Ep 67: Part 2 AUP New Poets 5 – Rebecca Hawkes talks about Craig Arnold’s ‘Very Large Moth’ and ‘The flexitarian’ by Rebecca Hawkes

This episode is the second in a three-part series celebrating the publication of AUP New Poets 5 edited by Anna Jackson and published by Auckland University Press.

Launched in 1999, AUP New Poets first introduced readers to Anna Jackson, Sonja Yelich, Janis Freegard, Chris Tse and many other significant New Zealand voices. Relaunching this year under the editorship of Anna Jackson and with a bold new look, AUP New Poets 5 includes substantial selections from the poetry of Carolyn DeCarlo, Sophie van Waardenberg and Rebecca Hawkes.

In poems about limpets and mangroves, beauty and hunger, ‘love, actually’ and earthquake preparedness, the poets’ work stands out for its fierce intelligence, formal command and dazzling vivacity. AUP New Poets 5 is the perfect introduction to the lively diversity of New Zealand poetry today.

We start the series with a conversation with Rebecca Hawkes whose section in AUP New Poets 5 is called ‘Softcore coldsore’. I asked Rebecca to chose one of her poems and one by another poet as a starting point for our conversation. Rebecca chose her poem ‘The flexitarian’ which she read at the launch of AUP New Poets 5 and Craig Arnold’s ‘Very Large Moth’ which appears on the Poetry Foundation website

Rebecca Hawkes grew up on a high-country farm near Methven and now works, writes and paints in Wellington city. She holds an honours degree in media studies and an MA in creative non-fiction from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington. Her poetry has been published in Sport, Landfall, Starling, Turbine, Sweet Mammalian, RNZ and Mayhem. She can usually be found writing, painting or painstakingly catching insects to feed her pitcher plant.

Craig Arnold earned his BA in English from Yale University and his PhD in creative writing from the University of Utah. Arnold’s second collection of poetry, Made Flesh (2008), is “motored by vividly earthy language and disguised philosophical sophistication,” observed Publishers Weekly in a starred review, praising “sequences neither (quite) lyric nor narrative, but erotic and ever alert.” The raw, emotional intensity of Made Flesh stands in stark reply to the classical, formal mastery displayed in Arnold’s first collection, Shells (1999), which won the 1998 Yale Younger Poets Award.

His honors included the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Scholarship, the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the US-Japan Creative Artists Exchange Fellowship, the Alfred Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, a Dobie Paisano Residency, and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. A Fulbright Scholar at Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia, Arnold was also an avid musician and performed as a member of the band Iris.

In 2009, Arnold traveled to Japan to research volcanoes for a planned book of poetry. In April of that year, he disappeared while hiking on the island of Kuchinoerabujima. In the New York Times, the poet David Orr mourned the loss of Arnold, but noted it would “be a mistake to think of him as a writer silenced before his prime… His shelf space may be smaller than one would wish, but he earned every bit of it.”

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Ep 67: Part 2 AUP New Poets 5 – Rebecca Hawkes talks about Craig Arnold’s ‘Very Large Moth’ and ‘The flexitarian’ by Rebecca Hawkes

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