Is Christchurch the Motown of New Zealand poetry?

Cover of The Summer King Christchurch poet Joanna Preston has recently launched her first collection. The first-ever winner of the University of Otago’s Kathleen Grattan award, Preston is an Australian living in New Zealand who describes herself as a “tasmanaut”.

Ahead of her performance with Frankie MacMillan at the Central Library on Friday, I spoke with her about daily visits to her bookcase, the vagaries of the writing process and why she calls Christchurch the Motown of New Zealand poetry.  Read the interview.

The local scene is pretty healthy, she reckons. What do you think – is Christchurch a big player on the poetry scene? Does geography make a difference to the poetry?  Or is poetry all a bit flaky for your tastes?

Have a read of the interview, then lob your comment like a poetic grenade!

Preston also has her own blog, A Dark Feathered Art.

8 thoughts on “Is Christchurch the Motown of New Zealand poetry?

  1. zackids 19 August 2009 / 1:51 pm

    Personally I don’t really get alot of poetry. Now and again I find something I like but I prefer it to be rhyming and fun as opposed to rambling stream of consciousness.

  2. Jopre 19 August 2009 / 2:34 pm

    Hi Zackids,
    I know exactly what you mean.

    But there’s plenty of modern poetry out there that does both – have you tried Wendy Cope or Carol Ann Duffy? And Christchurch’s own Frankie McMillan and James Norcliffe both write some gloriously zany poetry – it doesn’t tend to rhyme in the “moon/spoon/June” sense, but there’s plenty of music in it. And there’s less of the “rambling stream of consciousness” stuff around than there used to be.
    It’s like music – there’s plenty of boybands and manufactured pop, and gangsta rappers. But there are also plenty of quirky interesting voices, who create things that you want to carry around and listen to forever. It’s just a matter of finding them – don’t give up on it yet!


    • zackids 19 August 2009 / 3:38 pm

      Thanks Joanna. I haven’t given up yet and I’ll keep on the look out for something that will strike the right chord with me. I’ll definitely try some of your recommendations.

  3. Andrew Neill 20 August 2009 / 1:33 pm


    Imho, you could do a lot worse than look at Joanna’s own collection, The Summer King. There’s some mighty fine poems in there, with plenty of internal rhyme (the subtle kind) and a strong rhythm. Powerful stuff.

  4. Helen 20 August 2009 / 7:31 pm

    Yes, I love Zackid’s way of putting it – “striking the right chord” is the thing. I used to struggle with poetry, I thought I must be dense. But I have in recent years found poetry that I do relate to. Anna Jackson is one, and it’s surely because she writes of family and domestic things. I’ve also very much enjoyed Glen Colqohoun.

  5. Jeremy 31 August 2009 / 5:02 pm

    If I was born there ( i was !! ) it must be . Presently exiled in Auckland but here’s hoping .
    a little entree ( entry ? ) :
    ‘stream IV

    don’t float
    Neither do circles
    in a moat
    But paddle
    from sure to sure


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s