I am …

I am the dark night
the bright star
the rushing wind
the winding river

a still pond
an open flower
the cloudy sky
the evening shower

I am the sunrise
I am the thunder
I am the mountain
you shelter under

I am the brown earth
I am the green leaf
I am the fallen fruit
the bird released

I am the blue ink
and the blank page
the unrhymed verse
and the mind engaged

I am the thoughts that circle
and the wings that beat
I am the wild pulse
beneath your feet


the last poem for 2016 – something of an affirmation to greet the new year…


Its 8.15pm New Year’s Eve here in NZ and I’ve opened a bottle of bubbly ready to reminisce and begin to look forward to 2017.

I want to wish everyone a positive, rewarding year – stay strong – kia kaha. Thanks to everyone who has visited here – to view, to like or to comment – it means such a lot to me.

And in this new year – remember to pay attention to the things that help you to connect and grow and shine and smile.

coming in 2017:
move . seek . indulge . read . find . shift . walk . watch . notice . balance . reach . relax

discoveries and intentions – reflections on 2016

I’ve taken up the suggestion to reflect on this year. I hadn’t intended to, but once I read Michelle W’s suggestions on The Daily Post, it immediately seemed such a helpful thing to do.

This year is the first time I’ve really committed to writing and what I’m most proud of is the amount I’ve written throughout the year, and that I’ve stuck with it. Although its interesting to note that my posting peaked mid-year, I wonder why…?

I like getting feedback – and responding to others’ work. From being initially so hesitant about posting anything, this year has seen me grow in confidence, and much of that is due to the positive feedback I’ve received. So thank you to all who took the time to write something to me – it means more than you might realise.

Realising that getting only a few likes on a piece doesn’t mean its un-liked – it may just have gone unseen.

I’m getting better at using tags, and this may help bring my work to more people.

Participating in challenges eg: “intro to poetry” (responding to daily prompt words) was indeed challenging, but also rewarding. It pushed me to explore my work, and question my habits. It provided opportunities for increased interactions with other writers.

It was interesting to look through this year’s posts, and follow the suggestion of using the ten with the most “likes” to make a wordcloud. These aren’t necessarily the ten I would have chosen – so I made two wordclouds – most likes and my choice.

Be brave and keep sharing my work with others. Make the most of opportunities eg writing workshops. Set up regular writing cafe sessions with a friend who writes. Send some pieces out to magazines etc – and/or self publish?

I’ve been working through this year’s crop of poems – and its interesting how I can work on crafting these now – much more objective – more able to think yes-that stays, no-wrong word-change it, no-that doesn’t belong-cut completely.

Tidy up the photography section of my blog – and add more to this. It was meant to be a stand-alone category, but I found that the photos I took became integrated into my writing – so I need to think about whether I even keep it. I still need a photo of a “list of birds”.

And – I realised I never did write something for Bowie – this may well come early January next year – “its been a year …” – listening to Blackstar and thinking about the lyrics eg: “spirit rose a metre and stepped aside”, “you know I’ll be free”.

I welcome the new year – I wonder what it will bring?


the day begins


surfacing from the dark
feet cold on the hard floor
black sky softening
trees a muted green
birds waking, calling, invisible

she is there, waiting
but she turns her face away

All this week, hoping to catch a glimpse of her promised glory and now, there are only moments between clouds when she shines.
Before this week, her face would have been welcomed. It was all romance and possibility and a sense of the future. Now, I can’t wait for her to leave. I am waiting, I am wanting, I am denied.

street lights fluoresce a pale orange
a row of miniature suns
marking a runway, a landing strip

see – here – here you could land
you could bring yourself to earth
and let me hold you
and let me be held

scaffolding surrounds the house
a white plastic chair glows in the half light
the stream is full with the run-off from the hills
and birds call
birds call
and the trees are moving

5.30am update / buildings are closed / people evacuated / sea life threatened / seabed raised / the weather is clearing with a forecast of morning showers / southerlies / 15 degrees

she hasn’t moved
I am waiting for her to drop
to slide behind the hills
but she is contrary, stubborn
hanging still as clouds pass by
like so many unsuccessful suitors

at least I see her
but I wanted so much more
I am disappointed
that she waits til now to show herself
all week, going about her business undercover
a beautiful anarchist
creating chaos
mad woman of the sky
you have betrayed us all

clouds glow apricot pink
and draw attention to the left
yellow eyes watch from across the room
a shadow, a black cloud
full of anticipation and patience

6.00am parliament / questions / earthquakes / recovery / entry to the drift

There has been enough waiting and as the sky lightens, I return to warmth and comfort, shining one small bright light into the darkness. And I read “This moment is all there is” and I think, here it is, synchronicity at work.

this book of light
is full
and slow to respond
full of dead poets
Rumi, Tuwhare, Cohen

There has been so much loss in so little time. Storytellers and singers, poets and priests, all are slipping away. The ground moved and we looked to the heavens. The rains came, and our tears were added to the flood. Myths abounded as we looked for reasons to explain the unexplainable. The moon that came too close. Too much moon, too much gravity. Facing the inevitability of time and the pain of too much love, too many memories.

Whatever the cause, the reality is – the very ground we walk on has proved unstable. We have a fragile peace between aftershocks when we take a ragged breath. We do not know if it will be safe to breathe out…

the black shadow sits heavily across belly and hips

6.40am Kaikoura / slow cooking using bricks from the house

bricks re-purposed
from a broken home
necessity brings invention
disillusion gives way to hope
disenchantment never quite took hold
the sun has risen
the cat is fed
and so

 the day begins

(the result of a writing workshop with Pip Adam – to focus on the details of one day – Friday 18 November 2016 – to observe, record and then transform. This is the result of the writing done the following day, Saturday 19 November. Still working on it – currently in prose, fewer “voices”, and managing to get past 6.40 am 😉)


feeling conflicted and affirmed – why do I write?

On Friday 9 December, I went to a concert, the result of which surprised me and led me to reflect… This is about the influence of another poet and my own writing.

Ten years ago the poems of a well known (but sadly departed) New Zealand poet, Hone Tuwhare, had been set to music and performed. Now, many of the original composers and singer-songwriters had gathered for a one-off tenth anniversary performance of the works. A celebration of the poet, and a tribute to those who were no longer with us to perform, Graham Brazier and Mahinārangi Tocker.

One of my favourite poems, “Rain” was performed by Don McGlashan. His interpretation and singing a perfect fit for the poem. I cried. The woman beside me cried. It was one of those moments – the music set the tone, an expectation, a plaintive longing, and then the words followed, intimate and sensual.

Tuwhare had a way of bringing the natural world into direct connection with the human, through devices of personification and metaphor, and a way of speaking directly to the elements, for example: I can hear you making small holes in the silence/rain… and I should know you by the lick of you…” 1, “… the lone tree guarding the point from the sharp-tongued sea…” 2, and “We are stroking, caressing the spine of the land… Squirming, the land wriggles in delight…” 3.

As I listened, I was aware that my breathing was shallow, my chest was tight. My emotions shifted from initial recognition and connection, to a feeling of affirmation, and the tears came. I accepted that my tendency to animate the natural world, to give voice to trees and birds and the land, was a valid way to write. I’d always wondered. Here were Tuwhare’s words on stage and accepted by hundreds of people. It was a validation.
(And possibly a point of origin. I was first introduced to his work when I was 15, at school. Perhaps what I absorbed then has informed my subconscious ever since).

But then, something unexpected happened. I had felt such a strong connection that I cried, but then I began to question whether there was really anything left for me to say. It was as if Tuwhare had said it all, and quite possibly with this one poem. I left the theatre feeling as though I should just throw away my pen. I knew this was an over-reaction, but still, it made me question what I was doing, and whether I really had a voice of my own.

Later, I realised I needed to take my ego out of the mix. If I am true to myself, I don’t write to compare myself to others, to be recognised, acknowledged as clever, or unique, however satisfying that might be. I write because it is something I can do. I write because I like it. I write because it helps me understand myself. I write because it’s a creative process and I am bringing something into being that didn’t exist until I placed one word after another. I write because it’s been with me since I was a tiny child. I write because when I’m writing I feel as though there is nothing else I should be doing.

Today I re-read many of the pieces I’ve posted here this year. I’m surprised by how much I’ve done, since this is the first year I’ve committed to writing like I really mean it. There are pieces I love, pieces that could do with some editing, pieces that are a bit self-indulgent, pieces that might be better off as prose. But its done and its here and its mine, and if Tuwhare’s work in any way lies behind some of it, then I’m happy and grateful to have his influence, and to have him as one of my poetic god-parents.

So after feeling conflicted, I’ve cycled back to feeling affirmed. I’ll keep writing because others have told me that I can say things in a way that means something to them. So I’ll keep writing for them, and for myself, because it makes me feel real.

1: “Rain” from Come Rain Hail, 1970
2: “Friend” from No Ordinary Sun, 1964
3: “Papatuanuku (Earthmother)” from Making a Fist of It, 1978
An early burst of assertiveness,
“Do not change the words but if they are not spelt right correct them please”,
written when I was about seven at the end of a poem of questionable merit
(though it showed I had managed to master rhyme and rhythm at that young age).

©Claire Griffin 2016

torn apart

12.02am was a lesson in humility
who am I
to think the earth
could feel my pain
and make the heavens
weep with me

she is not a reflection of my emotions
she is her own sovereign being
and last night she tore herself apart

there is a fury
she has held in check
grief she has suppressed
pain she has denied

last night
all was unleashed
pent up energy released
her heart broken open
and spread before us

there is a madness in her rage
she rends her clothes
and tears her hair
she breaks her own body
and lays it at our feet
she has become a distorted, twisted thing

my beautiful country
you have torn yourself apart
what are you telling me?

we may be homeless
she is broken
we may be confused
she is broken
we may be distraught
she is broken

it may be her only way
to shake free from us

my beautiful country
you have torn yourself apart
what are you telling me?

she has called on her power
the wild pulse of life
to tear open her own skin
to bleed rivers enough
to flood the land
and lay bare the truth

she is not gentle
she is not kind
she is a wild thing
who tolerates us

she is more Lillith than Eve
she is Papatuanuku grieving still for Rangi
she is Persephone rising after slaughtering Hades
she is Mis raging in the wilderness

she is telling us
she owns her body
she owns her pain
and she can cast us off
in a heartbeat

©Claire Griffin 2016

And then came this… just when I was in the heady space of imagining the significance of a rare astronomical event… On 14 November a 7.8 earthquake hit.

I had to face my sentimental wishful thinking, my need to personify the earth as a beneficent mother. She is not a reflection of my emotions. She is her own sovereign being, and this morning she tore herself apart.

The previous poem was put on hold, and this seemed so much more appropriate.

super moon

the eye of the universe draws nearer
she turns towards us
watching side on
like a great white whale
surfacing, curious, yet wary
she brings a gift to us
her own body, her luminous skin
she has come from the depths of space
to show what it looks like to be whole
she has come to bring light to our dark night
she has come to bring hope
she has come …

Monday is the night
of the perigree full moon
a supermoon

our pain, our cries of disappointment
and anger have been heard
and we have woken the spirits of our world

©Claire Griffin 2016

I was working on this almost three weeks ago, and was planning to post on Monday 14 November, the night of the supermoon.
However, Sunday night, early Monday morning, New Zealand was hit by a major earthquake, and my notions of a benevolent moon seemed naïve and sentimental. I’ve been a bit distracted ever since.
I never really finished this – but it fits with a few pieces that have emerged from the events of the last few weeks.

12 November – revised 1 December 2016