Self Portrait, 1929 – 2023

After Rita Angus’s Self Portrait, 1929

I wonder if Rita would be proud of me.
I look just like her first portrait
Same beret, same nose
The nose I see on my mom, my sisters
Travelling down through the family hand to hand
(Napier to Wellington)
Adam reaching out to god
(I don’t capitalise the G. Sorry)
I wonder if my art is me trying to speak to her
To say that I’m carrying on what she started
She adorns the city around me
Maybe that’s why it feels more like home
Same hills. Same buildings.
Little moving portraits
(I never met her)
(maybe I just like to pretend I did)
I wonder if she also loved the wind in her hair
Seeing the harbour from the hill
I lose parts of myself whenever there’s demolition
(I never did well with change)
There goes my rib cage outside Te Papa
My lungs on Willis St.
Feet either side of the state highway 1 tunnel
Heart in the Bolton St. Cemetery
I wonder if she viewed her portrait the way I do.
Or if she simply glanced at it the way I see my poems

The artwork that inspired this piece is currently still under copyright, you can view it online here. The featured artwork in its place was commissioned by bad apple from Mickie Loof for the 2023 Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day.


In a dream, you saw a way to survive, and you were filled with joy.


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