Size doesn’t matter … even in poetry

December 11, 2011
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99 Ways Into New Zealand Poetry, by Paula Green and Harry Ricketts (Vintage, RRP $44.99):

This massive 624-page beast of a book looks a little daunting at first glance but don’t let the size of the thing put you off.

New Zealand has a diverse range of very talented people who have produced some amazing poetry, both in the past and right now. This diverse talent is celebrated in 99 Ways Into New Zealand Poetry.

This is an anthology that really does offer dozens of ways to approach poetry.

Here in New Zealand, our poets have developed their own special Kiwi flavour and as new poets come along it’s interesting to read their work and have the “aha” moment as you pinpoint just which Kiwi poet has been their influence.

Being a small country and being part of the Commonwealth, naturally many other fields in the arts have been influenced by other countries.

However, poetry seems to be an area where New Zealand had its own identity from the start.

This book features more than 80 poems from various New Zealand writers and looks at elements such as form and effect to understanding context and identity.

Written by two distinguished New Zealand poets, it makes the information accessible to everyone from the reluctant reader to the avid fan.

I realised a few years ago that I was in the minority when it came to my enjoyment of poetry: most of my friends have only read what was required at school and since then the occasional rude rhyming ditty forwarded by email.

However, this is the perfect book to re-introduce ourselves to the joy of good poetry.

Weighing in at a whopping 1.3kg, it’s not a book you’ll be wanting to read cover-to-cover in one sitting but you will find yourself dipping into it over and over again. It’s a fantastic book for those who are already fans of poetry and for those who aren’t yet convinced.

Jillian Allison-Aitken

I come from the other land down under, where men are men, and sheep are nervous. I'm a sub-editor and in the past have been a proof-reader, news editor and web editor. I am also an ex-columnist, and book and software reviewer for the local daily newspaper.I still read. A lot. And surf the web. Also a lot.You'll find a little about both of those pastimes here, and on By George.

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