Eating flowers

Jojo arrives in her four-wheel drive
gripping kai from the bakery

pours the kettle
arranges pizza slices like flowers

I move my lips
teeth follow them

this is how I chew

stay alive

Serie Barford was born in Aotearoa to a German-Samoan mother and a Palagi father. She has published five collections, with the most recent, Sleeping with Stones (Anahera, 2021), shortlisted for the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry in the 2022 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Her work has appeared in journals and anthologies, such as Essential New Zealand Poems, Mauri Ola, Landfall, Whispers and Vanities, Atlanta Review, Manifesto: an anthology of political poetry, The Contemporary Pacific Journal, Blackmail Press, Poetry Shelf, Best New Zealand Poems, Black Marks on the White Page and the School Journal. Serie was awarded the 2011 Seresin Landfall Residency, was the recipient of a 2018 Pasifika Residency at the Michael King Writers Centre, and attended the launch of the Ukrainian translation of her Tapa Talk collection (Huia, 2007 and Krok, 2019) at the 2019 Arsenal Book Festival in Kiev. In 2021 she collaborated with filmmaker Anna Marbrook for the Different Out Loud poetry project. Her contribution, 'Te Ara Kanohi', was filmed at Te Henga, West Auckland.

Barford comments: 'This poem was written a few days after I received the news that my partner had fallen over a waterfall in Brazil, while I was visiting my family in Samoa. He had been unwell and had returned to Europe to be with his family, and to be counselled and treated by speakers of his mother tongue. It was a golden Autumn day, but I was centred in the grey world of "if only". A friend arrived with takeaway coffee from a local café called "Coffee to Wake the Dead", plus slices of pizza from a nearby bakery. The colourful pizza slices reminded me of edible flowers. I moved my lips. Ate them.'

​Poem source details >



Anahera Press author page

Academy of NZ Literature member page

Read NZ Te Pou Muramura page

Radio New Zealand Standing Room Only interview