Flash Frontier

Dynamics and energy of a place: Piet Nieuwland’s new collection

Interviews and Features

Piet Nieuwland has been a frequent contributor to Flash Frontier. Here we talk with him about his new collection, We Enter The – the contents, the inspirations and how to know when the collection is ready.

We Enter TheFlash Frontier: Tell us a little more about your new collection. What were the inspirations/ starting points behind it?

Piet Nieuwland: We Enter The is my second book of poems published by Cyberwit. It is a culmination of the last few years of writing that reflects some big changes in my perceptions and experience of the world. I was fortunate to make it through the pandemic unscathed but some issues like impacts environmental degradation remain difficult to resolve. There are some lighter pieces too, places we continue to visit and enjoy. The cover image is a crayon drawing I did many years ago with the idea that it would be a good cover and so its time has come in the heating world.
These poems, and the subject of the poetry, is inspired by my reading of poetry anthologies including those from Uruguay, Australia, Cuba, North American Native Nations, Chinese and many other individual poets. This is combined with the personal and local of the everyday experience of living with my partner, a garden and trees, visiting friends and family, and the impacts of pandemics, climate change, natural disasters and massacres on us all. Here in Northland, we are happy to be able to visit some very beautiful places not far away with which we have a strong connection.

FF: Your poetry is always rich with imagery. Do you begin with a concrete idea and then expand it outwards, or do you start in the abstract realm and then bring it to our world?

PN: The poems often start with a phrase, idea or a loose structure that is developed and built upon through my own perception and experience. I usually try to bring the poem to a place or activity that is nearby, often at home.

FF: You are also a visual artist; there is a lot about the natural world in your lines, seen through a visual lens. How do these points of creativity intersect and overlap for you? And have they always been there?

PN: The visual is very important, whether it is literally a situation or imagined. Painting and drawing were previously much more important to me, and I had cycles of visual art followed by writing. Nowadays it’s more reading and writing but I expect that will change. It is very satisfying to complete an image that has a poem to accompany it. It’s more accessible for the viewer/reader too and to build an exhibition of images with poems that can be read aloud is even more fun. It’s also great to be part of a larger collaborative effort.

FF: Your poetry is also highly sensual. How do you write about big themes with an intimate lens?

PN: The sensual pieces are fun and often they arrive out of the feeling of just being there, in the dynamics and energy of a place, but not in a contemplative meditative way. It helps to have my partner Lisa nearby enjoying the beach or forest too.

FF: How do you know when a collection is ready – when it works as a whole?

PN: A collection is ready when I want to move on to another phase. Whether it works as a whole is not really an issue. As long as each poem works then that’s enough for me. A collection is just that – for me it doesn’t have to have a deliberate unifying theme although that may become apparent once it is completed and read with some distance.

You can watch an interview (with Mark Kelly) at Northland Artists Conversations here.


About Piet’s previous works:
…Piet Nieuwland is the most technically minded of the seven. The most rococo. The one who has synthesised Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse with Beat and Eggletonian rhythms. The one who has eaten the most dictionaries for breakfast.’  – Erik Kennedy, in Landfall Review Online, reviewing ‘Take Flight‘.

… sequential treks into the luxuriant poetic foliage throughout.’ – Vaughan Rapatahana, in NZ Poetry Society, on Piet’s his first book As light into water.

We Enter The is available on Amazon. You can also find Piet if you come along to the monthly poetry meeting POETS@ONEONESIX, 116 Bank Street, Whangārei, Northland, New Zealand.

Piet NieuwlandPiet Nieuwland is a creative of Whangārei. He has built an international record of publication of poetry and flash fiction, appearing in numerous journals and anthologies published in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia, USA, India, Antarctica and elsewhere. His poems have appeared in solo and group art exhibitions and Pechakucha presentations.

He is editor of Fast Fibres Poetry and an active performance poet who has appeared for many years as a regular at Poetry Live in Auckland. In Whangārei he convenes regular poetry events for the local community. He worked as a conservation planner and strategist in Northland Aotearoa New Zealand.

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