Poetry offers answers

Poetic heritage . . . Diane Brown stands underneath Dunedin's statue of poet Robbie Burns. PHOTO: JOSHUA RIDDIFORD

Poetry is about making meaning out of life, Dunedin poet Diane Brown says.

Brown is a co-ordinator and master of ceremonies of an event being held at Dunedin City Library tomorrow to mark the 20th annual National Poetry Day.

The Otago-Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors is bringing together 10 poets from Dunedin and wider Otago for a gala evening dubbed “The Perfect Ten” at Dunedin City Library.

Brown said she often wrote poems to help her understand the vagaries of life.

“If I’m trying to understand something or grasp why something has happened, I will write a poem about it.”

She is a poetry tutor and co-ordinator at Creative Writing Dunedin.

Brown said she first starting writing poetry as a teenager, after a school teacher introduced her to the works of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.

It was common for poets to begin writing in their adolescent years.

“I think lots of teenagers write poems, usually about their angsty lives.”

But inspiration could strike at any age, she said. “This bug can strike at any time.”

One of her students, who was in her 60s, told her she had never written a poem before.

Brown said she wanted to overcome elitist perceptions of poetry.

“Some people think that you need to have a university degree or need to have studied it and I’m on a mission to say ‘this is not the case’.”

The Perfect Ten will feature Fiona Farrell, Jillian Sullivan, Liz Breslin, Brian Turner, Peter Olds, Sue Wootton, Jenny Powell, Kay McKenzie Cooke, Victor Billot and David Howard.

A prizegiving ceremony will also be held during the event for Columba College pupil Molly Crighton (16) and Otago Girls’ pupil Mia Parsons (14), who won the senior and junior categories of the WriteNow Dunedin Secondary School Poetry Competition respectively.

Both will read their prize-winning poems.

Tickets are $5 and can be bought at the library.

Another event to mark National Poetry Day in Dunedin is One Short Poem (and a hat), which will feature 20 poets each reading a short poem, with a prize on offer for the best hat on display.

One Short Poem (and a hat) will be held at the University of Otago’s Link in the IS Building from noon tomorrow.