Mary Macpherson

The photographs of Mary Macpherson – with a dash of poetry


with 5 comments


My poetry has been published in literary and online journals in New Zealand and Australia. My most recent outings are:


Poetry New Zealand Yearbook (The Friend, see below)

The Spin Off ( Palaces, Feb 2017)


Landfall May 2016  (Inward)

The Unexpected Greeness of Trees (Caselburg Trust)


Poetry New Zealand (November 2015)

Contrapasso (Issue 8, April 2015)


Te Ika (MIT 2014)

Landfall 227 Vital Signs issue (2014)

Sport 42 (2014) River and Y as X (see below)

My poem Defence of the Leaf was highly commended in the 2014 Caselburg competition.


Landfall 226 Heaven and Hell issue (pub Nov 2013) (Exit)

Transnational Review (May 2013, pub Flinders University, Australia) (Notes about what I meant See below)

Other work

Here’s a link to three poems published in the online journal Trout.

Hue and Cry (2012) published my poem, Litter. This work is also featured as Janis Freegard’s Tuesday poem on her blog.

My poem Bees also appeared in JAAM 30 (December 2012).

The photographic trips I make around the country sometimes lead to poems as does my interest in photographic books. Examples of this type of work can be found in Sport 35 and 36 –

My work can also be found in Millionaire’s Shortbread a joint poetry collection published by OUP (2003) and a chapbook called The Inland Eye (Pemmican Press).

This is my page on the New Zealand Book Council site –,%20Mary

To return to the blog, click here.


Y as X

When Y writes as X she thinks she should write sentences
like jabs in a boxing match, but pulled at the last minute
by a sudden funniness. How does he do that? She looks
at X’s writing and sees his sentences are often shockingly
short. X would never write a word like ‘disbenefit’, then
in a long parenthesis explain that, surprisingly, the word
does exist and how X (writing as Y) feels embarrassed
she didn’t know, and that the person who used the word
had a blocky confidence they would rise in the organisation,
so took words from the course rather than older ones
with their shabby disadvantages and how this upsets Y (X as Y)
in ways she can’t explain. Close parenthesis.

When X sees Y’s attempts to write as him, he’s startled
by the bluntness of the text. He’s become an alarmingly
savage person. Put in ‘please’ there and there, he tells Y.
And thank her. End by thanking her.

Mary Macpherson



The Friend

Inventing a person is like finding the place

where your fire starts. First, they’ll need your house,

its bricks burning radium-red. The mother with cool

dry hands. But they need a particular hallway

with doors opening to shadowed rooms.

You must give them inchoate teenage desires:

kissing, sex, a horse, an opposite life.

Then they need music and a friend – plump,

ginger-haired with freckles – to remember later

with shame or tenderness. When the friend speaks

of holidays, boys or stones, you must know the light

that goes on or the stain that darkens the mind,

and what gets reflected  in tall windows.

Then you must give the friend opinions about apples,

walking home in the dark, their friend’s habit

of chewing their hair, and know whether your person

notices the friend noticing the chewing.


Mary Macpherson



Written by Mary Macpherson

07/03/2011 at 2:49 pm

5 Responses

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  1. This is great, Mary. I am so pleased you are sharing all this with us, and I look forward to more.

    Mary Cresswell

    22/03/2011 at 2:12 pm

  2. Mary, have you thought of joining Tuesday Poem? Check out the hub – – my email is there if you’re interested.

    mary mccallum

    22/03/2011 at 5:28 pm

    • Thanks Mary McC. I don’t know if I’m up to it yet – but it could be something for the future. Mary M

      Mary Macpherson

      22/03/2011 at 5:30 pm

  3. […] prosperity and development that look very different to the 1960s and 70s. Macpherson, who is both a poet and a photographer,    says that this body of work is part of trying to understand her world […]

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