Ten Years Today

Ten years ago today, at 12.51 pm, a massive earthquake struck the Canterbury region of New Zealand. It was centred only 6.7 kilometres from the centre of the city of Christchurch, which suffered severe damage. 185 people died. Countless more were left homeless, terrified, psychologically scarred. They were now the reluctant custodians of a ruined city. […]

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My Mother has Dementia

My mother was diagnosed with dementia almost two years ago. My father found her spooning marmalade into a wine glass. That, along with her slurred words, her frustrated struggle to form coherent sentences, and her propensity to sleep most of the day were early clues. After a puzzling few months during which none of us […]

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Look at the World

I named my blog after the New Zealand bellbird (in Māori, korimako) – and not just because my last name is Bell. I have always loved birds: for their beauty and intense fragility, the sense of freedom they represent, and for their song. The bellbird is particularly gorgeous. The explorer Captain Cook wrote of its […]

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Love poems aren’t just for Jack and Jill

When we think love poems we tend to automatically jump to the heteronormative position, in which opposite-sex sexuality and relationships are presented as the norm. But literature is rich with poems about love and sex in all its varied LGBTQ expressions, if we care to look. Today I want to share three of my favourites. […]

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Escaping Ourselves

“But if these years have taught me anything it is this: you can never run away. Not ever. The only way out is in.”–Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao If you’ve pottered around my site for long enough you will know that I’ve been writing a novel. It’s finished now, and I’m in the […]

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Fear, change, and how to combat the hate

And I know I am solid and sound;To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow;All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.-Walt Whitman I’m thinking today about the enormous upheavals we have all experienced this year, and about my own fear of uncertainty, and the challenge of change. […]

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Welcome, beautiful boy

A year ago today I was standing in front of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre museum in Paris with my daughter, speaking to my ex-partner (my daughter’s father) via FB Messenger, reassuring him and telling him to take deep breaths, to trust the doctors, and to have faith. He was about to witness the […]

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The most usual lie

I wrote this poem some years ago, but I have taken it out today and dusted it off, editing it here and there. I removed a whole verse and changed words and line structure and some punctuation. It feels more authentic now. Sometimes revisiting a piece reminds us how far we have come, and how […]

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Today

The world has become still. The voices of the dying are terrifying in their silence. We are grieving what is lost, and what will be lost. We are separate, but united. We are ALL the frontline. We do not know exactly what our world will look like when it reboots. But for today, I am […]

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If it’s Left, it’s Right

This poem is about finding our way as we navigate intimacy and vulnerability and new spaces in our lives. I wrote it very quickly, although it had been whispering to me for some time, in my head. Sometimes I sense when a piece needs to be written: I feel an “itch” on my mind and […]

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