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Friday 1 November 2013 10:01am

Kay McKenzie Cooke

feeding_the_dogsThe book

This bumper collection of 60 poems is autobiographical and in it Cooke writes about town, landscape, family and everyday life. 'Feeding the Dogs' is one of the poems in this book. There are other rural poems, such as 'I love this farm so much I could pat it', but Kay Cooke is equally at home writing a well-made poem about lawn bowlers in Queenstown, a family reunion, global warming or biotechnology. Cooke's work is strong and confident. On top of that, she has a particular southern sensibility that is very appealing and recognizable. Cooke writes that her poems come from the 'sense of isolation that I felt living on a farm in Otama Valley, with tussock-covered hills and no shops and bus trips to school'.

Winner of Montana Best New Book of Poetry, 2003

The author

Kay Cooke grew up in Southland and has lived in Otago for the past twenty years. She now lives in Dunedin. She is of Kati Mamoe, Ngati Kahungunu, Cockney and Northern Irish ancestry.


'Carefully-drawn moments of luxurious excess which occasionally burst through otherwise extremely restrained verse' – New Zealand Books

' ''Throw them the meat,/ pale traces of fat clinging/ to the wool of your gloves". This image from "Feeding the Dogs", which is dedicated to McKenzie-Cooke's mother, Shirley, and in memory of her father, Don McKenzie, comes from the back section of the book, which is set in motion on a bus in Dunedin, with McKenzie Cooke (now a grandmother) listening to a condescending bus driver and "Two young females/ flick words to each other./ 'Man, I think Jason likes you.'/ 'Doubt it. I think he's a dick'." McKenzie Cooke is an astute observer/reporter of the everyday and the first half of Feeding the Dogs, without fat, goes about its business, living in the here and now, addressing friends and loved ones: "The words we speak, fall/ into the phone, run by cable/ undersea, and, bone-dry, reach/ their destination: whorled, wide/ ears, tender, eager.''' – The Listener

Publication details

Paperback, 240 x 170 mm, 80 pages, ISBN 978 1 877276 39 2, $29.95
Out of print

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