part one of this interview is here
What ideas are you trying to interrogate with your writing?
A lot of people would say that writing, especially poetry, is about expressing feelings. To me it’s more about processing the things that I read, the ideas I am exposed to, as opposed to just my own personal experiences. It’s much more about reacting to the world than it is about creating something from nothing. You can see in my writing that I’m always referring to earlier works, material I’ve read which I absorb and then it ends up in my poetry.
At 8 o’clock this morning
Brighton is quiet
but not deserted.
The waves are persistent as always,
licking the shoreline
and teasing those wading
in the shallows.
Digging my feet in the sand
and braving the seafoam
makes me feel alive.
I think about how getting cold feet
means backing out.
My feet are cold and my eyes
are wide open.
I see 5 girls strip off
and run across the dunes
towards the sea.
For all the seagulls know
their clothes are a creature
washed up on the sand.
Shirts and jeans and socks tangled
like some leviathan from the Pacific,
tossed up by a merciless sea.
I think if I end up dead on a beach
some day, that would be alright.
The girls are shrieking now
and dunking their heads in the water.
Your work seems very layered. Would that be reasonable to say?
Yes. There’s immediate meanings and then more layered thoughts and I spend a lot of time working on that side of the process. I don’t tend to do spoken word or slam, it’s more about how it looks on the page for me. I spend time playing with line breaks and figuring out how the poem will read to others. I try to select my words so they all have weight, or add more nuance to the piece.
Given there is a move towards raw lived experience poetry, especially in the spoken word scene, do you feel, especially at your age, you are bending against the wind?
I think my approach is quite a Kiwi thing, actually. We tend to be, generally, quite humble and so for us it’s less about ourselves and more about the things we read and the ideas we come across. I know we have a really close knit poetry community in New Zealand, in Christchurch especially, and everybody is in it together. We’re all sharing ideas, bouncing off each other, being supportive of each other.
Flight of the Discus
Apollo’s hands, were they warm?
They threw you,
and the West Wind caught you
snatched you hungrily
in his arms as a lover might,
though you were not the object of his affections.
His plan: fueled by envy
and a tempestuous rage,
whispered through the rushes
and along the ripples in the brook.
As you drifted over the meadow
the flowers stared with wide eyes.
Maybe your regret was fleeting
when you swung towards
your destination, as surely as Eros
shot his bow—only your collision
was not love, it was blood and broken bone
and Hyacinthus fell.
Lying still in the morning light
he turned the petals crimson.
The West Wind fled,
fearing the heat of the sun’s wrath.
Apollo thought he was the guilty one,
does it bother you?
Were you an accomplice or simply the weapon?
Sunshine fell in teardrops
on the scene of the crime.
Hyacinth the boy was no more
but up sprang the flower
rooted in his resting place.
part three of this interview is here