New Zealanders, like the inhabitants of all small islands, are prodigious travellers, both geographically and culturally.
If we are famous, it is for our achievements in other countries, like Katherine Mansfield, Lord Rutherford, Edmund Hillary, Kiri te Kanawa or Rewi Alley. If you meet one of us, it is just as likely to be in unexpected places.
We are the the man on the sailboat up the Amazon (attacked by pirates), the comic taxi driver in the Bronx, the man with the drinkstand on the side of the Atacama Desert highway, the Moor in the Court of the Samorin. We are a nation of Sinbads, and our best poems and our own life-stories are tremendous fibs.
As a curious colateral of this, at home in our writings we are often timorous, self-deprecating, transparent as shrimps in the tide. Our national literature has a weakness for evasive trickery and bashful clumsiness and nervous shouting. Perhaps the only antidote to this is to go somewhere else, have an adventure, and tell the story.
back to the here of poetry:
words: Nicholas Messenger, New Zealand
photo: Dorothee Lang, Germany (oil on copper)