NZ Listener Best Books of 2023
In Saga, the permafrost is melting and the secrets frozen within are emerging. Nothing is spared, from the old family recipe for pineapple cheesecake to the portrait of an ancestor, from the wife who sleeps with an axe under her bed to the tough heart of a man that beats beneath the skin.
With an uneasy grace, these poems explore questions of love, sexuality, family, friendship and politics. They visit a childhood playground in a storm, women painted on the walls of churches, and the fjords and riot grrrls of Hannah Mettner’s history. They are woven through with wild blackberry and everyday magic.
‘Hannah Mettner’s poems are funny and clever and lusty. They make me want to go out and look at the world again, to conjure up eternal life, and to dip my toe into the lake of flame.’ —Morgan Bach, author of Middle Youth and Some of Us Eat the Seeds
'The poetry here is full, the lines long, not pared back to a minimal bleakness but more maximal and exuberant, like a river in flood, gushing and tumbling along freely, going in multiple directions effortlessly.' —Piet Nieuwland, Landfall Review Online
'Give me true art, real desire, genuine darkness, or nothing. Even if the replicated cavern with its faux-dankness ultimately didn’t trigger the hairs at the narrator’s nape, this book reeks of realness. I’d give it five stars on Fragrantica.' —Rebecca Hawkes, Newsroom
'Loved them. Couldn't put them down.' —Harry Ricketts, RNZ
'This collection is straightforward, loud, boisterous and very, very readable.' —NZ Listener
'Reading Hannah’s poems is like having a conversation with the most intelligent, witty, attractive person at the party, except you can’t even hate them because they’re also really nice. I felt taken under their wing.' —Ash Davida Jane, The Spinoff
'Complex and full bodied and haunting.' —Paula Green, NZ Poetry Shelf
'Delightfully wry. . . . This poet has important things to say, and she says them remarkably well.' —Margaret Austin, Regional News
'Poetry, as I’ve been reminded from reading Saga, has an essential role in reshaping our view of ourselves and the world around us.' —Vera Hua Dong, Takahē
Hannah Mettner is a Wellington-based poet from Gisborne. Her first collection, Fully Clothed and So Forgetful, won the 2018 Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry. Her poems have appeared widely in literary journals, including Sport, Turbine and Cordite. In 2014, with Morgan Bach and Sugar Magnolia Wilson, she co-founded the online poetry journal Sweet Mammalian.
Cover: Andy Shaw