New NZ Poets in Performance (2008)

Cover image: Sara Hughes / Cover design: Christine Hansen /
Text design: Katrina Duncan

New New Zealand Poets in Performance. Edited by Jack Ross. Poems selected by Jack Ross and Jan Kemp. ISBN 978 1 86940 4093. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2008. xiv + 146 pp.




Anne Kennedy (b. 1959)
I was a feminist in the eighties
Cat Tales
Whenua (2)
Biography / Selected Bibliography

David Howard (b. 1959)
Talking Sideways
Social Studies
On the Eighth Day
Biography / Selected Bibliography

John Newton (b. 1959)
Ferret trap
Opening the Book
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Serie (Cherie) Barford (b. 1960)
Plea to the Spanish Lady
God is near the Equator
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Jenny Bornholdt (b. 1960)
Rodnie and her bicycles
Bus stop
Then Murray came
Please, pay attention
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Jenny Powell-Chalmers (b. 1960)
Carnival of Chocolate
Lunch Box
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Gregory O’Brien (b. 1961)
Epithalamium, Wellington
It will be better then
Solomon singing
from Great Lake
There is only one
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Chris Price (b. 1962)
The Origins of Science
Keeping ravens
Biography / Selected Bibliography

John Pule (b. 1962)
from Restless People
Ka hola
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Jack Ross (b. 1962)
Except Once
A Woman Named Intrepid
Disorder and Early Sorrow
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Andrew Johnston (b. 1963)
How to Talk
How to Walk
Les Baillessats
The Present
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Glenn Colquhoun (b. 1964)
from Whakapapa
She asked me if she took one pill for her heart …
Lost property
On the death of my grandmother
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Lynda Chanwai-Earle (b. 1965)
Details from a personal journal
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Sonja Yelich (b. 1965)
narrow neck from the boat ramp
writing desk
whangaparaoa – on the sundeck
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Tusiata Avia (b. 1966)
My Dog
My First Time in Samoa
Wild Dogs Under My Skirt
Biography / Selected Bibliography

James Brown (b. 1966)
Soup From a Stone
The Crewe Cres Kids
The Day I Stopped Writing Poetry
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Anna Jackson (b. 1967)
The hen of tiredness
On the road with Rose
In a minute
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Sarah Quigley (b. 1967)
New York Four
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Robert Sullivan (b. 1967)
Waka 46
V Honda Waka
Waka 70 i Matakitaki
Waka 62 A narrator’s note
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Emma Neale (b. 1969)
Spoken For
Jane Coleridge
You’re Telling Me
Confessional Poem
Caroline Helstone
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Kate Camp (b. 1972)
Water of the Sweet Life
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Tracey Slaughter (b. 1972)
anatomy of dancing with your future wife
biography day
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Nick Ascroft (b. 1973)
The Badder & the Better
All of the Other Ascrofts Are Dead
Cheap Present
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Kapka Kassabova (b. 1973)
Preparation for the big emptiness
One morning like a sleeper
My life in two parts
A city of pierced amphorae
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Thérèse Lloyd (b. 1974)
One Hundred Hours
Scorpion Daughter
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Mark Pirie (b. 1974)
Good Looks
Making a Point
The Third Form
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Olivia Macassey (b. 1975)
Outhwaite Park
Outer Suburb
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Richard Reeve (b. 1976)
Dark Unloading: A Villanelle
Victory Beach
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Track List

Variant Readings


Back cover


Aotearoa NZ Poetry Sound Archive

Auckland University Press

The Imaginary Museum

Front flap: Blurb

From Anne Kennedy to Andrew Johnston, Jenny Bornholdt to Glenn Colquhoun, NEW NEW ZEALAND POETS IN PERFORMANCE celebrates the rich jangle of clashing ideas, voices and genders that combine to make contemporary culture. It collects the work of 28 young and mid-career poets - who came to prominence in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s - notable for their variety, their fresh approaches to poetic form and subject, and their distinctive but complementary voices. This book is a follow-up and companion to the bestselling Classic New Zealand Poets in Performance and Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance. Editors Jack Ross and Jan Kemp have selected and presented on two CDs material largely from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive, completed in 2004. There are more than two hours of poets reading their own work and the accompanying book prints the texts of the poems as they have been read. Selected bibliographies and short biographies for each poet are also included, as well as an appendix of variant readings.

New New Zealand Poets in Performance presents the work of 'poets determined to go their own way, wherever that may lead them', as Jack Ross writes in the preface. We're sure you'll enjoy the opportunity to savour their words and voices here.


Auckland University Press
The University Of Auckland
1-11 Short St.
Private Bag 92019
New Zealand

RRP: $NZ 45.00

Back flap: Author information

JACK R0SS is a writer and editor, based in Auckland. He has published three books of poems: City of Strange Brunettes (1998), Chantal's Book (2002) and To Terezín (2007); two novels: Nights with Giordano Bruno (2000) and The Imaginary Museum of Atlantis (2006); and two books of short fiction. His other books include (with Graeme Lay) the anthology Golden Weather: North Shore Writers Past and Present (2004), and (with Tina Shaw) Myth of the 21st Century: An Anthology of New Fiction (2006). In 2007 he guest-edited Landfall 214.

JAN KEMP conceived and organised the collection of recordings in the New Zealand Poets in Performance series. She is director of both the Waiata (1974) and Aotearoa New Zealand (2004) Poetry Sound Archives. She was awarded an MNZM for services to literature in 2005. Dante's Heaven (Puriri Press, Auckland) was published In 2006. She now lives outside Frankfurt am Main. She is a member of PEN-Germany and the New Zealand Society of Authors and is presently preparing Voicetracks: Selected Poems, her ninth book.


Reviews & Comments:

  1. AUP, "New New Zealand Poets in Performance." forthcoming (24/6/08):

    The third in the Poets in Performance series, this book collects the work of a new generation of poets - from Anne Kennedy to Glenn Colquhoun, Jenny Bornholdt to Robert Sullivan - who came to prominence in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s. These poets are notable for their variety, their distinctive voices and their fresh approaches to poetic form and subject. As in Classic and Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance, Ross and Kemp have selected and presented on two CDs material from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive, completed in 2004. There are more than two hours of poets reading their own work and the accompanying book prints the texts of the poems as they have been read. Selected bibliographies and short biographies for each poet and an appendix of variant readings are also included.

  2. Jessica Le Bas, "The joy of rhythm and rhyme." Nelson Mail (16/7/08):

    Jack Ross and Jan Kemp have edited a series, New Zealand Poets in Performance, each year now since 2006 - first classic poets, then contemporary poets. This month sees the launch of another, New New Zealand Poets in Performance (Auckland University Press, $44.99), heralding new voices in the poetry scene.

    What makes this series attractive is that each book comes with two CDs of the poets reading a selection of their work. Now you can stay home, with your cognac and your fire roaring (heat pump doesn't seem to have the same poetic cadence, does it?), and listen to Allen Curnow reading The Skeleton of the Great Moa, or Denis Glover reading his quintessential Magpies.

    There's Baxter and Hunt in this series, C K Stead and O'Sullivan, to name a few good poets. In this latest collection, you can hear Glenn Colquhoun and Jenny Bornholdt. What better place to start sampling New Zealand Poetry?

  3. Jennifer Little, "Poetry CDs an alternative to Talkback Radio." Massey News (16/7/08):

    Compact disc recordings in a new anthology of New Zealand's hottest new poets promise to engage a wide audience, including those who are not “poetry fiends”, says one of its co-editors Massey English lecturer Dr Jack Ross ...

    “A lot of people might want to try listening to the poems while they're in the car driving to work," Dr Ross says. "Instead of talkback radio, why not open up to some new ideas with a poem?”

    The book follows Classic New Zealand Poets in Performance and Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance and brings together 28 young to mid-career poets, including Anne Kennedy, Jenny Bornholdt, Glenn Colquhoun and Andrew Johnston, to celebrate “the rich jangle of clashing ideas, voices, genders that combine to make a living culture”, Dr Ross says in his introduction.

  4. Peter Dornauf, "Tuning into Mid-career Poets." Waikato Times (2/8/08):

    This volume and CDs, along with the other two companions, will make a very useful, worthwhile addition to secondary and tertiary libraries as well as to the libraries of individual dedicated followers of lyrical fashion.

  5. "New New Zealand Poets in Performance." Unity Books Spring Newsletter (20/8/08):

    A companion to classy, bestselling anthologies Classic New Zealand Poets in Performance and Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance, this new collection features 28 young and mid-career poets notable for variety, freshness, IQ and distinctiveness and presents material from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive (includes 2 CDs).

  6. Pat White, "A Delight for Poetry Lovers." Wairarapa Times (20/8/08):

    This volume brings to a close the most thorough survey of New Zealand poetry ever undertaken. Three volumes have been published with material gleaned from a comprehensive ctalogue of poets reading their work which has been stored as the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive ...

    The volume is attractively printed, with an easily used layout, all work is referenced and accompanied by biographical notes. Any reader of poetry will find this sequence of publications an essential reference, quite apart form a very satisfying access point to much that is best in New Zealand poets writing at their best.

    Without a doubt the monumental task Kemp and Ross set themselves must have grown to something more than they imagined possible. Now however, the results speak for themselves. We have a very valuable progress report on the state of poetry, for the delight of this country's poetry lovers, and the use of its students. as editors Kemp and Ross deserve the nation's thanks for a task completed well.

  7. Margaret Christensen, "New New Zealand Poets in Performance." Wairarapa Times-Age (23/8/08):

    Editors Ross and Kemp here continue the excellent selections they have made, along with archival CDs, in the past few years. ... All together the collections mine work which gives an overview in both sight and
    sound of the topography of poetry in this country.
    All of the poets included have quite impressive track records of publication in this country and overseas. They have won many awards, which are handily documented at the end of each poet's selection - which is very useful for students of our literature, both now and later.
    Crises have obviously occurred in these lives but the reader can only guess at the triggering circumstances. That does not necessarily mean that the reader is left bewildered, just aware.

  8. "New New Zealand Poets in Performance." Art News reviews (Spring 08) (27/8/08):

    There's no doubt that hearing poetry read aloud is a much more physical, dynamic and dramatic experience that brings the rhythm, tone and rhyme of the medium to the fore. In this multi-media publication, which includes two CDs of poets in performance mostly taken from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive, established in 2004 by poet Jan Kemp, the reader has the best of both worlds. the third in a series of 'New Zealand Poets in performance', this features the voices of 28 of New Zealand's young to mid-career poets, including Kate Camp, Anne Kennedy, Gregory O'Brien and James Brown, whose quirky, irreverent poem about seeing Elvis "just walking across the quad in no particular hurry" is a gem. Two hours of poets reading their work, accompanied by the text of each poem, makes this a treat for poetry lovers.

  9. Trevor Reeves, "New New Zealand Poets in Performance." Southern Ocean Review (2008):

    164 pages of anthology again (third time) of the poets in performance, with two nice cd's to play with the actual poets reading their work. This time there are some South Island poets in there, including Richard Reeve who is making a big name for himself as an establishment poet. Also Jenny Powell-Chalmers writing about Dunedin (good on her) with 'Carnival of Chocolate'. Ideal for reading aloud, and she does read well. Even trivia like “Lunch Box' sounds good read. Nick Ascroft is in there too. New Zealand is bountifully supplied with bright new poets making their mark now. When you have nothing much to write about, you can make even the most mundane sound brilliantly exciting, as in 'The Badder & the Better'. I liked Anne Kennedy's poem: 'I was a feminist in the eighties', ending: “Then a lion came prowling out of the jungle / and ate the feminist all up”. David Howard writes competently and his work sounds good read out, quite entertaining in fact. James Brown is good…. entertaining stuff, especially 'Loneliness', about Elvis Presley. Unpretentious, funny, great. A full book of very competent practitioners of the poetic arts, and nice to listen to, too.

  10. Sam Finnemore, "Books: New New Zealand Poets in Performance." Craccum 16 (2008):

    As with the last two instalments, Jack Ross and Jan Kemp have chosen smartly from the 2004 Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Archive, and there's so much to enjoy here: highlights include Robert Sullivan's remarkable 'Star Waka' poems; Anna Jackson's breathy delivery of razor sharp verse; John Pule, Tusiata Avia and James Brown. It's a useful chance to reassess certain poets too; Glenn Colquhoun, who I'd never particularly rated on the page since Playing God, comes across notably well both in the book and on CD.

    Both the book and the recordings come across as distinctly fresh and modern, and the editors have clearly achieved their goal; of creating a clear identity for each volume of the Poets in Performance trilogy. The combination of book and CD is effective as ever; iPod users can sift the audio around usefully while keeping the original discs safely nested inside the book itself, for this is going to be a book worth taking care of. New New Zealand Poets in Performance makes a solid end to Ross and Kemp's series, a smart package well-chosen from a huge range of material and likely to have enduring value as a poetic snapshot of the now. Highly recommended.

  11. Richard Reeve, "Review of Jack Ross and Jan Kemp (eds), Classic, Contemporary and New New Zealand Poets in Performance (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2006-8)." Poetry NZ 38 (2009): 101-6.

    Ross and Kemp’s editorial selection is eclectic, pragmatic and personal, with gems in all three books. ...

    As a unit, New Zealand Poets in Peformance does give a sense of the voice enshrined of different epochs and cultures and, importantly, the volumes illustrate continuity (as distinct from ‘progress’, which in poetry is no longer a permissible concept) in the passage from Brasch and Curnow to Olivia Macassey and Mark Pirie, with the artform surviving all critical prescriptions from all times, cheating attempts to pin it down. Hearing poets reading their work often changes one’s impression of the text. In several cases, what at first glance seem to be bad poems on the page are transformed by a poet’s voice into powerful, acutely realised poetic moments, while other poems that impress at first reading come across as flat and uninspired when delivered by the author. This exemplifies the enigma of what constitutes ‘voice’ in poetry: some well-loved, celebrated poets are dry performers of their work, yet few would say they don’t have a voice. To the editors’ lasting credit, their compilation presents many such faces of poetry, with surprises that warrant returning to again and again to savour. That, in the end, is the most anyone can ask for.

  12. Helen Dennis, "Review of Chris Orsman, The Lakes of Mars (AUP, 2008); Sam Sampson, everything talks (AUP, 2008); Bob Orr, Calypso (AUP, 2008); Sonja Yelich Get Some (AUP, 2008); New New Zealand Poets in Performance, ed. Jack Ross & Jan Kemp (AUP, 2008); Richard Reeve, In Continents (AUP, 2008); Leonard Lambert, Skywire (Steele Roberts, 2008)." The Warwick Review (March 2009): 61-72 [66-67]:

    [Jack Ross & Jan Kemp (eds), New New Zealand Poets in Performance (Auckland University Press, 2008), ISBN 978-1-86940-409-3, 146 pp, NZ$44.95 (pb)]

    ... Both [Sonja] Yelich and Richard Reeve are featured in the compendious collection of New New Zealand Poets in Performance. The debate continues in poetry circles as to the necessity and point of poets performing their own work, with some declaring that if the poem works properly on the page, i.e. if the poet's craft is up to the job, then performance is totally unnecessary. On the other hand, others believe that the poetic text is somewhat like a musical score waiting to be interpreted and performed by the poet, who is thus both "composer" and "instrumentalist". I tend towards the latter view, depending on the type of poetry. Certainly New New Zealand Poets in Performance is a delightful introduction to a wide diversity of new New Zealand poetic voices, and given the differences between received English pronunciation in the UK and kiwi English, it is extremely useful to have the poets' own voices interpreting their works on two CDs here. Twenty-eight young and mid-career poets are represented, so it is impossible to give many name checks; but listen to the cumulative humour of the first poem, "I was a Feminist in the eighties" by Anne Kennedy, and I swear you'll be hooked!

  13. Allan Phillipson, "Review of Jack Ross and Jan Kemp (eds), New New Zealand Poets in Performance, (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2008), pp. 162 (plus two CDs), ISBN-13: 978-1-86940-409-3.” CNZS Bulletin of New Zealand Studies 2 (2009):

    I can remember seeing John Newton’s “Ferret Trap” (p. 13) for the first time in 1988, in Mark Williams’ Caxton Press Anthology: New Zealand Poetry 1972-1986. The poem gave me a sense of recognition and unease, the rural environment captured (“the chooks in the macrocarpas”) and twisted (“sheep’s heart jammed on a nail”). Twenty years later, hearing Newton’s South Island Gothic as I drive through the Devon countryside, I almost missed my turnoff as the sound took me back to my grandfather’s woolshed: the rusty rabbit traps, the nooses of bailing twine, the greasy creak of the gates. In his preface, Ross advises us to take these poems and “listen to them in the car” (p. xii), but I say no – the process is too distracting, too dangerous.

    This series has done an immense amount of good in preserving and disseminating the voices of our writers. The value of hearing poets read cannot be underestimated. From the clipped, almost British tones of Allen Curnow in volume one, to the ‘Mad Kiwi Ranter’ persona of David Eggleton in volume two, each of the recordings reflect and illuminate an aspect of our history. Ross stated that poets to come would have their own “virtual reality webcasts” (p. ix), and implied that this series would come to an end with volume three. I fervently hope that this is not the case, and that both the Poetry Sound Archive and its publications will continue.

  14. Green, Paula, & Harry Ricketts. 99 Ways into NZ Poetry. A Vintage Book (Auckland: Random House New Zealand, 2010):

    As a follow-up to the impressive efforts of Jan Kemp, Jonathan Lamb and Alan Smythe to record as many major New Zealand poets as possible (1974), Kemp and Smythe decided to establish a more expansive archive of spoken poetry (2002). The final result, the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive, is in the Special Collections at the University of Auckland and includes 171 poets. This comprehensive project allowed poets twenty minutes each and CD space for complementary material such as bibliographies and images. With a copy of the archive now deposited at the Alexander Turnbull Library, the significance of listening to poetry is made more tangible with access to the reading or performance of a considerable number of New Zealand poets now available. One offshoot of the archival project is a series of anthologies published by Auckland University Press that allow a poetry audience to both read and hear poems by key New Zealand poets. Edited by Kemp and Jack Ross, the anthologies are grouped in chronological clusters: Classic New Zealand Poets in Performance, Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance and New New Zealand Poets in Performance. One can hear the shift in the reading styles over generations, from the earlier tones of poets such as A R D Fairburn, R A K Mason, Charles Brasch and Allen Curnow (lofty, polite and rhapsodic) to the more conversational qualities (mellifluous, lyrical or downbeat) of contemporary poets as diverse as David Howard, Andrew Johnston, Mark Pirie, Sonja Yelich and Kate Camp. [Paula Green, 'Performing the Poem', pp.267-68].

  15. Harvey Molloy, "Review of New New Zealand Poets in Performance Eds Jack Ross & Jan Kemp (Auckland University Press, 2008). RRP $45.00 ISBN 978 1 86940 409 3.” New Zealand Poetry Society Te Hunga Tito Ruri o Aotearoa (n.d.):

    I've greatly enjoyed the previous two books in this series, Classic New Zealand Poets in Performance and Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance. Each book in the series features two CDs of the poets reading their works. This means that you can, as I did, listen to the poems whilst you're driving around and then check out the printed poems in the book. Each book is attractively designed with an excellent cover - the cover of wild, fractal paisley designs from Sarah Hughes' Never Let Me Go shows the very good visual taste of the editors which has run through the series.

    I don't particular suffer from selection anxiety, so I'm looking for a good anthology with some enjoyable poems, rather than a clever introduction, and this selection from poets such as Jack Ross, James Brown, Kapka Kassabova, Mark Pirie, Olivia Macassey and Richard Reeve, delivers. The "New New Zealand poets" are the new already greying kids on the block and includes anyone who is 'young or mid-career' and born after 1959.

    I had a lot of fun listening blind to the CDs. I played them three times on the car stereo before I read the book. The poems seem to flow into one another, as if they were one great long poem spoken by different voices ...

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