Po­ems re­flect life of roam­ing

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Putting pen to pa­per helps Maris O’Rourke look back on a fas­ci­nat­ing life story, with chap­ters from even the small­est cor­ners of the world.

Af­ter re­leas­ing a chil­dren’s book the author is turn­ing out her first col­lec­tion of po­etry.

As an in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion con­sul­tant she has vis­ited more than 50 de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

Some of the po­ems in Singing With Both Throats are in­spired by her trav­els. Bei­jing Boys is a case in point. In 2011 Ms O’Rourke took a train trip from Bei­jing to Ber­lin with some friends.

Be­fore set­ting off from Bei­jing they vis­ited a park be­side the For­bid­den City.

‘‘I looked around and re­alised there was only boys, there were no girls in there at all.

‘‘Each of the boys had four or five adults run­ning around af­ter them while they were ba­si­cally cre­at­ing havoc,’’ the Mt Eden res­i­dent says.

China’s one child pol­icy has led to a num­ber of par­ents abort­ing preg­nan­cies when they find out the baby is a girl.

The term Lit­tle Em­per­ors was coined to de­scribe chil­dren born un­der this pol­icy who are able to com­mand the un­di­vided at­ten­tion and af­fec­tion of their par­ents

‘‘I’ve spent quite a lot of time in China over the years and I started to think, what does all this mean for the fu­ture of this coun­try?’’

Other po­ems in the col­lec­tion sim­ply re­flect mo­ments and mem­o­ries from her life.

Spells to Tame Chil­dren ap­pears to be an ode to par­ent­ing while Tangi Time is a set of in­struc­tions for her sons to fol­low when she dies.

Ms O’Rourke is a for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tor for the World Bank.

Singing With Both Throats is the prod­uct of five years work. ‘‘I’ve al­ways loved writ­ing. ‘‘If you think about it po­etry cuts right down to the essence of things. I’m not much of a re­flec­tor, but it is a great way to re­flect.’’

Th­ese days she has given up her con­sul­tancy work and writes full­time.

Next on her list is a fol­low up to her first book Lil­libutt’s Big Ad­ven­ture, which was re­leased last year.

The chil­dren’s story is about the fun a pig named Lil­libutt has while walk­ing the 1600 kilo­me­tre El Camino pil­grim­age trail from France to Spain.

Lil­libutt’s next ad­ven­ture will take her along the Te Araroa walk which stretches from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

Ms O’Rourke has been grad­u­ally com­plet­ing the walk with her part­ner since Christ­mas.

‘‘We’ve done 900km so we’ve still got a re­ally long way to go, but it’s an amaz­ing trip so I thought Lil­libutt could have this lit­tle Te Araroa ad­ven­ture as well.’’

The front cover of Singing With Both Throats is an art work by Clau­dia Pond Ey­ley, who also il­lus­trated Lil­libutt’s Big Ad­ven­ture.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Chang­ing tack: Chil­dren’s book author Maris O’Rourke is re­leas­ing her first col­lec­tion of po­etry.

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