I am a human being


Winner of the Jessie Mackay Prize for Poetry in the MitoQ Best First Book Awards at the 2021 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

Poems by Jay Nieuwland

The debut collection from one of Aotearoa’s most exciting emerging poets. Take part in a new transformation with every new page as the speaker becomes by turns an egg, multiple trees, a town crier, a needle in a haystack, and a cone of blue light in this incisive and pathos-filled exploration of what it means to be anything at all.

Review by Vanessa Mei Crofskey for The Pantograph Punch
Review by Paula Green on NZ Poetry Shelf
Review by Erik Kennedy for Landfall Review Online

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In this inventive and poignant collection, Jackson Nieuwland explores and explodes the limits of how we write about identity and all its aching complexity and beauty. The question posed in I am a human being isn’t so much who, but what am I? Nieuwland offers many answers by upending the boxes we’re expected to fit into, scattering their contents like jigsaw pieces to be sorted and reconstructed into something new and extraordinary. These poems swing between the deadpan and the surreal, inviting us to reject the obvious and embrace the mess of who we are as individuals in a world that demands easy categorisation.

Chris Tse (author of He’s So Masc)

“You ask if it’s real,” Jackson Nieuwland the poet says, and we say, “did we?” but yes, we did, and this book has a handle on the answer. Falling into the world with a brilliant surge, this is a place to visit like the very best book always are. Here is a place to return to for what he itches in your ear and lifts on your brow. I want to give this to everyone I know.

CA Conrad (author of ECODEVIANCE)

Fresh, funny and philosophically original. I am a human being is a warm, intelligent and humane collection, a real hit with the whole family. I laughed out loud and smiled all the way through these unique and personal poems.

Jo Randerson (author of Tales from the Netherworld)

Unicorn horn-sharp, the poems of Jackson Nieuwland’s I am a human Being plunge and spiral into the unknown to make their point, rethinking human boundaries into a beeeautiful hide-and-seek game of new dimensions. Without a “drop of human blood” in its mermaid seas, Nieuwland’s surreal, bewildering book holds a camera to itself, wears its animals in all directions, clowns around singing a “version of you from the future” that desires to be anything but a broken thing.

Paul Cunningham (author of House of the Tree of Sores)


A series of videos by Aotearoa poets reading poems from I Am A Human Being by Jackson Nieuwland:

Jackson Nieuwland is a human being, duh. They are a genderqueer writer, editor, librarian, and woo-girl, born and based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. They co-founded the reading/zine series Food Court. This isn’t even their final form.