Taranaki writer among 20 poets chosen to celebrate National Poetry Day

Elizabeth Smither has been chosen as 1 of 20 poets to celebrate National Poetry Day.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Elizabeth Smither has been chosen as 1 of 20 poets to celebrate National Poetry Day.

Poet Elizabeth Smither​ says she writes like a "wild animal".

"I'm not like someone like Allen Curnow who would go over every line two or three times, before moving to the next line," the New Plymouth based poet and novelist said.

"I write really quickly, I tend to write like a wild animal."

Elizabeth Smither's poem 'Miss Bowerman and the hot water bottles' will be used to celebrate the day. It's based on her ...
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Elizabeth Smither's poem 'Miss Bowerman and the hot water bottles' will be used to celebrate the day. It's based on her mother who was entrusted to tighten hot water bottle while working at Government House in Melbourne.

It is hard for the reader to tell if a poem is written at pace, or slow over a long time, she said.

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Unlike prose, poetry can get away with being corrected by another set of eyes.

"It is a condensed form of writing and editors are wary of interfering, so there is not the same rigour imposed on poems as there is in prose."

A poem of Smither's titled 'Miss Bowerman​ and the hot water bottles' has been selected to celebrate the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Day on Friday.

She is one of 20 New Zealand poets included in the list compiled by billboard publishers, Phantom Billstickers.

Among the list are Bill Manhire, Vincent O'Sullivan, and Jenny Bornholdt​.

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"It's lovely to be chosen to have a poem for National Poetry Day," she said.

Smither chose the poem from a recent collection titled 'Night Horse', released in 2016.

Smither said she liked writing poems which told a story, and this was the story of her mother working in Government House in Melbourne.

Her mother, Miss Barrowman, was a petite woman who was known to have very strong wrists, she said.

Because of this trait she was the only member of the staff who was entrusted to tighten the hot water bottles for vice regals and other dignitaries who came to stay, Smithers said.

The last thing you would want is the Duke of Norfolk to wake up in the morning with a wet bed.

"They were terrified the hot water bottles would come undone during the night."

As part of the poetry day celebration Smither has chosen a poem by Paekakariki-based poet Rob Hack titled 'Almost a Buddhist'.

Hack was mentored by Smither while studying at Whitireia Polytechnic.

"It's a charming poem by Rob who is a interesting and warm person to meet," Smither said.

Poetry is a thriving art and was attracting more followers, she said.

"It is a deeper form of language than prose and it shows the power of language."

Phantom Billstickers had revolutionised how poems were published by reproducing verse onto posters to be stuck to lamp posts and building walls, she said.

Poetry could be now seen anywhere, not just in books and magazines, or on a website.

Smither has had poems published in the United States and Asia through Phantom Billstickers.

"I recently saw a photo of a young camel driver hitching his camel to a watering post, on the Pakistan Indian border, reading one of my poems, 'The heart heals itself between beats'.

 - Taranaki Daily News

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