by Briar Wood
(Anahera Press, $25)
Ngapuhi poet Briar Wood's stunning first collection Rawahi utilises its title, translation: overseas, to examine ecological and mythological concerns closer to home. Take opening poems like Kuramarotini and
, for instance. The latter, like many poems here, opens with the picturesque: "Clouds, white sand and blue/expanse of seasky reflecting ... " but moves beyond the scenic to a deeper message of lost culture and lost faith. Be it in work inspired by the familiar such as kina or by matters international such as Paris Paques, themes of expedition are prevalent. Always, too, the author's structures and cadences are perfectly crafted.
by Nina Powles
(Seraph Press, $35)
One book or five? Literary cycle or succession of standalone chapbooks? Luminescent is a box of multiple poetry-stories. The 2015 Biggs Award for Poetry winner, Powles examines the lives of many historically influential women in her latest release, including Katherine Mansfield in Sunflowers and cosmologist Beatrice Tinsley in The Glowing Space Between Stars. Each section of Luminescent acts as a separate poetic-biography examining associated topical themes. Whale Fall, for instance, utilises the memoir of pioneer woman Betty Guard to survey whaling history, mythology and representation. However the reader engages with Luminescent, as individual pieces or a collective whole, this is an immense undertaking spectacularly realised.
by Tony Beyer
(Cold Hub Press, $40)
Whether it's writing about his humble and generous grandfather or iconic artist Colin McCahon, State Highway 2 or the joy of eating fish, classic poet Tony Beyer's attention to detail and insight in his latest collection, makes for compulsive reading. Always his poems are impressively structured; ditto the collection as a whole. We move from the person to the public, from the consecrated to the profane. Ambitious poems such as Processing Jerusalem, Paths and Long for this world mesmerise; a must-read.
by Trevor Hayes
(Seraph Press, $20)
The debut chapbook by Punakaiki poet Trevor Hayes, this may offer only 12 poems but packs much punch. Partly, the verses offer literal expedition (Whanganui to Chile, Almeria and points in-between). But it's the journeys - metaphysical, symbolic and linguistic - which have the most impact. The Jesus Poems, Peruvian Light, Paroemiology and Chronology: these blend language, travel, landscape and meteorology into taut and beautiful poetic narratives.
Short takes is a weekly column which runs in Weekend and rounds up the best new books in specific genres.