The accidental poetry of Michael Laws

Category: General bloggery

For some time now I’ve been meaning to compile a blog entry entirely out of words in columns by Michael Laws – I set about cutting and pasting text tonight – and found to my surprise that there’s a ghoulish rhythmn in his prose.

What I’ve done is go through two columns selecting only words that were intense, or emotionally laden – as the initial idea was to provide a window, made from his own words, into the kind of thoughts the man has day-by-day.

What turns out to be much more fun, however, is selecting all the intense words, then editing them down to make poems – one from each column. I hope you like them. And perhaps they will give new insights into this prominant New Zealander – W(h)anganui mayor and media man – and his popularity in this country.


Some of the titles of the poems are my additions – and so are punctuation marks like commas, dashes, brackets and exclamation marks – but everything else comes from published Sunday Star-Times columns by Michael Laws.

The words were all chosen by him, and their order has not been changed. But of course by deleting everything else, the meanings of his phrases have changed drastically, and many lines in the poems contain words that were originally separated by whole paragraphs, and were never intended by Mr Laws to go together.

Obviously, any new meanings that arise from this process were not created by Mr Laws. Nor, however, were they inserted by me. I’m simply letting the words do their thing with as little guidance as possible and have placed them here with the intention that they be enjoyed for their artistic merits – and that I not be sued. Ahem. Enjoy

Poem 1: Confession

Fight. Surrender
(surrender to passion)
Sodom, Gomorrah:
I confess.

Be stiff
Gargantuan strip (looks like bacon).

Utterly insensitive
Buy us, surrender
Insuperable power and influence.

Habit of cocking
Tactic of lie down
(put your legs in the air and hope like hell).

Death penalty!
Impregnated prison worker!
(We should kiss them).

Victims are Kiwis
Crimes, export death squads
– murdering people in China.

Placed in the same hole
– murderers, molesters:

Real idiots, guilty on the ground floor.

* Extracted from the original column, here.

Poem 2: Don’t call me, I’ll call you

New Zealand, badly, charity, philanthropy
Reason for their own predicament.

Physically afflicted; abandoned! Vulnerable!

Unworthy! Political! (just plain mad)
Feral guilt-game pig-trough

Hand wringing! Rip-off! Dropkick! Deadbeat!
money booze baccy dope pokies

Poor. Poor
Irresponsible. Irresponsible
(And that’s another industry all its own).

* Extracted from an orginal Laws column, here.


  1. Found poetry, I like it. Such an emotionally charged lexicon that man has at his disposal to rile up the middle classes. I reckon if you you put a little grey tuft and goatee on your profile pic you might actually look a bit like Michael Laws, too… wait a minute… you don’t own a wig and a fake little goatee do you?

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