Kerrin Sharpe’s launch speech:
Four Ways of Looking at Kinds of Hunger
1. As the hull of a waka
Jan’s magnificent poems move us singing hungrily to Katherine Mansfield in the Urewera, and through New Zealand to Russia, Finland, Antarctica. We paddle in and out of paintings. We meet King Lear and Chekhov.
The collection both observes and comments on what’s important in life: relationships, the natural world, the environment, Maori culture. It’s all done with the craft of words gently twisting and turning the waka on their journey to reveal long-lasting truths.
Their tone is the essence of Jan herself, kind, loving and gentle.
2. As an ancestral mountain
Kinds of Hunger returns us to the mountains with Jan’s imagery: ‘an eggcup of sun’, ‘there was an almond sky’, ‘an alpine path with pebbles’… These word pictures, and many others, purify and energise us, so we are able to safely look at the world from the arms of our ancestors.
3. As a river
The poems follow the shape of the land and show us ways of connecting, both as readers and consumers in a fragile world. The river voices of the poems are important conversations. It is this awareness that Kinds of Hunger raises that’s so significant. The poem ‘Dragonflies’ does this beautifully.
I wade through shallow water
where a bittern with a
prods a muddy roof of rampo.
The poem moves from the sadness of the scattering of ashes back to the beauty of dragonflies by the river.
They flash through pockets of sunlight
like the wide-eyed darning needles
4. As a bird of many flights
We will return to Kinds of Hunger again and again to be fed and nourished with the images, the wordplay, the highly polished craft of Jan’s poems to sustain us. We fold our wings with Jan’s in the everlasting tides she has made for us.
This is how Kinds of Hunger flies in the world.
Thank you Jan.