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September 21, 2014 | by  | in Arts Books | [ssba]

Please Handle this Poem with Care

This year in Salient, I’ve forced a lot of poetry on you. I’m not ashamed. Poetry deserves to be read by more people. It longs to be read by young people just like us.

And there’s so damn much of it being published in New Zealand right now. How amazing is that? We’re a little country whose Prime Minister puts himself on the cover of rugby magazines and tries to talk in rugby metaphors – and yet! We have independent publishers like Victoria Uni Press, Auckland Uni Press, Hue & Cry Press and Compound Press, who have been churning out luscious new poetry books all year. Not to mention all the literary journals and the tiny boutique publishers providing new platforms for new poets.

If you’ve got an open mind, there’s a poem for you out there somewhere. But reading a poem is a complex, nuanced exercise, and they don’t come with instruction manuals. Feel free to use this guide below as you see fit.

Before reading:

  • At first, approach a poem from behind with a fire extinguisher ready.
  • Do not read a poem in a boat on a lake during a thunderstorm.
  • Do not open a poem near an active volcano or live electrical wires.
  • Do not leave a poem untended at night on the full moon.

After reading:

  • You may feel like there has just been an earthquake.
  • You may feel like you’ve just been jolted from a dream in which you were falling.
  • You may realise nothing in life is certain and we will all die one day.
  • You may sense a ghost in the room.

Poetry is very much alive and kicking in New Zealand at the moment. Especially in Wellington, where it roams the streets at night terrorising bros walking home from town. If you’re kind-hearted and courageous (it senses fear), you can approach it. Just be wary of the fact that you will likely never be the same.

[ssba]

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