Today is National Poetry Day in Aotearoa! New Zealand is celebrating poets and poetry. Here is a poem I wrote in 2011 at a hui in Wellington on Pacific literature. It speaks to roots and renewal, themes that were very important to me at that moment and it pays homage to some of the most influential New Zealand and Pasifika writers. Poets, I love you!
Cuttings from a Pacific Garden
For Albert Wendt
I cried for Alistair Campbell last night
I cried for Alistair Te Ariki Campbell
and his house perched
on that windy mountain
overlooking Kapiti Island
and Te Rauparaha.
No, I wouldn’t have lived there either
but he had Meg
almost to the end.
You introduced me to him, actually.
More than twenty years ago now –
can it really be that long?
I loved him from the first page.
When I say I loved him
I mean his words
I cried for Alistair Campbell this morning.
my tears had formed little pools
in the indent and crevasses of my Novotel pillow.
I thought of those cuttings in your garden
so obviously symbolic
yet utterly disarming.
They have grown, survived, thrived.
They are us, all of us
who have loved
and John Pule
and Patricia Grace
and so many others
and you, of course –
writers from our part of the world
whose stories and poetry
speak to us in rhythms familiar
who speak to us
make us cry at 5.27am in the morning.
Just like those precious yet hardy cuttings
from Alistair Te Ariki Campbell’s garden
you nurtured us and
let us grow
the new generation of Pacific poets
held their Te Papa audience captive.
Last night I cried for Alistair Campbell.
Last night I also smiled for those poets
and all of us
cuttings from your garden.
© Karin Speedy 2015
First published in ‘Piercing the White Space, Blackmail Press, 41, 2015