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NIGHT SHIFTS is a new collection of poems from Pat White, (1944–), poet, essayist, memoirist and artist whose work often directly reflects his interest in rural life and the natural environment and draws on his experience living in different places around New Zealand, from the bottom of the South Island to the far north. His poems have been described by Jack Ross as ‘beautiful, unassuming and perfectly paced, all at the same time’(Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2020). Reviewing his previous collection Watching for the Wingbeat,  

Janet Hughes wrote of a poet ‘attuned to the natural world and rural environments as settings for deep and wide reflection, filtered through scholarship‘ (New Zealand Review of Books, Autumn 2019). Pat’s first collection of poetry, Signposts, was published in 1977; the most recent was his new and selected poems Watching for the Wingbeat, (Cold Hub Press 2018.) His biography of poet Peter Hooper, Notes from the Margins: the West Coast’s Peter Hooper appeared in 2017.

A small story

for Brian Turner

One of those Central Otago summer days

all the sunlight and heat we can swallow

at a street-side café in Alex, you, me

and another who mentioned things

going my way and you said,

‘lark ascending, eh’

On those summer days in Central

the lark will ascend until she’s singing

out of sight in the wide blue above us––

high notes, hearing loss combine

for minimal rewards

                                      Then, when

singing ceases the lark glides back among

thyme, browntop, dandelion, foxgloves

plantain, weeds that grow on windswept

ochre- and umber-tinted earth like yours

But I’d like to think that up there

at day’s end when our tiny brown bird

is grounded by the dark

traces of song still trill

where she ascended to sing.

© Pat White 2023

Publication date: 14 September 2023

Pat White


word from the heartland

ISBN: 978-0-473-68593-5

Softcover, 72 pp, 210 x 148 mm

Cold Hub Press ~ Pat White