Somervaille, Penny

New Zealand, (b.1936; fl. 1998-present)


  1. A house is being built
  2. A man is building a house
  3. A pig is being killed
  4. A man is killing a pig
  5. A bridge is being constructed
  6. A man carries a dead pig
  7. across the bridge
  8. on the other side of which
  9. a man is building a house
  11. The man building the house
  12. is Australian
  13. he says
  14. the man with the dead pig
  15. may not eat meat
  16. on his building site
  18. If he sits on the other side of the bridge
  19. and eats the pig there
  20. is that okay? (are the gods appeased?)
  22. The meating-eating labourers cannot work
  23. on the millionaire’s house
  24. (did I tell you he is a millionaire?
  25. No? well he is.)
  27. The builder shrugs & crunches crackling
  28. his pleasure vindicates the death of the pig
  29. (it was a wild one anyway and
  30. mauled sheep and ate lambs)
  31. The billionaire
  32. (yes, he has become richer since I began
  33. due to high interest rates
  34. and no taxes in the Cayman Islands)
  35. the billionaire sits
  36. among the profiles, scaffolding
  37. stacks of concrete blocks
  38. and rare native timbers.
  39. He eats a tofu burger.

 Penny Somervaille. The Digital Bridge at HOME & AWAY 2010, the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre’s’ (nzepc) 2010 two-part symposium in Auckland and Sydneythat featured readings, launches and forum-style talks with trans Tasman colleagues at the University of Auckland. This also included a digital bridge and invitations to poets and others to contribute text, images, audio or video that reflects or extends the symposium‘s trans Tasman focus.

About the Poet:

Penny Somervaille, New Zealand, (b.1936; fl. 1998-present) is a poet and short fiction writer. Somervaille was born in Java, but grew up in England. She came to NZ in 1957 and has lived here all her adult life. She graduated with a (mature) BA in English and Writing Studies at the University of Auckland in 2009.

Somervaille has been published in Sidestream, Live Lines, PotRoast, Blackmail Press, and The Bridge Project on NZEPC.

An active public reader of her own work, Somervaille, appears regularly in a variety of poetry reading venues around Auckland. She was an MC for Poetry Live, the weekly open mic forum started by David Mitchell in 1980 and now located at The Thirsty Dog in Auckland. Her book,Small Decisions Pennyroyal Press (2015) is her first published collection. [DES-04/18]

Additional information:

  • Small Decisions, poetry by Penny Somervaille – a collection of poems written over a period of 15 years or more, dealing with memory and ageing and responses to works of art.

A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.