A Circle of Laureates

From the collecton Writers Week 2016

What's the collective noun for a group of Poet Laureates? A 'stanza'? A 'rhyme'? Some suggest an 'obscurity'... Not these poets.

A who's who of New Zealand poetry read their work in front of a live audience:

CK Stead (Christian Karlson Stead) photograph

CK Stead (Christian Karlson Stead) NZ writer Photo: Credit Francesco Guidicini

Current New Zealand Poet Laureate CK Stead and his Laureate predecessors Jenny Bornholdt, Michele Leggott, Bill Manhire, Cilla McQueen, Vincent O’Sullivan, Elizabeth Smither, Brian Turner and Ian Wedde share their poetry at the National Library during Writers Week.

Rob Tuwhare reads poems from his late father Hone Tuwhare and plays the poem Friend on guitar. Elizabeth Smither (who has published 17 books) delights the audience with her charm and humour.

Each poet brings a different voice and perspective delivered with preciseness and a unique tone.

As a taster, Bill Manhire reads the poem below, which he wrote for Edmund Hillary to read on the 25th anniversary of the Mount Erebus disaster.

Erebus Voices

The Mountain

I am here beside my brother, Terror.
I am the place of human error.

I am beauty and cloud, and I am sorrow;
I am tears which you will weep tomorrow.

I am the sky and the exhausting gale.
I am the place of ice. I am the debris trail

And I am still a hand, a fingertip, a ring.
I am what there is no forgetting.

I am the one with truly broken heart.
I watched them fall, and freeze, and break apart.

The Dead

We fell.

Yet we were loved and we are lifted.

We froze.

Yet we were loved and we are warm.

We broke apart.

Yet we are here and we are whole.

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