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Segue 11: Fall 2013  ||  Sarah Jane Barnett


about the author


Sarah Jane Barnett is a writer, tutor, and book reviewer who lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Her first collection of poems, A Man Runs into a Woman, was published by Hue & Cry Press in 2012 and was a finalist in the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards. Her work has appeared in various publications including Sport, Landfall, Best New Zealand Poems, JAMM, Trout, and Southerly(Aus). Sarah is currently completing a creative Ph.D. in the field of ecopoetics at Massey University, New Zealand. 


about the work


These poems are part of my doctoral thesis, which looks at how we imagine (and write) about the non-human world. I'm interested in how poets use the non-human world in their poems as symbols for human concerns, so that is what the work stemmed from. The hardest part in writing these poems was to avoid becoming polemic. I wanted them to highlight the way we internalize stories about the non-human world, for example nature as something to be saved, or nature as wilderness, and how that changes the way we interact with the natural world. I resolved the challenges I had with these poems through a feedback process with my doctoral supervisors and through dogged revision. While not everyone has a supervisor at her disposal, I think the process of feedback from other writers is essential in growing as a writer.

I am not sure that I can sum up what the craft of poetry is for me. It certainly has to do with making language spark and feel like it's new. I want my poems to make readers confront something in themselves. I want them to surprise me with what language can do. While writing is a solitary activity, poetry is always in dialogue with poets and poetry that has come before or poetry that is happening right now. In this sense I want the poems to be in dialogue with (to respond to or bounce off of) the work of other poets working today.


Sarah Jane Barnett on the Web






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