Flash Frontier

Philip Temple: Berlin poems from the past

Interviews and Features

Previously published in takahē


January 1990 A swell of tourists breaks against the largest electronic billboard in the world drawn by the Mercedes star, its heavenly influence over the hollow church tiding them down the immaculate way. They surge on, unaware that under their crisp heels the earth is still gelatinous with blood. At the corner, vaporous fingers reach through the gutter grilles and touch their nostrils, exciting them to be here.


October 1988 The rabbit was sudden dead in the beam too fast for more than a reflex jerk of the wheel. The usual bump, pang of regret rear vision glance to check gravel dust smoking the screen, a strobe of poles across the Mackenzie. The still white tail reflected orange sodium, signs for Schultheiss beer. Next day it was scavenged clean by the bristled claws of Turkish sanitaries. Or had it been an imaginary death a fracture in translating expectations? Outside the studio that night Wild pigs came from the forest.

Philip Temple is an award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction for adults and children. His anthropomorphic novels, such as Beak of the Moon, are unique in NZ literature. His biography of the Wakefield family, A Sort of Conscience, was awarded the Melbourne University’s Ernest Scott History Prize. Philip has held the Creative NZ Berlin Writers’ Residency, Menton Katherine Mansfield Fellowship, Robert Burns Fellowship and National Library Fellowship. He received a Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in 2005 and has been appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature. In 2007, he graduated from the University of Otago as a Doctor of Literature. The second volume of his biography of Maurice Shadbolt, Life As a Novel, is due out in 2020.
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