Wednesday, October 10, 2018

These I have loved

So this is the tenth day of the tenth month. Eight years ago today, in the tenth year of the new century, we launched Harvey's last book, These I Have Loved: My Favourite New Zealand Poems.
Here’s what he wrote a few days before the launch:

"Tomorrow I am receiving advance copies of my new poetry anthology... it will be launched next Sunday by Fiona Kidman here in Wellington. Kate Camp and Vince O’Sullivan will read a poem apiece. I am excited, indeed thrilled. It represents over five years' work. In some respects it represents a lifetime of teaching and reading poetry.

The book has 100 New Zealand poems that I have loved - a selection of poems which (as I say in the Introduction), 'down the years or in some cases only recently, have settled in my mental household, comfortable and available, a satisfactory source of reflection and contemplation. To a considerable extent they represent who I am, or maybe, more honestly, the person I would like to be. They represent my upbringing, my temperament, my interests, and my hopes.’
As well as the poems I have linking descriptions as to why I’ve chosen them. For example, Ruth Dallas’s ‘Milking Before Dawn’ represents an early school lesson from 1960, a success that shaped my career. As a school-boy myself I had three idyllic years at Akaroa District High School. So for the cover I helped select an aerial photograph of Akaroa Harbour with Onawe peninsula. The volcanic plug on the old weathered crater was the subject of the first New Zealand poem I was ever introduced to… With my ill-health it is likely to be my swan-song collection. I am delighted to have compiled it."

 And here’s a piece from Fiona Kidman’s speech at the launch:

”There’s something marvelous and exhilarating and absolutely special about gathering with friends for the 10th day of the 10th month of the 10th year of the century. It feels like a unique moment in time. The Greek philosopher Pythagoras saw 10 as the symbol of the universe and of expressing the whole of human knowledge…
        It does seem to me that this idea of the whole of human knowledge rings one or two bells here as, on this 10th day, we launch a collection of one man’s poetic human knowledge, distilled into those poems he loves the best...100 New Zealand poems that have caught his attention, lingered in his memory, and stayed there as lasting sentinels, totem poles if you like, to his lifelong love of language and poetry. Or to put it another way, as a beacon to the wider life of the mind, a way into learning and understanding that which is important. 
         It’s no real surprise to those of us who love poetry that, although poetry falls on hard times, it never dies. The voice of the poet is always with us, the singing words that resonate in our heads, are carried like emblems of grief and happiness, there to sustain us in good times and bad. The music of poetry embedded in our subconscious simply never leaves us, or not the best of it, those which we love the most…”