Scoop Review of Books

Poets Tackle Death and Dying for Hospice


Moonlight, a book of New Zealand poems on death and dying, is being launched at Mercy Hospice Auckland, on 18 July. The anthology, edited by poet Andrew Johnston, is being launched on Montana Poetry Day.

Johnston, who is one of New Zealand’s most successful mid-career poets and the 2007 JC Stout Fellow, lives in Paris where he is editor of the International Herald Tribune but will return for the launch of Moonlight.

Royalties from Moonlight, published by Godwit, will go to Hospice New Zealand. This charitable connection was Johnston’s idea, as a mark of gratitude for the quality of care given to his late father by a hospice several years ago.

Moonlight is a beautifully crafted anthology of the 65 best poems on death, dying and grief from New Zealand’s greatest poets. Grief in this anthology is not compounded with abstract images – each poet reveals the truth of their feelings in an accessible and honest way.

Andrew Johnston has brought together these works to provide succour to the reader, when little else can. He believes exploring the notions of death and dying through another’s eyes can allow the reader to gain perspective on their own grief. He has chosen contemporary poetry because it explores the subjects of death and grief head-on.

He writes in the introduction, poems unlike other forms of writing have the ability to truly touch the reader:

‘Poems are the words we turn to when words fail us: when we are confused with huge and conflicting emotions, when lives and loves begin and end.’
‘what these poets are seeking above all are images whose richness and ambiguity capture some of death’s mystery and incomprehensibility’

“Moonlight will be a wonderful resource for our patients and their families,” says Mercy Hospice Auckland CEO Jan Nichols. “It is a very special book containing some of the most beautiful and poignant poetry I have ever read.”

People wanting to buy Moonlight can do so at most bookshops or any Mercy Hospice Auckland shop or through: