Friday, 20 January 2012

A recent visit by the New Zealand poet Janis Freegard included a meeting with Tyneside poets Keith Armstrong and Dave Alton. This is part of a developing association with the New Zealand Poetry Society.

Janis Freegard was born in South Shields, England, but has lived in New Zealand most of her life. Her poetry has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including Poetry NZ, The North (UK), Turbine, Glottis, JAAM, Rain Dog (UK) and Surface Online. She also writes short fiction and won the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award in 2001. She lives in Wellington.

The following poems are taken from http://www.nzpoetsonline.homestead.com/


spiders determinedly


shroud the walls

this one must surely be a leaf

that one has wrapped mosquitoes

all along the clothesline

they wait on the porch

how much of your

spider quota

might you have eaten now –

the ones that crawl

into your mouth

when you’re sleeping?


Some things aren’t meant to be understood:

Like electricity or war

You know they’re going on somewhere

But it’s best not to think about it

It could make your hair curl

Ann explains the turtle theory of light:

Behaving neither like a wave nor a particle

Light is more like a great string of turtles

Each holding the next one’s tail in its mouth

Like the pin in a grenade

What they do when they get to a light switch is

Anybody’s guess

The Slattern

She hasn’t driven her vacuum cleaner around the rooms;

the dust sits thick.

Piled up dishes will be taken care of soon.

Hillocks of washing swell and lie in ambush;

windows are opaque with grime;

the fridge’s fruiting moulds are eager to be let loose.

Newspaper castles yellow in the sunny afternoons;

the bottle stack threatens;

a compost bucket barely contains its ooze.

Blue emerges from an ancient plastic tube

atop a slimy sink.

The slattern sings. Loudly and out of tune.


she plucks out

each eyebrow hair

one by one

with platinum tweezers

and stands them up

on the black lacquer dressing table:

her row of soldiers

first line of defence

above them, framed

in the oblong mirror:

her deforested forehead

wondering eyes

inconsequential nose

the fleshy lips protected

by a layer of down

(now that would have to go)

her smooth neck

her far too animal body

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


left to right: dave alton, keith armstrong, janis freegard, peter clayworth
photo: peter dixon