Spring at Olveston

Spring at OlvestonI walked up to Olveston after work today to catch up with the staff, enjoy a wander around the grounds, a peek in the conservatory, and a chat with Jeremy.

basket in the conservatoryDaffodils in the conservatory

hyacinthsThe hyacinths looked waxlike but their perfume was sumptuous.

Spring in the conservatoryAnother conservatory view.

Margaret and Sarah Goldsmith work magic in the Olveston gardens. Wander up there sometime with your lunch, and a book. There are seats scattered throughout the gardens. It’s a very quick and accessible hideaway from the city.

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A city of light

When walking to work in winter all I saw was the dark side of the city! Now the mornings are lighter my walk is more interesting…….  See what I spied today.

New seating

Great seating in Vogel St


New Vogel seating

More great seating in Vogel St


Cycle stand in Vogel Street

Cycle stand in Vogel Street

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Rosalind Horsman 1952 – 2014

R and Remail

Rosalind and Ruth at St Clair last summer

Over the last year Rosalind and I have kept up our poetry conversations via email.  I’d open my mail in the morning and there would be a commentary about my latest poetry efforts or her opinion on a poem I’d discovered and shared with her. Several of Rosalind’s, have a read of this Ruth, led me to contact the poet and ask permission to reprint their poem in our cards. The Study by Kathleen Jamie, which is in our latest card, was a direct result of Rosalind’s findings!

Rosalind, supported by a wonderful group of friends, made a huge effort to visit the PoARTry@ Olveston exhibition a fortnight ago. Her email the next day was effusive, the garden was looking absolutely lovely, especially the part with the miniature daffodils and other tiny plants lit up by the morning sun.  I replied reminding her that her outing was to see the exhibition, oh that, wouldn’t have missed it for the world Ruth!

This morning, news arrived that Rosalind had died. I will miss her terribly. Poems in the Waiting Room has lost a wonderful trustee.

Rosalind’s poem Beach was selected and interpreted by Lesley Towart for our 2013 Bellamys at Five exhibition.


Print of small foot
on sand        tide
will wash away.

It’s counterpart
on the heart

I’ve reprinted Rosalind’s contribution to our Bellamys at Five exhibition blog below.

Rosalind's garden

I received a letter from Rosalind in 2009 congratulating me on PitWR. At that stage she was still living in Oamaru but we met up on one of her frequent Dunedin trips. This led to her offering to deliver the cards around Oamaru which led me to invite her to become a PitWR trustee. Since then Rosalind has moved to Dunedin but she still delivers our Oamaru cards if her trips coincide with our distribution dates. We  regularly meet for hot drinks, a good old chinwag, and a tasting of each other’s latest poetic efforts.

Introducing: Rosalind

I grew up in Dunedin and attended university here before travelling in Europe for 3 years. On my return I trained as a primary school teacher and taught for many years, mainly in North Otago.  In 1991 I set up the Music for Children Trust, and from then until 2006 I travelled round Otago teaching music in primary schools and pre-schools. I particularly enjoyed going to remote areas like the Maniototo or Omarama or Mt Cook, where I would spend a week at a time taking music with all the children in the school. In 2006 I had a change of direction and now concentrate on translating German, which has been a love of mine since studying it at high school and university. Although I moved back to Dunedin 3 years ago, I still have my house in Oamaru where I lived while teaching in North Otago. The house with its sea view is my favourite place to write, though like most people I carry a notebook everywhere and jot down ideas whenever they occur to me.


My father was a professor of English and passed on his love of poetry to us. I’m very grateful that I grew up in a household where poetry was highly valued; like so much else, I took it for granted at the time, only much later realising what a privilege this was. My favourite poets are too numerous to mention, but recently I’ve enjoyed reading poetry by Michael Swan, Bill Sewell and Ruth Dallas. I admire economy of words and am always trying to pare back my own writing to the barest essentials.

DSCN0540 And sunrise from the same window, although I’m not an early morning writer!

My 2 poems. The first is about meeting a friend after an interval of many years, and the way we seemed to pick up exactly where we had left off. The second is about an elderly Sri Lankan woman with Alzheimers who had been a dancer and a musician. Hearing music always elicited a response from her even when nothing else did: she would start beating time on the counterpane, or sometimes sit up on the edge of the bed with her hands swaying and dancing to the music.


We were listening to records
when you slipped out to the dairy.

You remember the calendar
on the kitchen door? While you
were gone, someone altered it.
I did not notice this, wandering
through strange, spine-tingling
landscapes of Schubert, Beethoven.
First days, then months and years
were soundlessly removed.

You returned, surprised
to notice the new date.
We turned over the record,
ready to hear the next movement.


You ride lightly on your mind now,
travel to far places beyond our reach;
yet at the first touch of music
instantly you are here with me,
and when hands and eyes dance
shrunken skin is graceful as a girl’s,
eyes are wells of light.

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PoARTry @ Olveston


This gorgeous 54 page book of poems, artwork created in response to the poems, and photographs from Olveston relating to the poems, is selling for $20.00 (plus $2.50 postage in NZ) with all profits going to Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ).  It has a soft cover with a spiral binding.  Helen Lehndorf  and Jenny Longstaff were my two  midwives – editing and designing the book for me!

If you wish to purchase a book please email me, Ruth, for details  -

waitingroompoems(at)gmail(dot)com. Please replace the (at) with @ and (dot) with .

Inside cover

Artwork by Janie Porter inside the front cover

Peter's vase and amphora

Peter Gregory’s vase and amphora created in response to Olveston afternoon.


Manu Berry and Annie Lambourne’s responses to the poem Olveston

Olveston whispers 1

Pauline Bellamy turned this poem, Olveston whispers, into a delightful small booklet.

Hut for Dot

Kevin Dunkley’s response to the poem Hut for Dorothy

Main St, Arrowtown.jpg

Anna Reid’s response to the poem, Main St Arrowtown

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Stats and Facts

Spring 14

I was working out today how many permit post envelopes I had used for this edition so I could fill in my Statement of Posting logbook. While I was ‘into’ numbers I checked out some more.

We currently supply cards to 381 medical centres, 232 rest homes, 8 prisons, and 4 hospices.

I’ve contacted 179 poets, or their publishers, for the use of all 217 poems which have appeared in the cards.

Since Poems in the Waiting Room started in New Zealand in the Summer of 2008, we’ve distributed 253 braille poetry booklets and 93,347  poetry cards.

That, is a whole lot of poetry!

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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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