Young Country is a book of poetry by twenty-first-century writer Kerry Hines alongside images by nineteenth-century photographer William Williams. The wry, plainspoken but haunting poems sit alongside evocative photographs of settlement: landscapes, streetscapes, skyscapes; the escapades of a trio of flatmates; portraits of family and friends; burnt bush and rising buildings.
Whether imagined or actual, in this `young country; / people are an occasion', and the book features many figures: Williams and his housemates Tom and Alex; ethnographer Elsdon Best; notorious criminals and the judges who sentenced them; the mythic creature Shellycoat who accompanied the Scottish settlers; wives, prostitutes and `hallelujah lassies'; and visiting professor Robert Wallace who cast an outsider view on this new society.
Together, the stunning photographs and poems of Young Country offer a meditation on how we capture the present and re-present the past, on the parallels between building a community and authoring a text, and on the possibilities that expansive fiction offers to documented truth.
Kerry Hines has a PhD from Victoria University (2012) for her thesis `After the Fact: Poems, Photographs, and Regenerating Histories', part of which forms the basis for Young Country. She has also presented papers on her research at conferences in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, and contributed an essay on William Williams to Early New Zealand Photography: Images and Essays (Otago University Press, 2011). Hines's poetry has been published in literary journals and magazines and in the co-authored collection Millionaire's Shortbread (Otago University Press, 2003).