Allen Curnow's 'Collected Poems' and Terry Sturm's 'Simply by Sailing in a New Direction'
Allen Curnow (1911–2001) was a dominant force in New Zealand letters and became an internationally acclaimed poet, anthologist, and critic. Together, the 2017 Auckland University Press poems and biography provide a substantial (1120-page!) recognition of his achievement. Let me offer what follows as a kind of searching tribute.
State-of-the-Nation poems (6)
Michele Leggott, 'peri poietikes / about poetry' (2009)
The closer one gets to the present, the harder it gets to pontificate convincingly about the significance of it all (which might be seen as casting retrospective doubt on earlier assertions and certainties, also).
I’ve chosen for the last of my State-of-the-Nation poems peri poietikes by Michele Leggott, from her book of laureate verses Mirabile Dictu: “wonderful to relate”. Not, you’ll note, mirabile visu: “wonderful to see” – Michele is legally blind, and has been fighting a long rearguard action against macular degeneration for almost twenty years now.
I first heard the poem on a wintry night in Titirangi, one of Auckland’s western suburbs, in the heart of the Waitakere ranges. A group of us had been invited to a joint Poetry Day reading upstairs in the Lopdell House gallery, and Michele was trying out her latest device for live performance: an ipod with the poems already recorded on it, so she could recite them line by line after her own voice coming through an earpiece.