Green, Paula

Green, Paula



In Brief

Paula Green is a popular poet, reviewer, NZ Book Award judge and children’s writer. She has written a number of poetry collections and edited several anthologies. She has two popular poetry blogs, NZ Poetry Box for children and NZ Poetry Shelf for adults, and is active in visiting and touring schools to talk about poetry. She was awarded the University of Auckland Literary Fellowship in 2005. Green has been a judge for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, the Ockham Secondary School Poetry Competition, and the inaugural Sarah Broom Poetry Prize in 2014. In 2017, she was awarded The Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry and admitted to The New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Poetry.


Green, Paula (1955 - ) is a poet and children’s writer. Outside of her own creative writing, Green runs two popular websites, both of which she updates regularly: NZ Poetry Shelf, a site comprising reviews, interviews and other articles of poetic interest, and NZ Poetry Box, a poetry page that inspires children to engage in the reading and writing of poetry.

Her first collection Cookhouse (1997) draws on images of food and cooking, and on her knowledge of the Italian language (Green has a PhD in Italian from the University of Auckland). In the NZ Listener Gerry Webb describes the writing as “musical, sensuous, tender, quick-witted...she sketches subtle emotional shapes that only real writing talent can bring to light”.

Green has been a featured poet in Poetry NZ and has appeared in numerous local and international literary journals. With Michele Leggott, she organised the only fringe event at the inaugural Auckland Writers Festival, the first of a series of Cafe Readings at the University of Auckland.

Chrome (2000) is Green's second collection. It is divided into four colour coded parts which correspond with the central aspects of Green's life: her yellow self, her rose-red mother, her green-as-grass father, and the blue ripeness of poetry.

Paula Green's third poetry collection is Crosswind (Auckland University Press, 2004), a lyrical collection in three parts. The first evokes New Zealand landscapes and Italy, and includes love poetry. 'Lounge Suite', the middle section, consists of poems written in response to works by contemporary New Zealand artists - who have, in turn, created images especially for the book. The final section, 'Westbound and floating', recalls the popular music of the 1970s as well as the poet's youth.

Green was awarded the University of Auckland Literary Fellowship in 2005.

Her first children's book, Flamingo Bendalingo: Poems from the Zoo, was published by Auckland University Press in 2006. The collection is written by Paula Green and 50 children, with illustrations by Michael Hight. The work was listed as a 2007 Storylines Notable Non-Fiction Book.

Making Lists for Francis Hodgkins (Auckland University Press, 2007) is Green’s fourth collection of poetry. Green says, “bearing in mind the number of artists in my family tree, my youthful desire to paint, my ongoing pleasure in encountering art of all descriptions and my long relationship with a painter, as I lay in bed for months recovering from an illness I decided to write an autobiography in the light of art.”

Green edited Best New Zealand Poems in 2007 and was a judge for the Ockham Secondary School Poetry Competition in 2008.

The Terrible Night (Random House, 2008) was illustrated by Chris Grosz. Macaroni Moon (Random House, 2008) is a collection of funny poems for children.

Green's sophisticated picture book, Aunt Concertina and her Niece Evalina (Random House), with oil paintings by Michael Hight, was released in October 2009. In 2010, it was listed as a Storylines Notable Picture Book.

In Green's poetry collection Slip Stream (AUP, 2010), the poems express the author's personal story of breast cancer, from an initial mammogram to operations, radiotherapy treatment and recovery. The poems account for the passing of time by focusing on procedures done, books read, appointments made, food cooked and dreams dreamed.

Paula Green co-edited the anthology, 99 Ways into New Zealand Poetry (Random House, 2010) with Harry Ricketts. 99 Ways into New Zealand Poetry was a finalist in the General Non-Fiction category of the 2011 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

In 2012, Random House published an anthology of love poems, Dear Heart: 150 New Zealand Love Poems, selected by Paula Green. She says of the anthology: “I have arranged the poems as though I were composing a symphony rather than sticking to a chronological rule, because I wanted poetic music along with poetic heart. Now it is over to the reader to explore the different echoes, the unexpected juxtapositions, the contours of tone, the historical links and disconnections, the contemporary exposures.”

Green published a collection of her own poetry in 2013, called The Baker's Thumbprint (Seraph Press).

In 2014, she published The Letterbox Cat and Other Poems (Scholastic), which is a collection of poems for children, illustrated by Myles Lawford. The Letterbox Cat was shortlisted for the LIANZA Children's Book Awards. It won the Children's Choice Non-Fiction Award at the 2015 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young adults.

A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children (Random House), edited by Paula Green and illustrated by Jenny Cooper, was published in 2014. Within this collection, the poetry of beloved authors like Joy Cowley, Margaret Mahy, Denis Glover and Jenny Bornholdt is featured alongside poems written by New Zealand children. The Treasury of NZ Poems for Children was listed as a Storylines Notable Non-Fiction book in 2015.

Her latest collection is New York Pocket Book (Seraph Press, 2017). The book compiles 54 poems inspired by a 10-day trip to New York City with her family, effortlessly coming together as both a travel guide and an essay on the nature of poetry. Green says “I liked the idea of a figure that could carry bits of me but that also carried bits of not-me so I could tell the truth and invent to my heart’s delight… It is all about how you experience something for the first time and how that experience hits you quick and smart, slow and deep, in so many different ways.”

Most recently, she was awarded the 2017 Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement, honoured for her poetry, alongside Witi Ihimaera for fiction and Peter Simpson for non-fiction. Creative NZ reported that the selection panel for the award described Green as “a significant figure in New Zealand poetry as an anthologist and commentator” and as an accomplished all-rounder and leading poet. In 2017 she was also admitted to The New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Poetry.

She published three books in 2020: The Track (poetry, Seraph Press), Groovy Fish and other poems (children’s poetry, The Cuba Press), Wild Honey: Reading NZ Women’s Poetry (nonfiction, Massey University Press) which was shortlisted for the 2021 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

In 2022, her children's book Little Tales of Hedgehog and Goat was published by Penguin, with illustrations by Kimberly Andrews.


Updated August 2022.

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