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Very excited to see that the AUP New Poets series is cranking up again. This is such a great poetry series and I’m delighted to be a part of it (I was in AUP New Poets 3, back in 2008). It’s a great way to get to know new voices and I’m so pleased Auckland University Press is relaunching it. There’s a New Poets 5 coming out later this year (with a fresh, new look) and a New Poets 6 in the making too! The wonderful Anna Jackson (who featured in AUP New Poets 1) is editing.

Carolyn de Carlo, one of the AUP New Poets 5 authors, has arranged a reading of past and present “New Poets” at Millers O’Brien gallery in Victoria St. in Wellington (1/85 Victoria St, upstairs, near the Lido) this Tuesday 18th June 2019 at 6:00pm. I’d love to see you there. Here are the deets from Food Court:

“Food Court is proud to present their latest event, an evening of readings by Auckland University Press writers who have been featured in the New Poets series, relaunching with Vol. 5 in August 2019. Consider this a sneak preview of what will be on offer in Vol. 5 and beyond, and a look back at some absolute bangers from over the years.

Current Lineup:
Carolyn DeCarlo
Sophie van Waardenberg
Rebecca Hawkes
Chris Tse
Janis Freegard
Anna Jackson
+ a few surprises!

There is a working lift at the gallery, but there will be limited seating available (8-10 chairs). Please arrive early if this applies to you, or let us know ahead of time, and we will do our best to accommodate all needs and circumstances!”

Here’s the list of AUP New Poets to date:

AUP New Poets 1: Raewyn Alexander, Anna Jackson, Sarah Quigley

(currently listed on Amazon for $149.50 for a used copy (!!!), so clearly a collector’s item)

AUP New Poets 2: Stu Bagby, Jane Gardner, Sonja Yelich


AUP New Poets 3: Janis Freegard, Katherine Liddy, Reihana Robinson


AUP New Poets 4: Harry Jones, Erin Scudder, Chris Tse


AUP New Poets 5: Carolyn de Carlo, Sophie van Waardenberg and Rebecca Hawkes


are now on Flickr!


There’s a review of AUP New Poets 3 by Cy Mathews in the latest Takahe.  Having failed miserably to upload a copy, here are a couple of quotes:

 “Wellington’s Janis Freegard stands out with the easy musicality of her poems and prose poems, amongst which are moments of quirky brilliance…”

“At times these narratives risk becoming a little cutesy in their quirky, mannered eccentricity, but for the most part they are very enjoyable…”

“…”The Continuing Adventures of Alice Spider” is an especially interesting experiment in serial prose poetry, for the most part realistic, but veering now and then into more surrealistic flights of fancy…”

Tim Jones (author of Transported and various other books) has reviewed AUP New Poets 3 on his blog.  If you’re interested, you can read it here:


Finally the day comes when a poem matures, announces it’s leaving home and sets off into the world to seek its fortune.  Once I’ve waved goodbye, it’s hard to control what happens to them, but I like to check in now and then to see how they’re doing.


I was pleased to find one of my poems (“Three Hummingbirds”) on a photography and poetry website recently.  Great! I thought.  Until I realised someone had seen fit to change the title, remove the stanza numbers and delete the middle stanza altogether!  Oh and my name was spelt incorrectly (but I’m used to that).  I don’t believe it’s OK to change someone’s work in this way (and I expect it’s a breach of copyright).  I chose that title for a reason, the stanza numbers are an integral part of the poem and the middle stanza provides a clear link between the other two.  I’m following this up with the person whose site it is and hopefully can get it remedied.  (If it gets fixed, I’ll put up a link.)


If you want to read the poem in its true and proper form, you can see it here on the Poetry NZ website:


The other thing I found on the net recently was the first review I’ve seen of AUP New Poets 3.  It’s from Trevor Reeves in Southern Ocean Review and if you’re interested, you can read it here:  I must say I’m impressed with Southern Ocean Review’ broad coverage of poetry published in New Zealand with short reviews of pretty much every poetry book there is, as far as I can see.


I was a little surprised to be described as a “fresh new voice from the Auckland region” given that I’ve spent the last 25 years in Wellington and most of my poems in the collection are set in Wellington – but I expect that was because Auckland University Press is the publisher.  And I did live in Auckland for five years in my late teens, so I’m quite happy to be considered a JAFA. Trevor goes on to say my work “deals mainly with spiders” which is an interesting interpretation.  To me, the Alice Spider character I write about has always been human, but I know some people see her as an actual spider.


Anyway, there we have it.  Poems which now have a life of their own.  All I can do is hover in the background.  Like a spider.

Big thanks to everyone who came along to the launch on Wednesday night.  Cool venue, huh?  And I hope you enjoyed the band – the fabulous Sans Souci, bringing the streets of Paris to a wintry Wellington.  I started the evening with a ‘thank you rap’ (anyone who knows me, knows I don’t rap) which I will reproduce here for those who missed their thankyou on the night:

first I’d like to thank the AUP

for being so good as to publish me

that’s the Auckland University Press

& Anna Hodge, editress


I’d like to acknowledge the other two

writers whose poems are in this book

respect to Katherine and Rei-

hana who can’t be here today


Thanks to Greg O’Brien who taught us so well

at the poetry workshop at the IIML

Big ups to the writing groups who keep me on track

With their elegant, eloquent, fine feedback


like the Millionaires poets* who meet at finc

for sticks of bread and the occasional drink

(that’s Mary and Mary and Mary-Jane

and Kerry and Kerry and Jo and James)

whose advice is never to be missed

they stop me writing doggerel like this


then there’s the Wellington writers and the Sittenfeld set

a finer bunch of novelists I’ve never met

thanks to Adi Brown –she knows her craft

she took the back  jacket photograph

thanks to Cathy Blakely for the things to eat

the yummy cheese straws and the party treats


thank you to everyone here tonight

friends and colleagues and passers-by

there are books for sale and spiders for free

and accordion music from Sans Souci


thanks to the folk from Mighty Mighty

for their wonderful hospitality

and finally thanks to our lovely MC

international man of history

that’s Peter, aka doctor D

all right, let’s have some poetry!

* not everyone listed here is a Millionnaires Shortbread poet, but I claim poetic license

and here’s a picture of me reading it:


(more pictures to come – thankyou Fleur for taking them)

In case you’re wondering, those are plastic spiders sewn around my neckline.  I also colour-co-ordinated my outfit to match the vivid green of the book cover!

You are invited to the launch of


AUP New Poets 3





What is it?

The launch of a poetry book by Janis Freegard,

Katherine Liddy and Reihana Robinson

followed by music from the fabulous Sans Souci


Where is it?

at the Mighty  Mighty  Bar in Cuba Mall

(upstairs between Rex Royale and Mr Bun)


When is it?

on Weds 13th August 08  5:30  – 7:30pm


Can I bring my friends? Workmates?  People I meet on the street?

The more the merrier!


What can I expect there?

poetry! at 6ish

  accordion music! at 6:30ish

  free spiders!

   fine company!

  cheese straws!


What if I hate poetry?

You can hang out at the bar with the other philistines until it’s over.


What’s with the spiders?

Janis’ section of the book is called ‘The Continuing Adventures of Alice Spider and Other Tales”

but only Janis will be there on account of the other two being overseas


OK, I have been out looking for spiders.  I have promised free spiders at the poetry book launch and I shall deliver.  Over the past couple of weeks, I have been to every $2 shop and craft shop in Wellington and today I have come home with several bags of plastic spiders, in varying lurid colours.  I thought it would be easier.  I thought there would sheet upon sheet of spider stickers and fake spider tattoos, that the craft shops would be full of little wooden spiders and fluffy spiders and spider stamps.  Alas, I was mistaken.  Some of the things I found didn’t even have the right number of legs (8 – they’re arachnids; if they have 6 legs they are either insects or differently abled).  And what is the deal with butterflies?  Butterflies galore; butterflies as far as the eye can see;butterly upon butterly upon sparkly, glittery butterfly, but a sad and inexplicable lack of spiders.

I like spiders.  I had a flatmate once (who shall remain nameless) who, despite spending his university holidays working at the freezing works, would call me if he came across a spider in the bath.  Personally, I was brought up to believe that spiders were worthy, fly-eating creatures and that, while it was permissable to vacuum up their uninhabited webs, the spiders themselves should be left to rebuild in the ceiling corners. 

If you want to read one of my spider poems, you can click here:



If you want a spider of your own, do come along to the Wellington version of the AUP New Poets 3 launch.  I’m hoping it will be at Mighty Mighty on Wednesday 13th August 2008, at 5:30pm, but right now I can’t get hold of Rich the Gig Booker to confirm.  Katherine Liddy is also planning a launch in Vancouver – so it’s a truly global publication.

Perhaps you’re wondering: why spiders?  My section of the book is called “The Continuing Adventures of Alice Spider and other Tales” – a reference to an interminable prose poem I started writing when I was 18 or 19. 
Be kind to spiders: eight legs good; two legs bad.





My main writing project at the moment (apart from the novel looking resentful and neglected on top of my printer) is organising The Launch.  My two fellow poets (sister poets?) are overseas, so there’s no hope of a joint event.  Instead I am endeavouring to organise a bit of a do in Wellington, during which I will subject my friends, colleagues and uninterested observers to a small dose of poetry.  Some will like it, some will clap politely whilst stealing surreptitious glances at their watches and some will hide out at the bar until it’s over.  (A bit like life, really).

Planning is under way.  The word “Planning” is included in my job title, so I feel I ought to have a few clues by now.  Mostly it’s about making lists of things to do and writing people’s names next to them.  Must get on to that.  No, really, I have taken action already and made a phone call and sent an email.  I’m hoping it will all happen at Mighty Mighty on Weds 13th August (just need to confirm a few things).  I will be offering free spiders.  Watch this space.

Friday 18th July, of course, is Montana Poetry Day and there will be jolly poetry events all across New Zealand (hurrah!).  Personally, I shall be trekking to the City Gallery at lunchtime for a movie about Maori poets and in the evening will venture forth to the Newtown Public Library for an open mike session (read your own or someone else’s – I hope to do both).  There’s also the all day poetry marathon at the Bucket Fountain in Manners Mall.  Yay!

My exciting news is the imminent arrival of AUP New Poets 3 in all good NZ and online bookstores.  I’m one of three poets featured – the others are Katherine Liddy and Reihana Robinson. 

Here’s a synopsis:

“This is the third book in AUP’s New Poets series, which began in 1999 and has launched an oustanding range of poets. The new poets in this third volume, Janis Freegard, Katherine Liddy and Reihana Robinson, all have vastly different yet complementary styles. Freegard writes quirky and often surreal poems about a Wellington inhabited with strange animals, art and people; the humorous prose poem is a favourite vehicle but there are also serious, luminous moments in this selection, called ‘The Continuing Adventures of Alice Spider and Other Tales. Liddy is a promising young poet with an unusual interest in and ear for rhyme and rhythm. While some of her poems are texturally dense she has an impressive range and there is a pleasing variety in her selection, ‘Artefacts Exhibiting Love’, which is ordered chronologically from the Bronze Age to the space age. Finally, Robinson’s poems are tropical but gritty, set as many of them are on Pitcairn Island ‘A Hum for Pitkern’ is her strong centrepiece – and elsewhere in the Pacific. She intersperses touching lyrics about family and identity with sharper poems written in a fractured English. ”

and here’s a picture:


AUP New Poets 3

AUP New Poets 3

Now I’ve just got to sort out a launch…



Janis on Twitter

  • RT @amjutel: Here's a creative writing contest: In exactly 55 words, tell us what the Covid-19 pandemic is/was like for you by 23 Oct. Ema… 3 days ago
  • RT @minhealthnz: Watch our Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, sign a message as part of the New Zealand Sign Language Leader… 6 days ago
  • RT @ANZLiterature: Writers please apply!! 2 weeks ago

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October 2020

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