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Sport 11: Spring 1993

‘James K. Baxter Memorial Paperweight’

page 133

‘James K. Baxter Memorial Paperweight’

Bill Manhire comes back from a South Island holiday with a car boot containing selected stones from the Matukituki Valley. These he bestows on various friends, mentioning their origin and the origin of Baxter’s ‘Poem in the Matukituki Valley’. ‘E, Brother,’ he says, hinting at one factor curiously absent in James K. Baxter—a sense of self-irony.

The stone is smooth and always cold: a fragment of riverbed lost to its river. It occurs to me that self-irony can co-exist with the deepest meaning and sincerity.