PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Subha Mukherji Dying and Living with De la Mare Carl Phillips Fall Colors and other poems Alex Wylie The Bureaucratic Sublime: on the secret joys of contemporary poetry Marilyn Hacker Montpeyroux Sonnets David Herman Memories of Raymond Williams
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

This article is taken from PN Review 204, Volume 38 Number 4, March - April 2012.

A Letter from Oceania Gregory O'Brien
1. From Raoul Island

The poems are lifted high into the air by a great hook and swung above a tempestuous sea. So begins their final approach to Raoul Island. The poetry books are inside a white sack which moves like a cloud above the deck of the HMNZS Otago then continues outwards, to be dropped into an inflatable boat. A diesel-powered hoist and derrick - with another conspicuously dangling hook - can be seen on the headland which is the destination of the bag-boat. Everything that reaches the island comes and goes by way of a hook.

Mid-ocean, 900 kilometres north of Auckland, Raoul Island is the remotest part of New Zealand. An active volcano located on an earthquake fault-line, it has the air of an island that wants to be left alone. Far from any shipping routes, it is without harbour, wharf or, for that matter, a viable airstrip. Hence the slow, sodden business of getting people and things ashore. Unless you're lucky enough to have a helicopter at your disposal, anyone wanting to get onto the island has to leap from the front of a boat. This procedure involves an inflatable RHIB being crashed into the headland and each passenger having to leap through a veil of spray then grasp a dangling rope and scramble up a rock face. All this has to happen in the gap between one wave and the next. With the human cargo deposited on the rock, the inflatable ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image