Braille and boxes

winter 2015

Amanda, from the Blind Foundation, sent me this cover photo of our Poems in the Waiting Room winter braille edition. The braille booklets will be dispatched on June 10.

Winter 2015 boxes

I’ve only got one more box of poetry cards to unpack and address and then all the cards will be off and away during the last week of May.

Leslie McKay

Leslie McKay

Our winter edition always features New Zealand poets –   Leslie McKay, Hone Tuwhare, Kath Beattie, Sandra Simpson, Catherine Fitchett, Pat White, David Eggleton, Brianna Houston and Elizabeth Pulford.  I’ll have all their photos and bios posted here for you to read  within the next 10 days.

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Haiku and Art

Ron Moss, a Tasmanian visual artist, poet and lover of haiku, has been in Dunedin this week.  This afternoon we called in to visit Rob Piggott, a Dunedin artist, whom Ron met at Ron’s multimedia presentation at Blueskin Bay Library last year.

Ron and Rob

Ron C Moss and Rob Piggott

Since their last meeting Ron has published a book and Rob is in the process of moving studios and setting up a Gallery.


I’m hoping to feature news about Rob’s wonderful studio space and Gallery in the next month or two.  It would be a wonderful location for my 2016 PitWR exhibition!

I can see Rob and Ron having a collaborative exhibition in the near future.

RPfinal image

Rob’s response to Kirsten Cliff’s haiku for the Poems in the Waiting Room 2012 When North Meets South exhibition.

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Poetry is going places


We were woken at 4am this morning by shattering glass. I crept around the house expecting to find the cat slinking away from a disaster scene and instead I found broken glass lying all over the toilet floor. The glass frame on the above Seamus Heaney poster had gone into orbit before crashing to the floor! Once I’d swept, vacuumed, and hopped back into bed I appreciated the wordplay!

Winter 2015Winter feels far away right now but the winter edition of Poems in the Winter Room poetry cards, all 6 boxes, are sitting in our lounge begging me to open them and start addressing and enveloping. Tonight I’ll settle down for a couple of hours and work my way through one box. A stunning colour to match the stunning poems inside.

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A new letterbox

Letterbox 25

We came across this latest addition to my letter box collection as we set out for a stunning autumnal walk this morning.

DSC04900Ferns sheltering fungi

DSC04903A flick flickering fantail followed us down, up, around, and along the track. We felt as though we were in a scene from Fly My Pretties, The Story! A very squeaky, engaging, chattery piwakawaka who must have been delighted by all the insects we were disturbing as we leaf scuffed our way up to Scott’s Memorial.

Port C spiresA jigsaw puzzle blue sky – Port Chalmers.

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Bookshops, competitions and festivals


Yesterday Liz Pulford, on the left, called in to the University Bookshop to collect her book voucher.  Liz won the UBS best unplaced Dunedin poem in our 2015 competition. I hadn’t met Liz before so I arranged to call in at the same time, snap a photo of Liz receiving the voucher, and then tarry for a chat. We spent a very pleasant 30 minutes getting to know each other in the warmth of UBS and we’re planning to catch up again soon.

I get to meet so many interesting people through this PitWR project. I consider myself extremely lucky.

On my way back to the car I spied a warmly dressed chap pasting posters advertising the Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival. So I whipped out my camera and with his “ok” snapped his brush strokes for you!


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2015 Competition Results

Time to announce the winners

of  the

2015 Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ) poetry competition

clock cropped

Carolyn McCurdie has read over 350 poems, and then read them again and again, keeping in mind her own criteria plus a few words of requirement from me!  She had no idea whose work she was looking at as I removed all sign of ownership on the poems that slipped into the competition complete with names! Any letters, drawings and photos were also kept in my care so she was totally in the dark re age, sex, occupation, and experience of the poets. Carolyn has done a fantastic job.

The winners have all been notified, their prizes are in the post, and I’ve emailed everyone, who provided me with an email address, to let them know the results are out. Many thanks to: Otago University Press, Paul Bernard of L J Hooker Ltd, and Otago University Bookshop for providing monetary prizes and book vouchers for our 2015 competition.

The winning poems will appear in the winter edition of the Poems in the Waiting Room poetry card. I intend spending the weekend going through all submissions and selecting any which might be suitable for a future PitWR edition. I’ll be in touch with those poets early next week.

And now the results:

Otago University Press First Prize:  ‘The Indigo Parade”   by Leslie McKay from Lewis Pass.

Paul Bernard from L J Hooker  Second Prize:  ” Watermelon wine” by Kath Beattie from Dunedin.

Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ) Third Prize:  “The Girl Who Sings Islands” by Catherine Fitchett from  Christchurch.

Otago University Bookshop Best unplaced Dunedin poet: ” The  Visit”  by  Elizabeth Pulford.

Many thanks to everyone who entered the competition. Your support will help Poems in the Waiting Room continue to provide free seasonal poetry cards to medical waiting rooms, rest homes, prisons and hospices.

Regards,  Ruth

Judge’s Report

These poems were good company. The poets spoke of love and family, of the natural world and of the wisdoms that impact on their lives. Some contributions arose from experiences in the Canterbury earthquakes. I found these brave and moving.

There was much here that showed originality, sometimes just in the choice of a word, or an arresting phrase, and sometimes in the whole conception of the poem. In these cases I felt that the poet had made an important start in their development as a writer. There was the promise here that if the poet learned craftsmanship, learned to re-work and re-work, to delete the pedestrian and to follow only what sings, some wonderful poetry could be the result.

Because work is essential. Writing a good poem is not easily done, and an excellent poem even more difficult. Behind the art, the craft of an effective piece is years of work, practice, and some kind of apprenticeship to the great poets of the world, past and present, by reading their work over and over. Poetry must be heard, felt, loved. It must be read so often and widely that the music of it gets into your breathing and then, if you have developed your ear, might enter into words of your own. It’s a magic, mysterious process. And exciting. To anyone beginning, I would say, well done and welcome. Keep reading. Keep writing.

And of course, many of these poets demonstrated that they know this at least as well, if not better, than I do. The sifting, selecting, and then reading and re-reading my favourites was an intense pleasure. Then I had a pile of nine. At that point it became difficult because all were good poems and then I just had to accept that my own personal preferences had to rule. The subjectivity is just how it has to work. As every judge’s report I have ever read points out, a different judge would have different preferences. So these are the poems that fill me with delight and admiration.

Thank you for the privilege

Carolyn McCurdie

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Autumn edition in braille

Whenever I send a new season’s poems to the printer I also send them to Amanda who is the Accessible Formats Producer at the Blind Foundation. Amanda organises the transcribing of the poems into braille and then their transformation into a booklet.

Autumn 2015 brailleSincere thanks to the For Everyone Charitable Foundation who have sponsored the braille booklets for the last twelve months. I’ve applied to another organisation for funding for future braille booklets – I’ll let you know here as soon as I hear, if the response is positive.


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