new zealand electronic poetry centre

Diana Bridge 

Friday 23 August  7.30-10pm  once and for all
Sunday 25 August  12 –1.15pm  poets on poets

Diana Bridge is a New Zealander, born and bred in Wellington. She went to school at Queen Margaret College, Wellington, and on to Victoria University of Wellington with further study at the School of Oriental Studies, London, and at the University of Auckland (where she was a Senior Scholar awarded the Rewi Alley Scholarship). Her PhD in Chinese Literature is from the Australian National University, Canberra.

Diana is married to a New Zealand diplomat (Nick Bridge) and the couple have just returned to live permanently in New Zealand after many years overseas. Their postings to London, Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong, Delhi and Taipei have all taken account of Diana’s own interests and background. She is committed to Antipodeans acquiring cultural literacy in the Asian area. She has studied, researched and taught Chinese language, literature and art history and early Indian art history.

Diana is the only foreigner to have been asked to teach in the Chinese department at Hong Kong University. In India she gave occasional lectures on Chinese poetry and New Zealand literature, including a speech to the Commonwealth Studies  Conference, Jaipur and to Indian Penn.

Diana burst into print, a fully formed and technically superb poet, later in life than most. Her poems have appeared in many literary journals and she has published three critically acclaimed collections of poetry, Landscape with Lines (AUP, 1996); The Girls on the Wall (AUP, 1999) and Porcelain (AUP, 2001).

The drums

The drums stand four-square,
anchored by some grave dynastic habit
spelling ceremony, their roundness

harder to embrace than an old man’s
spreading trunk. Your arms slip and are
ambushed on a waistband.

Across each torso lies a smooth-as-satin
strip where, long before the brush
feathers, figures skip. Dancers,

primal and therefore innocent, rotate
in a contained aesthetic. They are ripe for
pirating, if you have the courage,

if you have the language. Pick them up
on ship cloth in a coastal town
a thousand years away –

bronze bodies spilled out of the mold
and softened on the loom.
The figures take first equidistant steps

on cotton bands – no one of them
holds hands. They will gather speed
as the flicker of a man’s anxiety,

vague and occasional at first,
broadens at the end of life into a threnody.
Theirs is no false start.

Call it a release of subjugated glee.
I feel it as a father’s gene dance
quickening in me.

from Porcelain. Auckland UP, 2001.


© Diana Bridge


Last updated 14 July, 2002