matuhi / needle
matuhi - needle is a VUP poetry book with a difference:
* It is published jointly with Perceval Press, the California publisher owned and operated by Pilar Perez and Viggo Mortensen
* It is a beautifully-designed hardback, featuring five paintings by the Ngai Tahu artist Jenny Rendall
* It includes a CD featuring Hinemoana reading six of her poems, and a song excerpted from her music CD Puawai, released simultaneously by Jayrem Records
Many cultures converge and challenge each other in the poetry of Hinemoana Baker most obviously, her parents Maori and Pakeha ancestries. The need to belong to the extended and nuclear family is at odds with the equally pressing need to be an individual in the world.
In matuhi - needle, her début collection, there are poems of praise, love and gratitude. Words, phrases and cultural concepts in the Maori world are given a new and different life via her love and recovery of Te Reo which can be translated as the voice. Other poems are inscribed with the sordid and the badly-behaved, or admit to feelings of inadequacy and avoidance. Some reflect a history of personal and political invasion and occupation. All are alive with grace, intellect and control.
HINEMOANA BAKER was born in 1968. Like many New Zealanders with Maori ancestry, she learned the Maori language as an adult in her case, at Victoria University of Wellington. In 1998 Hinemoana was awarded the universitys Stout Research Centre / Readers Digest Writing Fellowship, and in 2002 she returned to Victoria to complete a Masters degree in creative writing. She has published poetry and short fiction and has written for stage and film. An accomplished producer (most recently for Radio New Zealands National Radio network) and a talented musician, Hinemoanas first album is to be released at the same time as this, her first book.
Visit Hinemoana's website www.hinemoana.co.nz
Praise for matuhi- needle
Hinemoana Bakers first book of poems, matuhi - needle ... is immediately appreciated as an extremely beautiful book. Square, hardback, I held it, turned it, flicked through it looking at Ngai Tahu artist Jenny Rendalls extraordinary, gorgeous art, then checking my watch, thought Id have time to read a couple of poems.
Some time later, Id finished it. Then I went back to a few and reread them. Again, and again. Some of its obscure, of course (whose mind and soul isnt?) but intriguingly so, and its something about the tone of the poems that make you want to try and decipher the backstory of each.
Kathy Hunter LEAFSALON For the full review visit LeafSalon
matuhi - needle is physically the most sumptuous book of poems published here this year, beautifully produced and at an astonishingly reasonable price. The poems are interspersed with handsome paintings by Jenny Rendall, and the book comes with a CD of Baker reciting and singing the poems. The poems are anchored firmly in a modern world and yet range freely over Baker's past, lyrically examining a bi-cultural life.
Mark Houlahan DOMINION POST
Apart from the polished precision and lyrical quality of her work, Hinemoana Baker's poetry constantly surprises with the richness and originality of its observations.
Joe Wylie TAKAHE