One of my writing ambitions for 2022 is to get cracking on a new collection of poetry – my last few years have been very much about climate activism and, when I’ve been writing, climate fiction. Poetry is my first love as a writer and one I’m always keen to return to.
As a herald of what I hope will be more focus on reading and writing poetry in 2022,* here’s a review of a new poetry collection by Kirsten Le Harivel plus news of an anthology I contributed to and one I’ve edited.
*There is that idea for a sequel to Where We Land, though…
Review: Shelter, by Kirsten Le Harivel
Shelter is a collection of precisely observed poems that traverse cities, countries and places important to the poet: Glasgow, Ahmedabad, Kāpiti, and many others: a Tuapeka sheep truck, the Isle of Bute, Hiroshima, the corner of Cuba and Manners.
Kirsten Le Harivel has a sharp eye for people, places and the ways they interact, piling up words into pictures – that’s especially the case for the many fine prose poems in Shelter. There are many memorable lines here, and for much of the collection, the effect of the poems is cumulative rather than immediate. Helen Lehndorf says in her endorsement of the collection, “Le Harivel writes elegant, restrained poems which will soothe you, move you and ultimately, shelter you.”
It was the less restrained poems in Shelter, those with a clearer path through the elegant surface to the thoughts and feelings within, that appealed to me most. In her endorsement, Lynn Jenner comments that “Shelter contains the best poem about sex that I have ever read,” and it was the poems about sex and love that really stood out for me: funny, passionate, pissed off, or all three. I won’t quote “Bedroom”, but you’ll remember it once you’ve read it!
I will quote “Pillow talk” (p. 62):
“If you were here
the motes would float out
the upper window,
the breeze would linger,
there would be no interruptions.
I would ride your bed
and the smell of us would mingle…”
A beautiful poem about love, sex and recollection – but even better is “Writing conversations”, a love poem brought to you by the letter F where desire and The Oxford English Dictionary lose out to the Olympics: love as a sprint, not a marathon.
Shelter is powerful, controlled, and often smooth – yet it’s the sharper edges I’ll remember most.
New Anthology: Up Flynn Road, across Cook Strait, through the Magellanic Crowd
My poem “Interrupted Journey” is included in this new anthology of travel poems, edited by Norman P. Franke and published by Orplid Press. It’s a lovely production and there are some excellent poems here – find out more and buy your copy from Poppies Bookshop, Hamilton.
New Anthology: Kissing a Ghost
With Anne Harré, who did the design and production work, I edited this year’s New Zealand Poetry Society anthology Kissing a Ghost, which contains all the winning, placed, highly commended and commended entries from the NZPS International Poetry Competition 2021 plus additional poems I chose from among all the entries. Check out the lovely cover Anne designed!
This anthology contains a lot of fine contemporary poetry and haiku from Aotearoa and abroad. If you’d like to buy a copy, here’s how:
For New Zealand Orders:
For Australian Orders: https://buy.stripe.com/cN23cz3Xr1WO90c3cf
For Rest of the World Orders: