I counted my footsteps and made alphabetical lists of things (one two three ant, one two three bee) without missing a single beat.” – Paula Green, The Track.
In 2015, poet Paula Green set out to walk the 70 km-long Queen Charlotte Track at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. The track winds from bay to bay from Meretoto/Ship Cove to Anakiwa, a 3-5 day walk through a beautiful and historic landscape. All went according to plan until, on the longest day and during a violent storm, Paula slipped, sustaining two foot fractures. Ten hours of painful walking lay ahead.
Before her accident, Paula was already walking as a poet, collecting images and stories as she traversed the track. The “slap / of pain in the midst / of walking” changed everything. From this moment on, Paula is, quite literally, word-walking out of the bush. The alphabet itself becomes a crutch, rhythm becomes a painkiller, and each line lays down another small segment of the track underfoot.
Paula’s recently-published poetry collection, The Track, is an account of this journey.