Thanks to the contributions of poets Paula King, Megan Norris, Margi Mitcalfe, Deborah Thompson, Joy Green, Lynne Kohen, Nicola Easthope, Christopher Tuffley, and David Fountain ‘catch and release: Poems from Manawatū’ is the first of what is hoped will become many creative e-publications produced by the Living Room of the City. The initiative is part of Palmerston North Libraries and Community Services’ experimental poetry programme ‘KUPU – Poetry Beyond Words’. This poetry anthology is one of several programmes designed to engage the community in poetry writing.
“For many years we have wanted to find a way to nurture growth and interest in creative writing”, says Janet Ellery, Manager Planning and Performance. “KUPU is our effort to be active about it, to put forward a number of community engagement initiatives to make poetry-writing and enjoyment accessible to as wide an audience as possible. Sometimes people can feel intimidated about trying it. We’re trying to help people overcome this, and hopefully discover a love for this creative and adaptable form of expression”.
“At the same time, as a public library, we’ve been contemplating how to address the issue of community-generated content creation. KUPU seemed an obvious vehicle to try some different things to engage the community around creation of poetry. With the growth in self-publishing, we felt we should test this avenue and experiment with how well it could work to showcase talent in the poetry writing community. The result of months of effort is what we think is a lovely anthology of poetry about Manawatū – a creative expression of heart and place”.
This interpretation of “Manawatū” provided the opportunity to consider submissions about the connection of heart to place, and try to convey the very human truths underlying the sense of belonging and connection. “We’ve tried to capture this essence in the design aspects of the book”, says Janet. “The nine layers of heart represent each of the nine poets whose work is included in the book. The rings, starting from that heart centre, expanding across and off the cover represent both the concept of place, and the purpose of KUPU which is to release poetry from the confines of the page”. Many of the submissions were from local writers. Other contributions came from further afield, including the Kapiti Coast and Nelson.