New Zealand’s outspoken ‘Instapoet’ star discusses sentimentality, sitcoms – and why humour is essential to her work
Acclaimed by the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, as “the most arresting and original new young poet”, 30-year-old Hera Lindsay Bird is one of the stars of the new generation of “Instapoets” – so called because of their use of social media – with hits including Keats Is Dead So Fuck Me from Behind and Monica, which riffs on the character from the sitcom Friends. She works in a bookshop in New Zealand. Hera Lindsay Bird is her first collection. She tours the UK this month.
Why did you call your debut collection Hera Lindsay Bird?
That’s my name! I was thinking about the great female pop stars of the 90s, when it was compulsory to name your first solo album after yourself, and if you were Janet Jackson, the second one too. But a lot of the first collections of poetry I owned were collected works and therefore all my Frank O’Hara and Emily Dickinson books were called “Frank O’Hara” or “Emily Dickinson”. I also thought that naming it after myself gave people permission to read it as a collection of personal poetry. I know it’s not fashionable to care about whether things in literature are true, but I can’t help it. I just want someone to tell me how to live.