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Tongues of Ash

Tongues of Ash by Keith Westwater
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Keith Westwater's poetry arises from his appreciation and love of the New Zealand landscape. Well-travelled throughout the land, the poet evokes memories as he revisits places invested with emotion, history and spirituality. Winner, IP Picks Best First Book, 2011. Keith Westwater began writing poetry in 2003 while attending the International Institute of Modern Letters' Writing the Landscape course at Victoria University of Wellington. Since then his work has appeared in a number of literary publications and has received or been short-listed for awards in New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland. Prizes for his poetry include an equal first place in the 2006 Yellow Moon Spirit of Place competition, first place in the International Tertiary Student Poetry section of the 2009 Bauhinia Literary Awards, and Best First Book in the 2011 IP Picks competition. In 2009 he completed a Master of Letters in creative writing through Central Queensland University. Keith currently lives in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. Before joining the New Zealand Army as a Regular Force Cadet in 1964, he went to school in Northland and Auckland. During his time in the Army and after leaving it in 1985, he has lived in many places in New Zealand and travelled extensively throughout the country and overseas. His working life has centred on teaching and learning and development in the workplace.
IP (Interactive Publications); October 2011
ISBN 9781921869273
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Title: Tongues of Ash
Author: Keith Westwater
Canterbury Visit, Winter 1982 You clasp a shabby quilt of dun and brown. Memories from years before at first stay locked away like the snow water in your mountains marching north and south. No storms call to your Port Hills, which are as bare as the trees that trellis your sky. But then, they always did. Even as I enter the city of my first true love you get coy clutch up a skirt of fog. Once again I have to fumble my way. Rivers that feud with the sea The Haast rages at the sea when in flood rips boulders big as trucks from the knees and feet of giants hurls them in the ditch. The Waiho runs to the sea from the nose of a river of ice which very slowly pokes its tongue in – and out, as it bench-presses mountains of snow. The Grey races for the sea but, barred from its prize wins instead the bones of boats and ships and the tears of fishermen's widows. Winds and time Throughout our lives blow many winds and gales. Tomorrow's forecast is for dangerous gales. Loved ones and their dreams are drowned at sea when storms cause ships on shoals to sail. At night, the moon is lashed by trees while men go mad from days of nor'west gales. Wind on sand makes seas of crescent moons and sand on winds of time all life assails. Take my hand, Margret my love, we'll climb the tops lean forward, yell, push back tomorrow's gales.