Kia mākona!   Welcome to the table... 

This is an anthology of poems that are either about food or that use food as imagery. The poems may be happy or sad: we eat to celebrate and for comfort; we come together to share wakes and feasts and celebrations.

The collection was edited by Janny Jonkers and Judith Haswell and published by Donek Press of Whanganui in 2017.

If you would like to buy a copy and we hope that you do, click on CONTACT for more information. Boxes of books will be arriving on the doorstep just before Christmas 2017.

Poems from the pantry has 288 poems. It contains the work of 154 poets divided into sections with headings such as Bread, buns and rolls; Scones, gems and pikelets; Cakes and biscuits; Pastry; Soups; Eggs and so on. Yes, it reads like a recipe book. We decided to arrange our anthology around the contents page of the 30th edition of the Edmonds Cookery Book.

The majority of poems fit quite snugly within the sections that Edmonds provides but those that deal with a variety of foods were difficult. We tended to identify the main dish and slot the poem into that category. Edmond's obligingly does have a section for Poultry, game, etc. so 'etc.' took care of the huhu grubs, keas and dormice. We added a category for Eating, since many of the poems are about the act of eating and do not specify which kind of food. We needed to add categories for Fruit and Berries; Pasta, Rice and Cereals; and, most surprisingly, a category for Eating Each Other. New Zealanders eat each other it appears, for fun, for love and in anger.

Cover of 'Poems from the Pantry'.

Poems from the pantry: 135 years of food in poetry from New Zealand, 1863–1998. (2017). Edited by Judith Haswell and Janny Jonkers. Whanganui, N.Z. : Donek Press. vi, 270 p. : ill. 26 cm. ISBN: 0-9597866-2-7.

The bibliography is published separately as a digital file and may be obtained either by emailing <> or, as a pdf, via the catalogue of the National Library of New Zealand. 

Family group seated on the grass waiting for breakfast, circa 1922, Levin, N.Z.

Recipe books have illustrations and photographs. Judy asked around, browsed through print resources and online collections to find photographs that might remind us of what we ate in times past, where we ate it and who we ate it with: situations and memories capable of triggering food-poems. 

Bacon 'n' eggs, anyone? Breakfast is served. It is 1922 or thereabouts and this family is making the long journey from Wellington to Palmerston North in their Model T Ford. They have spent the night camping in Levin: the women inside the car and the men under the tarpaulin.   (Page 120, Poems from the Pantry; photo courtesy of Neville Gorrie.)