Jan lives in Christchurch with Hamish and says that poetry is a significant part of her life. She wrote constantly as a child and she returned to writing poetry after her own children left home. David Howard encouraged her and she joined the Poetry Collective where she appreciated meeting others with similar interests. She belongs to a poetry group which meets regularly and values its lively exchange of views.
She writes for Amnesty International and at present is improving her skills in Maori language.
Her poems are represented in many anthologies and publications and more recently in Snorkel and Quadrant (Australia). Steele Roberts published her three collections: The Long Sleep is Over, Days Among Trees, and The Happiness of Rain. Recently, she won first prize in The Takahe International Poetry Competition, 2011.
Tim adds: The title poem The Happiness of Rain was my Tuesday Poem this week.
I chose the title The Happiness of Rain as I wanted one which connected with New Zealand landscape and, despite the precarious environment, would reveal joy in the present moment. I remembered, in particular, a day I spent at Stewart Island and many visits to bush on the hills of Wellington.
I don't write the poems in a systematic order but try to arrange a collection of poems - after I've finally completed them - in a way that allows them to engage with others on the page opposite or near by. Nor do I plan a particular poem. I stop what I'm thinking and expecting and stay present for the poem as long as it takes.
My poetry is an expression of faith in the integrity of the senses and faith in the imagination. I want my poems to be connected with the natural world, with myths and animals, dreams and erotic life.
I have three poems on our September and February quakes in the first part of The Happiness of Rain. As well, I’ve included a found poem on the telephone book which was written a few years earlier and published in JAAM in 2007.
Others whom I read and reread are John Clare, Hardy, the later Yeats, Edward Thomas, Charles Causley, Kathleen Jamie, Michael Longley, many contemporary Irish poets - the list never ends. Poets in New Zealand who spring to mind are Fiona Farrell, Michael Harlow, Cilla McQueen, Bill Manhire, Jim Norcliffe, Gregory O’Brien, C.K. Stead and Brian Turner.
The Happiness of Rain can be ordered from book shops or from Steele Roberts' web site: www.SteeleRoberts.co.nz