05 Aug 2019

Helen Heath Q & A

05 Aug 2019

” …I want people to feel they are not alone.”

Why do you think poetry is so hot right now?

Is poetry ever hot? Haha, I always feel like Poetry is the emo cousin hiding in the corner while Fiction is the cool kid in the room. I guess Hera Lindsay Bird is one reason and platforms like Instagram and Youtube along with slam events are another. It is certainly easier to find ‘your people’ now on the internet than it was in Lower Hutt in the 80s, for example.

We grow up with poetry in our lives. How does poetry shape us?

It’s something many people turn to at significant moments in their lives, such as weddings or funerals. However, I think many people feel like poetry is some kind of cruel trick that English teachers taunted them with at school. My hope is that people can get past that and find personal resonance and meaning or just humour and delight. Mostly I want people to feel they are not alone.

Helen Heath by Victoria Birkinshaw 2018

How can poetry break its ‘hierarchical chains’ and reach new communities?

I don’t think poetry has really had ‘hierarchical chains’ for a long time. It just gets bad press from people who hated poetry in school. 

Who are some NZ poets you think more people should be reading?

Maria McMillan, Helen Lehndorf, Helen Rickerby and Vana Manasiades are great – have a read!

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