And likewise they contend that animals / Wander about head downwards and cannot fall / Off from the earth into the sky below / Any more than our bodies of themselves can fly / Upwards into the regions of the sky; / That when they see the sun, the stars of night / Are what we see, and that they share the hours / Of the wide heavens alternately with us, / And pass nights corresponding to our days.
The text presented here is from Marthe’s Reed’s Ark Hive, forthcoming posthumously from The Operating System. A poetic approach to life in south Louisiana, it’s no wonder that Reed quotes poet C. D. Wright at the start of the work as Wright’s work covering south Louisiana could no doubt be seen as a necessary prerequisite to Reed’s own project. In the opening pages, Reed approaches her predicament as if she were a researcher placed in a foreign land, situating herself among her surroundings, in the midst of a condition of place that is both physically distant and so very different from the places she had previously lived. From there, she leans into language, the language of water, of floods and earth reclaimed, only to be lost again as the seasons change in places that are far away, the words occasionally scattered across the pages like the silt that drives the Mississippi water to the Gulf of Mexico.
[editor’s note. In the wake of Marthe Reed’s sudden and unexpected death earlier this month, I am opening Poems and Poetics to a commemoration of her work and spirit through the posting of an excerpt from a new book now awaiting publication. I had known Marthe Reed first as my student at UCSD San Diego and later as a dear friend and greatly admired poet.
This commentary post features Robert Sullivan (Ngāpuhi and Kāi Tahu iwi). Robert is an important Aotearoa New Zealand poet/author, in that his work flows across several parameters. What do I mean by this? Firstly, Robert is Māori — his iwi or tribal affiliations are as listed above and indeed encompass the entirety of New Zealand in that Ngāpuhi is northern and Kāi Tahu is southern in locality. Being Māori necessarily incorporates a different epistemological outlook and ontological stance — as conveyed in many of his poems. Quite simply, then, Robert sees and senses differently to a majority of New Zealand poets; yet at the same time he is more than capable of writing poems in a ‘mainstream’ English-language fashion, should he choose to.
Kia ora ano [Hello once more].
This commentary post features Robert Sullivan (Ngāpuhi and Kāi Tahu iwi). Robert is an important Aotearoa New Zealand poet/author, in that his work flows across several parameters. What do I mean by this?
The creation of flash fiction/prose poetry is increasing exponentially in Aotearoa, New Zealand. It has always been around, but nowadays there are more exponents, more outlets, more coverage, more academic 'acceptance' of the form. It is a significant presence and — to me — a very valuable and viable method to further w i d e n the horizons of poetry and literature in this country. Which has always been the focus of these commentaries.