Why poetry?

To catch the cat’s
studied indifference,
her yawn and stretch in the sun.

To take what once was thought
and twice rejected
and refine it
until it is not what it was.

To recover the realm
between waking and sleep
where a dragon guards
the golden hoard

and a word marks the lizard’s dart
between is and

Casual, effortless, elegant
to be the heron
climbing the air.

To give to the human order
a kinder face
a better shape.

To be and not
to be Hamlet beset
by slings and arrows.

To find a way back
to the bush stream
where small fish used to hang
in shafts of sunlight.

To get ahead of yourself
and accept the silence.

by CK Stead

As part of the MCS Arts Festival Oxford, Azfa Awad, Youth Ambassador for Poetry (a position co-sponsored by Oxford Brookes and Oxford City Council), will be reading in Oxford alongside the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, on Thursday 3 July from 7.30-9.30pm. For more details, visit the festival website.

‘Why poetry?’ by CK Stead is copyright © CK Stead, 2013, and is reprinted by permission of Arc Publications from the book The Yellow Buoy (Arc Publications, 2013).

Notes from Arc Publications:

CK Stead, poet, essayist and novelist, is only one of two writers to hold the Order of New Zealand. In The Yellow Buoy, Stead’s fifteenth collection of poetry, the writer journeys in time and space from Croatia and Colombia to Karekare and the Côte d’Azur; Catullus returns to receive plaudits, write to friends and read the world; and various other literary fellows appear in person, dream or conversation – Allen Curnow and Hugh Kawharu, Frank Sargeson and Barry Humphries, Robert Creeley and Katherine Mansfield.

You can read more about CK Stead on Arc’s page, where you can also read further samples of his work. Eight poems from Stead’s work, read by the poet himself, can also be heard on the Poetry Archive site.

Since it was founded in 1969, Arc Publications has adhered to its fundamental principles – to introduce the best of new talent to a UK readership, including voices from overseas that would otherwise remain unheard in this country, and to remain at the cutting edge of contemporary poetry. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians. As well as its page on Facebook, you can find Arc on Twitter. Visit Arc’s website to join the publisher’s mailing list, and to find full details of all publications and writers. Arc offers a 10% discount on all books purchased from the website (except Collectors’ Corner titles). Postage and packing is free within the UK.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.