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Cold Hub Press ~ Owen Leeming

Publication date: 01 June 2021


New & Selected Poems 1954–2020

Owen Leeming

edited with an introduction by Robert McLean

ISBN: 978-0-473-57184-9

Softcover, 144 pp, 210 x 148mm

Owen Leeming’s 1972 collection Venus is Setting, with its centrepiece ‘The Priests of Serrabonne’, was marked for praise by Kendrick Smithyman, Vincent O’Sullivan and James K. Baxter, but it would take the best part of five decades until his next collection was published. Latitudes: New & Selected Poems contains selections from Venus is Setting and 2019’s Through Your Eyes, which comprised poems from the 1960s and 70s along wiith others written in more recent years. It also includes a section of hitherto uncollected  earlier poems and another of new work offered for the first time.

     Leeming’s early poems remain fresh and energetic, marked by their rare reconciliation of the playful and the serious. The recent poems sparkle intensified brio and rumbustiousness, by which readers are offered the world freshly rendered in words with an utterly uncommon intelligence and sensuousness.

     Charting a course from youthful disillusionment to celebratory old-age, Owen Leeming’s Latitudes: New & Selected Poems will surprise, delight  and challenge readers of poetry with its open-eyed love of life and language.

Owen Leeming was born in Christchurch in 1930.

He has spent much of his adult life in the UK and France working for the BBC, UNESCO and as a translator with the OECD. He was the first Katherine Mansfield Fellow in Menton in 1970.

The dream cave

Nelson sun, sea, bush, sand,

diamond-starred water, gannet lullaby,

a small boy, by pointed cave mouth,

black store of genitor love, asleep,

fist uncurled, hardly breathing.

Might he be wandering free

in a sky of everything,

of princely dominion, of quilted peace,

with Max and the Maxi Monsters,

a frisk of unicorn foals, a swirl

of silver herons. There he lies encradled,

gloved by the transparent breeze.

An artist’s scene of brightness,

infant, and triangular maw of dark

––benign entrance to the riddle of our selves,

features both known and strange, all smiling––

as we smile at the child’s still face,

at the look of what we have been,

before we grew and knew.

© Owen Leeming 2021