Southern connection in highly recommended poetry collection

February 24, 2015
By

The Night The Rat Stepped Out,
poems by Gary Elford, artwork by Tui Johnson (RRP $20):

Christchurch based poet Gary Elford taught at three different schools on the Regent Street site now occupied by Aurora College, Invercargill, for 16 years, so many of you will know him.

I thoroughly enjoyed this, his second poetry collection. The poems are evocative of the south. Several days since reading, these are the ones I remember best:

  • A tribute to Bill Todd and the skill of the auctioneer, also a memorial to the auction house now no longer in use. Many of us will remember Friday afternoons there with pleasure. It’s a pity my own children will never experience this.
  • His speech when he left Aurora College. Witty and insightful as well as nostalgic.
  • Evenings spent at Niagara in the Catlins to celebrate Scottish poet Robbie Burns, with an accomplished piper, an address to the haggis and plenty of said delicacy to go around. One such evening made more fun by the appearance of the rat from the collection’s title.

There are fourteen poems in all, each with a small introduction. Superb drawings by  Southland, now residing in Cromwell, born artist Tui Johnson make them even more evocative. The pair also collaborated on the aforementioned first collection, Beneath the Sugarloaf.

You can order either title at www.garyelford.com or by emailing Gary as above. Highly recommended.

Naida Mulligan

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