Notes on the poems

On Reflection was first published in Poetry NZ.

Study was first published in JAAM (Just Another Art Movement)

Les Frères
Nous sommes tes frères means ‘We are your brothers’.
Elvis, il vit means ‘Elvis, he lives.’
Voici le croque-monsieur means ‘Here is the toasted ham-and-cheese sandwich’.
Voilà l’assiette anglaise means ‘There is the plate of cold meats’ (literally: ‘the English plate’).

Order:Rodentia was first published in Glottis.

Ode to a Kuri was first published in The Collection of New Zealand Poetry and Prose (Media Publishing)

Because I love you
The ‘Angel’ refers to the Angel of the North, a large public sculpture in the North-East of England.

The Angel of the North with a perfect blue sky...

Image via Wikipedia



Diamond dust refers to a meteorological phenomenon – a ground-level cloud of tiny ice crystals, most commonly seen near the poles.

The Skeleton Ending was first published in Poetry NZ.

Sanctuary was a runner-up in the Karori Sanctuary Poetry Competition in 2005.

Magpie was first published in Poetry NZ.

Three Hummingbirds was first published in Poetry NZ.

The Glass Rooster was first published in six little things (as Untitled).  ‘The Glass Rooster’ was the theme for that issue.

He has your eyes was first published in JAAM.

Zot and the Axolotls was first published in Trout and was the Tuesday Poem on 13 June 2011.

Tags: Tone Poem Purpose
Oulipo refers to Ouvroir de littérature potentielle (“workshop of potential literature”).  Oulipo writers and mathematicians experimented with constrained writing techniques such as Georges Perec’s novel La Disparition which was written without the letter ‘e’.

You Don’t See Many of Those Around Here.
Cro-Magnons” are generally thought of now as “Early Modern Humans”, genetically the same as modern human beings.  The popular picture of Neanderthals is that they are less intelligent and somehow more brutish than the Early Modern Humans; however, the current view is that they were as intelligent as the Early Modern Humans and that the two species may have interbred to some degree.  One theory is that 1% to 4% of the DNA of Europeans and Asians comes from Neanderthals.

comparison of Neanderthal and Modern human sku...


On Old Olympus’ Towering Top A Finn And German Viewed A Hop
Cath Tizard (now Dame Catherine Tizard) really was my zoology lab tutor.  The cranial nerves that go with the mnemonic are: olfactory, optic, oculomotor, trochael, trigeminal, abducens, facial, auditory-vestibular, glossopharyngeal, vagus, accessory and hypoglossal.

Hermit was first published in Trout. Lee Mingwei is an installation artist who was born in Taiwan and lives in New York City.

My Year of the Ant Gardens was first published in the International Literary Quarterly.

Coleoptera was first published in brief.

The Wind and the Caterpillar was first published in Moments in the Whirlwind, a New Zealand Poetry Society anthology, having been commended in the 2009 competition.  While on holiday in Dunedin, I’d visited the butterfly house in the Otago Museum (well worth a visit if you’re down that way) one morning and seen a wonderful exhibition of Japanese woodblock prints in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in the afternoon.  The two experiences seemed to complement each other.

Anemone was first published in AUP New Poets 3 (Auckland University Press). 

Crunch won third prize in the Manawatu International Poetry for Performance  Competition 2010 and was performed by two actors in Palmerston North’s Festival of New Arts.

The Woman who Swims with the Jellyfish was partly inspired by a short film by Irish artist Dorothy Cross called Jellyfish Lake, which was part of A Duck for Mr Darwina group exhibition Peter and I were lucky enough to see when it showed at the Baltic Gallery in Gateshead (in the North-East of England) in 2009.

Museum Piece was first published in Trout.  All the items mentioned in the poem were real exhibits in the Kawhia Museum.  Venus’ flower basket (Euplectella aspergillum) is a type of “glass sponge” that was often given as a wedding gift in Japan and other Asian cultures.   The sponge often has two tiny shrimps living symbiotically inside it: a male and a female. They swim in as larvae and then get trapped inside as they grow to adults.  When they breed, their tiny offspring escape to find a Venus Flower Basket of their own. The shrimp inside the basket clean it, and in return, feed from food debris the basket traps in its fiberglass-like strands.

Pectinidae was first published in Poetry NZ. Pactinidae refers to a family of molluscs that have two valves (shells), including scallops.  Scallops can “clap” their valves together to propel themselves through the sea.


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