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Unseasoned Campaigner

Thursday 20 May 2021 10:49am

Janet Newman

The book

Newman front coverUntil you send them on their way
to be killed, they grant the grace
of their company, draw you in with flared nostrils
that pause over the bones of their dead.

– from ‘Drenching’

Unseasoned Campaigner is a layered collection exploring the complexities of farming life in Horowhenua. Poet Janet Newman uncovers territory ripe for exploration as she juxtaposes the often troubled aspects of commercial farming – the life and death of animals – with loving family relationships.

The collection begins with the poet’s contemporary farming life, interspersed with memories of growing up on the same dairy farm. Newman then goes on to provides a portrait of her late father, the seasoned campaigner – a farmer working on the land, his war-induced anxiety, his hardness yet tenderness, and his widowhood. The final section, ‘Ruahine’, presents a take on being on the land now as the torch is passed to the next generation.

Newman’s lyric poems are plainly and beautifully put together, with her delicate and surprising attention to form and language marking her as an exciting new voice in Aotearoa.

The author

Janet Newman was born in Levin. She won the 2015 New Zealand Poetry Society International Competition, the 2017 Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems and was a runner-up in the 2019 Kathleen Grattan Awards. Her essays about the sonnets of Michelle Leggott and the ecopoetry of Dinah Hawken won the Journal of New Zealand Literature Prize for New Zealand Literary Studies in 2014 and 2016. She has worked as a journalist in New Zealand and Australia, and a bicycle courier in London. She has three adult children and lives with her partner at Koputaroa in Horowhenua, where she farms beef cattle.

Reviews & Interviews

Feature: Koputaroa farmer and poet Janet Newman writes thesis on ecopoetry

Publication details

Paperback, 210 x 148mm, 106pp
ISBN 9781990048104, $27.50
IN-STORE: AUG 2021