Author(s): Michele Leggott
Twelve months of a laureate: in 2008 Michele Leggott wrote a poem a week to record her term as the inaugural New Zealand Poet Laureate. In her new collection of poems Mirabile Dictu ('mi.rah.buh.lay dik.tu' - Wonderful to relate; amazing to say), she relates the wonders of those 12 months, which took her to Matahiwi Marae in Hawke's Bay to receive her brilliant sky-blue, specially carved tokotoko, Te Kikorangi; through a time of mourning for and celebration of former poet laureate Hone Tuwhare; to Florence, across a 'poetic bridge'; and to Wellington 'hand to hand' with four other laureates. With her is Te Kikorangi as guide and companion - 'almost as good as the blue from Kapiti/ we eat when the good times roll'. Leggott also delves back into the past, layering poems of today with poems of then - and finds, among others, Isabella - growing up in a colonial town, 'named for a grandmother over the sea'. The poems in Mirabile Dictu are gifts; they are lush and supple; they glory in language; they go 'looking for a good time' and find rose cuttings, great-aunts, an elephant, several feasts, adorations and assumptions - 'the breathing world'. Through the poems Leggott explores languages within languages, hearing and seeing, coming and going, the porousness of experience and its representations. In this collection she is a daily traveller, crafter of words and maker of fire.
Shortlisted for PANZ Book Design Awards: Non-Illustrated Book 2010.
Michele Leggott MNZM is an award-winning poet and literary scholar who has published six previous collections of poems and edited several influential anthologies and collections of essays. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at The University of Auckland and is the founding Director of the NZ electronic poetry centre. In 2007 she was appointed inaugural New Zealand Poet Laureate (2007-9) and she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the 2009 New Year's Honours for her services to poetry.