Shaggy Magpie Songs
When the crazies are let out
They go by bus to see the sea
In ones and twos in hats and shawls
And when the time comes to depart
The empty bus stands on the sand
The full pale moon looks down and grins
And out of sight they sing their song
Behind a hill beneath a tree
Their shoes are hanging from their ears
Shaggy Magpie Songs is a celebration of poetry’s potential – for drama and comedy, narrative and nonsense. Presented in four parts – Praise, Nonsense, Blues and Pop – the poems are at times jazzy and rollicking, at other times crooningly melancholic. Murray Edmond is a poet of lyricism and wit, reference and pastiche, thought and memory, all of which he brings in abundance to this collection.
Edmond writes: ‘Songs are poems that are incomplete without their music, so I think of these poems as all wanting to get off the page and start singing and dancing. The magpies of Aotearoa are silly (and slightly dangerous) birds who have given rise to the most profound line in the New Zealand poetry canon: Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle . . . . I like to think the poems are the kind of songs that magpies might sing if they were into making up words: a little bubbly, a little bitter, a little absurd, and echoing with the sound of laughter: songs with shaggy tales to tell.’
Murray Edmond was born in Hamilton in 1949. He has published five books of poems with AUP including Fool Moon (a finalist in the 2005 Montana New Zealand Book Awards); co-edited the influential anthology Big Smoke: New Zealand Poems 1960–1975 (AUP, 2000); and is the editor of the peer-reviewed, online journal of poetics Ka Mate Ka Ora: A New Zealand Journal of Poetry and Poetics. Since the 1970s, Edmond has been active in experimental and innovative theatre companies and for over 25 years has taught theatre and drama at The University of Auckland, retiring from his position as Associate Professor of Drama at the end of 2014. A collection of his critical writings, Then It Was Now Again: Selected Critical Writing, has recently been released by Atuanui Press and a volume of fiction, Strait Men and Other Tales will be published by Steele Roberts in 2015. He works as the dramaturge for Indian Ink Theatre Company, whose latest play, Kiss the Fish, was awarded Best New Play of 2014 in the Chapman Tripp Awards.