Worth the Wait: Alan Roddick’s second poetry collection

By Otago University Press | Posted: Thursday September 29, 2016

After establishing a poetic presence on the literary scene in the early 1960s, Dunedin’s Alan Roddick published his first collection, The Eye Corrects: Poems 1955–1965, in 1967. A mere 49 years later comes the sequel, Getting it Right: Poems 1968–2015.

It was the Caselberg Trust’s Nine Artists in Fiordland Residency in 2007 that broke Alan’s 25-year literary silence. The company of poets and other creative artists reawakened his ability to make words and lines and poems that ‘seemed to work’, and he found he could again think of himself as a poet.

One of those other artists, poet and painter Gregory O’Brien, supplied the book’s stunning cover. Greg launched the book in Dunedin on 22 September.

Gathered here are poems Alan has written since the residency, alongside poems from his first collection and those that ‘shouldered their way in’ at inconvenient times, when he and his wife were raising their family and working full time. The poems range widely in time and place, from Dusky Sound in 1773 to present-day Dunedin and the Northern Ireland of his childhood.

As Alan himself puts it, ‘Each completed poem has always felt like my last poem; and as I approach the age of 80, that feels all the more likely to be the case. However, the poems continue to come and, to borrow Curnow’s words, “so long/ as there’s a next there’s no last”.’

Today I must prune this apple tree.

I squinny up at the laden sky. The trick is

to see your tree in fruit, alive with leaves,

then taking shears or knife to set that vision

free: as now I try ...

from ‘Winter Pruning’

C.K. Stead writes in Shelf Life (AUP, 2016), ‘Alan Roddick is a “cool” poet, a temperament that seems reserved, controlled, decent, funny and intelligent; a craftsman not a showman, with a fine musical ear, whose work is dependable and of the highest order ... It is wonderful to have him back – something to celebrate!’

Getting It Right
Poems 1968–2015 By Alan Roddick
Release Date: September 2016
ISBN 978-1-927322-65-9, $25
www.otago.ac.nz/press
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