As I mentioned in an earlier posting, the New Zealand Poetry Society runs an annual competition with sections for open verse and haiku as well as categories for younger writers under 18 years of age.
Each year, winning and selected poems from the competition are published in an anthology. The 2019 anthology is The Perfect Weight of Blankets at Night, edited by Raewyn Alexander and published by the New Zealand Poetry Society.
While the New Zealand competition invites entries from anywhere in the world, and many poems address universal themes, I do enjoy the opportunity to engage with those poems that bring a distinctly New Zealand flavour. Having had the pleasure of judging the adult haiku entries in 2019, I was able to read all the entries including those offering a taste of Kiwi wildlife and culture. For example, this haiku by Nola Borrell was Highly Commended:
the new beach slumpy
Marion Moxham’s poem, If I had been born a pohutukawa, was Commended in the open verse section. A pohutukawa is a large evergreen tree that produces bright red blooms in the (southern hemisphere) summer. The poem also references Waitangi where the Treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and Māori chiefs was first signed in 1840. The initial stanza of the poem is packed with references to Māori culture as well as New Zealand flora, fauna and history:
If I had been born a pohutukawa at Waitangi
I should know my tikanga. How to be here?
Should I feel love for all who come:
kowhai, kaka beak, cabbage tree, totara,
and what comes from the sea? Waka powhiri?
Why should I be standing and three flagstaffs felled?
This is interesting verse even when you don’t understand all the terms used, but it comes alive when you do a little research and begin to learn the meaning of those words that are unfamiliar. I’m sure anyone who takes the time to do so will find it rewarding.
If you wish to read more New Zealand poetry:
. the 2019 anthology, The Perfect Weight of Blankets at Night, is available here;
. my earlier post on the 2019 New Zealand haiku competition is here; and
. my post on the 2019 New Zealand haiku anthology, Number Eight Wire, is here.