Poetry Day Post

Today is New Zealand Poetry Day. As a Tuesday Poet, I should have put up a post on this theme on Tuesday, but I, er, didn’t. (Never explain, never apologise – or wait, isn’t that Rupert Murdoch’s credo?)

Anyway, I thought I’d use the occasion to direct your attention to the excellent work of those who did. Renee Liang did double duty by both posting a wonderfully phrased poem about Christchurch on her blog, and editing the week’s post on the hub Tuesday Poem blog, with poems from the three finalists for the 2011 NZ Post National Book Awards. If if you look in the sidebar to the right, you’ll find Poetry Day posts from lots of the Tuesday Poets, with poems and news of poetry events.

I’m embarrassed to say that it’s a long time since I have written a poem – what writing time I have had lately has been going into writing short stories – but I’ve had quite a bit to do with poetry nevertheless.

First, I’ve selected the poems by Australian and New Zealand poets for inclusion in Eye To The Telescope 2, and should be able to deliver the introduction, poems, and bios for this to the Science Fiction Poetry Association by my self-imposed deadline of 25 July.

Second, planning is proceeding apace for the book tour at the end of October which will launch my collection Men Briefly Explained and Keith Westwater’s collection Tongues of Ash, both published by Interactive Press. Once we have all the details settled, we’ll start to spread the word about the details of the tour – but, right now, we have venues confirmed in four centres.

In the meantime, enjoy Poetry Day!

NZ Poetry Day: Zoetropes, by Bill Manhire


A starting. Words which begin
with Z alarm the heart:
the eye cuts down at once

then drifts across the page
to other disappointments.


Zenana: the women’s
in Indian or Persian houses.
Zero is nought, nothing,

nil – the quiet starting point
of any scale of measurement.


The land itself is only
smoke at anchor, drifting above
Antarctica’s white flower,

tied by a thin red line
(5000 miles) to Valparaiso.

London 29.4.81

Reproduced by kind permission of the author, Bill Manhire.

Tim says: This poem captures better than any other I know both the sense of isolation which so many New Zealanders feel, and the sudden, irrational pride in reading any mention of our little country, no matter how trivial or fleeting, in the world’s media. Here we are, floating somewhere between Chile and Antarctica, hoping someone will notice us…

Bill Manhire is one of New Zealand’s best-known poets. “Zoetropes” was published as the title poem of Zoetropes: Poems 1972-82, and republished in Collected Poems (2001), available in New Zealand and internationally from Victoria University Press, and in the UK from Carcanet.