Keith Westwater

Keith Westwater began writing poetry in 2003 while attending the International Institute of Modern Letters' Writing the Landscape course at Victoria University of Wellington. Since then his work has appeared in a number of literary publications and has received or been short-listed for awards in New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland. Prizes for his poetry include an equal first place in the 2006 Yellow Moon Spirit of Place competition, first place in the International Tertiary Student Poetry section of the 2009 Bauhinia Literary Awards, and Best First Book in the 2011 IP Picks competition. In 2009 he completed a Master of Letters in creative writing through Central Queensland University. Keith currently lives in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. Before joining the New Zealand Army as a Regular Force Cadet in 1964, he went to school in Northland and Auckland. During his time in the Army and after leaving it in 1985, he has lived in many places in New Zealand and travelled extensively throughout the country and overseas. His working life has centred on teaching and learning and development in the workplace.


Keith's blog


Canterbury Visit, Winter 1982

You clasp a shabby quilt
of dun and brown.

Memories from years before
at first stay locked away
like the snow water
in your mountains
marching north and south.

No storms call to your Port Hills,
which are as bare as the trees
that trellis your sky.

But then, they always did.

Even as I enter the city
of my first true love
you get coy
clutch up a skirt of fog.

Once again
I have to fumble my way.

Rivers that feud with the sea

The Haast rages at the sea
when in flood
rips boulders big as trucks
from the knees and feet of giants
hurls them in the ditch.

The Waiho runs to the sea
from the nose of a river of ice
which very slowly pokes its tongue in – and
out, as it bench-presses
mountains of snow.

The Grey races for the sea
but, barred from its prize
wins instead
the bones of boats and ships
and the tears of fishermen’s widows.

Winds and time

Throughout our lives blow many winds and gales.
Tomorrow’s forecast is for dangerous gales.

Loved ones and their dreams are drowned at sea
when storms cause ships on shoals to sail.

At night, the moon is lashed by trees
while men go mad from days of nor’west gales.

Wind on sand makes seas of crescent moons
and sand on winds of time all life assails.

Take my hand, Margret my love, we’ll climb the tops
lean forward, yell, push back tomorrow’s gales.

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