A Cover Like No Other

It was love at first sight when I saw the gorgeous cover of Kay’s fourth book of poems; my favourite book cover ever. The beautiful face, soulful eyes and bright colours radiate pure joy and wonder that go straight to my heart, satisfying my deepest longings for colour.

~ Upturned, poems by New Zealand writer and poet Kay McKenzie Cooke.

First paragraph from the back cover:

Kay McKenzie Cooke chronicles life as it comes to her – the quotidian happenings in and around her home in Dunedin and further south where she grew up, and the not-so-ordinary upturned world she experiences when she visits her son in Berlin. And then there are those things that seem ordinary enough until the poet flips them over so she can locate the beating heart. [so true! –Liz]


I decided to ask Kay for the … COVER STORY !!!

Background notes:
~ Upturned is published by The Cuba Press (Wellington)
~ Kay’s son Mike is artist Michael D Cooke

The Story — told by Kay

Mary McCallum my publisher and her son Paul, who is also part of the team at The Cuba Press, went through my son’s website and found a painting that fitted perfectly with the title we’d decided upon for my poetry collection, Upturned.

Funnily enough it is a small painting my son and daughter in law had hanging on their wall. I was very familiar with it from my many visits to their wee flat when they were living downstairs from our house. I’d admired and loved it, but hadn’t thought to use it as the cover. Sometimes it takes another more objective eye to see things. And a reminder for me as to why we do not exist as islands.

LOVE the cover story and your thoughts about it Kay. Thank you!

~ I’ve permission to share a poem from Upturned with my readers. A difficult decision because I’ve many favourite poems to choose from … but not too bad ’cause I decided to go with a really colourful poem in keeping with the colourful cover and my blog theme, Exploring Colour 🙂

Let’s take a look in the book …


Hoping for eventual clouds
of hazy purple,
I planted two lavender today.
Small and tough enough to hunker down.
And tonight I left the bedroom windows open
in order to smell the rain,
the soaked earth, and pictured
the two lavender plants drinking.
I also bought a pansy
and a polyanthus because they were blue.
Some people say that they’re green people,
or red or, like my granddaughter says,
a yellow-orange person (amber I tell her,
but she keeps forgetting).
Me, I’m a blue person. Blue that is almost purple,
or blue that is almost green
(I can’t decide). Then there’s sky-blue.
Clear, unattainable blue-blue.

The blue of agapanthus.
The blue of Delftware.
Peacock-tail blue. I bought
two lavender plants
and a pansy and a polyanthus,
flowers that will weather the winter
triumphant in the frost, victorious
in snow. But what about too-blue?
‘How can you trust someone
who wears so much blue?’ a friend said once
about her boss. And of course we must always
leave room for yellow. Van Gogh thought so.
‘I’m not a yellow person,’ I heard someone say
and thought it a pity. A world without yellow.

Scan of Blue Person from Upturned

– some scan artifacts but I assure you the pages are clean and beautifully printed. Click on the image to enlarge.

LINK : The Cuba Press Webpage for ‘Upturned

ps. if you enjoyed this Cover Story please let me know, perhaps I’ll find more colourful covers and uncover their stories!

Posted by Liz; Exploring Colour (2021)

10 thoughts on “A Cover Like No Other

Add yours

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this–I love it. I was trying on shawls the other day, each printed with a different painting. The sales person brought out a yellow one (with gorgeous sunflowers, ala Van gogh) and I said, “I don’t wear much yellow” at the same time admiring the vibrancy of the colors. A world without yellow would be a pity. Maybe I will take a second look at that shawl!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s a beautiful piece of art. I love the way the woman is looking up at the leaves – and that goes so well with the poem you’ve chosen. To me, the poem itself has a great feeling of hope – the buying and planting are a gesture towards a better future. And now I’m thinking about colour…. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m besotted with the painting and love the hopeful, colourful poem! I love what you said about the great feeling of hope in the poem, thanks for sharing your thoughts Ann and I’m glad to have left you thinking about colour!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Truly inspiring way to develop a curiosity about colour. I love the way you have drawn me in and taken me out to consider the ordinary (or never not!) Kay keep on publishing we need people like you thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

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