Orchid Tierney and David Howard

Cracked mirrors

'Language as a net of reality'

Rob Allan

Poetry Reading, Poet of Port Chalmers, 2006.

‘The poetry of tomorrow will be finely articulated fact.’ — W.B. Yeats

Human Language: The Poetry of Michael Steven

Catherine Dale

Michael Steven. Photo credit: Greta Anderson.
Michael Steven. Photo credit: Greta Anderson.

Unlike many New Zealand poets of his generation, Michael Steven is not part of the literary establishment. Steven has been writing and performing poetry in New Zealand “in fits and starts”[i] for more than twenty-five years, but has not pursued an MA in creative writing or yet published a monograph with a university press.

Messages from the Antipodes

Ted Jenner

Ted Jenner, 'Writers in Residence and other captive fauna.'
Ted Jenner, 'Writers in Residence and other captive fauna.' Auckland: Titus Books, 2009.

In New Zealand the poetic generation of 1946 surveyed the boundary fences, then jumped over them. From the late 1960s this generation has set both the poetic and the critical parameters for general and specialist discussion. Career-long attention has been given to Ian Wedde, Bill Manhire, and Sam Hunt, who were all born in a year of notable publications such as The quest: words for a mime play (Charles Brasch), Jack Without Magic (Allen Curnow), The Rakehelly Man & Other Verses  (A.R.D.

'Young Knowledge': Signature poem of Robin Hyde?

Mary Paul

Robin Hyde (1906–1939), born Iris Wilkinson.
Robin Hyde (1906–1939) born Iris Wilkinson, is seen here (second to right with dark hair in bunches) beside her mother Nelly Wilkinson and with her sisters. Detail from a family photo 1919, Robin Hyde Gallery, NZEPC.

Robin Hyde’s “signature” long poem, “Young Knowledge,” written in late 1936, conjures up a tonal ambiguity. Is the poem ironical about youthfulness (and the impossibility of it being hopeful in hard times) and the associated youthfulness of her country? “Young” tagged to “knowledge” is a fluid signifier — how to read it?  At the time Hyde wrote this poem, many of her contemporaries, particularly writers, artists, and intellectuals, felt that the earlier socially mixed and idealistically egalitarian settler society had disappeared.

Robin Hyde’s “signature” long poem, “Young Knowledge,” written in late 1936, conjures up a tonal ambiguity. Is the poem ironical about youthfulness (and the impossibility of it being hopeful in hard times) and the associated youthfulness of her country? “Young” tagged to “knowledge” is a fluid signifier — how to read it?

Notes towards an assessment: The phenomenon of Rewi Alley, people's warrior

Bruce Harding

Rewi Alley book covers
Rewi Alley, 'Poems for Aotearoa' (Auckland: New Zealand-China Society and Progressive Book Society, 1972) and '73 Man to Be' (Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1970).

The New Zealander Rewi Alley (1897–1987)[1] was raised in a progressive home imbued with a range of ideals (educational, suffragist, and in favor of Henry George-style land reform) during the late Victorian period of colonial settlement by English migrants. This vibrant and highly energized (and energizing) young man had a mixed rural and urban upbringing during the light-leftist Liberal Government of Premier Richard Seddon, and his urban secondary school (Christchurch Boys’ High School) was then a site of Anglophile and imperialistic views as well as an elite “prep” school for Canterbury College. It is no surprise, therefore, that Rewi and his elder brother (Eric) volunteered to serve in the slaughter of the Great War, Eric dying at the Somme (1916) and Rewi badly wounded after acts of great valor near Cambrai-Baupame in late 1918. 

The New Zealander Rewi Alley (1897–1987)[1] was raised in a progressive home imbued with a range of ideals (educational, suffragist, and in favor of Henry George-style land reform) during the late Victorian period of colonial settlement by English migrants.