Christopher Luxon, captured here thinking about a pantoum. Image: Tina Tiller
Christopher Luxon, captured here thinking about a pantoum. Image: Tina Tiller

BooksDecember 9, 2021

Christopher Luxon, poet

Christopher Luxon, captured here thinking about a pantoum. Image: Tina Tiller
Christopher Luxon, captured here thinking about a pantoum. Image: Tina Tiller

Behold, the New Zealand politician-poet pantheon has a brand new bard. Everybody gather round.

Much has been made of Christopher Luxon as heir to Sir John Key. But he might be better understood as an amalgam of Key and the National leader who immediately followed him, Sir Bill English. There’s the faith-informed social conservatism, but I don’t mean that. There’s the embrace of the social investment approach, but I don’t mean that, either. I mean the poetry.

English launched his leadership by reading poetry. He studied literature; his aptitude for words was so great they named a language after him. And as prime minister he contributed to the verse canon the beguiling contemporary masterpiece ‘There’s A Hill Out There’

English was not, of course, the first politician to dip his toe in the lyrical waters. Thomas Bracken, the best known New Zealand poet of the 19th century and writer of the words to the national anthem, was member of parliament for Dunedin Central for a term. David Cunliffe wrote in tribute to Harvard: “For one short year or two / I suckled you / with potent milk / of truth and learning.” Colin Craig wrote a number of poems. (Colin, if you’re reading, I beg you on behalf of the country to keep going; to dedicate literally all of your waking hours to writing poetry.)

While others have been obsessing on the supposed pugilism of question time, however, the poetry lovers of Aotearoa have noticed the fragments Luxon has been sprinkling about like breadcrumbs to hungry birds: bathos, metaphor, alliteration. Here, pieced together painstakingly like an ancient fresco, a poem by Christopher Luxon.

 

To float

I want to be able to float

To bring the tide back in

I come with no baggage

I don’t care 

about the past

*

Yesterday was yesterday

I think

Today is the future

*

Put the backpack of grievance 

                          down

It is time to turn the page

*

We will be out there in the world 

happening to our future

rather than letting the future 

happen to us.

To turn a page you 

                  actually 

have to turn a page

*

Another little review 

inside ourselves

Let’s turn the page

Judith is very satisfied.


A note on composition: the above is drawn entirely and verbatim from statements by Christopher Luxon since he became National leader but also yes there are a couple of lines by Todd Muller and Simon Bridges – strong team, etc.

 

The Spinoff Review of Books is proudly brought to you by Unity Books, recently named 2020 International Book Store of the Year, London Book Fair, and Creative New Zealand. Visit Unity Books Wellington or Unity Books Auckland online stores today. 

Mad Chapman, Editor
The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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