Young Wellington poet recreates women in history

Poet Nina Powles will speak at the 6 Poets in 60 Minutes event at Unity Books for National Poetry Day.
CAITLIN SALTER/FAIRFAX NZ

Poet Nina Powles will speak at the 6 Poets in 60 Minutes event at Unity Books for National Poetry Day.

A young poet will share stories of women in history as part of National Poetry Day events.

Masters student Nina Powles, 22, already has a published collection of poems and a series of poetry readings under her belt.

She will be speaking at two National Poetry Day events on August 28.

Powles is completing her masters in creative writing at the Institute of Modern Letters.

Lecturer Anna Jackson was so impressed by Powles' poetry she introduced her to publisher Helen Rickerby.

Powles' first collection, Girls of the Drift, was released last December.

Being invited to speak at National Poetry Day was a huge honour, she said. 

Public speaking and performing have never been strong points for Powles and learning how to read her poems in public was a new experience.

When she started doing poetry readings this year she was too nervous to enjoy the experience, but now she is learning to see the positive side.

"I still get nervous, but people are really kind and some people will come up afterwards and say I really touched them or they found something memorable," she said.

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Reading her poems aloud has taught Powles to become more aware of the sound of poetry when she writes it.

When she was writing the poems for her collection she thought of them being read silently, but with her new work she considers sound and rhythm.

A recurring theme of Powles' work is women in New Zealand history and literature, with a particular interest in Katherine Mansfield.

Powles said she liked to re-imagine stories of women she wished she had been taught about at school.

The women featured in her work include scientist Beatrice Tinsley, early settler Betty Guard, and Phyllis Porter, a young dancer who died when her dress caught fire at the Wellington Opera House in 1923.

Powles is one of the poets speaking at the National Poetry Day event 6 Poets in 60 Minutes at Unity Books on August 28 at noon.

 - The Wellingtonian

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