Local poets have works chosen for book

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Honour for North Canterbury poets . . . Bernadette Hall and Jason Clements have both had poems chosen for Best New Zealand Poems 2018.

By Shelley Topp

A love poem written by Bernadette Hall for her husband, John, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary has been chosen as one of New Zealand’s best poems.

Poem six from Fancy Dancing, an unfinished sonnet sequence the Amberley Beach resident is writing, has been included in Best New Zealand Poems 2018, the latest edition of the annual anthology which was published last month.

Bernadette’s poem was one of two written by North Canterbury poets to be chosen for the anthology.

Waimakariri Libraries learning connections co-ordinator Jason Clements, who writes under the pen name Doc Drumheller, and is publisher and editor of the literary arts journal Catalyst, also has a poem in the anthology.

His work, Guangzhou City Haiku, was written during an 18-hour layover in Guangzhou City, China, when he was returning to New Zealand after a poetry tour in Europe.

Both poets say it is a huge honour to have their work chosen for Best New Zealand Poems 2018.

The anthology series editor, Chris Price, says the aim is to introduce readers in New Zealand and overseas to leading contemporary New Zealand poets.

“The poems are chosen to show the vitality and range of current writing,” he says.

It is the first time Jason has had his work included in the anthology, but Bernadette has been a regular since the first edition in 2001. She edited the 2011 edition.

Every year the anthology has a different editor. The latest edition was edited by Dunedin fiction writer, playwright and poet Fiona Farrell, who said personal taste was unavoidable in the selections she made.

“I like technical bravura. I enjoy seeing a poet step out onto the skinny blade of reason, juggling words while maintaining perfect balance.”

While reading through the thousands of poems submitted to make her selections, Fiona found that women, especially young women, are leading the charge in New Zealand poetry.

This represented a “seismic shift from the invisibility and inaudibility of women poets” in her own youth, she says

All of the work chosen for the latest edition are required to have been published elsewhere before selection, which means the anthology also provides huge New Zealand and international recognition for the publishers of those books.Bernadette’s poem was first published last year in volume five of New Zealand’s first erotic journal, Aotearotica, while Guangzhou City Haiku was published in Catalyst.

  • Best NZ Poems is an on-line anthology. All back issues are available free, along with comments and biographies.