Blood Ties: New and selected poems 1963–2016, by Jeffrey Holman

Blood Ties: New and selected poems 1963–2016, the latest collection by popular New Zealand poet Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, is published by Canterbury University Press this week.
 
The collection of poems, spanning Holman’s writing career of more than 50 years, opens with his first published poem, ‘Night’ (1963), dedicated to his English teacher, Peter Hooper, and moves on to explore the journey of a life in Aotearoa New Zealand, offering Holman’s response to universal human concerns such as love, loss, grief and courage.
 
Throughout the collection Holman explores these concerns in poems that reference significant events in New Zealand’s recent history, that are accessible to both a New Zealand and an international audience.
The selection started as a personal collection for Holman. “I selected a small number I would like to outlast me.”
 
Holman grew up in the coal mining town of Blackball and has worked as a sheep shearer, postman and psychiatric social worker, and his poetry speaks up for the working class with a first-hand richness of perspective.  The collection includes some of Holman’s most recognisable work, including his signature poem, ‘As big as a father’, which won the 1997 Whitireia Poetry Prize and ‘Mine’ written for the families of the Pike River Mine disaster.
 
Blood Ties will be launched at the University Bookshop at the University of Canterbury on Thursday 9 March by Patrick Evans. 
 
“This is the third CUP poetry collection designed and printed in collaboration with Ilam Press at UC’s School of Fine Arts,” says CUP publisher Catherine Montgomery. “It realises their design concept of the book as a beautiful object and once again, with their painstaking, artisanal approach, they’ve created a covetable and collectable volume.”
 
About the author
Jeffrey Paparoa Holman grew up on the West Coast of the South Island, New Zealand. He lives in Christchurch and is a senior adjunct fellow in the School of Humanities and Creative Arts at the University of Canterbury.
 
Critical acclaim for Jeffrey Paparoa Holman
Blood Ties is a journey through a lifetime that is a parable of settlement, one man’s response to the challenge of living responsibly and with sensitivity to the question of where we are and what we must be. There are strong ancestors throughout, but, at the same time and very distinctively, the urgent sound of this river of poetry is all this fine poet’s own.’
- Patrick Evans
 
‘Holman affirms the working-class spirit… his poems are vivid with imagery. This is poetry as local history and vice-versa.’
- David Eggleton (about The Late Great Blackball Sonnets)