By Greg Bruce, with footnotes by Hera Lindsay Bird.
[Pause for laughter]
Now I've got your attention, I'd like to talk to you about poetry............. ..........
[Pause for shocked looks. There are none. Clear throat. Continue]
Now I've got your attention, I'd like to talk to you about ellipses.
[Pause to answer an audience question about ellipses]
[Pause to answer more audience questions, increasingly self-aggrandising - comments really - about ellipses]
Look, we've got a lot to get through and I wasn't anticipating so much interest in ...
Karen O'Leary drops truth bombs among the jokes
[Notice arrival of Hera Lindsay Bird, mop brow gratefully]
Ladies and gentlemen: Hera Lindsay Bird!
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Hera Lindsay Bird, 32, whose ability to put words of great power  - sometimes interrupted by luxuriously long ellipses - in rare and fantastical combination  made her, even before the publication of her first collection, arguably the country's most famous contemporary poet, has recently moved from Wellington to Auckland, where she continues her poetic ascent apace. She is soon to start a four-month residency at the Frank Sargeson Centre as one of this year's two Grimshaw Sargeson Fellows, an award for which she also gets $10,000.
Bird became quite famous in May 2016 when her poem about Monica from Friends was published on The Spinoff and went viral. She became even more famous two months later when her poem Keats is Dead So F*** Me From Behind did the same, effectively guaranteeing her self-titled collection with author photo on the cover, which came out the same month, would be the most popular book of poetry published that year - and probably for many years hence. Kirsten McDougall from Victoria University Press told Viva's Rebecca Barry Hill, three reprints and five months after the book's publication in 2016, "There is no comparison, no other poet sells like this."
She's developed a big and growing following overseas too, publicly lauded by serious big-time poets in the United Kingdom and the United States, and gives readings at literary festivals all over the world, including Poland. Famous international musician Florence Welch, of famous band Florence and the Machine, last year told her book club (112,000 followers on Instagram). "Hera Lindsay Bird is intimidatingly good. Reading her is like having my brain blasted with cold water ."
I'm not sure about that simile. I've always found reading her to be more like starting the keto diet or playing football for Japan.
Sex talk  makes up a small proportion of her work but a large proportion of the media response to it, possibly because her images are so striking ("Finger me slowly / In the snowscape of your childhood) and possibly because they're sometimes (Keats Is Dead) juxtaposed with the names of old or dead male poets ("Eat my pussy from behind / Bill Manhire's not getting any younger") and possibly because, as a society, we're still sexist.
She's editor of the upcoming anthology Best New Zealand Poems 2019 and says there's a huge amount of sex in the source material. She doesn't think this is her influence, even though it clearly is . "I don't think so," she says, wrongly. "I think it's always been there but it's just not so remarked on in other people's work. I couldn't tell you how poetry's changed in New Zealand over the past 10 years ... but even reading back over some really old New Zealand stuff, some of it's filthy and I'm like, 'Why did I cop so much flak for this stuff when this person was doing it 50 years ago?'"
She didn't give any examples  but it's hard to imagine much of it would stand up next to, for instance: "Bend me over like a substitute teacher / & pump me full of shivering arrows".
The writing of the 19 poems comprising her self-titled 2016 collection took five years , but the ones that got most of the attention, Monica and Keats, were tossed off in a week or two. "It's strange," she says, "Because I don't think they're the best poems but also you're not always the best judge of your work ."
Bird's editor at Victoria University Press, fellow brilliant young poet, Ashleigh Young , says she remembers Bird's manuscript arriving at the office in 2016: "It took a little while for it to sink in, how ridiculously good it was, because there was so much in it. Within each line there was so, so much and it made me feel - not to sound cheesy - but it made me feel so many feelings, and took a while to sort of untangle them. So it was really exciting. And confusing."
"Part of it is the sense of almost recklessness. She just uses everything at her disposal. Often in poetry you do see a lot of restraint - perhaps not so much now - or a sort of carefulness or caution and there's none of that here. There's a real lushness and hilarity. I think a lot of it's you can see how much fun she's having."
Asked if we can already put Bird in the pantheon of New Zealand poets , Young, herself a pantheon member, says, "How could you not? As an editor, I just think there has been a huge shift in New Zealand poetry. I know that people have argued this is not the case, that this sort of writing has been going on for decades and all of this sort of nonsense, but it's opened things up for younger writers, both in terms of form and subject matter. There's a new energy since her book."
Although Young was ostensibly Bird's editor, she says the truth is she suggested changing a couple of words and the lengths of some of the sprawling ellipses , but that was about it. "Like, honestly, it came in and just immediately exploded everything."
Book blurbs, which are essentially sales pitches, are not usually written by the books' authors but it would have been absurd for anyone else to attempt to capture the spirit, voice or really anything else about Hera Lindsay Bird or Hera Lindsay Bird in a sales pitch, so she wrote her own, which turned out to be less a sales pitch and more this type of thing:
"whether you are masturbating luxuriously in your parents' sleepout.......... ..........or pushing a pork roast home in a vintage pram................... this is the book for you............................................. heroically and compulsively stupid……………………………"
(Ellipses hers, lengths unchanged.)
"It destroyed my brain," Bird says of the success and adulation that followed her viral poems and reception for her book. "It did. I can't write poetry. Every now and again I'll do a poem for a commission or something but it really feels like I'm doing a weird parody of myself now."
She thought: "I have to stop writing this sort of thing otherwise I'm going to be writing exactly the same poem again and again for 50 years  and I'm sick of writing them and everyone else must be sick of reading them. How can we put an end to this terrible cycle?" 
At the Frank Sargeson Centre she will be working on a book that might be short stories, might be a novel, might be something else altogether but won't be poetry. So far, she has about three chapters of whatever it is. She says: "I never really know until I finish what something is going to be."
She feels a bit lost, she says, but in a good way. If she plans too much she gets bored and the excitement  of writing disappears. Talking to her dad on the phone the other day she said, "I'm so sick of this book," and flippantly suggested writing a Wodehouse novel instead .
He suggested she do it but in a New Zealand context , which she didn't think was so crazy . "The poetry I was writing was never completely new. It was very derivative actually but people in New Zealand hadn't seen it before, so I think there's kind of an excitement in taking something that's old and worn out  and giving it a slightly new context ."
She likes to downplay the originality of her work. Had she studied creative writing in one of the MFA (Master of Fine Arts) programmes in the US, she says, her book would never have been read, or even published: "It would have just been one book out of the millions that come out every year. Everything you want to write has been done by someone about 12 times before in the States."
That's wrong, obviously . Star American poets Chelsea Minnis and Mark Leidner, who are the influences she namechecks most heavily, are similar to her in some ways - funny, heavy with metaphor, fresh, sometimes shocking - and Minnis is a big fan of ellipses - but saying their poetry is just like hers is like saying Toto's Africa was just like Boston's More than a Feeling.
Ashleigh Young, also a fan of Minnis and Leidner, thinks Bird is better than both.
She never meant poetry to be her main thing because she never really liked to read poetry but her fiction application was rejected by New Zealand's pre-eminent creative writing instruction institution, the IIML at Victoria University and her poetry application wasn't, then a visiting teacher from the US brought in a packet of poetry readings.
"I was, like, 'Man, there are people in here doing things that I've never heard anyone do before.'" She discovered, for instance, the New York School - John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Frank O'Hara, etc - "I'm sure it's a revelation to nobody else in the country but to me when I read those people I was like, 'Yeah, this is it. This is what I love.'"
Now, she says, when she performs readings of the poems that made her famous, "It's like reciting a Bible passage that your teacher made you learn in Sunday school , which has lost all meaning." She thinks she's only got three poetry books in her and she's already published two. "I'm only allowed one more, in my 50s" she says . Her second book - a chapbook, or pamphlet really  - was published in 2018 and called Pamper Me To Hell & Back.
Again, she wrote the blurb. Again, it wasn't much of a sales pitch: "This pamphlet of poetry by Hera Lindsay Bird is a startling departure from her bestselling debut Hera Lindsay Bird by defying convention and remaining exactly the same, only worse."
 strong "youth pastor" energy
 werewolf hegemony
 Ham pantyliner
 Medically unsound
 Sometimes, when a mother and a father love each other very much
 I mean, I think the biological imperative to procreate bears some degree of responsibility
 C.K. Stead's erotic sonnets "bathing the chambermaid"
 I changed my mind. They're still bad
 Hi Ashleigh
 There is no pantheon. It's just a water cooler in an empty field.
 Before dying from exposure at 82
 buy me a house and I'll stop
 Excitement is a strong word. Let's call it the death drive
 One of the unreadable golf anthologies, obviously
 Jeeves and the Fonterra layoffs
 It is crazy, I take it back.
 CEO of Nestle
 Source please
 Pure conjecture. I never went to Sunday school
 The age female poets reach their peak
 Informative brochure