Counter Culture
August 16, 2019 posted by Unity Wellington

Paula Green

Paula Green

This year on National Poetry Day we will be celebrating the publication of Wild Honey: Reading New Zealand Women’s Poetry by Paula Green (Massey University Press). Paula will introduce and read alongside fellow poets, carina gallegos, Stefanie Lash, Therese Lloyd, Maria McMillan and Manon Revuelta. 12-1pm Friday 23rd August 2019. All welcome.

Poetry powerhouse that she is, Paula has also recently released two poetry collections, The Track (Seraph Press), and for kids, Groovy Fish and Other Poems (The Cuba Press). Somehow she found time to respond to our questionnaire and assess her staggering towers of read and unread books. Her hallway is still book free… for now.


ABOUT THE BOOK
A comprehensive guide to poetry by New Zealand women poets, written by poetry champion Paula Green.

New Zealand women have published poetry for over 150 years. In this landmark book, poet and anthologist Paula Green celebrates and makes connections between 201 of them, from emerging poets and those who are household names to those who have slipped from public view or were not paid the honour they were due in their lifetimes.

Wide-ranging, engaging and affecting, Wild Honey celebrates the many ways in which poems by women deserve a place in the literary canon of Aotearoa. Charming and unique, the book’s chapters follow the structure of a house, with different poets being discussed and assessed in each of the house’s rooms.

The selection is enormously generous, the tone is at times gentle and accessible, and Green’s reach is wide. She brings the pioneers of women’s poetry — Jessie Mackay, Blanche Baughan and Eileen Duggan — back from the shadows, and she also draws our attention to the remarkable stories of forgotten women poets such as Lola Ridge.

The book’s release in August 2019 is timed to coincide with National Poetry Day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paula Green has published twelve poetry collections, including several for children. Her book 99 Ways into New Zealand Poetry, co-written with Harry Ricketts, was shortlisted for the 2010 New Zealand Post Book Awards. In 2017 she received the Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry and was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Poetry and Literature. She runs the blog NZ Poetry Shelf, and has two poetry books out in 2019: The Track and Groovy Fish and other poems.


WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING AND HOW DID YOU DISCOVER THE BOOK(S)?

A leaning tower of Pisa of NZ poetry books – most sent to me for Poetry Shelf! Helen Rickerby’s How to Live and essa may ranapiri’s Ransack near the top. A pyramid of international poetry books (Hannah Sullivan’s Three Poems next up). And Gregory O’Brien’s sumptuous Always Song in the Water (AUP) is heaven on a page. Everything Gecko Press publishes! Always have a Gecko Press children’s book on the go.

WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WRITERS AND WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THEM?

Bill Manhire because he writes poetry that is musical and surprising. Anne Kennedy for the same reasons, both fiction and poetry (I can’t wait for you to read her new collection Moth Hour). Likewise Ian Wedde. A whole bunch of Italian authors I fell in love with doing my Italian degrees but especially Italo Calvino. All the women in Wild Honey. Anne Salmond because she changes my engagements with the world in a good way. Selina Tusitala Marsh and Tusiata Avia because they kick-start my heart, as do Chris Tse, Tayi Tibble, Manon Revuelta, Fiona Farrell, Michele Leggott, Anna Jackson, Emma Neale, Gregory Kan, Hannah Mettner, Sugar Magnolia Wilson and Sam Duckor-Jones. So many more! Oh and Anne Carson and Anne Michaels. I adored Less by Andrew Sean Greer. I am also addicted to cookbooks (love Rick Stein and Yotam Ottolenghi), because I love cooking both inside and outside my comfort zone. I have been reading for decades – I need a whole book not a paragraph for this question!

WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE?

Next to the tower of NZ poetry, I have a tower of novels and a tower of YA books. They are about to fall over. Mary Kisler’s Finding Frances Hodgkins (MUP) which I utterly loved but am not yet ready to put on a shelf (some books you want to keep dipping into). I can’t wait to read Lynn Jenner’s Peat (OUP) and Sarah Crossan’s Toffee (Bloomsbury). Oh and I have a tower of Irish novels to read (Sara Baume!).

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK-TO-FILM ADAPTATION?

I am so looking forward to Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go but I am a soft touch for an adaption of any novel by a Brontë sister and for Agatha Christie adaptions.

WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU RE-READ THE MOST AND WHY?

When I was young A.A. Milne’s poetry a zillion times out loud in the garden. Then the word delight of Margaret Mahy picture books – a zillion times when my daughters were young. Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre. Bill Manhire’s Lifted. Could we have a prize each year for a beloved NZ book please (a trophy and a cheque)? I would pick that.

WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY CHARACTER?

The mother of the boy who discovers a big yellow whiskery lion in the meadow.

WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN MEANING TO READ BUT STILL HAVEN’T GOTTEN AROUND TO?

Well I have read and loved Proust, Joyce and Dante – I would like to read every Pulitzer Prize winner because I loved Less so much. And all the Women’s Prize short lists. And get through my bedroom book towers! I want to discover more astonishing international poets and begin a second tower. Recommendations welcome.

WHICH THREE WRITERS WOULD YOU HAVE OVER FOR DINNER?

Blanche Baughan, Ursula Bethell and Robin Hyde. I am not sure how they would get on having trawled the archives but I have so much to ask them!

WHAT WOULD YOU COOK THEM?

Loads of salads made from things in the garden. If it was winter, I’d light the fire and make vegetable soup with sizzling chermoula tomatoes. A sourdough loaf whatever the season. Maybe lemon drizzle cake and a cup of tea, maybe green leaf with kawakawa and ginger. I don’t think Blanche would drink Central Otago pinot gris but I would.

HOW ARE YOUR BOOKS SHELVED AND ORGANISED AT HOME?

Each room is dedicated to categories (my study one hundred percent poetry) and my shelves are organised alphabetically and by gut feelings – so far the hallway is free but in our last house it wasn’t.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY QUOTE?

‘Poetry is the ground on which I let myself go.’ Bernadette Hall

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