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Tuesday 8 February 2022 10:26am

Michael Steven

Winner of the Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award 2021
Longlisted for the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry in the 2023 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

Steven Night School cover websiteIt's a clear night. Hamish and Wiremu
crack stubbies of Waikato Draught.
Burn what's left from the outdoor season.
Words between them are slow in coming.
When they do come, they are spare and pointed.
Tomorrow they will load rams on the Isuzu
into a holding pen made from old pallets,
for a man in Weymouth to fatten for Ramadan.
It's a clear night. Orion hurls his belt
and sword into a pool of creosote.
For Hamish, it will always be The Dipper.
The beer is warm. The weed makes them cough.
On the town side of the city border
gridded fields of diodes glow and hum.

– Dropped Pin: Razorback Road, Pōkeno

The book

Winner of the Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award 2021, poet Michael Steven's Night School explores the gap between fathers and sons, the effects of toxic masculinity, how power corrupts and corrodes, and whether weed, art and aroha can save us in a godless world.

'This is the poet as pilgrim, traveller, and astonished survivor. His sonorous verse has an impeccable lapidary quality, each word fitted like a stone in a wall. Phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence, writing with a lucid precision, Michael Steven patiently builds up his world view, always making sure we are with him, always allowing us to share the understanding.' – David Eggleton, Judge's Report Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award 2021


Michael Steven is an Auckland-based poet. He was awarded a Creative New Zealand Todd New Writers Bursary in 2018, and his collection Walking to Jutland Street (OUP, 2018) was longlisted for the Mary and Peter Biggs Award For Poetry 2019. His collection The Lifers (OUP, 2020) was in the Listener Top 10 Poetry Books of 2020. Night School is Steven's third collection of poetry.

Publication details

Paperback, 230 x 150mm, 84pp
ISBN 9781990048340, $25

Reviews and Interviews

Review: "Michael Steven has become a darling in the literary world … Night School is his best yet.” – Hamesh Wyatt for the Otago Daily Times. Read the full review

Interview: Michael Steven on Standing Room Only with Lynn Freeman Listen

Review: “Michael Steven's Night School reads like a nostalgic time-travelling acid-soaked road-trip, formed of fragments of clarity that stab sharply out of the haze of the years between hits … Night School will take you on a fractured journey, will show you the faces of ghosts and lost souls, will draw bloody lines all over your map and then ask you for change for the bus. And when you're done, you'll turn around and do it all again.” – Dan Rabarts for Kete Books. Read the full review

Review: Nicholas Reid reviews Night School for the NZ Listener and Reid's Reader Read

Review:“Night School is an impressive collection …” – Harry Ricketts reviews Night School by Michael Steven for Landfall Review Online. Read the full review

Buy now

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