Biter: Conversation with poet Claudia Jardine

I fell in love
I kissed
gains made
it all happened
I am desired
but I?
and you?
and how?
one god alone knows
— ‘One God’ from Palatine Anthology V.51 — Anonymous

Biter is Claudia Jardine’s remarkable first collection of poetry. It is inspired by ancient Greek epigrams in the Palatine Anthology, which are used by Claudia as a stepping stones to create a bitingly contemporary Poetry Collection. The Palatine Anthology is a collection of Greek epigrams and poems found in Heidelberg in 1606 in the Palatine Library. The collection itself is based on much older ancient Greek anthologies. The poems in Claudia’s collection range in topics from hickeys to puttanesca, vulnerable love poems to boozy sonnets.

Poet Claudia Jardine has an MA in classics with distinction from Victoria University, she won the 2020 Alex Scobie Research Prize and a Marsden Grant for Masters scholarship. Claudia, as this collection testifies, is a poet of incredible versatility, talent and bravery.


This interview was done in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirin, the arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM. For more information on Claudia Jardine  you can visit her Facebook page. You can borrow Biter from the library by clicking on the link below.

Biter / Jardine, Claudia
“Ancient Greek epigrams drive a bitingly contemporary first poetry collection.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Stay True: More New Biographies and Memoirs

We have even more new biographies for you this December, including: a poet, a stockman, more beloved actors, writers and women of substance. You’ll surely find inspiration from this next batch of biographies.

To see what else is new in our collection, go to what’s new & popular (

Beyond the wand : the magic and mayhem of growing up a wizard / Felton, Tom
“From the magical moments on set as Draco Malfoy to the challenges of growing up in the spotlight, get a backstage pass into Tom Felton’s life on and off the big screen. His early rise to fame in beloved films like The Borrowers catapulted him into the limelight, but nothing could prepare him for what was to come after he landed the iconic role of the Draco Malfoy, the bleached blonde villain of the Harry Potter movies. Speaking with great candor and his signature humor, Tom shares his experience growing up as part of the wizarding world while also trying to navigate the muggle world.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The new ringer / Breckwoldt, Roland
“A shy young man from the suburban outskirts takes himself to Gulf Country on a 1960s boys own adventure that changes his life forever. He was not yet sixteen, and the unworldly Roland was leaving his home on the semi-agricultural fringes of Sydney to work as a stockman on the vast cattle stations of the Gulf Country of North Queensland. Full of youthful stumbles and told with great freshness and gentle humour, this beautifully written coming of age story is a nostalgic and evocative reminder of a disappearing way of life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dying of politeness / Davis, Geena
“From two-time Academy Award winner and screen icon Geena Davis, Dying of Politeness is the candid, surprising tale of her journey from her epically polite childhood to the roles that put her in the spotlight and gave her the strength to become a powerhouse in Hollywood. Dying of Politeness is a touching account of one woman’s journey to fight for herself, and ultimately fighting for women all around the globe.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Stay true : a memoir / Hsu, Hua
“From the New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu, a gripping memoir on friendship, grief, the search for self, and the solace that can be found through art. A coming-of-age story that details both the ordinary and extraordinary, Stay True is a bracing memoir about growing up, and about moving through the world in search of meaning and belonging.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Boy friends / Pedersen, Michael
“An intimate and original memoir of love, grief and male friendship by one of Scotland’s brightest young talents. Ever feel like you were fated to be friends with someone? An alchemy in your meeting, instant fondness — part chemical, part kismet. Written to glitter, with intoxicating energy, Boy Friends is a powerful depiction of friendship and loss, a homage to the beauty of moments shared.”–” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Waxing on : the karate kid and me / Macchio, Ralph
“A fun-filled memoir by the Karate Kid and Cobra Kai actor that’s equal parts nostalgia and contemporary relevance, based on both the classic movies and his current show, which is Netflix’s #1 hit and gaining legions of new fans from every generation.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Raiment : a memoir / Kemp, Jan
“Pioneering New Zealand poet Jan Kemp’s memoir of her first 25 years is a vivid and frank account of growing up in the 1950s, and of university life in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It tracks from an innocent Waikato childhood to the seedy flats of Auckland, where anarchic student life, drugs, sexual experimentation and a failing marriage could not keep her away from poetry. Weaving its own patterns and colours, Raiment shines a clear-eyed light on the heady, hedonistic hothouse of our literary community in the 1970s and reveals what it took, back then, to be an independent woman.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Three times a countess : the extraordinary life and times of Raine Spencer / Gaudoin, Tina
“Debutante of the year. Able politician. Femme fatale. Evil stepmother. Astute businesswomen. Just a smattering of the many labels attached to the irrepressible Raine Spencer: Countess, socialite and stepmother to Diana, Princess of Wales. But who was the real Raine? What was hidden behind the immaculately manicured and coiffed public facade?” (Catalogue)

Paul Newman : the extraordinary life of an ordinary man : a memoir / Newman, Paul
“In 2008, Paul Newman tasked his best friend with interviewing the people who had shaped his life, in order to create an oral history of it. After hearing and reading what they had to say, Newman dictated his own version. Now, this long-lost memoir will be published. Full of wonderful stories and recollections by his family, friends, and such luminaries as Elia Kazan, Tom Cruise, George Roy Hill and Martin Ritt, this book will surprise and shock readers as it reveals Newman’s previously unknown sides.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Waypoints : my Scottish journey / Heughan, Sam
“Journey deep into the Scottish Highlands in the first memoir by #1 New York Times bestselling author and star of Outlander, Sam Heughan–exploring his life and reflecting on the waypoints that define him. In this intimate journey of self-discovery, Sam sets out along Scotland’s rugged ninety-six-mile West Highland Way to map out the moments that shaped his views on dreams and ambition, family, friendship, love, and life. The result is a love letter to the wild landscape that means so much to him, full of charming, funny, wise, and searching insights into the world through his eyes.” (Catalogue)

Congratulations to Chris Tse, Aotearoa’s new Poet Laureate

Huge congratulations to the totally wonderful Chris Tse, who has just been announced as Aotearoa New Zealand’s new poet laureate. A dynamic, charismatic, stylish and powerful poet, Chris will be a fabulous advocate for the diversity and richness of all aspects the Aotearoa New Zealand’s poet community.

Chris was born in Lower Hutt and studied Film and English literature at Victoria University, completing an MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters, and often celebrates his background as an openly queer Asian-Kiwi writer.

Chris started his poetry writing journey  at the age of sixteen  stating “he felt he’d finally found something he could pursue.” In a recent interview with Radio NZ he also stated “Poetry has always been this constant. It’s the thing I reach for, for comfort and connection, it’s helped me make wonderful friendships and relationships with people. It’s been a significant part of my life,”.

A little while back we had the great pleasure of having Chris reading for us and below is that reading, as well as a selection of his works.

Super model minority / Tse, Chris
“From making boys cry with the power of poetry to hitting back against microaggressions and sucker punches, these irreverent and tender poems dive headfirst into race and sexuality.” (Adapted from Catalogue). Also available as an eBook.



he’s so MASC / Tse, Chris
“In How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes, Chris Tse took readers back to a shocking 1905 murder. Now he brings the reader much closer to home. He’s So MASC confronts a contemporary world of self-loathing poets and compulsive liars, of youth and sexual identity, and of the author as character–pop star, actor, hitman, and much more. These are poems that delve into worlds of hyper-masculine romanticism and dancing alone in night clubs. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

How to be dead in a year of snakes / Tse, Chris
“In 1905, white supremacist Lionel Terry murdered the Cantonese gold prospector Joe Kum Yung to draw attention to his crusade to rid New Zealand of Chinese and other east Asian immigrants. Author Chris Tse uses this story–and its reenactment for a documentary a hundred years later–to reflect on the experiences of Chinese migrants of the period, their wishes and hopes, their estrangement and alienation, their ghostly reverberation through a white-majority culture. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Out here : an anthology of Takatāpui and LGBTQIA+ writers from Aotearoa
“A remarkable anthology of queer New Zealand voices. We became teenagers in the nineties when New Zealand felt a lot less cool about queerness and gender felt much more rigid. We knew instinctively that hiding was the safest strategy. But how to find your community if you’re hidden? Aotearoa is a land of extraordinary queer writers, many of whom have contributed to our rich literary history. But you wouldn’t know it. Decades of erasure and homophobia have rendered some of our most powerful writing invisible. Out Here will change that. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

No other place to stand : an anthology of climate change poetry from Aotearoa New Zealand
“What, then, for the work of poetry? It’s at the very periphery of popular speech, niche even among the arts, yet it’s also rooted in the most ancient traditions of oral storytelling, no matter where your ancestors originate from. And, as we were reminded by an audience member at the New Zealand Young Writers Festival in 2020, who are we to say poetry cannot change the world?A poem may not be a binding policy or strategic investment, but poems can still raise movements, and be moving in their own right.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.
New Zealand’s China experience : its genesis, triumphs, and occasional moments of less than complete success
“New Zealand’s China Experience collects fiction, poetry, personal accounts, historical narrative, anecdotes, transcribed oral narratives, newspaper articles and more, all bearing in one way or another on New Zealand perceptions of China and contacts with China and the Chinese. The book is richly illustrated with photographs, paintings, posters, and cartoons, and includes photographs by Brian Brake, George Silk, and Tom Hutchins, and three works by the contemporary artist Kerry Ann Lee. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover A Clear Dawn, Paula Morris (ebook)
“This landmark collection of poetry, fiction, and essays by emerging writers is the first-ever anthology of Asian New Zealand creative writing. A Clear Dawn presents an extraordinary new wave of creative talent. With roots stretching from Indonesia to Japan, from China to the Philippines to the Indian subcontinent, the authors in this anthology range from high school students to retirees, from recent immigrants to writers whose families have lived in New Zealand for generations. Some of the writers—including Gregory Kan, Sharon Lam, Rose Lu, and Chris Tse.” (Overdrive description)

The poets among us: Our literary librarians

Today is the 25th anniversary of Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day, and as part of our celebration we’re highlighting the emerging talents within our own ranks. When these writers aren’t penning new poems or performing live, they double as our Librarians, who help connect their local communities to the literary world they are a part of.

We open with Emma Rattenbury’s swirling and almost melancholic interior insights, before diving into Jo McNeice’s subtle and tender homage to Aro Valley. Rogelio Guedea’s work follows, which intimately speaks to bridging the gaps between countries, language and the fissures of love. Alayne Dick takes us on a comedic trip, wryly losing keys and thoughts along the way, as she careens through an endless stream of apt questioning. Belinda Davis then turns a familiar and mundane suburban sight into a sweeping story that you can feel twisting and turning around you. And be sure to catch Tarns Hood’s slam poem finale, it’s truly epic. Full of building energy, she hits the nail on the head of all our frustrations and knocks her performance out of the park.

Enjoy the broad array of voices and styles that these six creatives embrace, as they perform an original work for National Poetry Day. We encourage you to discover, support and enhance Wellingtonian voices across the city today, to share in the joys and power of poetry.

To experience a bi-lingual poetry reading today, drop by Waitohi Johnsonville Library at 3:30pm, to see Rogelio Guedea perform works from his new poetry collection ‘O me voy o te vas / One of us must go’ (2022) in Spanish and English, accompanied by live music.



Belinda Davis (she/her/ia) is a long-time librarian, singer, poet, writer and comedian. Performing regularly at the Fringe Bar and elsewhere, she is published in journals all over her house.

Alayne Dick is  is a writer and performer based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara/ Wellington, New Zealand. Her poems have been featured in Cordite Poetry Review, Sport and Stasis. She has performed her poetry live on Radio New Zealand and had a poem featured on musician Pickle Darling’s album ‘Cosmonaut’. Alayne will be performing her set ‘Deep and Meaningful’ at Sydney Fringe Festival on 13 -17 September 2022.

Rogelio Guedea is a Mexican-born poet and novelist of more than 40 books. His poetry collection ‘Kora’ was awarded the prestigious Spanish Premio Adonáis de Poesía in 2008, and in 2013 his novel, ‘El crimen de Los Tepames (Mondadori)’, was one of the top five best-selling novels in Mexico. Rogelio is currently based in Wellington and is the director of The New Zealand Hispanic Press.

Tarns Hood is a Wellington based Performance Poet and the 2019 AND 2020 Wellington Regional Poetry Slam Champion! Her poetic works focus around addiction, mental health, being oddly observant and general irreverence. Tarns performs at festivals, variety shows, fundraisers, competitions and corporate events. She’s a frequent contributor to NZPS and Regenerate Magazine and her words have been heard across local and national radio.

Jo McNeice has a Masters in Creative Writing from Te Pūtahi Tuhi Auaha o Te Ao, Te Herenga Waka/International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington.  Her poems have appeared in Turbine/Kapohau, Sport, Mayhem and JAAM.

Emma Rattenbury was born and bred in Taranaki, is a graduate of VUW’s MFA Theatre Programme and is now living in Pōneke. Emma’s work includes ‘The Secret Lives of Sixteen Year Old Girls’ (BATS Theatre), and ‘Wonderkind’ (Circa Theatre) from the newly established Wonderlight Theatre Aotearoa. Her play ‘Weed Wacker’ won ‘Best Original Script & Production – New NZ Short Plays’ at the Manawatu Theatre Awards. She is a member of Long Cloud Youth Theatre.


Bordering on miraculous: New poetry collections

It’s an exciting time to be reading poetry, but don’t just take our word for it; people are saying it’s “the year of poetry”. It seems like a great time to remind everyone that we have a decent poetry collection, featuring many bestselling titles from both Aotearoa and overseas.

Below, you’ll find a selection of new additions to our collection, a lot of which are already in hot demand! Some highlights include; essa may ranapiri’s Echidna (which we are huge fans of, we shared an interview with ranapiri recently), Ocean Vuong’s Time is a mother (from the author who brought us the heart breaking/building novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous) and Night School by Michael Steven (Winner of the Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award 2021). You can reserve all of these items via our online catalogue. 

This is also a great time to mention our new YouTube playlist – Poet Interviews. Check out our most recent interview with writer Khadro Mohamed below. If you are a local poet with a book coming out soon, let us know! We’d love to chat with you! 

Anomalia / Chung, Cadence
“Populated with strange specimens, cicada husks and glittering gems, these poems explore the love and cruelty of human nature. Chung is in conversation with her literary ancestors, from Sappho to Byron, bringing their work into the world of sparkly eyeshadow and McDonald’s bathrooms”–Gatefold cover.” (Catalogue)

Night school / Steven, Michael
“Winner of the Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award 2021, poet Michael Steven’s Night School explores the gap between fathers and sons, the effects of toxic masculinity, how power corrupts and corrodes, and whether weed, art and aroha can save us in a godless world.” (Catalogue)

We’re all made of lightning / Mohamed, Khadro
“Khadro Mohamed expertly navigates the experience of being a Muslim women in Aotearoa, bringing us along on her journey of selfhood. Shifting between Aotearoa, Egypt and Somalia, we get a glimpse into her worlds, which are rich and full of life. Mohamed has a sense of wonder for the world around her, exploring nature, food, family and identity. This book is a love letter to her homeland, her whakapapa, and herself.” (Catalogue)

Echidna, or The many adventures of Hinenākahirua as she tries to find her place in a colonised world : including throught is the story of Māui-Pōtiki & Prometheus / Ranapiri, Essa May
“Echidna is a dangerous animal; she pokes holes in men just to remind them what kind of monster she is wakes up every single morning and chooses violence cos what choice does she really have? essa may ranapiri’s second poetry collection follows the story of Echidna, their own interpretation of the Greek Mother of Monsters, as she tries to figure out life and identity living in a colonised world. “–Publisher’s information.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Time is a mother / Vuong, Ocean
“Ocean Vuong’s second collection of poetry looks inward, on the aftershocks of his mother’s death, and the struggle – and rewards – of staying present in the world. Time Is a Mother moves outward and onward, in concert with the themes of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, as Vuong continues, through his work, his profound exploration of personal trauma, of what it means to be the product of an American war in America, and how to circle these fragmented tragedies to find not a restoration, but the epicenter of the break”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Bordering on miraculous / Edmeades, Lynley
“A frame of clouds a slice of sky a window full of doubt-soaked borders. Here we are listening to the hypernated sound of clouds and it is miraculous”–Back cover.” (Catalogue)

The acts of oblivion / Batchelor, Paul
“The ‘Acts of Oblivion’ were a series of seventeenth-century laws enacted by both Parliamentarian and Royalist factions. Whatever their ends — pardoning revolutionary deeds, or expunging revolutionary speech from the record — they forced the people to forget. Against such injunctions, Paul Batchelor’s poems rebel. This long-awaited second collection, The Acts of Oblivion, listens in on some of England’s lost futures, such as those offered by radical but sidelined figures in the English Civil War, or by the deliberately destroyed mining communities of North East England, remembered here with bitter, illuminating force. The book also collects the acclaimed individual poems ‘Brother Coal’ and ‘A Form of Words’, alongside visions of the underworld as imagined by Homer, Lucian, Lucan, Ovid, and Dante.” (Catalogue)

The difference is spreading : fifty contemporary poets on fifty poems
“Since its inception in 2012, the online introduction to modern poetry known as ModPo has engaged tens of thousands of readers, listeners, teachers, and poets with its focus on a modern and contemporary American tradition that runs from Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson up to some of today’s freshest and most experimental written and spoken verse.”– Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

It’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine (it’s not) : poems / Alam, Taz
“A raw, honest and heartfelt poetry collection from Taz Alam – for the tough times, the great times, and everything in between.” (Catalogue)

How to burn a woman / Askew, Claire
“Claire Askew’s electrifying second collection is an investigation of power: the power of oppressive systems and their hold over those within them; the power of resilience; the power of the human heart. It licks flame across the imagination, and rewrites narratives of human desire.” (Catalogue)


Southern Writers at Te Awe Brandon Library – Tuesday 20 Oct 2020

We are very excited to announce our first ever author event at our fabulous new Te Awe library.

20 October 2020
Te Awe Library – 29 Brandon Street
12.30pm to 2pm

And what a fitting event it is to inaugurate the Te Awe event space, with six fine poets and prose writers giving a very special lunch time reading. All hail from Dunedin or Southland.

They are:

Kay McKenzie Cooke, Richard Langston, Tim Jones, Nick Ascroft, Madison Hamill and Jenny Powell, with Mary McCallum reading some of the late Elizabeth Brooke-Carr’s work.

So why not take this rare opportunity, grab your lunchtime sandwiches or buy one from the Te Awe café, and enliven your lunch listening to some of New Zealand’s finest poets reading from their works. Enjoy.

Kay McKenzie Cooke, her first poetry book, Feeding the Dogs received the Jessie MacKay Best First Book Award for Poetry. Kay is visiting Wellington and will be reading from her new collection Upturned / Cooke, Kay McKenzie

Richard Langston, poet and Country Calendar director, will be reading from his latest collection Five O’Clock Shadows / Langston, Richard

New Sea Land / Jones, Tim
Tim Jones is the winner of the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Collected Work and the NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature. He will read from his poetry collection New Sea Land and his novella Where We Land.

Moral sloth / Ascroft, Nick
Nick Ascroft.  Born in Oamaru and awarded the Robert Burns Fellowship in 2003, Nick describes himself as an editor by trade, a linguist by training and a competitive Scrabble player by choice. He will be reading from Moral Sloth.

Specimen : personal essays / Hamill, Madison
Debut author Madison Hamill’s writing has appeared in The Spinoff, Sweet Mammalian, The Pantograph Punch, and Turbine Kapohau.  She will be reading from her essay collection, Specimen.

South d poet lorikeet / Powell, Jenny
Jenny Powell is the current RAK Mason Fellow in the Wairarapa and has been a finalist for a number of poetry prizes including the Janet Frame Memorial Award. She will be  reading from her collection South D Poet Lorikeet.

Jenny Powell and Mary McCallum will read poems by the late Elizabeth Brooke-Carr‘s collection Wanting to tell you everything. An award-winning Dunedin poet, Elizabeth died last year and her writing group (that included Jenny Powell and Mary as a consultant) got together to edit her first collection of poems.

This event has been organised by The Cuba Press, Wellington.