Sunday, May 24, 2015

Tuesday Poem - 'The Threepenny Kowhai Stamp Brooch' by Jennifer Compton

The Threepenny Kowhai Stamp Brooch

If I get lost someone will pick me up and post me.
I am already licked and stamped on my green lapel.

The brooch from Te Papa will see me safely home.
It's 3D — as in LSD pounds, shillings and pence.

Let us go out and do the passegiata on the waterfront.
If and when I get lost, you can slide me into the red box.

Of course I will be posted back into the past
back to when kowhai was pronounced kowhai.

I got my six monthly statement for This City from Otago University
Press today. And oh dear, not one sale. Just a lot of 0s and a $1.30
carried over from the last statement. What a pitiful document it was.
So I emailed and asked how many copies are left. Just 84. So when
the present liquidity crisis eases, I shall order them in 10 at a time and
flog them at cost at poetry readings. (It's a handsome book, but an
expensive book. $30 plus postage for the average punter. About $12
for me.) I haven't given that book a fair chance to sell out. I shall
renew the struggle.

I picked this poem to represent the book because it has done well
for itself, although I was extremely doubtful when I wrote it if I could
place it. I couldn't see how the different pronunciations of 'kowhai'
would work on the page. But Les Murray took it for Quadrant, then
it was in Best New Zealand Poems on line – then it was in the book
The Best of Best New Zealand Poems. And the last time I was in
Palmerston North, Joy Green told me they were teaching it at Massey.
So woo hoo little poem.

A dear friend had bought me the brooch, from Te Papa of course. I was
wearing it when Fiona Kidman took me on the Writers Walk around the
waterfront. We started at her plaque in Oriental Bay and worked our way
 back to Queens Wharf. Then we stopped for a coffee, and as I walked
towards the table, the poem presented itself to me, fully formed. One of
those ones you get for free.


  1. Give the book a chance, it has some form. It won't go off.

  2. Well, I enjoyed the poem, too, Jennifer, and together with your other poems here and through the Tuesday world over the past few years, am inspired to buy the book.