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painting by Mary McIntyre

The latest reviews of Kingdom Animalia: the Escapades of Linnaeus come from Emma Neale in the NZ Listener (December 3 -9 2011):

“…Freegard is equal parts jester and scientist…the collection is as much about human follies, infringements, betrayals and tenderness as it is about the habits and habitats of our animal cousins.”

Sarah Jane Barnett in Landfall:

“There is a lot to enjoy in Kingdom Animalia.  Freegard’s poetry is sharp and funny; she is the poet next door who I immediately like.”

and Joanna Preston in A Fine Line (the NZ Poetry Society magazine):

“At its best, Kingdom Animalia is delicious – often funny, frequently touching, unmistakeably modern, and full of swerves and quirks and strange reverses.”

Earlier reviews had this to say:

Paula Green in the NZ Herald (1 November 2011):

“…Freegard has glued the breach between poetry and science with lyricism, inventiveness, research, playfulness and miniature bursts of storytelling. Fascinating.”

Patricia Prime in Takahē 73 (Winter 2011):

“…Freegard’s is a restless poetry, expressing contemporary angst within a context of travel, or analyzing the stopping-places, trying to see clearly, and identifying with the flora and fauna. Yet there is also a need to try and anchor the poems to the modern world.”

Tedi Busch in the Nelson Mail (30 July 2011):

“…The author’s imagination is infinite. In just one piece a witch teaches her to fly like a humming bird while advising a man from Japan about his cup of spaghetti and notes that our minds have minds of their own. Hers certainly does; I think I’ll go and read this all over again.”

link to review

and Hamesh Wyatt in the Otago Daily Times:

“…There is plenty of subversive humour and a little self-indulgence but never a dull moment. …….Kingdom Animalia: The Escapades of Linnaeus will get under your skin something fierce. It’s neat to have something brand-new and shiny.”

Other links:

An interview about the book with Veronika Meduna on ‘Our Changing World’ poetry-and-science.asx

and with Tim Jones on his blog.

Kingdom Animalia also has its own Facebook page.


Image via Wikipedia

Of Many Worlds in This World

Just like as in a nest of boxes round,
Degrees of sizes in each box are found:
So, in this world, may many others be
Thinner and less, and less still by degree:
Although they are not subject to our sense,
A world may be no bigger than two-pence.
Nature is curious, and such works may shape,
Which our dull senses easily escape:
For creatures, small as atoms, may there be,
If every one a creature’s figure bear.
If atoms four, a world can make, then see
What several worlds might in an ear-ring be:
For, millions of those atoms may be in
The head of one small, little, single pin.
And if thus small, then ladies may well wear
A world of worlds, as pendents in each ear.

Another poem from the inimitable Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673), Duchess of Newcastle, poet, science fiction author and the first woman invited to attend the Royal Society.  I posted about her last year, too.

“I would rather die in the adventure of noble achievements than live in obscure and sluggish security.”

Yesterday marked the 29th anniversary of Neil Roberts’ death.  Neil blew himself up outside the Wanganui Computer Centre in 1982, as a protest action.  Here’s a link to an earlier post about Neil.

No Future – in memory of Neil Roberts.

and here’s a photo I stole off the Neil Roberts – New Zealand’s own Guy Fawkes Facebook page.

On Thursday (17 November 2011), sometime after 9pm, I will be talking to Veronika Meduna on Our Changing World on National Radio and reading a few poems from Kingdom Animalia: the Escapades of Linnaeus.

Janis, pingao, Island Bay, wind

The words on the beach, “This is a day for the eating of clouds” are busy settling into a poem now that the tide has swept them away.  They originally came from me mishearing “It’s cloudy today” as “It’s cloud-eater day”.  I like the cloud-eater version better.

It’s so good to see all the pingao around Island Bay now the council has fenced it off.  Many years ago (over the 1985/86 summer) I did a coastal vegetation survey with Yvonne Weeber for the Wellington Harbour Board  (best job I’ve ever had!) and it was very exciting every time we found a struggling pingao plant clinging on amongst the marram.  Now they’re thriving – hurrah!







Now and then I like to play around with poetic forms and recently I’ve been having fun with triolets.  The triolet is a French form originating in the 14th century.  It has 8 lines and involves a lot of repetition.

It goes:


ie the first two lines are repeated at the end and the first line is also the 4th line (as well as being the 7th line).  The rhyme scheme means that there are 2 rhymes – one for the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th lines and another for the rest.

Traditionally triolets were written in iambic pentameter (dee dum dee dum dee dum dee dum dee dum) but I haven’t bothered about that.  Here’s one of my (not very good) attempts to give you the idea.

No Skin

for years he had no skin
the slightest slight was felt too keenly
reaching too far in
for years he had no skin
his barriers had all worn thin
his innards had become exposed – unseemly
for years he had no skin
the slightest slight was felt too keenly


and here’s a link to a really good one by British poet Wendy Cope.




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November 2011

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