Tuesday, October 26, 2010

These I have loved

New Zealand poet and anthologist Harvey McQueen has just released a treasure of an anthology.

Harvey McQueen has chosen his favourite 100 poems, and many of my own favourites appear in his list, and I've met a few new ones, so I'm really enjoying comparing his choices across New Zealand poetry in time and space, to mine. If I ever had to choose 100 NZ poems myself, say for my exile on a desert island, many will be the same.

He's selected several poems each from the "greats" of NZ poetry, such as Curnow, Baxter, Frame and Tuwhare.

As usual, some of my favourites (poets and poems) are missing, but I don't feel that diminishes this book in any way; the editor makes clear it's a personal choice, and his taste is so excellent who would quibble? (Except perhaps for the omission of work by the wonderful Kendrick Smithyman who in my opinion should never be left out.)

The book is divided into thematic sections with illuminating small introductions explaining and celebrating McQueen's selections.

He has chosen 5 poems from Janet Frame, lovely choices.

This book will be for me a delightful companion volume to the indispensable but rather heavier 99 Ways into NZ poetry I reviewed recently. Loved is more easily held (as it is a smaller, lighter book) and I have already found it suitable for quiet moments of contemplation on the sunny back step at breakfast, or for peaceful perusal of a few poems before bedtime.

It would be an ideal volume to use while trying to memorise some more of Godzone's classic poems - a lost lamented practice. I nearly know Bill Manhire's heart-breaking Erebus Voices poem off by heart, and wish I could recite Ruth Dallas's 'Milking before Dawn' also. Many of us Kiwis can chant along with Baxter's High Country Weather, and some of Sam's and Hone's pieces.

And Quardle oodle ardle is not all there is to the Magpies - it's a dreadful hopeless tale!

Meanwhile the erudite 99 Ways is also never far away, as I continue to dip through all the sections.

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