Joan Fleming reviews 'Short Poems of New Zealand' edited by Jenny Bornholdt

Joan Fleming reviews 'Short Poems of New Zealand' edited by Jenny Bornholdt

Short Poems of New Zealand

by Jenny Bornholdt

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?

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Joan Fleming

Joan Fleming

Joan Fleming is the author of two books of poetry, both published by Victoria University Press, Failed Love Poems (2015) and The Same as Yes (2011), and the chapbook Two Dreams in Which Things Are Taken (Duets, 2010). She has recently completed a creative thesis in ethnopoetics, and currently lives in Madrid.

Photograph © Limbo Agency

Published in April 2019, no. 410

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