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New book by McQueen launched on Poetry Day

New book by McQueen launched on Poetry Day

A new book by award-winning New Zealand poet Cilla McQueen was launched in conjunction with Montana New Zealand Poetry Day on 21 July. Markings: Poems and Drawings is McQueen's seventh book of poetry, but her first collection of new work since 1990 - and it's well worth the wait.

In this fine collection, McQueen traces the lives and voyages of her ancestors, and the living history of her husband's people. She herself travels through the fire that destroys her house at Otakou, the autoclave of the central poem, to a new home in Bluff, tying together the separate threads of her journey and moving from one harbour to another.

Bluff is described in its many moods. McQueen skilfully evokes the wildness of the elements at this southern edge of our land. The sea is a constant element in these poems: the 'steel sea' of Foveaux Strait and the southern ocean; Otago Harbour, 'the tide a stone's throw from my balcony'; and the Atlantic, beating against the cliffs of the Hebrides, 'blossoming with seabirds'. Balancing this are the poet's precisely observed images of domestic life and her relationship with the forms and inhabitants of the land.

The title is Markings for a number of reasons, one of which refers to the illustrations. The black and white landscape drawings which accompany the poems were completed by McQueen when she was Southland Art Foundation artist in residence in 1999.

The book's themes are universal and accessible: memory, loss, displacement and dispossession, history, home and family. The words and pictures speak to the heart and the spirit of a world far beyond these 64 pages.

About the Author Educated in Dunedin where she has lived for most of her life, Cilla McQueen now lives in Bluff. She has received the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry (1983, 1989, 1991) and many other honours. Fellowships she has held include the Robert Burns at the University of Otago (1985-86), a Fulbright Visiting Writer's Fellowship to Stanford University (1985), and a Goethe Institut Scholarship to Berlin (1988).

Markings: Poems and Drawings Cilla McQueen 64 pages ISBN 1 877133 92 2 Published July 2000 $24.95

CONTACT For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact Philippa Jamieson, University of Otago Press, tel. (03) 479 9094, fax (03) 479 8385, email:

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