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Small Poem, Big Rock Band – how U2 helped a Kiwi poet

International rock band U2 choosing one of her poems to play on screen at its Joshua Tree stadium concerts in New Zealand has been a great way to launch a new book of poems into the world, says Auckland poet Heidi North.

The poem is ‘Piha Beach, two years on’, which is part of Heidi’s new collection We are tiny beneath the light. The poem was originally published online and U2 used the original title ‘Piha Beach, Winter’.

A U2 spokesperson contacted Heidi’s publisher The Cuba Press out of the blue a week before the Auckland concerts, asking for permission to include the poem in a selection of local and overseas work that would be displayed during the pre-show on a giant 61m x 14m screen, the biggest digital screen ever used in a touring show.

‘It felt like such an honour to be selected by U2 to be part of their celebration of writing from Aotearoa,’ says Heidi. ‘I couldn’t quite believe it. It was a complete thrill to see my poem on such a big screen.’

We are tiny beneath the light charts the end of a marriage and the tiny moments that are part of a life under stress, including the unexpected discoveries that can bring joy. One of those is watching a child fly a blue kite, which is in Heidi’s Piha Beach poem.

The poet asked her daughters to draw small sketches to go on the pages. ‘They are very excited about the book,’ says Heidi. ‘One of them came up to me the other day and said, “This is my drawing that will be famous,” which at the time I thought was probably over-estimating the power of poetry in this country. Although now I’m beginning to wonder.’

Check out a video of the poem at the U2 concerts

We are tiny beneath the light launched at the Women’s Bookshop in Auckland. It is available at all good bookstores and at
ISBN: 978-1-98-859508-5 RRP $25

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