More Favourable Waters: Aotearoa Poets Respond to Dante’s Purgatory

I’m very pleased to be one of the 33 poets included in More Favourable Waters, a new anthology published by the Cuba Press, which is being launched on Thursday 25 March at Unity Books from 6-7.30pm:

https://www.eventfinda.co.nz/2021/double-book-launch-more-favourable-waters-quantum-of-dante/wellington

Much to my frustration, I can’t attend the launch, but I’d love to be there.

Here’s more info about the book. Writing a poem for this anthology which incorporated a fragment of Dante’s poem, in Clive James’ translation, was a formidable challenge, but one I enjoyed! I’m very much looking forward to reading the anthology.

About the book

More Favourable Waters, edited by Marco Sonzogni and Timothy Smith, is an anthology of contemporary poets from Aotearoa New Zealand commemorating one of the world’s great poets, Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), 700 years after his death.

Each of the 33 poets has written a poem of 33 lines inspired by and including a short passage from one of the 33 cantos of Dante’s Purgatory, the second part of his epic The Divine Comedy.

Airini Beautrais • Marisa Cappetta • Kay McKenzie Cooke • Mary Cresswell • Majella Cullinane • Sam Duckor-Jones • Nicola Easthope • David Eggleton • Michael Fitzsimons • Janis Freegard • Anahera Gildea • Michael Harlow Jeffrey Paparoa Holman • Anna Jackson • Andrew Johnston • Tim Jones • Elizabeth Kirkby-McLeod • Hugh Lauder • Vana Manasiadis • Mary McCallum • Elizabeth Morton • Kōtuku Titihuia Nuttall • Vincent O’Sullivan • Robin Peace • Helen Rickerby • Reihana Robinson • Robert Sullivan • Steven Toussaint • Jamie Trower • Tim Upperton • Sophie van Waardenberg • Bryan Walpert • Sue Wootton

https://thecubapress.nz/shop/more-favourable-waters/

A Launch Becomes A Farewell: Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, 1925-2009


We set out to launch Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand on Monday night, and ended up farewelling a great New Zealand poet as well: Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, who died aged 84 on Monday.

Other obituarists have done a good job of describing Alistair Campbell’s life and work. I did know know him personally, though I was lucky to hear him read twice, but his collection Kapiti: Selected Poems, 1947-71 is one of my very favourite books of New Zealand poetry, and remains an inspiration.

Of course, the Voyagers launch was not planned to be a commemoration of Alistair Campbell, but it turned out that our lineup of readers, and our lineup of poems, encompassed many connections with him, so that one series of readings served two ends.


Most of the readers read two poems from Voyagers: one of their own, and one by another Voyagers poet. The full lineup was:

Puri Alvarez: “Saturn’s Rings” + Meg Campbell, “The End of the World”
Marilyn Duckworth: Fleur Adcock, “Last Song”
Chris Else: “Hypnogogia” + James Norcliffe, “the ascent”
Robin Fry: “Lift-off” + Peter Bland, “An Old Man and Science Fiction”
Niel Wright: Ruth Gilbert, “Still Centre”
Tim Jones: “Good Solid Work” + James Dignan, “Great Minds”
Rachel McAlpine: “Satellites” + Harvey McQueen, “Return”
Jane Matheson: “An Alien’s Notes on first seeing a prunus-plum tree” + Simon Williamson, “Japan 2030”
Harvey Molloy: “Nanosphere” + Richard von Sturmer, from “Mill Pond Poems”
Michael O’Leary: “Nuclear Family” + Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, “Looking at Kapiti”
Mark Pirie: “Dan and his Amazing Cat” + Louis Johnson, “Love Among the Daleks”
Vivienne Plumb: “Signs of Activity”
Helen Rickerby: “Tabloid Headlines” + Tracie McBride, “Contact”
Mike Webber: “My Personal Universe” + David Eggleton, “60-Second Warning”

We heard poems by Alistair Campbell himself, by his first and second wives (Fleur Adcock and Meg Campbell), by his sister-in-law (Marilyn Duckworth), and, as Mike Webber revealed, by a descendant of Te Rauparaha, about whom Alistair wrote so often and so memorably. What’s more, Nelson Wattie, Alistair Campbell’s biographer, was also present, and came up after the readings to give a moving account of Alistair and his life.

It was a good feeling to be part of a launch that managed to be both a celebration of a new anthology, and a commemoration of a great poet’s life and work.