams, Maryanne pregnant so long
Maryanne white want white need white get white greed get school school
sores school smacks

Treaty right white treaty write a treaty white words fight a treaty
fight a treaty right wily whites weasel words treaty fright spotlight white fright
white flight white fear right now

Fight nights fighting whites land fights land rights sea rights whale rights
might rites air rights water rights put it to rights getting it right white rights
white title title fight entitlement

White sand sand rights lines in sand white mist white fog wipeout whites out
whites only only lonely white lines long lines divided lines fence lines deep
lines lineage

Skin deep deep skin skin to skin inked skin whiter shade of pale tick box skin
box botox flesh tint flash car flash house white house white leaky homes
leaky boat ghost ship white sails sail away

Icy white white icing whites of eyes eyeballing whites egg whites pavlova
rights beach rights Hobson’s choice Sealord choice seabed choice take it or
leave it rites right of way right away rights away have our way hold sway

Baldheads white trash trailer trash honky palangi whitey white bait take the
bait Friday night date rape she’ll be right mate Taranaki gate bring a plate
straight-laced fast pace white lace lacerate

White skin skin flick skin tight light skinned tight lipped skin kin kinship
kingship ship shape slip slop slap feckless freckles fair game fair go half
mast half arsed socks up flags down

Blonde joke ash blonde hot whites flat whites untouchable whites white witch
burn white hot white sheep sheep race race day one way one law great whites
great white hope great white land shark

White problem white noise polite white silence power play unspeakable power
powerful white power white privilege white right remain silent intentional
silence veiled silence silent nights silent fight full loud shout silence

Thin lipped tight lipped tight hipped tight fisted tight arsed white time on time
right all the time timed out tuned out don’t care too nice white ice thin ice
we’re all white, Jack

Beige oatmeal latte flesh tones café au lait offwhite oyster pallid pale
cream cream puff blush porcelain pasty white deathly white white death

cloudy white white clouds long cloud land for the wrong white crowd

Be alright whites put it right get it right sort it out give it back move mountains
move over speak out write about point out show it up treaty truth be here
be clear be long cloud right crowd shout out loud whites right now

My Father’s Voice by Maxine Hillier (2nd Hon. Mention)

Fathers’ voices fill the air, yours was not
a stand-out Listen-here!  More a distant
yes I’ll be there – the pick ups, the drop offs
the hours of teaching us how to drive,
a million quietly  spoken words and your

whistle, your skippidy, hoppidy, whistle
a tall, skinny man doing a little
hoppidy whistle and was that a twinkle
in your smiling eyes?  But I wanted MORE
I wanted a louder voice, speak LOUDER!

Wait……………….now I hear it, what
was that you called me?  A favourite name
and here’re your favourite sayings – “knock on wood,
it’s just like champagne” but I wanted MORE!
I wanted a louder voice, speak LOUDER!

C’mon, I shouldn’t have to work this hard,
we  had two score years and more; a nickname
a hoppidy whistle, knock on wood,
“good luck” to me as you nodded off to
death, a million, distant relative, words

I wanted MORE!  There was your auctioneer’s
voice, “I’ve got 20, 20, – who’ll give me
30?.”  Your Saturday afternoon racing
voice, “you little beauty” as you gyrated
joyfully in the air  and  I remember

your courage,  “Have I been a good father?”
on your death bed.  Well Dad, you could have had
a LOUDER voice!  I  should have listened?  Well
you should have taught me – gone deeper than the
pick ups, the drop offs. I wanted MORE!!!!!

I’m sorry I’m frightening you, I’m sorry
you’re sorry, okay, do that skippidy
hoppidy, smiley whistling thing again.
You said you didn’t want to die – “the trees
are too green, the sky is too blue.”  I never

noticed you looking.  You sometimes said, I
love you. Hey, I don’t need More, I’m sorry
your mother died when you were born, and still
that little smiley skip. We were sad when
you died, we missed your voice, your skippidy,
hoppidy, whistling voice, I love you Dad.

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This entry was posted in My Stuff, Other People's Stuff and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to New Zealand Poetry

  1. Yes! It was awesome. Thanks! Had a blast at Butter Bang (bean???) something like that. Jx

  2. Yay, Jodine — It was a grand night out!

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