Archive for the ‘poetry’ Category

The delightful rhyming story of Ruru and Kiwi, who host a midnight forest party for their friends, with award-winning illustrations.
The Ruru and Kiwi went into the bush,
wrapped snug in night’s velvety black.
They took some runny manuka honey
tied up in a flax-woven sack.
Drawing on a cast of nocturnal New Zealand creatures, with award-winning illustrations by Amy Haarhoff, Clare Scott’s story imagines Edward Lear’s famous nonsense poem taking place in a moonlit forest in Aotearoa.

The Midnight Adventures of Ruru and Kiwi

Clare Scott & Amy Haarhoft


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan Butterworth

Ruru and Kiwi decide to go into the bush ‘wrapped in the night’s velvety black’.  Kiwi was looking forward to having a picnic with ‘runny manuka honey tied up in a flax-woven sack’ they took with them.  Ruru suggested they invite all their friends to meet them as they had plenty of honey to share.

Hara and Pepeketua, Pekapeka and Titihai, Kakapo and Tuatara all came and had a marvellous feast, ‘they dined on worms and larvae that squirmed, sitting under a kauri in bloom’.

The story is charming and the words are so descriptive, with the paragraphs flowing well and having a beat when read aloud. The illustrations are gorgeous, very lifelike and fitting the story completely.  There’s a handy section at the back that identifies all the night creatures at the party and gives some information about them. I did have trouble reading the white lettering on a midnight blue background though my eyesight is not the best so maybe it was just me.

This beautiful book is available online at Fishpond, The Warehouse, Mighty Ape and will ship when we are in Level 3.

Beginning with the inner city and harbour, the 100 poems move into the suburbs and parks, before heading to outer areas – and into the twenty-first century. Major New Zealand poets, visitors from offshore and stimulating newer voices have all been moved to record their responses to the steep streets and myriad people, the food and political energy, the cable car and cenotaphs, the wharves and, of course, the big weather.

Big Weather, Poems of Wellington (revised edition 2018)

Gregory O’Brien & Louise St John

RHNZ Vintage

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Stephen Litten

Big Weather, as the subtitle suggests, is a collection of poems about Wellington. It may be a small city but there is nothing small about the weather. The closeness of the hills and harbour heighten the appreciation of weather. The collection features about a hundred poets, but not all wrote poems: there is at least one piece of prose, as well as the obligatory introduction.

The poets (and their works) are a broad selection. While about ten percent are foreigners, and another twenty percent non-residents, the majority are Wellingtonians either by birth or by residence. I recognised a number of names. But all contributors have at least visited the city. The age of the poems varies from very late 19th century to a year before publication. The direct subject moves a fair bit; the weather, the hills, the city itself, the suburbs, the social life or cultural vibe, all make appearances.

As mentioned in the title, this is a revised edition, the first being published in 2000. Apart from a section labelled “Twenty-first Century”, there is nothing to indicate what has changed between editions. Unfortunately, one change that is non-textual is the death in 2009 of co-editor Louise St John. Which is sad.

Anyway, poems about Wellington. Buy it. And I’m not just saying that because it is my home town.

A stunning collection of poems from one of New Zealand’s most respected writers.

David Eggleton wrote of Marshall’s poetry in the New Zealand Listener that, ‘Above all, the poems are redolent of the South Island – all wild winds and dry hills, sleepy summer afternoons, the shimmer of light on lakes, snow like whitewash on the Alps.’ In addition his poetry captures the voice and perspective of the South Island, whether it is contemplating family or friends, love or mortality, the local landscape or further afield, through place or time.

This collection brings together Marshall’s most powerful poetry from his previous three collections with many more recent works. They are complemented by photographs taken by his friend and fellow Mainlander Grahame Sydney.

Views From The South

Owen Marshall


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

This is a hardcover, coffee table book which is a collection of poems from one of New Zealand’s best writers.  They all celebrate the South Island and are handily arranged in four groups – Nature and Place, Family and Friends, History and Art, and Heart and Mind.

The poems are about big life moments – birth death, war – as well as the ordinary moments – meeting again the girl you liked years ago.  ‘Blowing Up Frogs With A Straw’ lists the many ways the poem’s speaker experimented with killing animals as a child, though not anymore.

Having experienced no suffering of
my own, I dished it out with gusto.
and now I wince to step upon a snail.

As a born and bred Aucklander, I found the prologue poem hysterical – ‘South Island Prayer’ begins with God / Don’t let me die in Auckland.

The stunning photography is by Grahame Sydney, a longtime mate of Owen Marshall and fellow South Islander.  The photos often complement the poem – like the full page photo of a tree covered in wet snow facing the sparse poem ‘The Big Snow’.  I wish the photos had identifying text though – it would have been nice to be able to pinpoint the snowy mountain’s location or identify the gorgeous beach.

This is a thoughtful and delightful book, with well crafted poems and beautiful photography.


A companion volume to the best-selling Where your left hand rests, this is a personal, autobiographical collection of poems from one of NZ’s top writers.

These well-crafted poems are rich in descriptiveness and invite the reader into Fiona Kidman’s life, sharing family, friends, and places she loves with the sonnet sequence being illustrated with family photos of the poet’s mother.  They touch our own experiences, giving relevance and insight to our memories.

The very attractive little book has a golden mosaic dust jacket and an attached red ribbon to mark your place.  It has stunning artwork and is a pleasure to read.


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan


Ever been to a dinner with friends and some other guest has started spouting complete bollocks? But you don’t say anything because it’s just not polite? Tim Minchin found himself in such a situation a few years ago. He remained polite. But inside he cracked, and this book is the result.

Minchin has provided the story, which is lovingly introduced by Neil Gaiman. Who describes the story as a beat poem. Certainly Minchin has delivered it live on stage on more than one occasion. It’s also available on Youtube with animation by King and Turner, along with several live stage presentations. Also explained is the gensis of the King-Turner illustrations which add to the beauty of the story/poem/Dr Seuss homage but with less silliness.

Don’t get me wrong, Dr Seuss is a very apt comparison for the presentation of this tale: the cartoons add to the flow and drama of the text. Apart from a couple of swear words this could easily be part of the junior curriculum. It might get more people interested in thinking.

The book, which is only about 80 unnumbered pages, so maybe it’s a bit bigger than The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham, ends with biographies of Minchin, King and Turner plus a few guest covers of editions that never will be (but that’s a nod to the cartoonists’ world) and then several absolutely brilliant short reviews on the back cover.

For the intelligent everywhere: buy it and read it to your kids. And yourself. Because both they and you deserve it, and will treasure it.


Supplied by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

The Slow Regard of Silent Things

It’s an odd little piece at that, more poetry than prose in many ways. There certainly isn’t a lot of plot, and only one living character. This is Auri, and this is a week in her solitary life in the subterranean world which is the Underthing. For Auri, inanimate objects and locations have a life of their own. Everything must be in its place, and there is a certain alchemy about things and where they belong.

I would not say that The Slow Regard of Silent Things should be the usual door into Rothfuss’ world, but once there, I found it to be a pleasing and a restful place, full of poetry and meaning. There are times in life when this is just the sort of thing you want to be reading, and I suppose for me, it was one of those times. And if you’re not that kind of person, and it’s not that time, then you’ll hate it. This book will polarise people, especially those who thought Rothfuss ought to have finished the trilogy before wandering off in other directions…

Published by Gollancz

Supplied by Hatchett NZ

Reviewed by Jacqui

essential nz poems

This collection explores the question of what is an essential New Zealand poem. The selected poems touch on New Zealand’s unique geography and its people’s connection to the land, as well as its society, culture, and values. The 150 poets featured include; Fleur Adcock, James K Baxter, Allen Curnow, Lauris Edmond, CK Stead, Denis Glover, Janet Frame, Bill Manhire, Hone Tuwhare, Sam Hunt, Vincent O’Sullivan, Brian Turner, James Brown, Kate Camp, Glenn Colquhoun and Paula Green.

Ordered alphabetically, each poet has only one poem featured and they start from the 1950’s onwards. The book itself is very attractive, with a cloth-bound cover and photographs scattered throughout the pages. A very enjoyable collection of some of New Zealand’s best poems, this is very diverse and has something for everyone.


Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan