Aotearoa poets on poetry

Conversations with New Zealand poets about poetry and life.

New poetry collections

Christchurch poet Kerrin Sharpe and Wellingtonian Frances Samuel released their collections around the same time with the same publisher. There's A Medical Name for This is Kerrin's second collection, Sleeping on Horseback is the first for Frances. We brought them together to find out about their approach to structuring their collections, the themes they explore, and their very different day jobs. Both books are published by Victoria University Press.

Puna Wai Korero: An Anthology of Maori Poetry in English

According to Reina Whaitiri there is a way of seeing the world through Māori eyes that, Puna Wai Kōrero, the first ever anthology of Māori poetry in English encapsulates. For Robert Sullivan, the collection draws together the many diverse worlds and voices of Māori many of which he comes across as the Head of School of Creative writing at Aucklands Manukau Institute of Technology. On the eve of its launch, Maraea Rakuraku talks with the editors about the process used in selecting the works of those featured, whether published writing privileges itself over spoken word and the state of Māori writing in this form.

Poetry - the Border Ballads

NMIT creative-writing educator Cliff Fell on the influence of the "classic" poems and poets of the Border Ballads, dating from times of medieval skirmishes and raids between lowland Scots and the Northumbrians.

Poet Michele Leggott on exploring light and darkness

Michele Leggott Heartland book cover Auckland University PressMichele Leggott is a former New Zealand Poet Laureate (2007–2009), and in 2013, Michele received the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry. She teaches at the University of Auckland and coordinates the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre.

In Heartland she continues to explore themes of light and gathering darkness, through her own loss of vision, and through other people's stories.

From Nine To Noon on 19 August 2014

Poet, Doc Drumheller

One of Christchurch’s highest profile performance poets, Doc Drumheller with some tips on how to avoid writing angst-ridden verse, and he shares some of his poetry with us. 

Hinemoana Baker: poems and boys' homes

Hinemoana and book waha mouth suppliedHinemoana Baker is a published poet, a singer-songwriter, recording artist, teacher of creative writing and occasional broadcaster.

Currently Hinemoana is writer-in-residence at Victoria University, where she is researching a book about the years her father and his brothers spent at Sunnybank, a Catholic boys’ home in Nelson.

Her new poetry collection, Waha / Mouth (VUP, ISBN: 978-0-864739704), has just been published, and she will be a guest at the 2014 WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival (27-31 August).

Hinemoana Baker has a kōrero about poetry and life with Kim Hill.


Books - Autobiography of a Marguerite

Zarah Butcher McGunnigle

Poet Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle’s new book length poem is an account of someone suffering from a serious auto-immune illness. Or is it? Called Autobiography of a Marguerite the poem wrestles with ideas of identity, ambiguity and the absurdity of a sickness in which the body attacks itself.

Kirsti Whalen - Prize Poet

Kirsti WhalenKirsti Whalen is a poet with a bright future. A second-year creative writing student at Auckland’s Manukau Institute of Technology, she  has been applauded by her mentors and colleagues in the Faculty of Creative Arts, who include celebrated writers Robert Sullivan, Anne Kennedy, Albert Wendt, Witi Ihimaera, and the winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize, Eleanor Catton, for being shortlisted for the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize. 

Not only a poet, she’s spent time as a camel farmer in Austria, she’s been a laughing instructor at a yoga retreat and most recently has focused her work on being an advocate for young people with disabilities in Melbourne. She joins Wallace Chapman to talk about her life and her poetry.

Kiri Piahana-Wong - What makes a Māori poet?

Kiri Piahana WongWhat/ who is a Māori poet? What is Māori poetry? Does Māori ancestry trump Pākehā ancestry? All questions Maraea Rakuraku encounters in discussion with Kiri Piahana-Wong of Anahera Press.

Michael Harlow: Poet

Michael Harlow

New Zealand poet and recent recipient of the Lauris Edmond award, Michael Harlow talks to Eva Radich.

Writer Alice Miller

Alice Miller by Dylan WhitingEx-pat poet, essayist, fiction writer and editor Alice Miller returns home temporarily from Vienna to take up three writer's residencies in New Zealand and to launch her first poetry collection, The Limits (AUP).

Vincent O'Sullivan - NZ Poet, author, biographer

Vincent O Sullivan photo by Reg GrahamVincent O'Sullivan (photo by Reg Graham) is one of this country's leading and most prolific writers. He's a poet, short story writer, novelist, biographer, playwright, critic and editor. He is current Poet Laureate.

Vincent O'Sullivan talks to Kathryn Ryan about his work and life.


Poet Louise Wallace

Louise Wallace

Louise Wallace, who's never lost for words, remembers how Alzheimer's affected her grandmother in her new collection enough.

Bernadette Hall - Life & Customs

Cantabrian Bernadette Hall publishes her latest poetry collection, Life & Customs (VUP).

Performance poet Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh

Performance poet Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh

Selina Tusitala Marsh writes about her mother's death and how it's affected her and her family, in a new poetry collection called Dark Sparring.

Christchurch poet John O'Connor

John O Connor Aspects of Reality book cover published by HeadworXJohn O'Connor discusses his 10th collection of poetry, Aspects of Reality, published by HeadworX.

Frankie McMillan - Playful Poetry

Christchurch poet Frankie McMillan won the National Flash Fiction Day 2013 competition.

She talks to Richard Langston about trying to make sense of the world through her playful, slightly subversive poems.

Leilani Tamu - poetry and diplomacy

Leilani Tamu Fulbright Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer in Residence supplied

Leilani Tamu 2013 Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer in Residence. Photo supplied.

Leilani Tamu is a Polynesian poet, former New Zealand diplomat, freelance journalist and creative entrepreneur.

She was awarded the 2013 Fulbright Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency.

Leilani Tamu talks to Kim Hill. 

Elizabeth Smither

Elizabeth Smither

Elizabeth Smither is a librarian, writer, Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (2001) and was New Zealand's first female Poet Laureate (2001–2003).

She joins Kathryn Ryan to talk about her life, and 17 collections of poetry, in particular The Blue Coat.

Children's poetry with Paula Green

Paula GreenPaula Green is a poet, reviewer, children's author, NZ Book Award judge and anthologist.

Two recent books include 99 Ways into New Zealand Poetry (co-written with Harry Ricketts and short-listed for the 2011 NZ Post Book Awards) and Dear Heart: 150 New Zealand Love Poems (both Random House). She has published two collections for children: Flamingo Bendalingo (AUP) and Macaroni Moon (Random House).

She now runs NZ Poetry Box,a poetry blog aimed at primary and intermediate school pupils, with the aim of passing on her love of poetry.

Paula Green talks to Kathryn Ryan during Nine to Noon.

Outgoing Poet Laureate - Ian Wedde

Ian WeddeOutgoing Poet Laureate and soon to be Creative New Zealand's Writer's Resident in Berlin, Ian Wedde, talks about life and The Lifeguard, his new collection of poetry.

Poet Courtney Sina Meredith

Courtney Sina MeredithCourtney Sina Meredith has quickly made her mark on the New Zealand poetry scene, look out for her first collection Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick.

Poet Paula Green

Paula Green The Baker s Thumbprint book coverPaula Green has just released her sixth poetry collection for adults, The Baker's Thumbprint, published by Seraph Press.

Kate Camp: Poet

Kate CampEva Radich talks to NZ poet Kate Camp ahead of the launch of her new collection Snow White's Coffin at Wellington's Goethe Institut.

Kate Camp - Poet

Kate Camp Snow Whites Coffin book coverKate Camp joins Lynne Freeman to discuss her collection Snow White's Coffin, written during a year-long Creative NZ residency in Berlin.

Lorna Stavley Anker

Bernadette Hall The Judas Tree book coverBernadette Hall reminds us of the work of New Zealand's first female war poet, Lorna Stavely Anker, by bringing together published and previously unseen works in The Judas Tree. It's published by Canterbury University Press.

Poet Fleur Adcock - Glass Wings

Fleur Adcock Glass Wings book coverEx-pat poet Fleur Adcock CNZM, OBE talks with Lynn Freeman about wills, genealogy and her poetry collection Glass Wings, published by Victoria University Press.

Spectrum for 5 May 2013

Ben BrownBen Brown attended Canterbury University and became a writer and poet.

Lyttelton’s Volcano Radio offered Ben his own poetry show. The extraordinary music culture and eclectic vibe of the port town suits him well.

In his poetry, Ben Brown refers to Jake the Muss of Once were Warriors fame. He is crooked from a motorbike accident which paralysed his right arm. He looks wild and has a history of excessive drinking but people listen when he speaks. The Lyttelton poet is respected throughout the country.

Spectrum’s Deborah Nation joins Ben at Samo’s – where he downs seven coffees a day at Te Porthole, and for a live poetry performance at Tommy Changs.

Elizabeth Nannestad: poet

Elizabeth NannestadShe's kept us waiting at least a decade between poetry collections, so what can we expect from Elizabeth Nannestad's third one, Wild Like Me?

Brian Turner - Spirit of the Land

Brian TurnerNew Zealand writer and poet Brian Turner talks about what makes his spirit soar, and reads some of his poems for us.

Therese Lloyd - Other Animals

First-time published poet Therese Lloyd talks about her collection, Other Animals, which is published by VUP.

Poet John Newton

John Newton Family Songbook book coverJohn Newton's latest collection is called Family Songbook.

" does landscape get its hooks in us? Romantic, hyperbolic, painterly and plot-driven, Family Songbook is New Zealand pastoral in a different key." - published by VUP.

Lynn Freeman talks to John Newton about landscapes...

Sam Hunt

Poet Sam Hunt on his forthcoming book 'Salt River Songs'.

Poet Darren Kamali

Fiji-raised, South Auckland poet Darren Kamali is looking forward to a busy new year. Last year he was awarded a Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer's Residency to spend three months in Hawaii and write his second book of poetry.

Poet Reihana Robinson

Reihana Robinson and her poetic love affair with Rona, the woman banished to the moon in Maori mythology.

Dried Figs

Octogenarian poet Helen Jacobs whose sixth collection, Dried Figs, reflects on the frustrations and plusses of aging.

Three Days in a Wishing Well

It's taken almost 40 years but Christchurch poet Kerrin Sharpe has realised her dream and published her debut poetry collection, Three Days in a Wishing Well.

Feature Guest - Albert Wendt

Albert Wendt, novelist, poet, painter, has been called the father of Pacific writing.

Playing Favourites with Brian Turner

Central Otago poet who has collected more than 100 poems from over 30 years of writing for his new illustrated collection, Elemental: Central Otago Poems.

Janet Charman

Auckland Poet Janet Charman won the Book Award for Poetry for Cold Snack four years ago. Her latest collection At The White Coast goes back to her years spent living in Thatcher's England.

Feature Guest - Maris O'Rourke

International education consultant turned poet whose first collection of poetry is coming out soon. Maris O'Rouke is also the author of children's book 'Lillibutt's Big Adventure', illustrated by Claudia Pond Eyely.

Old New World

Mary Macpherson is a photographer/poet whose book 'Old New World' is a photographic study of the changing face of small town New Zealand.

Graft - poems by Helen Heath

Wellington poet Helen Heath reads science-inspired poems from her collection Graft

Richard Langston - Things Lay in Pieces

Poet/Journalist Richard Langston's fifth collection 'Things Lay in Pieces' starts with a sequence about the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Writers: Paula Green

Paula Green Dear HeartPoet and editor Paula Green immersed herself in the language of love to bring together an anthology of 150 New Zealand love poems.

Ideas for 22 April 2012

Chris talks to New Zealand's inaugural Poet Laureate, Bill Manhire. In this extended interview he talks to Chris about the creative writing course and his life with words; and he'll read some of his poetry.

Sam Hunt and Dick Frizzell: words and pictures

Poet and artist who have collaborated on a new exhibition at Page Blackie Gallery.

Poetry and Science

Wellington poet Janis Freegard talks about and reads from her collection Kingdom Animalia

Poetry with John Adams

Judge of the District and Family Courts in Auckland and poet, on his first collection; Briefcase.

Chapter & Verse

Dunedin-based poet Rhian Gallagher's second poetry collection is called Shift and follows her life from growing up on a South Canterbury Farm to living on a London estate to returning home after a long time away.

Ian Wedde : rules of verse

Poet, fiction writer, critic, essayist and art curator who has just been appointed New Zealand Poet Laureate 2011 - 2013.

Poet Anna Jackson looks through the 'Thicket'

Anna Jackson lectures in Children's Literature, Contemporary Fiction, and Poetry and Poetics at Victoria University. Her fifth poetry collection is called 'Thicket'.

Poet and traveller Jennifer Compton

2010 Kathlyn Gratton Poetry Award winner Jennifer Compton has focused on disparate urban centres like Palmerston North and Florence in her collection 'This City?.

Jenny Bornholdt

"The Hill of Wool" is Jenny Bornholdt's tenth book of poems. The former New Zealand Poet Laureate wrote this collection while on a residency.

Thinkers: Philosophy

AUT Philosopher in Residence Ann Kerwin discusses the medieval poet Christine de Pizan and her City of Ladies.

Dinah Hawken

Wellington poet Dinah Hawken's new collection is called 'The Leaf Ride'. It's published by Victoria University Press.

Jeffrey Paparoa Holman: kamikazes and quakes

Historian and poet who is pursuing two projects as Waikato University's 2011 writer in residence: a collection of post-earthquake poetry, and a memoir about his father, which he has is currently researching in Japan.

Poetry with Airini Beautrais

Pukerua Bay poet discusses her new collection Western Line.

Robert Sullivan

NZ Maori Poet and Educator presenting his work and research at conferences in Istanbul, Oxford University and Auckland.

Poet Alistair Te Ariki Campbell

The Pukerua Bay writer is being remembered at an exhibition of his work at Pataka in Porirua.

Charles Browne

Charles Browne, patron and best friend of the romantic poet John Keats is buried in Taranaki and that friendship is being marked this weekend in New Plymouth.

Poetry with Johanna Emeney

Poet and English teacher whose poem, Radiologist's Report, is one of three shortlisted in the international category of Britain's prestigious Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine.

Iowa City

Hinemoana Baker is a poet and musician who's recently returned from an exchange to the University of Iowa's International Writing Programme.

Kendrick Smithyman

It's often the sad fate of a ground-breaking artist to be appreciated by the critics and ignored by everyone else. Such was the case with Auckland poet Kendrick Smithyman, who published a dozen volumes between 1944 and his death in the nineties. Smithyman freely admitted his work was, complex, demanding and too modern. Self-confessed 'Smithymaniac' Scott Hamilton thinks we may have finally caught up.

The Radio Room

Cilla McQueen is New Zealand's poet laureate and winner of this year's Prime Minister Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry. Her eleventh collection is called 'The Radio Room'.

Rural Delivery

Poems and images from New Zealand farms photography by Stephen Robinson, Graeme Williams is one of the poets featured - he's a farmer and paddock poet. With Graeme Williams and Stephen Robinson.

Poet : Paula Green

Our featured writer today is poet Paula Green, who found a new urgency when she was diagnosed with cancer.

Jill Dawson and Elizabeth Smither

Jill Dawson has published six novels and also writes poetry. Her latest novel, The Great Lover, captures the allure of poet Rupert Brooke and his intriguing relationships, in the euphoric period before the First World War, in Cambridge and later in Tahiti. Elizabeth Smither is an award-winning poet who has just published her fifth novel, Lola. With the wisdom and wry humour of maturity, it explores love and death, music and friendship and is set in Australia and New Zealand. Carole Beu is in the chair.

Poems in the Waiting Room

Dunedin Poet Ruth Arnison tries to deliver smiles and some distraction to patients waiting to see their doctors, and residents of nursing homes. She does it with poetry. Poems in the Waiting Room started in the UK more than 10 years ago, and now it's a registered charity here.

Chapter and Verse

Poet Anna Livesy on her first published collection since 2003 when she won a fellowship to study at the Iowa Writers Workshop in the American Midwest.

Colombia - peace and poets

Kiwi poet Ron Riddell talks about living and working in Colombia, and the 'Arts For Peace' initiative being set up for poets in our two nations.

Kiwis who should be famous - Geoff Cochrane

Susanna Andrew from the New Zealand Book Council nominates poet Geoff Cochrane - his writing has been described as, 'spare in form and precise in language'.

Sam Hunt: a poet's life

Sam Hunt has worked for 40 years as a full-time poet. His recently published memoir is Backroads: Charting a Poet's Life.

Bub Bridger: a poet's life

Bub Bridger was a poet and short story who died at her home on 8 December 2009, aged 85. She spoke to Kim in 2005.

Feature guest - Brian Turner

Poet, essayist, biographer, editor, angler, cyclist, environmentalist and good keen Otago man.

CK Stead

NZ Author and Poet and one of three recipients of this year's Prime Ministers Literacy Awards.

A Leaf Of Words

Poet, curator, and artist Chris Price on how to read a poem.

Glenn Colquhoun

NZ poet whose cycle 'North and South' will be premiered at the 'Going West Books and Writers Festival' in Titirangi this Friday.

Glenn Colquhoun - poet and doctor

Glen Colquhoun's work of epic poetry, North:South, has been brought to life with the help of Maori and Celtic musicians and has its world premiere this weekend (11-13 September) at the Going West festival in Waitakere. He has recently been awarded funding in the latest Fulbright round to study the relationship between creative writing and medicine.

Alistair Te Ariki Campbell

New Zealand has lost another of it's great poets, Alistair Te Ariki Campbell. Long time friend Sam Hunt shares thoughts on the life of this novelist, playwright and poet.

A leaf of words

"A word here and there may imply more than what those words meant to mean"- New Zealand Poet Laureate, Cilla McQueen.

Nelson Wattie

Alistair Te Ariki Campbell's biographer pays tribute to the New Zealand poet, novelist and playwright who passed away yesterday in Wellington.

Chapter and Verse - David Gregory

Canterbury poet David Gregory is back with a new collection of poetry.

New Poet Laureate

After 10 collections of poetry and a CD, Bluff poet Cilla McQueen has been appointed Poet Laureate.

Cilla McQueen

Newly announced 2009-11 New Zealand Poet Laureate.

Peter Simpson

Auckland curator and writer, who'll be delivering Dunedin's Annual Hocken lecture about Poet, Editor and Art Patron, Charles Brasch.

A leaf of words

Chris Price, poet, curator and artist.

Michelle Leggot

Inaugural New Zealand Poet Laureate launching her seventh book 'Mirabile Dictu' at the National Library this week.

Poet Laureate - Michelle Leggatt

Michelle Leggatt, the first official New Zealand Poet Laureate is about to hand her laurels over to someone else.

Glenn Colquhoun

Broadcast of an hour long discussion with award winning poet and GP, Glenn Colquhoun, recorded at the recent Festival of Colour in Wanaka.

Feature guest - Tusiata Avia

Samoan New Zealand poet and actress, Tusiata Avia speaks to Kathryn about her new book, 'Bloodclot' among other things.

Hinemoana Baker - poetry on Waitangi Day

Poet and singer Hinemoana Baker speaks about her views on Waitangi Day and reads some of her latest poetry.

Lewis Scott

Poet Lewis Scott is in our Wellington studio, he will be treating us to some poetry for Obama in celebration.

Margaret Mahy

Liam Ryan interviews New Zealand poet and author Margaret Mahy, who reads a poem especially written for the interview.

Vivienne Plumb

Viv Plumb, playwright, poet and author talks about turning books into plays, and reads some of her poetry.

Rhian Gallagher

Timaru Poet, Rhian Gallagher has been awarded a 10 thousand dollar grant from a fund Janet Frame set up to help NZ writers.

Poet - David Beach

The End Of Atlantic City,new poetry from David Beach.

Michele Leggott

New Zealand Laureate poet Michele Leggott appears at a public event in Wellington tonight.

Poet Kon Kuiper

Poet Kon Kuiper discusses his latest book of poetry , Bounty, published by Canterbury University Press

Poetry and Painting

Poet Karlo Mila and painter Delicia Sampero combine works in the book, A Well Written Body.

Poet Amy Brown

Amy Brown is a poet and creative writing editor of the online arts journal , The Lumiere Reader.

Asian Report for 29 April 2008

Auckland poet Renee Liang shares how influences from her Chinese heritage have influenced her poetry.

Richard Reeve

Dunedin poet, editor and environmental activist celebrates his third collection, 'In Continents'.

Poetry by kalen bloodstone CC

Image by Kalen Bloodstone CC3.0

More poetry from RNZ

Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar

- Percy Bysshe Shelley

Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.

- Allen Ginsberg

Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.

- T.S. Eliot

Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.

- Audre Lorde

Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.

- Kahlil Gibran

All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.

- William Wordsworth

There's no money in poetry, but there's no poetry in money, either.

- Robert Graves

At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.

- Plato

Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn

- Thomas Gray