Ankh’s 2019 interview with me:
Ankh’s on his latest book:
Q2: How important is nature in your poetry?
It’s pivotal. I can’t write a poem where it isn’t, because a wide-open awareness of the natural world is my default state. When you have no skin, everything sings to you, for good or ill, and nothing keys more true than the natural world. It’s also the very seat of my own spirituality – yes, I absolutely do believe in old incarnations of forest and wave and wind and dirt and star and stone. Perhaps it’s because I’m fortunate to have been born as a guest in a place where natural beauty is legendary, nature has a living mythological voice right there in the landscape you’re walking on, but honestly I think the singing happens everywhere. Once you open your eyes and ears to it, realise that you’re an intimate part of season and cycle and elemental ebb and flow, you’ll carry that forever, and I do think that to view ourselves as somehow separate from our environment is a tragedy. My poem ‘A shell returns to the sea’ was written for a friend in hospital in the middle of a very big city, where two kids from Aotearoa both felt as far from the ocean as we’d ever been, and my realisation in a moment desperate to reassure him was that even the glass in the windows, the concrete in the corridor, was born on a beach. So, not just us in our animate arrogance, but almost everything we process as artificial, owes its debt to the old origins somewhere along the line. And living in a place that is literally all coastline, where weather likes to be extreme, and a place that’s really vulnerable to environmental change, also gives my poems a duty to carry that weight – as a poet I don’t get to celebrate the marvel without also being aware of the toll. If you’re the sort of person who can ignore what we’re doing to the cradle that sustains us, then what’s in your chest works differently from what’s in mine. If you’re the sort of person who can ignore that this cradle is some kind of ridiculous miracle all the way back to that first puff of gas, then likewise. But as a poet I really want you to feel that too, so I guess I’m constantly drawing on that awe-sense to share it, like a kid with an incredible beetle – ‘See? Oh my gods, do you *really see this* though?’