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The 2017 Divine Muses XIV : evening of poetrywas held at ST PAUL St Gallery, Auckland University of Technology.

MC, Rachael Naomi welcomed all and invited the poets C.K. Stead, Simone Kaho, Vana Manasiadis, Paula Green, Michael Giacon, Siobhan Harvey to read a selection of their poems.

This year’s Divine Muses brought together new and established poets for a poetry evening that affirmed the talent and diversity of New Zealand poets. It was a special evening for us as C.K. Stead, who had many commitments that day, his last official day as Poet Laureate, was able to take part and read several poems rich with social history and humour.

With Paula Green's reading we were able to acknowledge and congratulate her for being one of three writers who recently became recipients of this years’ Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement.

At the close of the readings the 2017 NEW VOICES - Emerging Poets Competition judge, Dr Maris O’Rourke, announced Anita Arlov and Ruby Porter as the winners and invited then to read their winning poems. Unity Books again generously donated the prizes.

As part of The Divine Muses fundraising programme to support the NEW VOICES competition a new letterpress broadsheet was unveiled featuring a lovely poem by Vana Manasiadis and printed by Shona Gow of Magpie Press, on a 1960 Heidelberg T-Platen press.To learn more about our broadhseet fundraising campaign click here.

NEW VOICES- Emerging Poets Judges Report, 2017

It has been an honour and a privilege to judge the 2017 competition, though somewhat nerve-wracking, as this is my first time as a judge. After Jane delivered the poems I shuffled them all around at random and read the whole lot through - then waited for a couple of days to see what surfaced. Some did immediately - and stayed with me. Next I read every poem aloud. In every case the content was good - often introspective, analytic, varied, interesting, surprising. Important events such as contraception, termination, abortion, miscarriage, birth, death, break-ups, homelessness, disability were there with love, whanau, Maori sovereignty, the environment, trying to become a writer, cross cultural issues and the search for a place to belong.

However, many would have benefited from more technical attention to detail and needed some redrafting, editing - especially of adverbs and adjectives, grammar checks, spell-checking, better enjambments, addition of macrons and accents, and so on.

I continued to wander around reading poems aloud over the next week - sifting and sieving. Two of my originals had stayed with me and I had my winner and runner-up. The other finalists were more difficult to categorise and decide between - so I have used my judge’s prerogative, created an extra category, and named them all.

Dave Moore – 17@57
Linda Jane Keegan – Under my Skin
Iva Vemic – Sadness and Cigarettes
Gillian Roach – Corporate Box
Annette Morehu – Five O’Clock on a Friday Evening
Sophie Proctor – The Poet

Highly Commended
Anna Zam - My disability does not define me
Ashlee-Ann Sneller - #333 The Day my Dad got out of Prison
Daniel Nissen-Ellison - Pakeha Mum, Something Dad

Runner-up: RUBY PORTER birds inside the shrinkwrap
This poem crept up on me and gave me something new to chew on with every reading. It took me on more than one journey. The metaphors and alliteration were well done to create layers of love, anger, despair as the poet tried to both deal with life events and - use lines that had been wandering around all day - and create. As they said - there were birds inside the shrinkwrap/shaking all the scaffolding/ i’ve been saving up the image. We all do that.

Winner: ANITA ARLOV Ballpoint
I loved this poem from the first reading. It has whimsy, a lightness of touch and lovely details. Who doesn’t want to be the Gypsy Queen and have Bosco the Palace Guard holding one’s hand and declaiming: Give me your hand, oh queen so fair/And I will tell you what I see there. Then running out the porch doors heads giddy with lyrics to create castles in the playground, eat Juicy Fruit and receive a warm, shiny, pink, metal ballpoint!

The layers are cleverly inserted through repetition and words used more than one way. I was transported through French language, play, hands, pinks and blues, a Treasure box, printings and Ages later into a bedside table in a flat. The poem took me on a path of love and memory without ever directly saying so.

Congratulations to all the poets who entered. Thank you for letting me read your work. Poetry is in good heart in Aotearoa – there are some wonderful New Voices and I look forward to seeing more from our Emerging Poets.

Dr Maris O'Rourke - Judge 2017.

Began writing in 2008 and since then has been well placed in a number of competitions. Her work has been published in a range of journals and has also featured in a number of anthologies e.g. Essential New Zealand Poems: Facing the Empty Page, Starch Vol II and Taking Latin America Home. In 2013 O’Rourke first poetry collection Singing With Both Throats was published by David Ling Publishing. In 2015 her set of poems Motherings won the coveted Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems. She has written three successful children’s books, illustrated by Claudia Pond Eyley and published by Duck Creek Press. In 2016 one was translated into Maori and distributed to all Te Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Maori schools and this year it is a finalist in the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. 2016 she completed her Masters in Creative Writing (AUT) and is currently working on a memoir with the working title Zig Zags and Leapfrogs.

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Anita established Inside Out Open Mic for Writers in 2012. With the late Miles Hughes she established Spit It Out Spoken Word, which won the Special Award at the 2013 Auckland Fringe Festival. She gained second place in the Kevin Ireland Poetry Competition 2013. In 2017 she was highly commended in the NZ Flash Fiction Competition, and commended in the NZ Poetry Society International Poetry Competition. Anita has been published in various journals including NZ Poetry Yearbook, Broadsheet, Live Lines and Flash Frontier. She reads and emcees at literary events.



Ruby Porter is a tutor of creative writing at the University of Auckland. She is both a poet and a prose writer. For her Masters of Creative Writing, Ruby wrote a novel, for which she received First Class Honours. She has been published in Geometry Journal, Aotearotica, The Spinoff and The Wireless and a selection of her poetry is available on NZEPC as part of Six Pack Sounds. This year, she has begun mentoring students from Sir Edmund Hilary Collegiate. It is the most rewarding job she has ever had...