Jane Arthur


210mm x 138mm
Publication date:
11 May 2023

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Longlisted for the 2024 Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry

In her second, spine-cracking collection, Jane Arthur wants ‘to get morbid’. Moving with ease between the cerebral and the ethereal she measures her anxieties against a cosmic canvas – taking in everything from meteorites and distant planets to pomanders and cat’s ears. Whether contemplating time, regret, or the end of the world, these poems don’t flinch. But in writing against hope, Arthur also writes against hopelessness, and finds, at the heart of it all, a bear, sleeping soundly – or perhaps dead.

'Calamities! is a compelling book of the unsettled and unsettling, set in a world where comfort is an endangered animal and the apocalypse lurks outside our front doors. Jane Arthur’s perceptive and all-too-relatable poems are what we need in these uncertain times – they make me an even bigger fan of her already astonishing body of work.' —Chris Tse

'Pulses with humour and an impatient fatigue . . . details are sharply observed and a wry sensibility, a weariness of the big problems we cannot shift and how we move along regardless, runs through the poetry.' —Erica Stretton, Kete Books

'Arthur works her magic best on me when she deftly describes snapshots of a life lived and loved with the lumpy bits left in . . . and when she dives into imaginative narrative, with odd, sometimes unsettling, animalistic imagery, which has an almost olde worlde feel to it.' —Hester Ullyart, Takahē

'Calamities! is a glorious translation of being, of existence in an unsettled world. ... This is poetry of tilt and tremor and one reading wasn’t enough.' —Paula Green, NZ Poetry Shelf

'It’s hard for poems to be funny without undermining their own seriousness, but Arthur’s are like that.' —Kate Camp, The Spinoff

‘She seems to me a poet of scale and embodiment. Her moments are informed by awe and intelligence – quick and seamless. They don’t have to try so hard. I felt novels and films in these poems. I thought: this is a poet of capacity.’ —Eileen Myles

Jane Arthur is the author of Craven, which won the Jessie Mackay Prize for Best First Book of Poetry in 2020. She received the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize in 2018 and has a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the IIML at Victoria University of Wellington. Born in New Plymouth, she manages and co-owns a small independent bookshop in Wellington, where she now lives with her family.

Cover: Darcy Woods

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