The 10 best books of New Zealand verse from 2018, as cho­sen by Ni­cholas Reid.

New Zealand Listener - - CONTENTS - by Ni­cholas Reid

The year’s 10 best books of

New Zealand verse.



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


The most som­bre po­etic col­lec­tion this year. The Berlin-based New Zealand poet re­flects on the long reach of Euro­pean his­tory.


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.

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