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Poetry by Briar Wood

Author(s): Briar Wood

Journal: MAI Review
ISSN 1177-5904

Volume: 2010;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2010;
Original page

My poetry is often about moving to and from and between places. There’s a tension between the fantasy and longing about living in one place for long periods in a deeply connected way,which I might have achieved occasionally and the desire to keep moving, an interest in the variety of the world that I think most people understand. Locations, people, plants animals,language and events are all a frequent focus in the writing. Te reo Māori language has been extremely important – growing up in Aotearoa New Zealand when people were struggling to have Māori language and culture accepted as national culture made a lasting impact and I work to keep informed about events and writing coming from Aotearoa New Zealand wherever I am. Thinking about how language carries history and significant facts about place with it is a running theme in my writing and had a strong impact on how I think about poetry.RotomahanaIs about a place I have visited many times since I was a child when it made a lasting impression on me, and I like to take friends who are visiting Aotearoa New Zealand there. I’m always really interested in Māori history and of different people – in this case Te Arawa.Rather than using the useful but ubiquitous language of tourist description I was trying to write about the underlying aspects of what being at that place evokes for me and perhaps for other people too, although the poem does acknowledge that it is interesting how places do evoke different feelings and knowledge in different people.RangiputaIs also about a place I’ve been many times in my life and it is a poem of mourning and tribute to my father who died in 2005. As is often the case, mourning has released a lot of memories and working them into poems has been a solace and a task as it does for many poets in Aotearoa New Zealand in traditions I’m thankful and disturbed to be a part of in some way. There is a marvellous and particular energy in Māori writing and cultural activity and New Zealand writing and culture in general that gives me a shove when I’m feeling incoherent and always helps to find incentives, readers, companion writers sooner or later. Perhaps it’s something about the distances travelled and the courage needed to keep going at times that combines in a specific way in the people of Aotearoa New Zealand that never fails to move nme to actions and even words, eventually.

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