Harris to read poetry

Evening Standard 12 February 1999

POETRY is about rhythm. If it doesn't sound right when read aloud, something is probably wrong.

And poetry is a journey of discovery. Those are two rules of thumb that Palmerston North poet Paula Harris follows - except that there aren't any rules, really.

Harris is giving a reading of her poetry to launch her third book, Sign Language, at the Taylor-Jensen Fine Arts gallery on Valentine's Day, this Sunday at 2pm.

The day is auspicious for a poet who writes about love and life. But Harris says booking that day was just a coincidence.

Poems will come from Sign Language, from Woman, Phenomenally, and from Sweet Clarity, her first and joint publication with Philippa Elphick. She will also read from works by some of her favourite authors - Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, and Nikki Giovanni.

Harris, 25, says reading poetry is another way to get poems to a new audience. People who wouldn't buy a book of poetry will stop and listen to it being read aloud.

A poet busker? Harris laughs. "Well, they do that in Auckland. It takes great courage. I wouldn't. Thought of someone arriving in the middle of a poem is offputting."

Harris won the Whitireia Poetry Award in 1995. Her work has been accepted by magazines and anthologies, and she has been a guest writer at women's conferences.

She says poetry is probably the most subjective opinion-generator. Like music, people see many different things in it.