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NZ's Colonial History Explored in Poetry

NZ's Colonial History Explored in Poetry

In May 1874 the emigrant ship Asia docked in Port Chalmers, Otago, carrying 391 exhausted but hopeful passengers. It had been a 78-day journey from London via Cork, Ireland.

Poet David Howard has drawn upon this journey for the long title poem in his new collection, The Word Went Round. The poem focuses on a Catholic tenant farmer aboard the ship, and his life as a new arrival on these shores.

No other New Zealand collection of poetry has focused on the experience of the colonial migrant with such intellectual intensity. 'The Word Went Round' touches on issues of colonialism (particularly Otago settlement), the Irish exodus and Catholicism in New Zealand.

Other poems in the collection include moving elegies for poet/painter Joanna Margaret Paul, the artist Reiko Kunimatsu and the poet's late father, love poems, and meditations on the nature of spiritual existence in the intellectual pressure-cooker of the twenty-first century.

Howard's poems are accompanied by a selection of haunting images by the painter Garry Currin.


David Howard published his first collection in 1991. His work is formally adventurous and explores the historical nature of language and society. David is founding editor of the literary journal Takahe, has been a winner and subsequently a judge of the New Zealand Poetry Society's annual international competition, and has work featured in Best New Zealand Poems 2002 and 2004. His long poem 'There You Go has been set as a cantata for solo female voice and piano by the Czech composer Marta Jirackova. The Word Went Round is David's fifth book.

Publication details
The Word Went Round Poems by David Howard
paperback, 240 x 170 mm, 64 pp approx, 8 pp in full colour
ISBN 1 877372 31 5, $29.95

Release date 21 July 2006, Montana Poetry Day


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