No One Home: a boyhood memoir in letters and poems by Keith Westwater

ISBN 978-0-9951092-0-9
March 2018
150x190mm, paperback with flaps, 88pp
RRP $25

No one home
The boy he’s flotsam on a lake
The boy he cannot sow or reap
The boy he’s flayed by rage and hate
The boy he cries himself to sleep
And Maw she is a preying mantis
And Maw she’s cut his father’s hair
And Maw she’s signed the dotted line
And Maw she’s a lone press gang
And Maw she plots and cooks and schemes 
And Maw she pries and lies and spies
And Maw she beats him with her words
And Maw she beats him with her stick
And Maw she’s fit him up
The boy he is a small ball in a ruck
The boy he sups and eats alone
The boy he daily weaves and ducks
The boy he knows there’s no one home

No One Home tells the story of Keith Westwater growing up in 1950s New Zealand. At age seven he loses his mother to a botched operation and with her death loses a place to call home. So Keith and his brother take to the road with a gambling father, staying with relatives when their father can’t have them and enduring a stepmother who, like a fairy-tale witch, ‘disappears’ the boys when she’s had enough of them.

As the boys make their way through ‘the motherless woods’, Keith draws mental maps of all the places they call home, from Oruru in the Far North to half-way down Auckland’s Dominion Road.

In No One Home Keith draws the maps and writes the poems to open up the memories he locked away as a boy to stop himself feeling sad. An unsentimental collection that tells a story steeped in the people and places it comes from.

Author photo of Keith Westwater

Photo provided by author

About the author

Lower Hutt poet Keith Westwater has received or been shortlisted for awards in New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland. Commended several times in the New Zealand Poetry Society’s international competition, his debut collection Tongues of Ash won Interactive Publications’ best first book award in 2011. Keith was a longstanding member of the Tuesday Poem community and poems in progress are posted on his blog, Some Place Else.