All three poetry books have been published by Otago University Press.

All three book’s covers painted by artist, Michael D. Cooke


*** Snapshot Jpeg of cover for BTARW

Born To A Red-Headed Woman ‘If Cooke’s observations of the daily are the simple melodic lines that seem to coast on the surface, beneath that runs a rich bass line of meditation on time, on meaning, on living a life true to oneself and on familial love.’

don’t let the moon break your heart (title-related poem)

I was born in winter

to a red-headed woman

who shivered on a hard bed

under one thin blanket

in a hospital by the Waiau river

making heavy work


of its final punch through

to the coast,

the thrum of its waters

underscoring our breathing,

the beating of my heart

the size of a walnut.

Made For Weather ‘Poems of place, with an array of striking images, evoking wind-whipped coastlines and the passing of seasons, and illustrating the poet’s gift for capturing people.’

made for weather (title poem)

Airy, lofty, leggy


has architecture

more modern

than classic. In the wind

it dances, shakes

out a fragrant, bouffant

hairdo. Like a house built

for harbour views

with glass and white,

plain space, it has designer-gaps

to see the sky through.

Whereas when hard-pressed

to ride the wind

and rain,

the pine

slugs it out. Stocky,

hairy, a dark and close beast

of burden

made for bad weather

with branches

shaped like arms prepared

to carry. Stuck for shelter,

I’d head for the pine.


Feeding the Dogs ‘With a childhood in rural Southland behind her, Kay McKenzie Cooke blends town and country themes effortlessly. Her poetry expresses a strong relationship with the landscape and a southern sensibility, but she is equally at home writing about lawn bowlers in Queenstown, a family reunion, global warming, or the land.’

feeding the dogs (title poem)


the torch’s twitch

picking out dead thistles,

wooden railings.

Where the ground shines,

bare, snarled

by the roots

of trees, the dogs bark,

rattle chains that drag

over old bones.

Throw them the meat,

pale traces of fat clinging

to the wool of your gloves.


Hear the crush of bones,

the night closing in

the cry of two birds

flying out over rocks.

See ticking stars

in a blind sky.

Softer than light,

darkness leans in

  • so close, so cold,

its breath is all

you can breathe.


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