Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday Poet: Hone Tuwhare

Small Holes in the Silence: Collected Works by Hone Tuwhare
Godwit New Zealand 2011

Just bought this collection hot off the press in time to have a Tuesday suffused with Hone Tuwhare's poetry.

When he was good, he was very very good, and I really do cherish his famous poem 'Rain' from which the phrase "small holes in the silence" is drawn.

I knew Hone quite well at one time and back in the day used to prop up the bar at the Robbie Burns Hotel with him, and had the odd feed and a drink with him in his little cottage in Dundas Street Dunedin. And many times heard him read, always including the poem 'Rain', never growing stale because of the delicious and sensuous way he savoured every word as he performed his Greatest Hit.

So his voice reads these poems aloud for me and I browse through looking for the ones I want to relive and linger on, and - in this ample volume revealing some verse I hadn't seen or didn't notice before - discover new tidbits for the first time. As with every Collected you have to take the stalk and the chaff along with the ripe tasty meal. And you get the sense of the journey of the poet, of their life, of all the work they had to do and the listening and the living and the travelling and the reading and the writing. And a bit of drinking and carousing, and a lot of loving.

Of course I don't have to have been at the edges of a poet's social circle to love their work. For me the poets I choose to read and admire become my friends, it's as if I was there when they wrote that thought down, and I'm grateful they went to all that trouble despite all else in their life. Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens, Frank O'Hara. And so on, and so on. Their words are as if uttered for the first time, no matter how far away in time and space they are from their reader.

It's useful to have a Collected Works with the texts of every book, and the book covers, and some new Maori translations of many poems besides. And photos. Kia ora, Hone.

And I
should know you
by the lick of you
if I were blind

For more information about Hone Tuwhare: http://honetuwhare.org.nz/

For more Tuesday Poems: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/

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