Coming soon, my books of the year

I aimed to read 40 books this year. According to the good folk at GoodReads I’ve read 35, with a couple on the go. I might not quite get there.

Nevertheless, I will be publishing my annual book of the year awards soon! I enjoy looking back on the year and what I enjoyed and, as so often happens in reading, one book leads to another.

You can see my previous winners listed HERE.



One thing I’ve noticed in the last year or so is that I’ve tried to move from always the autobiographical moment for my poems (though that’s never simply been the case) to some more orchestrated and pre-meditated kinds of poems. So, I wrote some poems in RESPONSE to other poems, notably some poems in an Irish anthology I had (Twentieth Century Irish Poems edited by Michael Longley) and later a New Zealand anthology.

In some cases the response has been a kind of ‘answer’ to a poem. At other times I’ve just used the title or an image, or even the subject to begin a new, mostly un-related poem of my own.

Today, I was thinking again of something Chris Wallace-Crabbe said in a talk he gave at Frankston a year or so ago. He was talking about how attractive it might be to be a sculptor rather than a poet; to work with something tangible, to undergo a physical effort at the making. I liked the idea; I know the feeling. Imagine coming in the morning to a thing half-made, real, tangible, physical, that you could walk around. Today, I worked on that poem for a little while. I dedicate it to Chris Wallace-Crabbe and it begins like this:

To be a sculptor

would be to arrive at a room

full of space and light

in the cold morning,

to a rough hewn object

tangible as touch.

Maybe I’ll post the poem when it’s finally done.

My book of the year awards

My book of the year awards are out and about, and you can read all about them at the link below. I sent an email around with the awards a week or so ago and got some good feedback, even some people saying there were looking forward to them, which was nice. No response from the Irish contingent though, most of whom I met over three years ago now, at Annakhmakerrig in June 2000. Maybe they’re mad that the Irish poet was a runner-up behind the American!

Warricks Book of the Year Awards

Essential NZ Poems

Almost the end of the mid-year holidays and some good feedback on the poetry in the last month or so via some competitions, and through the Mariner publications. Took the opportunity to change the homepage banner today to revamp it a little, and intend to try to write some poems in response to some of the NZ poems I found in a book called ‘Essential New Zealand Poems’. It’s an idea I took up in response to some Irish poems, and it’s a way of making me extend my range and themes and ideas a little, which is usually a good thing. The book is a kind of primer of NZ poetry:

Essential New Zealand Poems

Selected by Lauris Edmond and Bill Sewell

Random House, NZ, 2003

Salt-Lick Launch

I received an email from Clint of ‘Salt-Lick Quarterly’ pointing me to some good photos of the winter launch of ther magazine, where I read. This is the first photo of me reading for several years, so I include it here; I’ve actually used on the front of the web page, replacing the rather intense self-portrait of me in Galway in 2000.