Leicester Kyle: The Great Buller Coal Plateaux (2002)

Jack Ross, ed.: Spin 42 (March 2002)

Leicester Kyle, The Great Buller Coal Plateaux: A Sequence of Poems. Published for MAPPS [The Millerton and Plateaux Protection Society] P.O. Box 367, Westport, 2001.

Leicester Kyle: The Great Buller Coal Plateaux (2001)

All gone or going
This landscape from the Eocene
Is being ploughed
For the faulted seamed and fossilled fuel beneath

For it they take a mountain top
Smother poison level flood extinguish
This old part of us

Is it okay to write engaged, propagandistic poems for a sufficiently just cause? If you read through David Howard’s sequence on pp.30-32 of this journal (particularly the prose sections), you’ll got some idea of the horrific fate in store for this beautiful plateau region – “the ascetic province of the pakihi” – just north of Westport. The hysterical and disproportionate local reaction to Sandra Lee’s recent attempts to stop foreign gold miners storing toxic waste behind a massive and unstable dam will give you some clue to the probable outcry against anyone daring to suggest that the area shouldn’t be strip-mined and turned into a wasteland. Nevertheless, it’s Leicester Kyle’s home, and he feels entitled to protest. All power to his elbow, I say. “Once shamed may never be recovered,” as Sir Lancelot says in the Morte d’Arthur. Once you’ve destroyed a place of haunting beauty, you can’t get it back again. Leicester’s verse is passionate but disciplined, and I’m glad to say that the very idea of a wide circulation for this booklet has struck fear into Solid Energy management. Who says that poetry makes nothing happen?

[I’ve reprinted the prologue to Leicester’s book on p.34 below].


Spin 42 (2002): 61.
[Available at: Leicester Kyle: Index (2011)]

[259 wds]

Spin 42 (2002)

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