Best New Zealand Poems 2002
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Born in Christchurch (1959), DAVID HOWARD co-founded both the literary quarterly Takahe and the Canterbury Poets Collective. A past winner of the New Zealand Poetry Society Competition (1987) and a finalist in Ireland’s Davoren Hanna Poetry Competition (2001), three years ago David retired from a career as SFX supervisor for acts such as Metallica and Janet Jackson in order to write from his isolated studio at Purakaunui. His books include Shebang: Collected Poems 1980-2000 (Steele Roberts, 2000) and How To Occupy Our Selves [with Fiona Pardington] (HeadworX, 2003).

Howard comments: At forty, after touring with bands, I thought I was past it and imagined myself midway up a spiral staircase that linked two illusory rooms: the past and the future. I felt a tension between the need to attend and the need to be attended to; in order to explore this I started to draft ‘There You Go’. I did so knowing that the process of reasoning is the process whereby we extend our ego and try to justify our desires. As we argue sooner or later we hear inside ourselves the condescending motto: ‘I was trying to protect you’, and it’s then we recognise our failure of faith, that our knowledge is lapsarian. The Greek poet George Seferis understood this: ‘But to say what you want to say you must create another language and nourish it for years and years with what you have loved, with what you have lost, with what you will never find again.’

‘There You Go’ acknowledges that memory, amplified by language, is a listening device – or is it the other way around, does memory amplify language? Whatever, the poem mocks the kind of anecdote that has dominated local poetry of late. In most anecdotal poems ‘lived’ experience is reconstituted then served up as somehow inspirational, even aspirational; highly digestible, like baby food, such poems acquiesce to readers’ (projected) expectations. I try not to do this so, while ‘There You Go’ illustrates a theological fall from grace by positing an off-the-page funeral and the ordering of the departed’s estate, its wording offers the redemptive artifice of wit against the unsteady pressure of the personal. That’s why the close summons up (the spectre of) Christ:

you cross this
line – it’s you
to a T



New Zealand Book Council

Deep South David Howard interview

Deep South David Howard Poetry



Homestead – Issue 2, page 02

Homestead Issue 2, page 20

Tattoo Highway

Jacket 16

Bowen Galleries

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