An ŌCHT resident’s poem is published in an anthology on housing in New Zealand.
Jean Easton marks the passage of time in prose, chronicling the vagaries of the world the world around her in rhyme.
She writes about the thoughts she has, the places she visits, the friends she enjoys, and what she sees from her window.
She’s also written about living in community housing in a piece that’s part of a just-published anthology of poems.
Jane’s work ‘Concord Place’ features in More than a Roof, a collection of poems about housing in New Zealand.
Publisher Landing Press selected her poem from more than 450 entries for a book that was launched on Saturday.
At Concord Place last week, Jean was surprised to be congratulated for having a poem published.
“A published poet? Oh, I suppose I am,” she says with a smile.
“It’s nice to be selected, but I’m just writing what I know.”
The new book in which she’s published presents myriad perspectives on virtually every aspect of housing in New Zealand.
There are more than 120 poems in the collection, including work by acclaimed poets Tusiata Avia and Apirana Taylor.
It also features people who have been homeless, who have struggled to find a home, and who live in public housing.
Jean has lived at Concord Place since the mid-2000s, arriving after a period of personal tragedy and sudden loss.
Her poetry arrived with her. It’s been part of her life since 2000, when she began writing as part of a recovery programme.
“Oh, I write about whatever comes to mind.
“I’ll write about the things we might do at scrabble, or for the doll club newsletter, or the places I visit.
“I write for birthdays and for funerals. It’s a good way to celebrate and remember.
“And when I feel overwhelmed I write, and it helps me sort things out.”
Jean writes just-about daily. Carefully crafted pieces are stored in a plastic folder, others sit in piles waiting to be sorted.
Settling on the couch in her lounge at Concord Place, she flips page after page of an A4 pad to find her latest poem.
She wrote it as she sat at her hairdresser. It’s about a medical emergency somewhere in Concord Place.
“An ambulance has been called again; who is it, for we wonder who is in pain,” the poem reads.
“Not much that goes on here in Concord Place gets past the watchful eyes.
“Cause although we live separately we don’t like any surprise.
“But we care about each other and notice if anyone is in distress.
“And make sure they’re alright at their Concord address.”
Jean’s a voracious reader whose bookshelves move from Shakespeare to Barry Humphries to Pam Ayres, from spy thrillers to Irish short stories to the 1918 flu epidemic.
She loves words and expression – and she enjoys turning to prose what she experiences living in a small community.
“We get on here, we look out for each other,” she says, giving her neighbour a wave from her front door.
“Life’s an experience and we’re all experiencing it differently. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Published November 22, 2021