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Meantime coverBy Majella Cullinane

During the Covid-19 pandemic, eighteen thousand uncrossable kilometres lay between poet Majella Cullinane in Aotearoa New Zealand and her mother in Ireland, a distance unbridgeable even by phone as Cullinane’s mother’s language was lost to dementia. Meantime calls and keens across this terrible distance.

With attentiveness, tenderness and extraordinary vulnerability, these poems speak directly to personal experience while also addressing a wider world shadowed and altered by illness, where everything once familiar and coherent is disintegrating, in flux, uncertain and strange.

These poems are works of vigil and devotion, breathed into existence by a daughter who could not be at the bedside of her beloved, dying parent. Personal and universal in its themes, the poems in Meantime possess a gravitas born of sorrow, steeped in love.

A warm and loving conversation about memory and forgetting, and a celebration of the power of voice to connect and heal, this is a collection for our times.

'Majella Cullinane's is the finest and most moving new collection that I have read for a long time. I so admire its passion, its direct calm, a past that it shares with extraordinary flair. Grief and regret turn each page with a deep lyric grace. Life and language are so enhanced.  This is poetry that exalts.' – Vincent O’Sullivan


Majella Cullinane writes poetry, fiction and essays. Her second collection Whisper of a Crow’s Wing (Otago University Press and Salmon Poetry, Ireland) was chosen as one of The New Zealand Listener’s Top Ten Poetry Books of 2018. Her writing has been published internationally, and she has held residencies and fellowships in Ireland, Scotland and New Zealand. Majella was awarded a Copyright Licensing New Zealand Grant (2020) and a Creative New Zealand Arts Grant (2021) to complete Meantime. She graduated with a PhD in Creative Practice from the University of Otago in 2020. She lives in Kōpūtai, Port Chalmers with her family.

Publication details

Paperback, 230 x 150mm
ISBN 9781990048807
RRP $30
Publication date: 23 May 2024

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Reviews and interviews

Nielsen Fiction Bestseller List (27–31 May) Read

Interview: Erica Stretton interviews Majella Cullinane for Kete Books Read

Interview: Harry Ricketts reviews Meantime for Nine to Noon, RNZ Listen

Review: 'These poems, gracious and kind and warm, are a powerful way of holding onto her – and, at the same time, of properly bidding her farewell.'– Sophie van Waardenberg for Aotearoa New Zealand Review of Book Read

Review: 'More than anything, Meantime is poetry at its most intimate, movingly so, and as readers we get to share in that intimacy. We might sidestep to our own trembling ground, our own losses and aches. We might pause to absorb a volley of grief and a shawl of comfort. I love this collection so much. I love its gentleness, its exposures, its pain and its healing. And above all, its love.' – Paula Green for NZ Poetry Shelf Read

Interview: Majella Cullinane about her new collection with Beverly Martens for Write On, OAR FM Listen

Review: 'In her heartbreaking yet reverential subset Meantime, Cullinane captures the essence of her collection – a tender reckoning with absence and presence, a daughter's vigil unfolding across "uncrossable" distances. As she listens to her mother's favourite hymns alone in her bedroom, half a world away, Cullinane conjures the vivid sensory memories of her childhood, the incense and candlelight of the church, the familiar cadences of the congregation's voices. In this moment, time and space seem to melt away, and mother and daughter are reunited in the eternal embrace of memory and song.' – Chris Reed for NZ Booklovers Read

Review: 'Six years ago, Cullinane’s debut collection Whisper of a Crow’s Wing proved her to have a romantic sensibility with a modernist sharpness. Meantime has those virtues, but this time dealing with a more personal situation. It is authentic, engaging and very readable.' – Nicholas Reid for the NZ Listener Read

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