All posts by DavidBriggs

‘The Claim’ long-listed for Michael Gifkins Prize

I’m pleased to report that my next novel, The Claim, was long-listed for the  national Michael Gifkins prize. The prize is run by Australian publishers, Text Publishing, and is for an unpublished novel by a New Zealand author. This was its first year.

Sadly, it did not get to final short-list of three, but even reaching the  long-list from 182 entries is satisfying. The next step is to arrange for publication.

The book is set in New Zealand, and is very loosely based on George Eliot’s Silas Marner – in my opinion, one of the most perfectly crafted novels ever written. As in that, the story is built around a man’s struggle  between the lure of gold and of love. In the process, it explores the parallels between prospecting, story-telling and love, and suggests that all three depend on the willing suspension of disbelief.

The blurb for the cover is likely to go something like this:

On his claim in a remote valley, in the western hills of South Island, Evan Cadwallader prospects for gold, disaffected with life. On a stormy night, he rescues a young woman, suffering from hypothermia and close to death. He carries her to his cottage and nurses her back to health – and thus starts an enigmatic relationship in which truth and trust and love seem never quite to be resolved. Who is she? Where did she come from? What is the secret of her life? Will she add to his disaffection and prove once and for all how deceitful life is, or lead him to a new beginning of hope and love?




New Book Launch

By the Tracks We Leave will be published by CreateSpace in early November 2017.

Over the following few weeks it will be launched by releasing copies at  selected ‘little free libraries’ both in New Zealand and other countries – from where its progress around the world will hopefully be tracked.

For more details visit  the book page, via the link above.

Or, to purchase the book, go to




In places undefined I belong –

the raggedy rim of forest and cloud

the silver slick where sea and sky

and sand merge one into the other

the pit and pock of the marsh’s brink

or where moor and meadow meet


in the slashed-at headland

where the plough turns


in the space where sun and shadow play


in the river’s cusp


for these are the edgelands

where the world is undecided

and tomorrow

might go either way.

Ruby Bay, Autumn


The world today is small

grey inside and out

sea and sky dissolving

all dimension



seabirds loom like ships

from the mist


a ripple

rears out of nothing

and slowly unfurls

on the silken



and here on the beach

all is silent

save for the suck of wet sand

beneath our feet.


The world is just this

contained within itself

and is all that it need be.

News Flash

One of my poems recently won first prize in a poetry competition organised by Tasman Libraries.

The poem, Midge, was written as a lament for my much-loved schnauzer, as he struggled against cancer exactly two years ago. Winning the prize is a fitting tribute to a wonderful companion.

NYM Feb 2008 003 (1)


Walking in Silence

Walking in silence

I follow myself

drawn quickly in shadow

on the patched path

feeling my way

across the cameo

of ruts and roots

between dark beech limbs

the nikaus’ spread hands

and filigree ferns


the sky a frizz of blonde cirrus

combed straight by the wind.


My feet carry me

and my thoughts run free.


They stir the leaves of

things that have been

and things to come

and things that will never be


remnants of words

whispered or wailed

or left unsaid







and find not truth

nor sense in it all


but poems of a sort.



Things that are

and things that aren’t

define me,


things won and lost

promises made and  broken,

words said and unsaid,

and memories and forgetfulness,


the noise and the silence

and shadows of night and morning brightness

forest and field

mountain and vale

and all the paths between

either trodden or untrod


the things

that I am

and might have been

but am not,


those things we gave

and took back.



a kiss,

a touch,

a smile


a kind word


a thought,

kind or not,


your body beside me

and the gap


where hers might have been


for all things

bring their opposites.

Windy day, Waimea

Beyond the ranges,

the old dog is at it again

tearing up his blanket –

that tatty sheep-skin rug

he was given as a bed –

tossing the raggedy pieces

over the hills carelessly

as though they were nothing

but cloud tufts.

They fly eastwards

on the wild and cheeky wind

laughing silently to themselves

at the fun of it all.


Some words

are absurd

they say,




They take

up space

and may

even make

our verses end messily.


They slow

the flow

of our dialogue

and grow



They’re bad

and sad

but thank God

have had

their day eventually.


But why

should I –

or anyone else –


these rules so dogmatically?


Let’s resist,

let’s persist!

For myself

I insist:

we can happily use adverbs correctly and totally grammatically.

Winter morning

Winter morning,

frost barely a degree away.

The grass is grey,

gaunt trees stilled.

At the edge of the lawn

a large buck rabbit

sits motionless;

and the air

catches its breath

as if waiting

to see which way

the day might go.