Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday Poem - Hound by Emma Neale


                 The heart's a bitch. 

                 It's caught the scent of your coat hem,    
                 the tang of leather and metal on your wrists,
                 the soft skin at your neck
                 where the blood's cursor flashes.

                 You've gone
                 leaving no clear sign -
                 but still the heart strains and whines
                 wants off the leash,
                 snout like a cool, black magnet
                 clinched to the invisible print
                 of where you passed

                 as if it would track you
                 bring you to ground
                 stunned but unbloodied
                 the light on your face 
                 the sheen of wet freesias
                 as the warm jaws lie you
                 like long, green stems 
                 at my feet.

                 Emma Neale 
                    (first published in The Red Wheelbarrow - Issue 17 November 2008) 


Emma Neale is an award-winning Dunedin-based poet, novelist, essayist, teacher, editor of our local newspaper's Monday's Poem, mother of two sons and friend. Emma is this year's Burn's fellow. She and her work will already be known to many of you; her latest novel Fosterling is a must-read and was recently short-listed in the Youth Fiction category of the Sir Julius Vogel Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy. I urge you to read it - you will find yourselves immediately, deeply engaged and transported by this beautifully honed, transformative story. To listen in to Emma's conversation with Lynn Freeman on NZ's National Radio, scroll down the radio's page till you reach Emma's name.

A paragraph from one of Emma's recent(ish) blog entries, The Press of Language -   

". . . I love the way, with my battered old Shorter Oxford English Dictionary – a gift from my parents when I was a teenager – I can plunge in, riffling through to look for, say, ciborium (which proves my lack of formal religious instruction), and get waylaid by clingstone, clinchpoop, clergess, churr-worm, chumship. By that sweetly circuitous route I taste peach; make company laugh as we toss the insult about; imagine another life as a mediaeval scholar; hear crickets creak, and feel the presence of my paternal grandfather, Hamish, whose nickname was Chum. A printed dictionary brings about happy little shocks of happenstance: words feel like happenings, events. It’s like walking around a corner, to see an empty music stand set in the middle of someone’s front garden, and a tui perched on it, singing, ‘without notes’. Or in the bustle of the marketplace at the end of winter, turning your head to catch sight of a young woman who has cleared a small space to dance, the competition ribbons pinned to her suitcase fluttering as if they’ve barely overcome stage fright themselves; and as you glance away, you see three Buddhist monks walk past, in companionable, silent single file, alms bowls clutched under their arms, so on the page in your mind, you see arms bowls…"

Visit Emma's blog to continue reading The Press of Language.  

Emma's new collection of poems - The Truth Garden - will be launched at Dunedin's University Book Shop this Friday, 27 July. 


Friday 27th is New Zealand's National Poetry Day. To celebrate, this week's TP editor Andrew M. Bell has selected a poem from each of the three Poetry finalists for this year's NZ Post Book Awards - Anna Jackson (with her collection Thicket, Rhian Gallagher with Shift and Diana Hawken with her latest collection The Leaf-note). To visit the hub, please click on the quill. Poetry events will be held across the country on Friday, several of which will involve Tuesday Poets. Emma Neale's eagerly-awaited new collection The Truth Garden (OUP) will be launched at Dunedin's University Book Shop on Friday. Up on the North Island, curator Mary McCallum will be one of five 'peripatetic poets. . . brandishing poems that are lyrical and liturgical - bucolic & balletic - rhyming & free. . . ' And who said poetry can't be fun?


  1. Emma Neale's just about clinched it with "Hound". Language to leave you almost speechless...

    I will certainly read more Emma Neale.

  2. Wow I really admire the intensity of 'Hound' and also the way you posted the hand-written version first. That is quite something to see. And all the other NPD news. Sounds like it was a roaring success up and down the country!

  3. Loved the poem and the blog entry. More to read! Hope you are well. xoxo

  4. Really enjoyed Hound and the excerpt from Emma's blog. Her language is so free and original.