Cold Snack

Janet Charman


‘[Charman’s] off-hand, sometimes deceptively confessional tone belies the poems’ finely-worked structures and the careful precision of the language itself . . .’ – Judges’ Report, Montana Awards 2008


Cold Snack is an immensely readable collection, which hums with poems of suburbia, families, workplaces and ordinary life. In the first section Charman explores the pains and pleasures (mostly the pains) of becoming a schoolteacher in midlife, ‘rerouted back to class’—the fish-swim of routine, pedagogy and (teacher) truancy, parent–teacher interviews, assessment ‘in the jelly sway of the kelp forest’.

The second section, ‘televisioner’, is a single long sequence that views the over-confident 1980s from the unlikely perspective of a receptionist for a television station. The poet plays with the news and the people and stories behind the news, remembering the Springbok tour, a bomb scare, the ‘occasional politician’ and the shock arrival of computers: ‘the wall had gone up / Berlin / Jerusalem / in the news room’.

In the third bittersweet section, lyricism combines with observation to end the book in the realm of the intimate. All the poems show Charman’s ear for the spoken language and her acute awareness of the sounds, shapes, colours around us and the way they are inhabited by our emotions. Moving and impressive.



Janet Charman was the 1997 Writer in Residence at the University of Auckland and is the author of five previous collections.


Winner of Montana New Zealand Book Awards: Poetry Category 2008.


April 2007, 230 x 160 mm, 80 pages
Ebook, $24.99