Friday, December 9, 2011

A Marvellous Year


The giant stuffed toy Moa in the Otago Museum, Dunedin

Allen Curnow, numero uno NZ poet (in my opinion), would have turned one hundred years old this year.

This is my centenary tribute, a joking allusion to his much-cited poem "The Skeleton of the Great Moa in the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch", which contains the two lines that have inspired many a subsequent generation of literary wannabes:

"Not I, some child born in a marvellous year, / will learn the trick of standing upright here."

So, has it happened yet? Is anybody standing upright yet? Or are we still evolving? Or are we going backwards?

I'm pretty grumpy with Aotearoa New Zealand right now so I'm more inclined to the 'going backwards' point of view...

Anyways Happy Centenary to a great poet, thanks for the words well spoken.

The latest Landfall has some fascinating and informative poems, reminiscences, discussions and other gestures in honour of Allen Curnow, including an amazing tribute poem by Janet Frame (published there for the first time ever), that she wrote after attending an Auckland literary party while she was the first Frank Sargeson Fellow in 1987. She was busy writing her last novel The Carpathians, but took time off to hang out with old chums, and managed to weave a poem out of a seemingly trivial piece of small-talk.


1 comment:

Isabel Doyle said...

Don't think of taking that bird home as I am sure S Tabby would NOT approve.

I must educate myself about your national poets.