30 July 2010

NZ Poetry Day poem: 'The Madonna of the Ureweras' by Anna Jackson

The Madonna of the Ureweras

The Madonna of the Ureweras
tramps with muddy feet.
There is mud in her boots
right down to the soles
of her socks.

The Madonna of the Ureweras
knows both hunger and excess.
She knows the list you’ve drawn up
of your sorrows and pain,
she is with you
as you walk away
from the people you love best.

She knows the hunger
of dried apricots
and ryvita bread,
the hunger that feeds
quarrels, and leads you,
in desperation, into song.

The Madonna of the Ureweras
has trees in her eyes.
Her smile is a river
that runs
further than you have walked.
She is dawning on you like the sun.

By Anna Jackson

For National Poetry Day, some of us Tuesday poets are publishing a New Zealandish poem on our blogs. While thinking what I might like to post, this poem came immediately to mind - I mean, what's more New Zealandish than tramping. And getting annoyed with your family.

'The Madonna of the Ureweras' was published in Locating the Madonna, a collaborative project between Anna Jackson and Jenny Powell (then Jenny Powell-Chalmers), which was also the first book I/Seraph Press published. (I still have a few copies if you want one - extra special price of $10. It's an excellent book.) It's one of my favourite poems in the book. There are bits in there that pull at my heart. It's also quite a physical poem, with all that mud and walking and hunger. And then finally at the end, it's transcendent. I hope you love it as much as I do.

For more National Poetry Day stuff, well, it's probably everywhere. For more poems, visit the Tuesday Poem blog, which will have the Best Book of Poetry winners & finalists for 2010: Brian Turner, Bernadette Hall, Michael Harlow & Selina Tusitala Marsh, and links to more poems. Or for more Poetry Day events, visit: http://www.booksellers.co.nz/awards/new-zealand-post-book-awards/national-poetry-day-events-2010


Helen Lowe said...

A great choice for National Poetry day, Helen.

I think I first experienced Te Ureweras when I was about 18 and the final stanza still speaks to me of that time:

"The Madonna of the Ureweras
has trees in her eyes.
Her smile is a river
that runs
further than you have walked.
She is dawning on you like the sun."

(With regards to the NZ Post Poetry Award, there's been a change of format this year and the winner won't be announced until 27 August, along the other NZ Post Book Awards. So another month to continue to celebrate the achievement of all 3 finalists. :-) )

Janis Freegard said...

This is a lovely poem of Anna's. I had my first visit to the Ureweras a couple of months back and it's a magical place.

Mary McCallum said...

Love the idea of popping a Madonna into the Ureweras - yes indeed transcendent.

M40 said...

Wonderful! Thanks for sharing this Helen.

Helen Rickerby said...

Thanks everyone. I'm glad you enjoyed it!