New Poetry by Anne Powell: The Edge of Things

5 December 2018

We waited and waited – some more patiently than others – but it’s here; Anne Powell’s 4th volume of poetry, The Edge of Things, published by The Cuba Press in Wellington.

This has been a big year for Anne. In March, the King’s Singers and Voices NZ sang three of Anne’s poems, a commissioned work for the International Festival of the Arts, by renowned composer Leonie Holmes, called This Watershed Time. Then, on 1 December 2018, we had the launch of her 4th volume of poetry, a wonderful opportunity for so many of her friends, her family, fellow poets, lovers of her work and her Cenacle community, Kathleen, Mary and Clare, and companions, to join with her in launching the book and celebrating its arrival.

The book was launched in the school hall of Te Whaea Tapu o Kapiti, in Presentation Way, Paraparaumu to a crowd of over 100 people, warmly and engagingly MC-ed by fellow Cenacle sister Mary Jackson Kay who prophetically told us, “Relax and enjoy – this will be a great celebration.”

There were a number of speakers, including Fr Michael McCabe, parish priest of Anne’s local parish, Te Whaea Tapu o Kapiti, Sarah Bolland of the book’s publishing house, The Cuba Press and poets Trish Harris and Mike Fitzsimons, who read a couple of poems from the book (and in turn had a poem read by Mary from their published work). 

Before Anne spoke, the book was blessed by two kuia; Marguerite Osborne of Te Whaea Tapu o Kapiti and Shirley Kelland, Cenacle Companion. It was a special moment to be able to share and all heartily sang Te Aroha, led by Clare O’Connor rc.

Anne spoke very openly and movingly about her work and gave some insights into the background of one or two of the poems. She then read three poems from the book, one of which, “The Falcon”, was accompanied by Debussy, played by Clare and Ellen Barrett on cello and piano.

In his opening welcome, Fr McCabe noted “Water is both the classical symbol of the spiritually unconscious and a rich, life-giving, and grace-filled icon, while its presence is found on the edges, its myriad meanings are found deep within. The prophetic voice of the poet gathers all of these images, and then some, and distils them through his or her heart – and does so against the backdrop of his or her life experience … Like you, I have observed the seeds of Anne’s poetry on the edge of things but, unlike you and me, Anne takes these ordinary everyday footprints of God and of grace and shapes them in a voice that is uniquely hers.”

Mike Fitzsimons, Project Manager at Fitzbeck Creative, and a writer and poet himself, noted “There’s plenty of attitude in Anne’s poems. The attitude is fearless, empathetic, reverential, honest.” Of the “deeply spiritual poems” he says “they are also real, we can bring to them our suffering and ‘our worrying mind’.” Trish Harris, writer, artist and writing tutor at Whitireia Polytechnic, said “One thing I love about Anne’s poetry is the way she shifts a phrase, surprises us, opens a window in our minds and encourages us to look in a new direction.”

Anne’s family had joined her to celebrate the launch, as well, of course, as her cenacle community, and it was a wonderful time, following the delicious poetry reading, the blessing, the sharing and laughter, to get together with all those who love Anne and her work. Plenty of signed copies were bought but we have copies for sale on this site (just click on the shop tab) – and at Paper Plus in Coastlands, Paraparaumu and from The Cuba Press ( Don’t deprive yourself and those you love of this in your lives.