Powerful collections from NZ poets

Two brilliant books were launched at the New Zealand Festival recently, writes Hamesh Wyatt.

Anna Jackson
Auckland University Press

Chris Tse
Auckland University Press

Both Anna Jackson and Chris Tse have a belief in the power of poetry.

Anna Jackson's Pasture and Flock: New & Selected Poems is divided into three parts. The first is a series of six sequences from a number of collections Jackson has produced. Part two comprises 38 selected poems that capture the full quality of this sincere poet. The final part is 25 new poems that continue her relentless humour. Who else would see James K. Baxter as the whale?

For Jackson, climate and environment are important, and she has often referenced specific books and writers that have helped shape her ideas. Each poem is like a miniature treasure trove.

Her poems have weight, and so much truth.


It seems that this time I have been mistaken

I find the children the Bible but

they want to see the holes -

even after I tell

them the difference

between holy and holey.

They tell me God

put them there, you just

can't see them, you have to trust

they are there. That's

the challenge.

And God, I say, does

God believe in our holes too?

I've lost heart but

I'm keeping my balance.

Jackson has worked with local poet Jenny Powell and I would have loved to read an introduction from one of her biggest fans. This book should be twice as long. Perhaps I am just being greedy. Jackson is one woman full of fire, wisdom and empathy.


He's so MASC is Chris Tse's powerful second collection of poems. His first collection How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes concentrated on a shocking murder back in 1905.

This time around, Tse confronts a contemporary world of self-loathing, poets and compulsive liars. There are poems about youth and sexual identity.

The author comes across as a character, pop star, actor and hit man. There is a sense of hyper-masculine romanticism. Many readers may cringe, but this really works.

Highlights include The saddest song in the world and check out the Grease feel of Summer nights with knife fights:


This is where you look up from your screens

to watch me thrashing around

in a dream sequence -

Tell me more, tell me more ...


These poems are delicate, strong, obscure and direct.

- Hamesh Wyatt lives in Bluff. He reads and writes poetry.


Win a copy

The Weekend Mix has three copies each of Anna Jackson and Chris Tse’s collections, courtesy of Auckland University Press, to give away. For your chance to win a copy, email playtime@odt.co.nz with your name and postal address in the body of the email and either ‘‘Pasture’’ or ‘‘Masc’’ in the subject line, by Tuesday, April 17.


Winners of the draw for copies of Scythe, by Neal Shusterman, courtesy of Walker Books, were: Bogunia Moore, of Waitati, J.M. Dodd, Scott Bezett, and Leslie Aitcheson, of Dunedin, and Alexa Craig, of Balclutha.


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