Mirabile Dictu

Michele Leggott


‘From the opening poem . . . Leggott’s mature authority is on display in killer lines that rise and fall, break and go on, carrying the freight of every conceivable human emotion.’ – Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, Christchurch Press


In 2008 Michele Leggott wrote a poem a week to record her term as the inaugural New Zealand Poet Laureate. In her collection of poems Mirabile Dictu (amazing to say), she relates the wonders of those 12 months, which took her to Matahiwi Marae in Hawke’s Bay to receive her brilliant sky-blue, specially carved tokotoko, Te Kikorangi; through a time of mourning for and celebration of former poet laureate Hone Tuwhare; to Florence, across a ‘poetic bridge’; and to Wellington ‘hand to hand’ with four other laureates. With her is Te Kikorangi as guide and companion – ‘almost as good as the blue from Kapiti / we eat when the good times roll’.

Leggott also delves back into the past, layering poems of today with poems of then – and finds, among others, Isabella – growing up in a colonial town, ‘named for a grandmother over the sea’. The poems in Mirabile Dictu are gifts; they are lush and supple; they glory in language; they go ‘looking for a good time’ and find rose cuttings, great-aunts, an elephant, several feasts, adorations and assumptions – ‘the breathing world’.

Through the poems Leggott explores languages within languages, hearing and seeing, coming and going, the porousness of experience and its representations. In this collection she is a daily traveller, crafter of words and maker of fire.



Michele Leggott MNZM is an award winning poet and literary scholar who has published seven previous collections of poems and edited several influential anthologies and collections of essays. She is a professor in the Department of English at The University of Auckland and is the founding director of the NZ electronic poetry centre. In 2007 she was appointed inaugural New Zealand poet laureate (2007–9) and was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in 2009 for her services to poetry.


Winner of PANZ Book Design Awards: Non-Illustrated Book 2010.


June 2009, 230 x 165 mm, 180 pages, illustrations
Paperback, ISBN 9781869404406, $27.99