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Night School

Tuesday 8 February 2022 12:34pm

Michael Steven

Winner of the Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award 2021

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.

Reviews and Interviews

Review: Hamesh Wyatt for the Otago Daily Times Read
Interview: Michael Steven on Standing Room Only with Lynn Freeman Listen
Review: Dan Rabarts for Kete Books Read

Publication details

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