Jumping Ship

Jumping Ship

I’ve just read Glenn Colquhoun’s book of essays and poems called Jumping Ship and found it so compelling I’ve been finding any excuse to talk about it. Colquhoun’s writing is inspirational and profound at the same time as being down to earth and satisfying. Here are 3 reasons why I loved this book:

1.It speaks to me as a Pakeha trying to define myself and figure out what my culture and story is. It is both challenging and affirming. He writes: “As an immigrant culture it seems at times that Pakeha are a book without a cover, one with the first chapter missing. For me, being Pakeha is extremely exciting. It means we get a chance to write that chapter, or at least compile the stories that reveal it.” He also says this: “The most difficult thing about majorities is not that they cannot see minorities but that they cannot see themselves.” So true! And this: “It is unbelievable that Pakeha, so recently exposed to what happened in the past, can have so quickly grown tired of claims against them, rewarding themselves with the right of a backlash. This is the argument of a man beating a woman who, when dragged off her by others, complains that everyone is against them” God I wish every Pakeha would read and reflect on these ideas. Maybe the constant stream of racist letters to the editor about treaty claims in my local paper might ease off a bit.

2.For what he says about teaching poetry in New Zealand. He asks why Nga Moteatea is not taught in schools. Why is this most incredible poetry not more widely known and celebrated? He suggests it is time for a new translation of Nga Moteatea “so they can be introduced to a wider world… and to shine light on them and to revitalise our own language and literature”. wouldn’t this be so amazing?

3.For what he says about pain and sadness and loneliness (or ‘ache’ as he calls it). In a society that focuses on always ‘being positive’ and seeing the ‘glass half full’, it is refreshing and touching to read something so deep and thoughtful about this side of the human condition. We often cover up our experiences of pain and grief or diminish this feeling in our interactions with others which often makes it hurt more. It is too hard to summarise what Colquhoun says about this here. He uses his own experiences and his own abilities as a poet and doctor to explain his ideas. Read it, I guarantee you will be moved.

This is one of those rare books that I will be re-reading, referring to, and raving about for a long time to come. Jumping Ship (2012) is written by Glenn Colquhoun and published by Steele Roberts.

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