Women's Poetry speaks about modern life

Evening Standard 3 Jan 1997

[Paula Harris (left) and Philippa Elphick (right)]

TWO Palmerston North poets are trying to take poetry back to the street in their first collection of poems published last month.

Paula Harris and Philippa Elphick have published Sweet Clarity under a joint name of Streetwomen.

They say it is poetry with an edge that speaks clearly about modern life and communication - or lack of communication.

"We wanted to offer poetry that is about clear speaking, that isn't clothed in heavy, complicated metaphor, but that speaks to the person in the street. Hence, Streetwomen," Elphick said.

The poems deal with themes such as love, breaking up, self-love and sensuality. "The realities of life," said Harris.

The duo met at an Open Learning Centre writing group about 18 months ago. They were drawn together, decided they liked each other's writing enough to collaborate and set about looking for publishing funds.

They got a grant from Creative New Zealand.

Putting a book together involved lots of sticky tape and discussion. They cut and pasted photocopied poems on to sheets of paper to get the layout they liked, then sorted out paper.

They chose recycled papers for the book; grey for the pages and a heavier, textured crimson for the cover.

The cover also features artwork by Palmerston North artist Esther Newrick.

The book has a print run of 100, and each copy has been individually numbered, like a set of limited-edition prints.

"We particularly wanted a book that looks and feels as good as the poetry is to read," Miss Harris said.

"Intrinsically and extrinsically pleasing," said Ms Elphick.

Having produced one book, the pair are keen to continue writing and produce more.