Tuesday Poem: ‘Voices’ by Sarah Jane Barnett


At the beginning of my PhD I wrote a series of short brick-shaped poems. I wanted to stencil them on bare walls around Wellington, and based each on a particular location. I still would like to publicly display the poems, but it takes time to make stencils etc., so the project is down the bottom of my ‘to do’ list (at the top I have care for child, shower, write, and eat).  This particular poem came from seeing someone collapsed in Cuba Mall — or at least an imagined event where someone collapsed. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference!

7 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: ‘Voices’ by Sarah Jane Barnett

  1. What is Cuba Mall? I’m picturing scantily clad people selling cigars, perched on 1950s cars.

    A great poem: perhaps one day you’ll be able to build a house of paper bricks.

  2. BRICK POEMS – Fantastic idea, Sarah, and this poem is wonderful. The way his body stops but his mind still swoops I find immensely moving. Two things, let’s try and forward your brick idea next year – I know some guerrilla poets who’d love to help myself included – with yours or their own brick poems? What do you think? Cuba St with its brick and unearthquake proofed buildings would be the perfect place – to cheer them up and the people who use it? The other thing is, I’ve often thought it would be a lovely thing on Poetry Day to go around old people’s homes and do readings. This poem would work very well there. What do you think?

    1. I think that’s a great idea. By the Kelburn viaduct they’ve painted over some graffiti with black paint, so there are big black squares on the hillside. They seem perfect to me to chalk up some poems.

  3. O dear, now that I’ve read your explanation of the poem and other people’s comments I realise that I have misunderstood it completely. I thought it was about impotence and a yearning for youth when such things did not occur! I thought it was about the humiliation of not being able to perform and letting the woman down. I’ve re-read it several times and that is still how I see, and like, the poem. I hope you don’t mind this comment. Keep up the good work on the garden.

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