5 Quick Questions with Rob Hack

Rob Hack is a poet based on the Kāpiti Coast. He’ll be teaching a generative poetry workshop at the upcoming Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat. His collection Everything is Here (2016) is the culmination of sixteen years unearthing his long-neglected Cook Island heritage, revisiting his boyhood on Niue, his travels and observations of people, places and things. Last year Rob built a writing cabin in his backyard and continues to perform his poetry live.

What attracted you to writing?

I was able to express what I could not articulate. Initially for myself, the writings are a recording of past and current events.

What are your best conditions to write poetry?

My writing desk or the dining table to work a poem to completion, but to start a poem, anywhere anytime.. cafe, parkbench, train seat, Champs Elysees.

What’s your favourite poem?

‘Zima Junction’ by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, ‘The Cave’ by ARD Fairburn, ‘Phantasia for Elvira Shatayev’ by Adrienne Rich are first equal with 10 others.

What are you working on now?

My second poetry collection …and researching for a bio/memoir.

Tell us about the workshop, what should people expect?

The workshops will be relaxed but focussed. A short but important period will be introducing ourselves as writers, and what we would like to gain from the workshop.

We will discuss ways to find triggers to spark our writing.

Two activities to get us moving and thinking will be writing poems as ‘flaneur’, outside followed by the eckphrastic exercise in class where we create a poem through close study of a piece of artwork.

I will record each person reading a poem, one of their own preferably. Poems can come alive when read aloud, can take on a very different meaning when heard as opposed to on a page. Reciting a poem well depends on the reader’s emphasis, tone, speed, energy, volume even and of course an audience’s response or behaviour.

We’ll discuss our favourite poem and why we like it? What elements in the poem make this so hard to fully understand?

Each person brings in a poem they like but find difficult to understand and we’ll see if we can find out what’s going on there.

How important are titles to poems, to books. Have you ever bought a book because of its cover and what will yours look like?
Subjective verses objective. Where do you stand?

Keen to join Rob? Register now for the 2021 Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat