A wave of women’s voices carry Best New Zealand Poems


The latest edition of the online anthology Best New Zealand Poems is now live, featuring 25 poems chosen by Dunedin-based novelist, poet, playwright, and non-fiction author Fiona Farrell.

The International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) at Victoria University of Wellington has published the anthology annually since 2001, with support from Creative New Zealand.

While reading thousands of poems to make her selection, Ms Farrell says she found that women—especially young women—are leading the charge in New Zealand poetry, a seismic shift from the invisibility and inaudibility of women poets in her own youth. “But it’s not just that poets are women, or young, but that their poems have something to say and they say it well,” she says.

For the first time, this year’s collection features a poem in both English and te reo M?ori. Ms Farrell says Alice Te Punga Somerville’s ‘R?kau’ is ‘a perfectly-judged metaphor for the pain of finding words’. It appears side-by-side with its translation by Te Ataahia Hurihanganui, and both versions are available to listen to on the website.

Series editor and IIML senior lecturer Chris Price says high energy performances from popular younger writers such as Hera Lindsay Bird and Tayi Tibble are met and matched by more established figures such as Jenny Bornholdt and Tusiata Avia, who are at the top of their game.

“The 25 poems give us experiences that feel familiar or unsettling—sometimes both at once. They ponder parenthood and dogs, romance and rugby, race and gender, identity and belonging,” says Ms Price. “Water is a recurring theme: skinny dipping and hot-pool soaking; late night swimming and a bittersweet seaside fantasy starring 90s grunge god Eddie Vedder.” 

Alongside the launch of Best New Zealand Poems 2018, Ms Price says the IIML is pleased to announce all previous issues of Best New Zealand Poems can now be accessed on the new website. “It’s a fantastic resource for anyone who is keen to find out more about New Zealand poetry.”

Best New Zealand Poems 2018 can be viewed online at www.bestnewzealandpoems.org.nz.

For more information contact IIML senior lecturer Chris Price on chris.price@vuw.ac.nz.



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