Author(s): Peter Shadbolt
Poem sequence about the Hokianga, with linking texts from the 1800s.
"In Voyage around a River we hear the distant murmurings of historians and story-tellers -- Maori as well as Pakeha. We pick up traces of their precarious lives, aspirations and social structures. We take in the rhythms, textures and sounds of their environment: ... chop ... echo ... pause ... These elements are held together by the calm, detached manner of the poetic sequence -- a wafting rather than insistent narrative presence. I imagine Peter Shadbolt's poetry as a low harbour fog which swallows the hard realities of the world: water, sand, sky, mangroves, humanity, dogs ... preserving them in tidal flows of language." -- from Gregory O'Brien's afterword Peter Shadbolt's tribute to the Hokianga is a remarkable narrative of kinship with the waters and hinterland of the 'place of Kupe's great return'. Rich in observation and memory, overlapped by history and mythology, the strength of this long poem sequence also lies in its seamless integration of the river as vivid physical terrain and contemplative space. -- Stephanie de Montalk