August On the Shelf (2014)

[NZ Poetry Shelf

Paula Green:
August On the Shelf: Poetry picks from Siobhan Harvey, Harry Ricketts, Jack Ross, James Norcliffe

Jack Gilbert: Collected Poems (2012)

Jack Ross: First of all, there’s the Collected Poems of Jack Gilbert (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012). I picked this up secondhand and have been reading it with increasing delight and respect ever since. There’s something plain and direct about this guy that really appeals to me. When the book was nominated for the 2013 Pulitzer prize, the citation read: “a half century of poems reflecting a creative author’s commitment to living fully and honestly and to producing straightforward work that illuminates everyday experience with startling clarity,” which I think is quite nicely put. He’s the very opposite of a showboat poet (not that they can’t be fun too, sometimes). He died shortly after the book appeared, so it really is the last word on a lifetime devoted to the craft.

Another book I’ve been reading in this month is the final, complete version of Doc Drumheller’s 10 x (10 + ’10) = 0 (Christchurch: The Republic of Oma Rāpeti Press, 2014). I first met Doc last year, at the Hawke’s Bay Poetry Conference (though we’d been corresponding on and off for years), and found him a very interesting person to talk to. This huge, ten-part poem, compiled over the past decade, consists of a series of poems compiled according to stringent writing restrictions, rather in the mode of an Oulipo project. The tenth and twentieth poem in each volume is a palindrome, reading the same backwards and forwards. Give the popularity of such poets as Christian Bok (Eunoia), it’s nice to know that New Zealand has its own workshop of potential literature humming away down there on the Canterbury Plains (and finding periodic expression in the journal Catalyst, which Drumheller also edits).

Jack Ross teaches at Massey University Albany. He has a poetry book coming out later in the year from HeadworX. It’s called “A Clearer Look at the Hinterland: Poems & Sequences 1981-2014.” Catch up with what he is doing on his blog here.


'August On the Shelf: Poetry picks from Siobhan Harvey, Harry Ricketts, Jack Ross, James Norcliffe.' Ed. Paula Green.
NZ Poetry Shelf: a poetry page with reviews, interviews, and other things.
[Available at: (5/8/14)]

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Paula Green

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