Summer reads: a bouquet of poems
Are you looking for a summer read? Or perhaps a holiday treat for a reader in your life? How about the French-English bilingual edition of Ōrongohau | Best New Zealand Poems 2018, hot off the press?
Wrapped in a quasi-Surrealist painting ‘Katherine Mansfield at Menton’ (1973) by New Zealand artist Jeffrey Harris, the cover’s bold colours reflect the vibrant works within. Editor Fiona Farrell describes curating 2018’s bounty of NZ-published poetry as picking a bouquet of flowers:
‘New Zealand poetry often reminds me of a garden I saw once, inland from Te Horo. Its flowers were a host of golden margarine containers and tin cans tacked to sticks. It was beautiful, this New Zealand version of common or garden. It was startling and provocative. What is beauty, after all? What is form and order? Why do we choose this and not that? Why does beauty exist in distortion? Why do we find it beautiful when a person stands on one calloused toe rather than with both feet firmly on the ground? Or when an apple is reduced to a crimson cube? Or when a sequence of words is forced from the patter of everyday speech? I’ve thought about that garden while plucking the blooms of 2018.’
And what a bouquet it is! This volume features twenty-five poets, including Tusiata Avia, Hera Lindsay Bird, Sam Duckor-Jones, Anna Jackson, Mary McCallum, Bill Manhire, essa may ranapiri, Tayi Tibble and Chris Tse. Translator Luc Arnault sought to capture the collection’s ‘feeling of freshness, momentum and immediacy’, made complicated by the intricacies of language – what does a translator do with meticulous line breaks, elliptical lines, crossed out words, hashtags, or poems that slowly lose letters? We’ve had great reviews – find out for yourself!
After the year we’ve had, does this bouquet of poems not sound – in poet Sophie Van Waardenberg’s words – ‘[…] nice and nice and nice /[…] c’est bon, c’est bon, c’est bon’?
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