It was as the snow started falling again
that she blurted it out, so they were all
just standing there gazing up, knee-deep
in snow, the little one thigh-deep,
when they heard it, the news that slipped
out like a necklace from a sleeve,
ot meant for the kids, not meant for here,
for the snowwoman with her pink hat
and old carrot nose, for the creaking
pines, the cracked plastic sled, the neat
rabbit tracks that shied all over the white
field. So they stood there, the little one
lost in any case in this too white world,
his too cold hands stiff in his wet wool
gloves, his feet stuck somewhere
miles down below. And once it was out
she wished she could call it back in,
like a dog you could whistle to,
but it wouldn’t, you couldn’t,
so they stood there in the snow,
and the big one asked, of course,
‘what’s that?’ and his dad just looked
straight back at her, his clove-brown eyes
soft with fear, the hound’s sour breath
hot on the nape of his neck.
Sarah Broom's first poetry collection, Tigers at Awhitu, was published by Carcanet Press and Auckland University Press in 2010. She was born in Dunedin in 1972 and now lives in Auckland with her husband and three children. In 2006 she published Contemporary British and Irish Poetry: An Introduction (Palgrave Macmillan). She has an MA in English from the University of Leeds and a DPhil from Oxford University. She lectured for a year at Somerville College, Oxford, before returning home to New Zealand with her husband in 2000. She has since held a post-doctoral fellowship at Massey University (Albany) and a lectureship in English at the University of Otago, Dunedin. Her poetry has been published widely in journals, including Landfall and Poetry New Zealand and, in the UK, Orbis, Metre, Acumen and the Oxford Magazine.
‘This sophisticated, intelligent collection is full of bittersweet, piercingly true contradictions. It’s poetry that leaves me both "unmoored" and "eased". I read it with the painful tingling of a numb limb feeling warm blood run through it again. This is what it is to be alive, to love, to dread.’ — Emma Neale
There are a couple of very unusual things about Tigers at Awhitu. Broom is in the rare position of having her first solo collection of poems published by English publisher Carcanet at the same time as it is being released in New Zealand. New Zealand poets are hardly ever selected for publication by overseas publishers and this is even more unusual for a first book. Furthermore, both publishers accepted the book on the basis of only a half a manuscript. Not only that but the second half of her book was written after she was diagnosed with cancer and given weeks to live. Most importantly though, Broom can really write. You can listen to a podcast of her interviewed by Helen Lowe here.
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