new zealand electronic poetry centre



Tessa Priest


Recorded October 2013 at the University of Auckland. ‘Gathering in of the Birds’ was recorded by Ken Waller at his studio on Waiheke Island, 6 October 2013. Original music composed and performed by Aladdin Jones and Pin Rada.

Tessa Priest
 Photo credit: Chris Hayes

Tessa Priest grew up in South East London listening to both the shipping news every morning and stories of New Zealand from her grandmother. Studies and practices in the visual arts, theatre, film, English literature, poetry, and for the past decade Zen, not only inform her written work but are woven into the creative process. Tessa stretches the boundaries of the page in her practice crossing literary thresholds, while meditating on themes of diaspora, movement, arrivals, landings, and departures.

Her book, ‘Venus in Time’ was written during her Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Auckland in 2013. For this she was awarded an inaugural Sir James Wallace scholarship for Most Promising Portfolio, and subsequently the Sir James Wallace Master of Creative Writing Award for Best Manuscript 2013.

Tessa is currently working on a performance event, based on ‘Venus in Time,’ a collaboration of spoken word, music and dance, which will tour New Zealand and Australia in 2015-16.

Poem notes

Centralising rhythms of my poetry have been arrivals, landings, and departures; crossings over, from one threshold to another which spoke to my curiosity about diaspora and transnationalism. There is acknowledgement here of my seafaring ancestors who migrated from their motherlands of England, France, Scotland, Ireland and Wales and since the 1860’s New Zealand, echoed in my own voyages.

Into this frame, narratives, characters, shifting pronouns and poetry quickened. I was interested too, in the relationship between sound and graphology (lettristic play), as this work was enacted. How would performing with music and voice change the irremedial drift of language into another somatic reception? This aspect of the project came into being as another crossing over, translating the flattened two-dimensional experience into a sonic dimension through expressed sound. The performative experiment of ‘Venus In Time,’ opened further questions for me. What happens when language/ music/ silence or music/ script/ image/ silence and language are performed and emplaced with one another? And in which realm are the multi-vocalisms received, and by whom?

Last updated 25 March, 2014