Sweeping the Courtyard: The Selected Poems of Michael Harlow
Sweeping the courtyard, the selected poems of Michael Harlow, provides a generous sampling from this major New Zealand poet's previous seven collections: Edges (1974), Nothing but Switzerland and Lemonade (1980), Today is the Piano's Birthday (1981), Vlaminck's Tie (1985), Giotto's Elephant (1991), Cassandra's Daughter (2005, 2006), and The Tram Conductor's Blue Cap (2009, Finalist National Book Awards 2010). "What does it mean, in the face of the absurd and shadowy things thrown up by life, to risk delight?
What is it that 'love dares the self to do and be'?" - Michael Harlow
"Michael Harlow's work has long proclaimed its difference from that of many mainstream writers through its sheer, joyful celebration of life, the sense that the poet enjoys the world. Harlow is a distinguished and serious writer, dealing with big issues: life, death, sorrow, the inner consciousness, yet there is a bubble of gaiety, a vitality, never far from the surface. His words have the power to transform the dullest objects into something beautiful, to give meaning to everyday lives." - Fiona Kidman
"No New Zealand poet uses symbol and image more magically and tenderly than Michael Harlow. In poems that range from lyrics to his superlative prose poems there is always the underpinning knowledge of how words begin their attraction for one another. And how we owe our salvation to them." - Elizabeth Smither
"This is a big book, generous in scope, expansive in what it brings shape to. The word 'achievement' properly carries with it what Harlow has declared his credo - 'the rich delight' as he calls it, of a poet's 'looking-out and listening-in for a language to say something about how mysterious we are to ourselves and to the world'." - Vincent O'Sullivan
Michael Harlow was born in the USA and travelled extensively, before arriving in New Zealand in 1968. His book Nothing But Switzerland and Lemonade (1980) was the first volume of prose poems to be published in New Zealand. He has published five collections of poems with Auckland University Press. Giotto's Elephant was a finalist in the 1992 New Zealand Book Awards. The Tram Conductor's Blue Cap, a finalist in 2009, moved NZ reviewer Terry Locke to remark that "Harlow is at the peak of his powers and is in the top echelon of New Zealand poets currently practising their craft". Michael has been editor of the Caxton Press poetry series and poetry editor of New Zealand's main literary journal, Landfall. He was Katherine Mansfield Fellow in Menton, France, 1986-87. In 2006 he represented New Zealand at the Festival Internacional de Poesia de Medellin, Colombia, and at the IV Internacional Seminar of Writers, 'Frontiers in Movement' in Monterey, Mexico. In 2007 he participated in the IV World Poetry Festival in Caracas, Venezuela and was the first New Zealand poet to take part in the Festival Internacional de Poesia de Granada, Nicaragua (to which he was invited back in 2014). He was the Robert Burns Fellow (New Zealand's most prestigious writing residency) at the University of Otago, and Caselberg Artist in Residence, in 2009.