Cricket Society Journal reviews King Willow

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 by Mark Pirie

A brief but very good mention of the book I edited, King Willow: Selected Poems by Robert J Pope, appeared in the latest issue of the Cricket Society's Journal:


Review of King Willow: Selected Poems by Robert J Pope edited by Mark Pirie

HeadworX Publishing web:

Mark Pirie is continuing to explore New Zealand literary history both old and new and here we have a selection of poems from a writer, Robert J Pope whose life (1865-1949) covered the birth of New Zealand cricket through to Walter Hadlee's determination on the post-war tour of England to be worthy of full-length Test Matches.

Although, well-regarded in his lifetime as with many poets, he became unfashionable although there now seems to be a reappraisal of his work. The selection from his work set out here contains only a single cricketing poem but his other work is well worth modern consideration. There is a wistful and elegiac tone to his war poetry - no drums and bugles and hurrahs - more sadness at lives lost and friends no longer to be greeted.

The only cricket poem "King Willow" was written to welcome in the 1932 season but there is a small section of cricket prose at the end of the book. I also liked his affectionate parody of W B Yeats in Billy's Tea which made me smile.

Not really enough perhaps to convince the cricket collector to add this to his library but Mark Pirie is ploughing a singular furrow as he explores the byways of New Zealand literature and deserves the praise that he is garnering. A writer and a publisher who are always worth seeking out.

(From The Journal of the Cricket Society, UK, Volume 26, No. 4, Spring 2013, p. 69-70).