Spring 2014 – the 24th edition

Spring 14 2

Spring 2014 poetry cards


With all the busyness of being at Olveston, and organising the PoARTry @ Olveston exhibition, winter has whistled by this year.  Our kowhai is in flower, our daffodils are blooming, and other bulbs and plants are busy pushing up through the cold winter earth so, Spring is very nearly here.

The Spring card is bright, very bright and very hard to miss. It’s packed with wonderful poems. Richard, Grace, Kaitrin and Todd have all appeared in our cards before but we have newcomers as well. Cate, Kaitrin and Lindy’s poems were entries in the 2014 Poems in the Waiting Room competition. Although they weren’t selected as winners by Helen Lehndorf they definitely  deserved a placement in our cards. Lindy’s poem is a very clever concrete poem – its shape is the subject of the poem. I thought that might be too tricky to present in our cards but nothing is impossible for my wonderful printers!

I’ll be distributing the cards next week so they’re be available from September 1. Pick a card up and have a read when you’re next at the doctors or if you’re well and healthy you’re always welcome to pop into your local medical centre and take a card home.

Introducing the Spring poets

Cate Campbell2


My name is Cate Campbell, I am 12 years old and I go to Waikowhai Intermediate. My favourite subject at school is writing because there is no limit to my creativity. I have two cats called Phoebe and Stanley, an older brother and a younger sister. I decided to send a poem in because I haven’t written much poetry and I have found that I really enjoy it.

Grace PaleyBorn in the Bronx in 1922, Grace Paley was a renowned writer and activist. Her Collected Stories was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. She died in Vermont on August 22, 2007.

kaitrin mcmullan jacobs ladder tarah!

Kaitrin McMullan – jacobs ladder tarah!

Kaitrin McMullan was born in Scotland where she lived until she was two. She now resides in the green Leith Valley Dunedin where birdsong threads the sky  She is a professional storyteller, tale trader and puppeteer.




Kathleen Jamie

I was raised in Currie, Midlothian, the child of an ordinary, non-literary Scottish background. Writing poetry was an odd thing to do. I don’t know why it began, but it was secretive and liberating and real.

 I have what Robert Louis Stevenson called ‘a strong Scots accent of the mind’ and my
constellation of interests seem to include the natural world (widely defined), archaeology, medical humanities, and art. To produce work I’ve walked and sailed many miles, and benefitted from the company and expertise of visual artists, pathologists, curators, ornithologists, and from encounters with other species too, especially birds and whales.

Since 2010, I’ve held a part-time post as Professor of Poetry at the University of Stirling.
Find out more about Kathleen here




 Lindy Roberts
I’ve  been living  on the West Coast  since taking a job here as community education co-ordinator in  1998, and becoming the first South African to organise a chainsaw workshop attended by Keri Hulme.  From 2005 I did a four year stint in Nelson as Costume Design tutor at the polytech but am back on the Coast working (paid or unpaid) as a designer, textile artist, art tutor and advocate, curator, facilitator, shop assistant, window dresser and amanuensis  for my neighbour, an octogenarian historian. I have a BA in English & Drama from last century and would like to return to the world of words now that I’m of a certain age. I think you “get” poetry and literature better when you’ve lived a bit.

Richard LangstonRL portrait shot for Waiting Room


Richard Langston’s five books of poetry are Boy (2003), Henry, Come See the Blue (2005), Newspaper Poems (2007), Trouble Lamp (2009), Things Lay in Pieces (2012). All published by Fitzbeck of Wellington.




 Ron C. Moss is an artist and poet from Tasmania, a place of wilderness that inspires his work. Ron is recognized as an outstanding illustrator and designer of many poetry books, and his haiku and achievements in related genres have been widely published and honored with many awards.

“I consider myself a student of the Zen arts,” Ron writes, “which have fascinated me from an early age. I enjoy the distilled conciseness of haiku, the exploration of art and mixed media, and sometimes I like to combine the two, as in the ancient tradition of haiga. I try to bring a sense of  contemplation into my work. Moments of stillness are important in our very busy lives, and my path is to practice the way of art and haiku poetry.”  Read more about Ron here.

Todd Boss b&w


Todd Boss grew up on an 80-acre cattle farm in west central Wisconsin. His poetry collections are Pitch (2012) and Yellowrocket (2008), both from W. W. Norton. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, NPR, and the London Times. He has collaborated on an array of creative projects from film and public art to dance and opera. His is a founder of Motionpoems, a poetry film company. Todd lives in north suburban Saint Paul with his wife and children. Read more about Todd here.




Tony Mitton

To read about Tony have a look here.  Many thanks to David Higham Associates for permission to include Tony’s poem in our cards.

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Letters and postboxes


A beautiful letterbox, crafted with care, spied while out walking one morning.

I received a letter in today’s mail, addressed to Poems in the Waiting Room, from a prisoner. The letter reads…….. I was reading your pamphlet of poems and I think it’s an awesome thing you do. This is all I can donate, do with it as you please.  A poem was included which was very much appreciated.

I love the fact that our poetry cards are very rarely turned away. Hospices, medical centres, rest homes and prisons all welcome the cards into their ‘lives.’  I post 6000 cards out every season and all it takes is one letter (commenting on the card, telling me about a favourite poem, or even telling me my selection is ‘off’) to fire my enthusiasm for the next edition.  My father was a minister and I’m sure he would have found a parable in amongst these writings! I’m just pleased that the cards reach people and are able to make a small difference to lives, even if it’s just for a moment.

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Someone somewhere


Someone somewhere has made an anonymous donation to Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ) through the Telecom Foundation’s fundraising tool, Givealittle.  Please accept this as my personal (but very public) thank you.

Givealittle is a great way to donate to any charity. The Telecom Foundation take zero administration fees so every dollar you donate goes to the charity of your choice.

All donations to Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ) go directly towards printing and postage costs. I receive no payment for time spent sourcing the poems from poets and publishers,  editing, and organising the printing and distribution of the cards. Feedback from readers is payment in full!

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Poetry in Dunedin

Because the PoARTry@Olveston exhibition is going to keep me busy for ten days over August and then the following six weeks I’ll be busy preparing for the Poems in the Waiting Room exhibition, A Palette of Poetry, I decided to bring Spring forward this year. It’s wonderful being able to pick and choose the timing of the seasons!  Today I collected 6000 spring Poems in the Waiting Room cards. Not, that you’ll get to see them before spring. Sorry! Having them here now allows me to address and envelope at my leisure rather than having a mad rush when there will be so many exhibition things on my mind.

I also collected the proof of my booklet, PoARTry@Olveston today. Jenny Longstaff, who designed it for me, has magic in her fingertips. She took photos of the artworks, gathered up my poems and married them together creating a little gem. This weekend I’m  going to proof the proof and then return it to the printer who tells me he’ll have it ready in time for the exhibition opening, no sweat. I believe him. He prints our poetry cards every season with no fuss, no hassles and produces a perfect card every time.

Spring 2014resized

Our Spring card

And just to end a perfect poetic day we went to the Dunedin launch of Essential New Zealand Poems tonight. James Norcliffe, one of the selectors, was the Master of Ceremonies and it was a fantastic ceremony. One and a half hours of readings by Dunedin poets, and friends/relations of deceased Dunedin poets, who all had poems included in the book.   Dunedin was well represented in the book. We certainly deserve the title, UNESCO City of Literature. We’ll know in December – here’s hoping.

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The two worlds of Charlie F and Pink Mist

Owen Sheers interviewed recently wounded service personnel and their families for the stage project, The Two Worlds of Charlie F. The cast was largely made up of wounded and injured service personnel. The Two Worlds of Charlie F won the 2012 Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award at the Edinburgh Fringe. It’s currently touring the UK.  Wouldn’t it be terrific if they decided to travel this play to New Zealand!  Read more about it here.

After he finished this project Owen realised he still had a large number of  untold stories, from his interviews, which he wanted to share so he wrote Pink Mist. Last week this verse – drama won Wales Book of the Year. Pink Mist is about three young soldiers from Bristol who are deployed to Afghanistan.  The poem looks at the effect of war on the men and those closest to them when they return from service.

Finally if you were awestruck by a poem called Swallows in our autumn poetry card you may or may not have remembered Owen Sheers was the poet.

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Ducks in a rowThis morning we parked in Port Chalmers and went for a stroll around the Back Beach circuit. It was an amazing winter’s morning – warm, sunny and calm. It’s rare to experience all three conditions at the same time in Dunedin.

Shadow BoatsThe reflections were amazing. My first thought was, Sheryl McCammon, an artist friend who lives in our street, would love to be around here today. She has an amazing talent when it comes to painting reflections. She’s even managed to incorporate some in her ‘Olveston’ artwork which is an indoor scene.

Pleased to meet youThe geese are usually quite vocal but they were too busy drinking or perhaps making friends with their reflections.

I’ve just added the haiku to the spring poetry card and passed everything over to Barry for proofing. Once he’s given me the ‘ok’ I’ll be off to the printer to pick a colour for this spring card – something bright and cheerful, and that’s before the poems are added.  I’m earlier than usual with this card because I’m hoping to do all the addressing and enveloping while I’m Gallery sitting at my Olveston exhibition from August 8 -18.  And if you’re not familiar with my Olveston happenings then hop over here.

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Carved from light

Last Wednesday night we drove out to Blueskin Bay library collecting Sophia Frentz on the way. We hadn’t visited the library before so we were interested to have a look around before Tasmanian poet and artist, Ron Moss,  started his multimedia presentation Carved from Light -the way of art and haiku.

The gathering was small but very friendly with Louise and Kay offering mulled wine, juice and nibbles. Sophia and Ron had met before at a haiku conference in the USA so they were pleased to catch up again.

The presentation was stunning. With haunting music in the background Ron read his haiku as each image appeared on the screen – haiku with hand painted or photographed backgrounds. Ron’s haiku have been inspired by careful observation of his surroundings and nature. His callouts as a volunteer fire-fighter have also made an impression on his work.

By the number of questions asked at the end of the presentation it was obvious everyone had enjoyed the evening.  I was pleased to catch up with Rob and Wai Piggott. Rob created a wonderful piece of art in response to a haiku for the When North meets South exhibition and is involved in both the Olveston and Poems in the Waiting Room exhibitions later in the year. Ron saw some of Rob’s artwork on my blog page and was equally impressed. He’s  catching up with Rob and Wai during his short stay in Dunedin.

I gave Ron a copy of John Holmes’ small hand printed foldout haiku book  – John made a number of these for the When North meets South exhibition. John came along to the evening and discovered that Ron shared his passion – both letterset printing men.

John H's books

After all our emailing back and forth organising the evening, when we met, Ron and I just slipped into conversation as though we’d known each other for years. We’re meeting up after work this week and I’m planning to encourage him to return next year. I know there was interest from the University but this trip coincided with the end of the semester so next time, there will be a next time, we’ll coordinate dates so more Dunedinites can enjoy Ron’s creativity.

ron moss

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