Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Lampstand article on A Tingling Catch

The First Ever Anthology of New Zealand Cricket Poetry

Wellington poet/publisher and Old Boy Mark Pirie (1987-91) has just brought out the first ever anthology of New Zealand cricket poetry, ‘A Tingling Catch’: A Century of New Zealand Cricket Poems 1864-2009.
The book to be released in September by Mark’s company HeadworX took Mark five years’ of research and extensive reading at both the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington and the Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa ( He started work on the book in 2004 while he was compiling the first ever book of New Zealand science fiction poetry, Voyagers.
Voyagers, published by IP in Brisbane and co-edited with Wellington writer and editor Tim Jones, was the winner of Best Collected Work at the Sir Julius Vogel Awards this year and was considered one of the “Best 100 Books of 2009” in the New Zealand Listener.
Mark’s new cricket anthology contains much valuable and rare cricket material dating as far back as 1864. Poems by colonial poets feature amongst other elusive cricket gems from more recent times. Some of the finds of the book were poems by Robert J Pope (of the old Wellington and Star Cricket Clubs and a friend of Wellington College Headmaster J P Firth), William Pember Reeves, Thomas Bracken, Samuel Butler, Jim Tocker (of the former Old Collegians’ Cricket Club in Christchurch) and G P Williams. Don Neely, G Dewar and A E Sandford’s poems were found in the periodical NZ Cricketer published in the late ’60s and early ’70s.
Don Neely, local cricket historian and former Wellington captain, national selector and President of New Zealand Cricket, whose poem was an intro to a guest column for NZ Cricketer has also contributed the Foreword to the book in the form of another poem that was first published in The Summer Game: An Illustrated History of New Zealand Cricket. The poem ‘What is Cricket?’ was read earlier at the launch of Men in White in 1986.
Among the more well known poets in the literary world included are Allen Curnow writing as Whim Wham, Kendrick Smithyman, Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, Harry Ricketts, Brian Turner (brother of Glenn Turner), Alan Roddick (Landfall editor Charles Brasch’s literary executor), British politician and author Sir A P Herbert, Michael O’Leary, Elizabeth Smither, musician Bill Direen, and Campbell Live TV3 reporter Richard Langston.
Several college old boys feature such as Mark himself, Radio NZ National’s Jack Perkins and iconic ’60s poet David Mitchell. (David’s collection Steal Away Boy: The Selected Poems of David Mitchell was published this year by Auckland University Press.)
Mark has been a cricket enthusiast since he was a boy playing Junior cricket for Onslow Cricket Club, schoolboy cricket for Wellington College, and then senior social grade cricket for Hutt District Cricket Club (where he played a few matches for the senior reserves) and Wellington Collegians Cricket Club’s Axemen, a One-Day side.
In 2008 Mark published his own small book of cricket poems Slips, a collection of some of his best cricket pieces.
The book is distributed by Addenda Limited in Auckland and will be available from good bookstores nationwide. The best ways to obtain a copy are placing a special order with your local bookseller or visiting Unity Books in Wellington. RRP: $35.00.

(from The Lampstand, Wellington College Old Boys magazine, September 2010, p. 64)

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