broadsheet 15 features Riemke Ensing

The latest issue of broadsheet, no.15, May 2015, features award-winning New Zealand poet Riemke Ensing. The issue celebrates her significant contribution to New Zealand poetry and features some of her newest, unpublished work.

Others included are: Vincent O’Sullivan current Poet Laureate, Rosetta Allan, Nick Ascroft, Anita Arlov, Karen Zelas, Jan Kemp, Judith Haswell, Iain Britton, Dorothy Howie, Annie Newcomer (USA), Kevin Ireland, Simon Fleck, Madeleine Slavick, Alistair Paterson and Peter Bland.

Editor Mark Pirie writes in his Preface:

“Riemke Ensing is one of New Zealand’s major poets writing in English since the late 1960s. A powerful biographical story informs her poetry. Her childhood torn apart by war, Ensing became a Dutch immigrant to New Zealand after World War II; and the experience underpins the melancholy note in her poems. She became a teacher and later a tutor for many years at the University of Auckland. Her son is the photographer James Ensing-Trussell.

As a student in 1998, I edited her book of selected poems, Talking Pictures. When she willingly agreed to the project after writing to her, I felt honoured, considering I had little experience in publishing at that time, with only a few books to my credit. I was just 24 years old. A big project for a young editor, I set about reading and gathering her poems from international periodicals, books, and anthologies as diverse as New Directions (USA), Descant (Canada), and others. My then MA supervisor at the University of Otago, Lawrence Jones, kindly agreed to write the introduction. The book appeared in 2000 widely admired (with a fine cover by Judith Haswell) and perhaps announced my publishing house HeadworX on the international stage.

Ensing has continued to add to her oeuvre since then, with a number of booklets published, broadsheets finely printed and awards received.

It’s now the 15th anniversary since Talking Pictures came out. I thought it would be nice to do a feature on Riemke in honour of her contribution to New Zealand literature. Her latest poems included in broadsheet sound out a more plaintive, elegiac note since the death of her partner Bill Trussell in 2009. Recurrent themes in these poems include writers and painters, inspiring her writing’s intense expression of emotions and symbolism. Yet there’s plenty of Ensing humour here too in poems like ‘Top of the Morning’ and  receiving the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award for Poetry.

Along with Riemke’s poems, I continued the tradition of broadsheet features by inviting some of Riemke’s friends to contribute to her issue. Vincent O’Sullivan, Judith Haswell, Jan Kemp, Dorothy Howie, Alistair Paterson, Kevin Ireland and Peter Bland are long-term friends of Riemke. Newer friends like Annie Newcomer (USA), Karen Zelas, Rosetta Allan and Anita Arlov also appear.

Elsewhere, Simon Fleck, Nick Ascroft and Iain Britton appear in broadsheet for the first time continuing the eclectic turnover of names since it began in 2008.

Mark Pirie, Wellington, May 2015″



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