Short Poems of New Zealand
Victoria University Press, $38.95 hb, 175 pp, 9781776562022
A new anthology of bite-sized New Zealand poems is freshly out from Victoria University Press. VUP is the Wellington-based publisher closely associated with the University’s renowned creative writing school, known affectionately (or pejoratively, depending on your affiliation) as ‘The Bill Manhire School’. The anthology is edited by former NZ Poet Laureate Jenny Bornholdt, a softly spoken giant of New Zealand letters who has been writing lauded poems of deceptive simplicity and depth since she first took Manhire’s class in 1984.
Bornholdt’s self-imposed rules for the anthology were to select poems of nine lines or fewer. Six lines felt too restrictive; ten, somehow, too roomy to be ‘properly short’. What is it, then, that a short poem can accomplish, that longer poems can’t, or don’t?