Here are our picks for the 10 best books of New Zealand verse from 2018, as chosen by Nicholas Reid.
Are Friends Electric? by Helen Heath (VUP)
The humane clear-headedness of a poet who knows what science is and asks penetrating questions about human nature.
Edgeland by David Eggleton (OUP)
A fusion of landscape poetry and freewheeling satire carried off with great brio by a master of both forms.
Figure & Ground by Robert McLean (Cold Hub Press)
From New Zealand’s most underrated poet, an intensely intellectual dissection of history and culture. Demanding but rewarding.
Luxembourg by Stephen Oliver (Greywacke Press)
The self-proclaimed “Australasian” poet takes the moral temperature on both sides of the Tasman and scores the year’s greatest satirical whack with his poem Open-Learning Workshops.
Nowhere Nearer by Alice Miller (AUP)
The most sombre poetic collection this year. The Berlin-based New Zealand poet reflects on the long reach of European history.
Poeta: Selected and New Poems by Cilla McQueen (OUP)
Great retrospective from a poet who knows that a joyful view of life doesn’t mean a trivial view of life. Complemented by her own line drawings.
View From the South by Owen Marshall (Vintage)
Another great retrospective from a poet whose style is straightforward but whose meaning is deep. Our own Robert Frost. Complemented by Grahame Sydney’s photographs.
What Is Left Behind by Tom Weston (Steele Roberts)
With copious references to Pasifika imagery, a meditation on time and the uncertainty of the future.
Whisper of a Crow's Wing by Majella Cullinane (OUP)
For sheer lyricism, this is the year’s greatest treat from an Irish expatriate who has that Celtic sense of the deep past butting into our everyday mundanity.
XYZ of Happiness by Mary McCallum (Mākaro Press)
A real find. Debut volume by a mature woman who understands that true happiness is found only when we’ve been challenged by its opposite, sorrow.
This article was first published in the December 1, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.