Q & A with Lynley Edmeades for National Poetry Day 2016

Lynley Edmeades had her first collection published by Otago University Press earlier this year, As the Verb Tenses. Her poetry has been published in NZ, Australia, the UK and the USA. She is currently completing a doctoral thesis at the University of Otago, looking at sound in avant-garde poetics, and is one of four NZ poets featured in Poems in Your Pocket 2016 for National Poetry Day. Here she answers a few questions from our national coordinator about her poetry, her plans and her advice for new poets.

[Lynley Edmeades - photo by Rory Mearns]

1. Name three NZ poets you think everyone needs to read at least once in their life. Why?
Allen Curnow, because his dedication to the craft of poetry was second to none.
James K. Baxter, for the same reason, plus a healthy dose of recalcitrance.
And Bill Manhire: he's just damn good.

2. What made you write the poem that appears in Poems in Your Pocket 2016?
I stopped in Lake Baikal for a few days when I did the Trans-Siberian railway journey a few years ago. I met a young woman there who showed me around. There was not much to see, but the lake is just this huge, imposing presence. The town is so quiet and eerie, and there was always a dog or two within ear-shot. It's very cinematic. It's hard to know what to do with that kind of feeling, I find.

3. You just published a book, what are you working on next?
Well, I'm in the thick of my PhD studies at the moment. Once I finish my thesis, I hope to return to poetry and get cracking on my next collection.

4. What's one piece of advice you have for a brand new poet?
READ. Read poetry like your life depends on it.

5. What are you doing for National Poetry Day this year?
I'm reading with some other Otago poets at Dunedin Public Library the night before. It's called "Decadence: 10 Otago Poets." That should be fun. It's always nice to get together with other poets for National Poetry Day. It's like a birthday we all share.

Find a National Poetry Day event near you in the 2016 calendar of events.

Poems in Your Pocket is a poetry booklet you download online, print, fold, and pocket to share for National Poetry Day. A single page becomes a miniature poetry book featuring four NZ poets.