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Moth Hour

  • Moth Hour by Anne Kennedy
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A complex, moving and ambitious poetic engagement with the death of a brother.

            The family didn’t know what to do about grief. The noisy house went silent. I was fourteen. I lay on the red rug in the sitting room and listened to Beethoven’s Thirty-Three Variations on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli, op. 120 – over and over because it was there.


In 1973, Anne Kennedy’s brother Philip was partying on a hillside when he accidentally fell to his death. Among books and records, Philip left a poem typed in Courier on thick, cream, letter-sized paper.

            Come catch me little child
            And put me in a jar . . .

In Moth Hour, Anne Kennedy returns to the death of her brother and the world he inhabited, writing ‘Thirty-Three Transformations on a Theme of Philip’ and concluding with a longer poem, ‘The Thé’.

Kennedy’s extraordinary poems grapple with the rebellious world of her brother and his friends in the 1970s; with grief and loss; with the arch of time. The poems reach into the threads of the past to build patterns, grasped for a moment and then unravelling in one’s hands.

Moth Hour is a complex, ambitious piece of writing and a moving poetic engagement with tragedy.



Anne Kennedy is a writer of fiction, screenplays and poetry. Sing-Song won Poetry Book of the Year at the 2004 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, The Time of the Giants was shortlisted for the same award in 2006, and The Darling North won the 2013 NZ Post Book Award for Poetry. Her novels include The Last Days of the National Costume, shortlisted for the NZ Post Book Award for Fiction in 2014, and The Ice Shelf, longlisted in the 2019 Ockham NZ Book Awards. She lives in Auckland.

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