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Kiwi Poets Speak Out About Sex

Kiwi Poets Speak Out About Sex

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Kiwi Poets Speak Out About Sex

Kiwi Poets speak out about sex in a new anthology, A Good Handful: Great New Zealand Poems About Sex, published for Valentine’s Day by Auckland University Press.

Pulling together A Good Handful, editor Stu Bagby found New Zealanders are nowhere near as taciturn or retiring as stereotypes would have us.

“When I began my research I was looking for poems which were accessible, were humorous, and which dealt with the topic without being crude or pornographic. The more I read the more the variety and depth of the material I found convinced me the book should be more complex than the light hearted flirtation I had intended.”

In A Good Handful, 63 poets talk frankly about sex from every angle, showing sex can be funny (Karl Stead’s “tree in my trousers”) and disturbing (Rachel McAlpine’s “frightened poem about my breasts”). It can be ordinary (“The sex life of the sheep / is at best perfunctory”, Anne French explains) or extraordinary (“Ah, fantastica!” Lauris Edmond exclaims). It can be lusty (Brian Turner’s “eat me and keep me alive”) or tender (Anne Kennedy’s “whole autumn boiled down to a single bite”). It can be metaphorical (James K. Baxter’s “your mouth was the sun”) or practical (“should a courier / hand be sent down and under?”, asks Louis Johnson).

By the end of the collection, some poets have had enough of all this nonsense: “Altogether we’ve come to the conclusion that sex is a drag. / Just give us a fag”, writes Fleur Adcock.

But Bagby disagrees: “Sophocles is reputed to have said about sex when he was old: ‘. . .most gladly indeed am I rid of it all, as though I had escaped from a mad and savage master.’ That I don’t share his sentiments perhaps explains the enjoyment I got from editing this anthology. I hope readers enjoy it, and I hope it helps in some small way to sustain interest in New Zealand poetry. Like sex, there’s a lot of it about. Much of it is worth reading.”

The Editor
Stu Bagby, poet, editor and sometime gravedigger, was born in Te Kopuru in 1947 and lives on Auckland’s North Shore. He was the winner of the New Zealand Poetry Society Competition in 2000. His previous books include AUP New Poets 2 (2002) and As It Was in The Beginning (2005).

The Poets
Fleur Adcock, Stu Bagby, James K. Baxter, Tony Beyer, Peter Bland, Jenny Bornholdt, Charles Brasch, James Brown, Bernard Brown, Kate Camp, Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, Janet Charman, Geoff Cochrane, Glenn Colquhoun, Allen Curnow, Ruth Dallas, John Dickson, John Dolan, Lauris Edmond, Riemke Ensing, Cliff Fell, Anne French, Denis Glover, Siobhan Harvey, Michael Harlow, David Howard, Sam Hunt, Robin Hyde, Witi Ihimaera, Kevin Ireland, Nuru Jaya, Michael Jackson, Louis Johnson, Phil Kawana, Jan Kemp, Anne Kennedy, Fiona Kidman, Nina Kirifi-Alai, Graham Lindsay, Rachel McAlpine, R. A. K. Mason, David Mitchell, Elizabeth Nannestad, Emma Neale, Gregory O’Brien, Vincent O’Sullivan, Alistair Paterson, Chris Price, Roma Potiki, Harry Ricketts, Jack Ross, Iain Sharp, Martyn Sanderson, Keith Sinclair, Elizabeth Smither, Kendrick Smithyman, Mary Stanley, C. K. Stead, Brian Turner, Hone Tuwhare, Rhona Vickoce, Ian Wedde and Denis Welch

A Good Handful: Great New Zealand Poems About Sex
Edited by Stu Bagby
Published by Auckland University Press, with assistance from Creative NZ
Paperback with flaps; RRP $27.95


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