No sweat

the bosses smell fire and jump
from the roof
with the money in strong boxes
they marvel
at the colours
of fabric and fire
soon there will be
a new factory
new girls

the girls track hem sew
the doors are locked
they smell fire
and race to the only window
dissolving like stitches
cable chain fishbone
a smoking hive
past girls
the embers of bees

Kerrin P. Sharpe was born and grew up in Wellington but now lives in Christchurch. She is a popular teacher of creative writing in several Christchurch schools including St Andrew's College where she is Writer-in-Residence.

Her early interest in creative writing was encouraged and 'given wings' when, in 1976, she completed Professor Bill Manhire's Original Composition course at Victoria University. Family commitments meant that she had little time for writing until six years ago when she re-commenced writing in earnest. Over the last six years she has been very prolific, publishing three collections of poetry (all with Victoria University Press): three days in a wishing well (2012); there's a medical name for this (2014); and rabbit rabbit (2016).

Her fourth collection louder, has just been completed and is in the final editing stages. Kerrin has also had her poems published in a wide range of journals both in New Zealand and overseas, including Sport, Turbine, Landfall, Snorkel, Sweet Mammalian, Cordite, Blackbox Manifold, Best New Zealand Poems 08, 09, 10, 12, 14, 16, Best of the Best New Zealand Poems 2011. A selection of her poems was published in Oxford Poets 13 (Carcanet Press UK). In 2008 she was awarded the NZ Post Creative Writing Teacher's Award from the International Institute of Modern Letters.

Kerrin comments: ‘“no sweat” began life as two conventional stanzas with the bosses and girls in the doomed factory quite separate. However it was only when I placed the two stanzas side-by-side that I noticed two possible alternative shapes for the poem that hadn't occurred to me before. I could allow the two stanzas to remain separate and sequential; or the two stanzas standing alongside each other could read as extended lines. I chose the latter form—this enjambment—because it strengthened and intensified what I was trying to say about the plight of the girls. The poem now was about the girls, not the bosses, even though they left with the money.’

Poem source details >


Kerrin’s Victoria University Press author page