AUP New Poets 2


Stu Bagby, Sonja Yelich, Jane Gardner

*No longer in print


‘The striking thing about Jane Gardner, Stu Bagby and Sonja Yelich is how different they are. This again pulls the volume together into a whole – a reading with three voices.’ – Harvey McQueen, JAAM


This is the second volume in AUP’s occasional series presenting new poets to the growing poetry-reading audience. While the three poets here have distinctive voices of their own, each explores childhood memories and families past and present in ways that will strike a chord in many readers.

Stu Bagby writes in spare simple language about brief intense moments in ordinary lives, sometimes drawing on his own experience, sometimes on the fleeting glimpses of strangers in crisis he catches in his work as a gravedigger.

Sonja Yelich pieces together colourful pictures of a New Zealand childhood haunted by a harsh European past and adds to the mix the voices and dramas of her own four children in contemporary Devonport.

Jane Gardner’s poems too move back and forth in time, from recalling the past to observing the present. They are scenes of house and street, in Wellington perhaps, vividly recreated with clarity and stillness.



Stu Bagby, gravedigger, is the winner of the 2000 NZ Poetry Society Competition. He attempts to produce poems that are accessible yet not predictable, that incorporate humour and ambiguity, and provide the reader with an opportunity to respond. He likes the idea of finding secret drawers in old desks, drawers containing photographs of people and places he recognises.

Sonja Yelich likes to twist and turn words in much the same way as she heard them spoken as a second language. And always with the sea somewhere in the background. She says dialogue, when going between one language and another, can make a whole new tongue for which there is no dictionary. Now her four small children are providing her with yet another language, a new set of accents, where everything has meaning but is sometimes lost in translation. Things have come full circle.

Jane Gardner has lived in Wellington all her life. She started writing seriously in 1995, when she took the Victoria University Creative Writing course, and it has since become her greatest personal priority after her family. Her work comes from a place inside where mundane experience is transformed into poetry or story. She agrees with Borges, 'Poetry is not alien – poetry is, as we shall see, lurking round the corner. It may spring upon you at any moment.’


December 2002, 180 x 140 mm, 76 pages
Paperback, ISBN 9781869402808, $21.95