21 December 2010
like so many others
are washed north
on a tide of summer,
our route signposted
all flowering late
against a mirage
of cabbage trees,
dusty in the heat
above melting tar—
the whole country baking
as the nation makes
its annual pilgrimage
of Christmas and New Year:
Good to see ya, we say,
or simply mate, pouring out
a cool one before we sit
down together, buoyant
with the sunshine
and the colour,
the high tide of summer.
by Helen Lowe
Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet and broadcaster. She won a Robbie Burns Poetry Prize (NZ) in 2003 and the A2O Prize (Australia) in 2007 and has been published and anthologised in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. Her first novel, Thornspell (Knopf, 2008), won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel: Young Adult in 2009 and her second, The Heir of Night (Eos, USA; Orbit, UK) has just been published. Helen hosts a monthly poetry programme on Women on Air, Plains 96.9 FM.
This week, because it's almost Christmas, we Tuesday Poets have paired up and are posting each other's poems on our blogs. I was very happy to be paired with Helen Lowe (I am developing a belief that there are a disproportionate number of poets called Helen), who I have come to know through her work in JAAM (I've just published a couple of her poems in JAAM 28), through her blog (http://helenlowe.info/blog/) and who I have even met in real life, at a Poetry Society anthology launch.
We decided on a summer/Christmas theme, and sent each other a few poems to chose from. I decided on this one, because it seems to glow with yellow sun and blue water. Can't you just feel the heat and smell the barbeque? We New Zealanders seem to hold two images of Christmas in our heads - the one with snow and robins, and our actual summer Christmas; and I love that this poem celebrates the summer Christmas.
So, over on Helen Lowe's blog you'll find my summer poem: 'Burning with Joan of Arc' (it may not sound like a summer poem, but just trust me).
And over on the Tuesday Poem blog you'll find other secret Santa poems. And have a good Christmas!
14 December 2010
My mother is the gap in the windbreak
the fallen macrocarpa
the flooded river and the flooded plain.
The radio, not tuned to any station
the rails removed from a siding
the gash in the mountain's side.
My mother is the doorway
and the grip of my father's hand
and the stubble of his cheek on mine.
The missing face in the kitchen
the absent chair at the table
the silence under all we say.
on the edge of sleep in the darkness
my mother is each toss and turn.
The need to leave in the morning
the long goodbye to my father
the driveway and the car I drive.
My mother is the corner
the anxious overtaking
the yellow lines that double in my eyes.
The last lap of the journey
the final tick of the engine
my mother is the road I travel home.
by Tim Jones
I chose this poem because I love it. Every time I read it I get shivery. I feel that to analyse it too much would be to flatten it, and what I love about it is its subtlety - the subtle way it deals with grief.
'Going Back' was in Tim's second poetry book, All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens (HeadworX, 2007).
As well as being a poet, Tim Jones writes short stories and novels, both 'literary' and 'speculative', manages a day job, and is a husband and father. He blogs here: http://timjonesbooks.blogspot.com/.
Check out other Tuesday poems via the hub blog: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/
13 December 2010
06 December 2010
Everything about the day feels massive –
at the beginning I am careful to make sure
I am wearing my forty-league boots.
At Bidwell Street the plaster Madonna
stands on the mantelpiece and rattles
whenever a visitor shuts the bedroom door.
She lies at rest in her wooden casket.
Such a strange late afternoon light
during our pre-funeral picnic.
We drink with parched gusto
and laugh so hard that
the winking knives and forks laugh with us.
My dusty boots are leaden feet
on the plaid picnic blanket.
Above the city in shivering paspalum
and talking trees
the invisible ones are with us,
kissing our foreheads.
The vaporous fog draws in closer
off the tongue-shaped hills.
The words are pearls in our hands,
running, running away through our fingers.
Best not to endure life
in the shallows, better to dive deep –
a pure white sheet, a kiss between
the thighs, and cachinnations not sighs.
By Vivienne Plumb
I'm afraid there's been a bit of a dearth of Tuesday poems from me lately, though today there is not just this one, but I'm also the editor of the Tuesday Poem hub blog today, and you'll find another poem selected by me over there - that one is 'Hunt the slipper: a romantic divertissement' by Jo Thorpe, which is from the recently published JAAM 28.
Here, I've chosen 'Forty-League Boots' this week to celebrate all the busyness that has been keeping me from such things as Tuesday poeming (and almost, I sometimes feel, from breathing): publishing stuff - both JAAM and Crumple recently.
I'm still buzzing from the two launches we had for Crumple: one in Wellington - my home turf, and Vivienne's home for years and years; and in Auckland, which is where Vivienne is living now. The Wellington launch was in my neighbourhood - at the Aro Valley Community Centre hall, just down the hill from where I live (possibly I can see it from my lounge window, but its too dark to check), and only about 25 steps from where Vivienne lived for a couple of years. It was a perfect venue: cosy and welcoming - there were even couches - with large windows and doors and a playground next door for the many younger launch attendees. It was great having our friends and family around. It was a great pity that Kate Camp couldn't make it at the last minute, but I read her launch speech in her stead.
Because Vivienne is living in Auckland now, and has so many important people there, we decided to have a second launch. This one was at The Women's Bookshop, which was so appropriate as they are really supportive of independent publishers, they're Viv's new local bookshop, and she and Carole, the manager of the shop, go a long way back to when they were both acting in Wellington. Crumple was launched with aplomb by Janet Charman. I was blown away by the support everyone gave Vivienne and the book, and how many poets turned up. I had such a wonderful time meeting people I'd communicated with in various ways over the years, meeting other people I knew only by reputation, and getting to see some of the friends I have in Auckland. It was also a good opportunity to introduce myself and Seraph Press. I realised that I have always had really great experiences at poetry events in Auckland – though admittedly not have that many, but three out of three isn't bad.
Back to 'Forty-League Boots' though, it's my favourite poem in a book full of favourite poems. It's the final poem in the collection, and seems to me to be really key. It's also a poem that never fails to make me emotional. There is a lot of travelling around and rootlessness in Crumple - a lot of homelessness. In 'Forty-League Boots' home is in people, both here and gone. But the bit of the poem I love the most, which always gets me, is the final stanza - it's a call to life and really living. When I first read this poem, I typed up the final stanza and sent it to several of my friends (also with the explanation that cacachinnations means laughter, more or less) because it touched me so deeply.
After you've checked out my other Tuesday poem selection over at the Tuesday Poem blog, you can have a look at the many other Tuesday poems in the sidebar on the left.
18 November 2010
13 November 2010
On Monday: Diana Bridge at the Poetry Society
The New Zealand Poetry Society presents Karori poet, Diana Bridge. Diana has been published widely since her first collection appeared in 1996. Her writing reflects a rich and varied life lived as partner to a New Zealand diplomat posted around the world.
The event is open to the public, and starts at 7.30pm with an open mic. There is a $5 entry fee ($3 for members).
The Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave St, Thorndon
On Thursday: Watusi Spring Sessions featuring Janis Freegard, Trev Hayes and Mike Tights
Spring sessions at the Watusi, 6 Edwards Street, Central Wellington (off Victoria St.) Thursday 18th November 8:30pm start, gold coin entry. There will also be an open mic (so bring your poems/songs) & live music from Reuben Wilson, Jordan Stewart & William Daymond.
On Saturday: Launch of Crumple, by Vivienne Plumb, published by me
(I'm definitely going to make it to this one)
3.30 pm, Saturday 20th November 2010
Aro Valley Community Centre
48 Aro Street
More info here: http://wingedink.blogspot.com/2010/11/wellington-launch-for-crumple-by.html
On Sunday: Saradha Koirala reads at the Ballroom Cafe
Guest Poet: Saradha Koirala
Musicians: Josie & Mary Campbell
Open mic session
Sunday 21 November, 4 - 6pm
The Ballroom Café, cnr Riddiford St & Adelaide Rd, Newtown
Also on Sunday: Lynn Jenner and Klezmer Rebs
In a unique Wellington arts event, the Klezmer Rebs will perform an intimate concert at the Ruby Lounge, featuring a special set of poetry with music by Raumati author Lynn Jenner.After the Klezmer Rebs first set will be a special 20 minute artistic partnership featuring the poetry of Lynn Jenner, from her highly praised recent book Dear Sweet Harry. Lynn’s poetry introduces you to Harry Houdini, the world’s greatest ever escapologist, and Mata Hari, a woman who did not so much dance as slowly and gracefully take off her clothes. The musical accompaniment is pushy, poignant, sweet and sad and hopeful, just like Houdini and Mata Hari, and it travels around the world just as they did.
Then the Klezmer Rebs return for a final set of their lively, tuchas-shaking music. Jewish soul music at its best.
The Ruby Lounge, Bond St, Wellington, 4 pm to 7 pm.
10 November 2010
08 November 2010
For John Y, who understands.
Catches I Have Dropped
xxis a longer poem than
Catches I Have Taken.
For starters, well –
xxthat one on the boundary;
xxthe skull-ricochet skimming over for six...
Then there was Davis.
First senior match
xxand Davis, off balance, clips up a catch
xxto square leg – that’s me, the goggle-eyed sucker
xxwith knees set on ‘quiver’, arsehole on ‘pucker’
xxcoz it’s Davis, the legend, the regional rep.
He’s trialed for CD.
He’s only on three.
At square leg there’s me.
I didn’t have to move; it was chest high and looping,
xxa lolly-drop dolly in slow-motion,
xxstraight at me,
xxstraight to me,
xxand then strangely – straight through me.
He went on to a hundred and thirty four.
I got sent to the outfield – dropped two more.
A field full of Poms,
xxin theory, my team-mates).
I’m plodding mid-on.
There’s nine more runs needed, we’re after two wickets.
The opener’s made eighty, been rattling the pickets
xxwhen he scoops it, quite firmly,
xxbut fairly straight-forward –
xxa gimme, a sitter,
xxa kitty in litter.
I reverse-cup; it pops
xxfrom my hands,
xxso I grab for it, jab it
xxwith fingers of moss,
xxit spits forward – but heroically
xxI swing out an arm
xxto swat it (quite sweetly)
xxwith the flat of my palm...
Then on hands and on knees,
xxwith a gut-sucking awe,
xxI watch it skip down the outfield slope for four.
The bowler screams ‘You incompetent Kiwi prick!’
xxand he spits with great purpose. I look away quick
xxas he rages – a luminous, furious pink:
xxthe next ball goes for six. The opener buys me a drink
Yeah, I’ve dropped them all – there’s nothing, naught,
xxthat I haven’t at some crucial point not caught:
xxthe thick-edging flyers, the spooners, the grabbers,
xxthe lurch-swirling skyers, the skimmers – Oh Jesus!
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
It plunges at me, spinning, sizzling, whistling.
If, during after-match beers, you too
Could hear once again of the slow, looping sitter
You put down, and know then the laughter and bitter
Abuse of your team-mates, the merciless jibes
That sting like a quick one that bruises the thigh,
My friend, you would not mock with such high zest
Those fielders whose fingers have fumbled in shame.
For it’s wrong what they say, it’s a damned lie at best –
Cricket is not always a funny game.
Scott Kendrick is a poet, cricket fan, and father of two small boys who may follow in his cricketing passion, but I'm hoping they'll rather follow him into poetry. He has published two collections of poetry: Rhyme Before Reason (HeadworX, 2001) and Cold Comfort, Cold Concrete: Poems & Satires (Seraph Press, 2007).
'Catches I Have Dropped' is my favourite cricketing poem. I'm not much of a cricket fan, but if you've played any team ball sport you'll understand this poem. The pressure. The humiliation. I enjoy the poem's galloping rhythm and the rhyme that makes a funny poem funnier. I also enjoy the mock epic tone at the end. There's even allusions to Wilfred Owen ('Dulce et Decorum Est' - a much more serious poem) in the final stanza.
An earlier version of 'Catches I Have Dropped' was in Cold Comfort, Cold Concrete: Poems & Satires, but this version is in 'A Tingling Catch': A Century of New Zealand Cricket Poems 1864–2009, edited by Mark Pirie. This is, apparently, probably the first national anthology of cricket poems - other cricket poem anthologies have been international. And apparently there is a lot of cricket poetry out there. Cricket seems to attract more literary types than other sports, curiously. I'll leave it to others to consider why that might be.
I went along to the launch of the anthology at the Long Room at Basin Reserve. This was a big deal, I discovered from my co-attendees, who kept breathily making comments about being in the Long Room at Basin Reserve. But even I, ignorant as I am, knew it was a big deal when Don Neely, NZ cricket legend, took off his New Zealand Cricket tie and gave it to Mark.
Mark was working on the anthology for several years, and had to cut back from his original selection. He's started a blog for the anthology, and will be publishing things he had to miss out and other cricket-related literature: http://tinglingcatch.blogspot.com/
And for more Tuesday poems, visit the Tuesday Poem blog: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/
07 November 2010
The subscription rate has been the same for years: $24 for three issues (I think this is because one long long ago we actually published three a year, rather than just the one we manage now). The time has come for a little price increase - it will be $20 for two issues. Still a bargain.
BUT, if you subscribe before the end of November 2010 you can subscribe at the old price of $24 for three. More info here: http://jaam.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/subscribe-now-and-save/
BTW JAAM 28 is due back from the printer any day now, after a couple of delays some of which I take entire responsibility for, and it is awesome.
6 pm, Wednesday 24 November 2010
The Women's Bookshop
105 Ponsonby Road
Crumple will be launched by Janet Charman. Copies will be available for purchase at $25. All welcome.
For more info about Crumple, visit: http://homepages.paradise.
If you can't make it, but still want to buy a copy, email me at email@example.com, or visit The Women's Bookshop online: http://www.womensbookshop.
We're also launching Crumple in Wellington: http://wingedink.blogspot.com/2010/11/wellington-launch-for-crumple-by.html
3.30 pm, Saturday 20th November 2010
Aro Valley Community Centre
48 Aro Street
Crumple will be launched by Kate Camp. Copies will be available for purchase at $25 (cash or cheque only). All welcome.
For more info about Crumple, visit: http://homepages.paradise.
If you can't make it, but still want to buy a copy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit The Women's Bookshop online: http://www.womensbookshop.
This launch is in our home patch - I proudly live in The Valley, and Vivienne used to live virtually next door to the park and community centre.
We're also launching Crumple in Auckland, where Vivienne mostly lives now: http://wingedink.blogspot.com/2010/11/auckland-launch-for-crumple-by-vivienne.html
01 November 2010
You are back in that country
you claim you would love to vacate,
and I feel like the stoic, white cottage
with its vacant windows, the one I noticed
from the car.
Our telecommunication connections
are frequently bad –
sibilance and echoes, white noise –
I hear sentences that may not be true,
the sound waves crash against my ears,
a distant subaudible shore.
I am that vast red corrugated-iron
roof we saw for sale outside Whanganui,
mute and inanimate;
although an appalling longing to see your face
has forced my thoughts to pack their own bags
and even as I speak,
they are filling out a destination card
and boarding a flight to meet you.
I am that green rural delivery box
on the grassy verge of a farm near Sanson,
a lop-sided patient receptacle
waiting for notification of our next contact.
I'm posting this poem – which features in Crumple, which I am about to publish – in celebration of the fact that I've just finished the final touches. I hope.
I have so many favourite poems in this book, and this is one of them. I'm going to use an extract from it on the back cover: 'an appalling longing to see your face/has forced my thoughts to pack their own bags/and even as I speak,/they are filling out a destination card/and boarding a flight to meet you', because it highlights some of the themes of the book - rootlessness, longing, travel - and also because I found it such an arresting image. It's so concrete - describing a feeling by describing an action.
Here's the rest of my back-cover blurb, which I agonised over last weekend:
In Crumple Vivienne Plumb takes us on a series of journeys, both geographic and metaphoric.
These poems have itchy feet, wandering from Poland, to China, through Italy, Australia and home to New Zealand. But is New Zealand home, or where in New Zealand is home? We roam up and down the country, we get lost in Kiwi icons which swing between hyper-real familiarity and unsettling surrealism, we find ourselves again and again on a long-distance bus.
Our constant travelling companions are Plumb’s sharp observation, her quirky sense of humour, and her skill of skewering both the ridiculous and the miraculous in the everyday.
‘Best not to endure life / in the shallows, better to dive deep –’; Crumple is, in the end, a celebration of life and living.
Vivienne Plumb, with a New Zealand mother and Australian father, has spent much of her life crossing the Tasman.
One of literature’s all-rounders, as well as six previous collections of poetry, she has written plays, short fiction and a novel.
Plumb has held many awards and residencies, including the Hubert Church Award for a first book of fiction, the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship and a University of Iowa International Writing Programme residency.
Not one to sit still, she is currently dividing her time between Auckland and Sydney, where she is completing a doctorate in creative arts.
For more Tuesday Poems, check out the Tuesday Poem blog: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/
26 October 2010
I'm so late with my Tuesday poem today, so I thought I'd post one of mine, rather than sort of waste someone else's. 'Grey' was in Abstract Internal Furniture. I find now that I've gone off quite a few of the poems in there - one does that after a decade I suppose - but I still have a fond spot for 'Grey', and believe as much, if not more, now in the importance of grey, of that grey space, than I did then.
Check out all the other Tuesday Poems here: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/
24 October 2010
I’m really excited about this book. Of course I get really excited about all the books I publish, because I only publish books I love. And also I’m a big fan of Vivienne’s work. But this book also has come along at a time when the theme/story of it – at least in my interpretation of it – was exactly where I was at at the time.
I’ve been agonising this weekend over writing a blurb for Crumple, trying to make it evocative, without being an English-101 interpretation of the collection. But basically, for me, this book is a journey between ‘crumple is a word / I refuse to acknowledge’ ('crumple') to ‘Best not to endure life / in the shallows, better to dive deep –’, ('Forty-League Boots'); a journey which takes us all around the world – to Poland, China, Australia, Italy, and then back home to New Zealand. But is New Zealand home, or where in New Zealand is home? There is never a sense of settling, we roam up and down the country, we get lost in Kiwi icons which turn surreal, almost nightmarish. But no, there is a sense of settling, in the end. Home isn’t any one place, it is people, and it is life, and actually, it’s also people we’ve loved who are no longer alive.
Crumple is a serious book, but it wouldn’t be Vivienne Plumb’s if it wasn’t also frequently very funny. Her humour is quirky, deadpan, sharp. She has a way of skewering the ridiculous in the everyday, but also the beautiful and miraculous in the everyday.
This is the cover, or, at least, it is the cover as it is at the moment. I’m forever making teeny little adjustments to it, but it’s almost there I think. The image is a photograph I took (and only slightly photoshopped for emphasis) of the hearts on the fence in Vivian Street, Wellington, where the service station used to be. It’s been an ugly, fenced wasteland for a while now, but every time I walk past it and see the hearts on the fence, it makes me smile. The hearts were made by OutdoorKnit guerrilla knitters. I love them. I feel that by making beautiful things like this they’re giving everyone a big hug. There is so much ugliness, sometimes especially in cities, and it’s wonderful to make something colourful and beautiful. These hearts, and also the ‘It will all be OK/You are doing ok’ message on Buckle Street, were a source of comfort for me during Sean’s health ‘thing’ this winter (and they were right - it's all clear now). I felt that what they were saying in wool form has resonance with what Vivienne was doing in poetic words.
If you don't know Vivienne's work, there is a lot to catch up on. She's published six previous books of poetry - ranging from full-length collections: Salamanca and Nefarious, to various smaller volumes and one mini (Doppleganger, with Adam Wiedemann). I published Scarab: a poetic documentary, a hand-bound chap book which traced the illness and death of her son from cancer, back in 2005. (I have a small number of copies left if you want one - let me know.) She has also published a collection of short stories, a novel (Secret City) and a novella, and has written and published several plays. Phew! You can read more about her here, should you wish to continue to be amazed: http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/writers/plumbviv.html.
We’re going to be launching Crumple in Wellington on Saturday 20th November (afternoon) and in Auckland on Wednesday 24th November (evening), so if you’re in or near either of those places I hope you’ll be able to come and celebrate with us. More details about that soon.
And it’s not long now, so best I finish up everything with this book and get it to the printers as soon as possible!
23 October 2010
She's also written a wee piece, a musing, on Heading North: http://www.vana-manasiadis.com/1/post/2010/10/heading-north-and-sometimes-looking-out.html. Vana was one of the first readers of Heading North, and her encouragement was significant to me when I was wondering what to do with it, or, indeed, whether to do anything with it. Hooray for people who get what you're doing and believe in your work!
Two posts in one day! Why yes, I am procrastinating.
I recently wrote a bit about my latest Northland holiday on my work blog: http://blog.teara.govt.nz/2010/10/21/te-rerenga-wairua/. It's mainly about what an amazing place Cape Reinga – Te Rerenga Wairau – is, and how I have some pretty strong reservations about the landscaping and 'interpretation' they've done since I was up there last.
Northland has become a really special place for me. I wrote Heading North about the first trip Sean and I took up there. People have asked if I'm going to write another book about this trip. So far I haven't written any poetry about this, but I can see it being incorporated into a big epic poem/patchwork that I've been working on for a few months, alongside 'Cinema'. Actually, that's a lie. I have left 'Cinema' on the sidelines, was suddenly writing this new thing ('How to live'), while dealing with everything that was going on, and have recently abandoned both – temporarily, while I try to hurriedly finish off JAAM 28 and the thing I haven't quite finished, and think I'd better announce this weekend, before it's actually finished.
21 October 2010
I'll tell you about the other thing as soon as I get a spare moment or two.
18 October 2010
and the jarring road
to Nha Trang
curdle into self distraction
and the relentless day
of snivelling self doubt
main road north
to the coast, place of Hao’s
heart and home
xxxxx Late night
xxxxx and a feast of welcome,
xxxxx forcing myself to food,
xxxxx craving Disprin and sleep
xxxxx at 5 am for the beach
xxxxx crowds on sand and sea
xxxxx broadcasts of the ‘news’
xxxxx to Tai Chi, Hao lithe
xxxxx and graceful moving
xxxxx leopard like, camouflaged
into the balance
of waves, turning the tides
shifting the spaces
sinks and lifts
arms circle in backstroke
legs test the ground ahead
sink and lift, arms play
in patterns above, behind
xxxxx dissolves, anxiety
xxxxx falls away shoulders
xxxxx drop back straightens
xxxxx to the sun rising,
xxxxx breathing into the balance
xxxxx of sea and white feathered clouds
xxxxx faces heron,
xxxxx Hao follows my flight
xxxxx across his morning sky
Jenny Powell is a poet and teacher who lives and writes in St Clair, Dunedin.This poem comes from her most recent collection Viet Nam: A Poem Journey, which has just been published by HeadworX.
The book is a kind of travelogue around Vietnam, but with a twist. After having a Vietnamese teacher, Hao, stay with her family, Jenny had a strong desire to travel to Vietnam to visit him, but due to medical reasons, it is impossible. And so the poet turns inwards: 'Is it possible to love a country you have never been to? Is it possible to visit a country in your imagination?' she asks in the introduction. The poems show that it is.
The surprising thing about the poems, given their imagined nature, is the specificity. She visits markets, meets people, dodges traffic, and, in this poem, has a headache. It's the headache and the desire for disprin that, for me, anchors this poem in reality, while the leopard and the heron elevate the poeticism. It's definitely one of my favourite in the collection.
It's been a while since I've posted a Tuesday poem - my insane busyness is showing signs of slowing, so I hope to be a more regular poster again.
The other Tuesday poets are much more reliable. You can find them here, on the Tuesday Poem blog: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/.
05 October 2010
But, I want to direct your attention to a new post on Tim Jones's blog, where (in response to a question) he asks people about their thoughts on Baxter: http://timjonesbooks.blogspot.com/2010/10/tuesday-poetry-question-does-james-k.html.
I've just been doing a wee refamiliarisation study of Baxter, and so have been thinking about him a lot. I'm really interested to know what other people have to say about him - whether they read him, whether he's been influential, how they place him, and so on. So I hope you'll leave a comment over there on Tim's blog.
Ok, off to proofread JAAM, which is, yes, running a little late...
17 September 2010
Miriam is the founding energy behind Side Stream poetry zine (which is how I first came across her). She's also an organiser of the long-running Poetry Live in Auckland (which is how I came to meet her in real life) and was the creative director of The Literatti, a poetry performance group.
Anyway, it's an interesting and in-depth interview: http://www.thebigidea.co.nz/news/blogs/talkwrite/2010/sep/75000-cultural-storytellers-miriam-barr.
And now I'm going to go and watch the news. Good night!
13 September 2010
I needed to find the edges
of myself, prise a little
let some daylight in
It’s only when touched
that we know
of ourselves, where our skin stops
where our self ends
I'm posting another poem from Heading North, partly because I hadn't gotten organised enough to get a poem off anyone else, but also because I had a wee launchy afternoon tea celebration for it on Saturday. It was kind of fun to do a wee reading in my own lounge, which, with the doors to the dining room open, and the dining table removed, becomes quite a large space. Maybe I should host poetry readings ...?
'Finding the cracks' isn't really a very typical poem in the book - most of them are longer and more narrative. But this is kind of the non-narrative heart of it - the emotional story I guess.
Anyway, you'll find more Tuesday poems over here: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/, check them out.
30 August 2010
This poem is about the citizenship-less children of Zainichi Koreans
who have been living in Japan, tenuously and permanently, since the
Japanese occupation of Korea.
I find this poem really haunting. I think it's good to read it without knowing what it's about, and then good to read it again after reading the note. Well, that's what I did when I first read it in Landfall.
Emma Barnes lives and writes in Aro Valley, Wellington. She launched the first issue of her new literary magazine Enamel in early 2009, another issue was released in June. She's had poetry published in JAAM, Landfall, Catalyst and Best New Zealand Poems 2008, among other places.
Also, if you happen to be near Palmerston North this Wednesday, you can go see (and hear) her read at Stand Up Poetry at the library. All the details are here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=129034570476304&index=1.
And more Tuesday Poems can be found, for your delectation, at the Tuesday Poem blog: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/.
23 August 2010
by Scott Kendrick
(If you can't view it here, you'll also find this video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnOnMa8ZbwI)
To celebrate getting broadband, one of the first things I did was to upload this video I made of Scott Kendrick performing this poem, impromptu, at his mumblemumble birthday last year. Where other people chant 'Speech, speech!' we chanted 'Poem, poem!' and we got what we wanted. Anyway, I quickly realised the version I'd uploaded was the wrong one, and this evening uploaded the proper version.
Battle Rattle Sally is from Scott's book Cold Comfort, Cold Concrete: Poems and Satires, published by Seraph Press (ie me) back in 2007. It's short, sweet, has a great rhythm, and was short enough for Scott to be able to remember this far into his party, which is quite an achievement.
Now that I'm on broadband, I have great plans of making and uploading more poetry videos, and of expanding the directory I was trying to create at NZ poets on video. We'll see if that actually happens, but I have good intentions.
Hope you enjoy this. More poems at the Tuesday Poem blog: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/
16 August 2010
The yellow glow
through the roof of our tent
wakes us early
the sun is just peering over the hills
is still yawning and stretching
as we pack up and go
It’s only around the corner
where the tar-seal stops
and the gravel begins
from here, you must
you must prepare
When we get there
we don’t even speak
We walk down the seagrass slope to the lighthouse
I in my bare feet, feeling the prick and give
The sky vaults above us
the blue ocean glass
as the sun shines through
where the oceans meet
where souls depart
The light is brighter, whiter
thicker than anywhere else
We come together
photograph each other
holding my journal in front
with the date and time, as proof
Back at the car park
We send a postcard to our southern selves
This is another from Heading North, because my copies of the book arrived today!! I had suspicions that they would be in most post box today, and so I went to check before going to work, and there they were! They are more gorgeous in the 'flesh' (or rather paper, card, cloth and ink) than in the pictures. The cover of each is also slightly different, slight individualised - the hill shape slightly different, the 'road' shapes wider or narrower.
This poem is probably the heart of the collection, for me at least. It's one of my favs. I read it tonight at the Poetry Society open reading to celebrate the books' arrival, and was very proud to be able to show some people my book. As a physical object it's a work of art, and I hope people will like the poems too!
Should you wish to purchase a copy, you can have a chat to me, or you can contact Parsons Bookshop in Auckland, who stock the books and do mail orders, or you can wait a short time and buy it from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, who have an online shop. You might want the ISBN, which is: 978-0-9864616-6-8. It retails for $45, which is a lot for a book of poetry, I know, but if you have a look at a copy, you'll see all the hand work that has gone into it, and you'll understand why.
Ok, so that's my Tuesday poem - for more Tuesday Poems visit the hub blog: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/. This week is a really interesting poem by US poet Heather Davis, posted by US poet Eileen Moeller.
10 August 2010
When you travel so
far, you’re searching
for new breath
driving faster - - leaving
old air behind
feeling the pressure
of the window - - between
work and work
it was now
it was now
That's the opening poem in my sequence Heading North, which is being published as a book by Kilmog Press. I'm very excited! It's all happened quite fast, so I hadn't blogged about it yet. But already it's becoming an actual book! A beautiful, hand-made, hardback, limited-edition book! You can see it in the below, but you can view it in more detail on the Kilmog Press blog: http://kilmogpress.blogspot.com/2010/08/helen-rickerby-heading-north.html.
You can read more about the book here on Beattie's Book Blog, which already has the blurb: http://beattiesbookblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/another-poetry-collection-for-tuesday.html (completed only late last night). Or you can just read the blurb below:
In Heading North Helen Rickerby takes us on the road. This playful and reflective sequence explores the tensions and connections between the narrator and her lover on a road trip towards the tip of the North Island. The place where two oceans meet, Cape Reinga, is the calm in their subtle storm. Heading North is an inner and outer journey through the geography of Northland.
Helen Rickerby is the author of two previous collections of poetry: Abstract Internal Furniture (2001) and My Iron Spine (2008). She is co-managing editor of JAAM literary magazine and runs Seraph Press, a boutique poetry publisher. She lives in Wellington, in a cliff-top tower, and works as a web editor.
I've been meaning to blog about Kilmog Press again for a while now, ever since I bought copies of Michael Steven's first two books (there's already another now, so that shows how slack I am!). And I will do a proper blog soon, but for now I'll just say that I've always admired their gorgeous, work-of-art books, and I'm so excited that mine is going to be among them.
And of course, check out the official Tuesday poem on the Tuesday Poem Blog, and you'll find more Tuesday poems in the sidebar of that blog.
03 August 2010
I looked for her
in tides of crisp
toward the bitter
months I looked
across the desert
of a skinned sky
I looked inside
canals of open
ground I looked
in the eyes of every
and all this time
she was there,
inside my footsteps
in each gasp
of cold air.
by Jenny Powell
Jenny Powell (previously Jenny Powell-Chalmers) lives and writes in St Clair, Dunedin. She's the author of five books of poetry, including two collaborative collections. Her sixth, Viet Nam: A Poem Journey is going to be published by HeadworX very soon.
It might be late, but it's still Tuesday. This poem by Jenny Powell is also from Locating the Madonna, as was 'The Madonna of the Ureweras' by Anna Jackson, which I posted for Poetry Day. 'Looking for her is another of my favourites from that collaborative collection, so I thought it would be a good follow up. Looking back over the book, there is a lot of variety in the types and tones of the poems. Earlier ones have a lighter tone, and towards the end, it is a little more reflective and serious. And quieter. The part of this poem that has always haunted me especially is the end - the last four lines: 'inside my footsteps / of betrayal, / in each gasp / of cold air.'
Also, the lovely Helen Heath has published my poem 'Enchantress of numbers' about Ada Byron (Ada Lovelace) as her Tuesday Poem on her blog: http://www.helenheath.com/2-aug-2010/tuesday-poem-enchantress-numbers-ada-byron-king-countess-lovelace-helen-rickerby (her site is up again, if you tried yesterday and failed to get through).
And you can find more Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog, including Claire Beynon's collaborative poem, which you can add a line to here: http://icelines.blogspot.com/2010/08/tuesday-poem-false-alarm.html
31 July 2010
Possibly the coolest thing about it was the venue. It was held in an old hall - the St Anne's Schoolroom - which apparently privately owned now. Its gorgeous and homely, with large windows which let the sun stream in, and full of lots of couches. It made me have a sudden desire to own a hall.
As well as a launch for the archive itself, it was also a launch for the archive's first publication, an anthology Rail Poems of New Zealand Aotearoa, and a collection by one of the founders of the archive, Niel Wright: The Pop Artist's Garland. Nelson Wattie did the launching, and there were readings from both books, and in fact a singing - Ron Riddell did a rendition of Peter Cape's 'Taumaranui on the Main Trunk Line', with most of my fellow audience members joining him on the chorus.
Afterwards I got to have a nose around the archive itself, which is housed next door. They're trying to collect as much New Zealand poetry as possible, and are keen for donations. Already they have around 3,000 volumes. While not yet comparable to The Poetry Library in London or The Scottish Poetry Library, it has similar aims - to value and protect poetry. Hopefully it will outgrow it's current home one day.
I'm particularly looking forward to reading Dear Sweet Harry, as I've enjoyed Lynn's work a lot when I've come across it. We published some of her poems in JAAM 27 (one of which was then published in Best NZ Poems 2009) and I was struck by her original voice. She said something last night about her husband encouraging her to let her poems be as weird as they need to be, and while weird sounds like a not-quite-right way of describing them, they are their own thing.
John Newton's work is new to me, so it will be interesting discovering it.
But what really got me buzzing last night was actually all the other people there. There was a convergence of poets, many of whom I mainly know from the internet, and it was really nice to see them in real life. Many were Tuesday Poets, including some from out of town. I've really found a bit of a community on the internet, mainly through blogging, and the Tuesday Poem phenomena has added to that. Thanks Mary! At big 'institutional' book launches I've often found, being a shy sort of person, that I can end up feeling very alienated. But not last night. Last night I felt I had a lot of poetry friends, and what a lovely bunch of people they are!
30 July 2010
The Madonna of the Ureweras
tramps with muddy feet.
There is mud in her boots
right down to the soles
of her socks.
The Madonna of the Ureweras
knows both hunger and excess.
She knows the list you’ve drawn up
of your sorrows and pain,
she is with you
as you walk away
from the people you love best.
She knows the hunger
of dried apricots
and ryvita bread,
the hunger that feeds
quarrels, and leads you,
in desperation, into song.
The Madonna of the Ureweras
has trees in her eyes.
Her smile is a river
further than you have walked.
She is dawning on you like the sun.
By Anna Jackson
For National Poetry Day, some of us Tuesday poets are publishing a New Zealandish poem on our blogs. While thinking what I might like to post, this poem came immediately to mind - I mean, what's more New Zealandish than tramping. And getting annoyed with your family.
'The Madonna of the Ureweras' was published in Locating the Madonna, a collaborative project between Anna Jackson and Jenny Powell (then Jenny Powell-Chalmers), which was also the first book I/Seraph Press published. (I still have a few copies if you want one - extra special price of $10. It's an excellent book.) It's one of my favourite poems in the book. There are bits in there that pull at my heart. It's also quite a physical poem, with all that mud and walking and hunger. And then finally at the end, it's transcendent. I hope you love it as much as I do.
For more National Poetry Day stuff, well, it's probably everywhere. For more poems, visit the Tuesday Poem blog, which will have the Best Book of Poetry winners & finalists for 2010: Brian Turner, Bernadette Hall, Michael Harlow & Selina Tusitala Marsh, and links to more poems. Or for more Poetry Day events, visit: http://www.booksellers.co.nz/awards/new-zealand-post-book-awards/national-poetry-day-events-2010
27 July 2010
There are a lot of stairs to be climbed
each with a different kind of railing
Darkness is in the basement
her soul in the attic
At first you think this is realist
You are mistaken
There is a key, there are labels
‘Eat me’ really means ‘fuck me’
‘Drink me’ means ‘open your soul’
‘See me’ means putting new eyes
in your sockets
The world transforms
when you look
through an aperture
restrict your vision with a frame
Didn't get organised early enough this week (or last week), so it's one of mine this week. 'Camera' was recently published in the second issue of Enamel magazine. I'm undecided still whether the title refers primarily to a camera for taking photos, or to the Italian word for room, but it's both really. It was inspired by a rather odd, cool, but ultimately not-quite-satisfying movie (for me at least), Fur.
More Tuesday Poems here on the official blog: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/.
13 July 2010
The touch of your hand on my
breast brings little needles and
I let down first just a drop, another drop and
then when I’m sitting on you, over you
it’s a steady flow and the milk is everywhere.
I guess it’s not really a waste because
there is always more but I resent you a little because
it’s not yours and you think it’s funny and
I guess it is and I just need to let go.
You check to see if I have teeth down there and
if you can pass to the other side.
You do think I’m a goddess and
the children tear us apart, me to earth, you
up in the air or is it the other way around? And
our fingertips can’t quite touch and I cry down on you
or do you cry down on me?
The children walk all over me or
is it you?
Valley, hills, rivers and caves.
By Helen Heath
Helen Heath is a poet from the sea-side village of Paekakariki, on the Kapiti Coast. In 2009 she completed an MA in creative writing at Victoria University. Her poetry has been published in many journals in New Zealand and Australia, and she's almost finished polishing her first full-length book. You can find her shiny new website at: http://www.helenheath.com/.
I first read this poem when it was published in JAAM 26, edited by Tim Jones. I was immediately struck by its power - its rawness, its physicality. I often misread the title as 'Split', because it is a poem about being torn apart a bit, losing yourself a bit for the people you love. And, it's also a tender poem, it is full of love. And I've also always enjoyed its mixture of the domestic and the mythic. It's both intensely personal, but also universal.
When I was selected poems to go into Watching for Smoke - the rather attractive chapbook of poems by Helen Heath, which I published last year - I knew 'Spilt' would be my anchor and my jumping-off point. The themes it introduces are the themes that carry through the whole book - family, and particularly the different roles we have in them, such as mother, wife, lover, daughter, sister, and the tensions within and between them.
Anyway, I love this poem. I think it's awesome.
More awesome poems at: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/.
12 July 2010
This month James McNaughton is the guest poet at the Poetry Society meeting. His first book, The Stepmother Tree, was in my recollection full of playful and kind of crazy fairytale-ish poems. I liked it. His second book, I Want More Sugar, was published in 2008.
Meeting will begin with an open mic, and is the same bat time, same bat place:
Monday 19 July, 7.30 pm
Upstairs at the Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave Street.
What it is, is a project to publish 'a low budget, old school photocopied folded paper journal with no names attached. It might be one writer writing as dozens, or a dozen writers writing as one.'
Generally we poets are trying as hard as we can to make a bit of a name for ourselves - get people interested in our work: 'If you liked that, then perhaps you'll like this.' We like to rack up a wee list of places our work has been published, we like people to know our names, we want our work to represent us. But along with our name comes restrictions, and sometimes opportunities. People might or might not publish our work because they have developed an idea about whether or not they like us or our work. We might feel restricted in what we we'll write about (or at least have published) because we're worried about what people might think, about what our mother might think, because it doesn't go with the kind of image we're trying to present as a poet.
The idea of anonymity makes me nervous, and excited. And a little bit free. I am going to try to write some work for this project that is a bit different from what Helen Rickerby, poet, might ordinarily do. I'm going to try to use the anonymity as an advantage, and a inspiration.
You can visit the Facebook group here: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=113800348667528 for all the info. (All the cool kids have Facebook groups. Did you know JAAM has a Facebook group?: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8420259164.)
All you have to do is write something that you are happy to have published anonymously and submit it to:
theeponymousanonymousproject AT gmail.com
Or even better get together with some poetical, piratical friends and create a few poems or a collection to submit together. Create a character, a cast of characters or simply be eponymous anonymous.
Submissions close 8th August.
BTW - if you're interested in the intriguing punctuation mark (top left), which Eponymous Anonymous is using as its image, it's called an interrobang (or a quesclamation mark). It is basically a !?, but as one character. It was invented in the 60s, and is not much used, as you might expect. I only know all this because, well I checked Wikipedia, but also because non-standard punctuation was a topic of conversation among my colleagues last year, because one of them really needed some kind of sarcasm mark. He was in luck, because there is the irony or sarcasm mark: ؟.
11 July 2010
There will also be an open mic.
Time: Sunday 18 July, 4-6pm
Place: The Ballroom Café, cnr Riddiford St & Adelaide Rd, Newtown
About the poets:
Hinemoana Baker is a Maori writer and musician with tribal links to Taranaki, Horowhenua and Otakou Peninsula.
Teresia Teaiwa, an African American Banaban I-Kiribati who was born in Hawai’i & raised in Fiji, has had work published in Side Stream and in 2008 produced a solo CD, I can see Fiji.
Simone Kaho, a poet with Tongan roots, has performed at Poetry Live in Auckland. Her work has been published in Live Lines III.
I have a couple of poems in here: 'Camera' and 'Unsavoury'. Inside, I found quite a few writers (mostly poets) I'd come across before, and a few new discoveries. Some particular highlights for me are Harvey Molloy's 'Bus stop'; Mariana Isara's 'Crush' (it took me a little bit to warm to this long, spacious poem, but by the end I was smitten); Helen Heath's poems about scientists Marie Curie ('Radiant') and Beatrice Tinsley ('Spiral arms'); Tim Jones's dystopia poems and 'Willie Pondexter by Sarah Jane Barnett. You'll also find fine work by Jennifer Compton, Craig Cliff, Angeline King, Sally Houtman, Reihana MacDonald Robinson, Susanna Gendall, Heather Elder, Debbie McCauley, Jenni Dowsett, Iain Britton and Vaughan Rapatahana.
And how can you get your paws on this excellent publication? You can purchase it on Trade Me - http://www.trademe.co.nz/Members/Listings.aspx?member=684524 - for $15, or for $20 you can get both Enamel 1 and 2. Or you can email the editor: enamel dot editor at gmail dot com. Or, I'm sure it you rocked up to your local bookshop and asked them to order it for you, and gave them the ISSN (1174-9199) they'd be able to do that.
Enamel has a blog here: http://enamelmag.blogspot.com/, and a recently created Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=137829206230906. They'll be calling for submissions for the next issue at some point (probably later in the year).
And now I'll leave you with the final section of Mariana Isara's love poem, 'Crush'
What I want is the obvious thing
to eat red berries with me
in a warm rose garden
smelling Katherine Mansfield
to lie with our pages touching
I want to alliterate your dreams
10 July 2010
It's having its official launch, at which two books will also be launched, on Sunday 25th July. Full details below.
I should have blogged about PANZA ages ago, cos I've been helping them out with their website. But better late than never.
They already have an impressive catalogue, but they're always happy to accept your donations of poetry books and related stuff.
As well as the official opening, two new poetry books are being launched:
The Pop Artist’s Garland: Selected Poems 1952–2009 by F W N Wright (HeadworX), a remarkably varied selected poems by Wellington poet Niel Wright, covering six decades of his writing life.
Rail Poems of NZ Aotearoa, edited by Mark Pirie (PANZA/ESAW). The railway has been a dominant presence in New Zealand life for a century, connecting freight and people. In this new collection of rail poems, editor Mark Pirie presents a fresh and vibrant journey through many facets of the railway and explores its significance in our daily lives.
Contributors: Fleur Adcock, Marilyn Duckworth, Michael O’Leary, F W N Wright, Simon Williamson, Kim Eggleston, Louis Johnson, Jan Kemp, Fiona Kidman, Ron Riddell, Will Lawson, Jean Hamilton Lennox, Roger Wrighton, Hugh Isdale, Stephen Oliver, Peter Olds, M K Joseph, Rhys Pasley, Mark Pirie, Alistair Paterson and Peter Cape.
Special launch price of $15.00 for both books (Rail Poems of NZ Aotearoa is the first publication by PANZA’s publishing arm and is a free giveaway with The Pop Artist’s Garland).
Venue: St Anne’s School Room, 79 Northland Road (next door to the Poetry Archive at 1 Woburn Road, Northland, Wellington).
Date: Sunday, 25 July 2010
Books Launched by: Nelson Wattie
No EFTPOS available. Please pay by cash or cheque.
But in the meantime, here is a link to a very cute blog I was alerted to this morning: LET ME BE FRANK. It's by Sarah Laing, who is the current Sargeson fellow, and she appears to blogging her time on the fellowship through cartoons. My favourite so far is: Tiny cities and secret cupboards.
05 July 2010
I also chose this because it's about S, who stars, briefly, in the video. His surgery went really well and he's doing fine, but stuff like this makes you appreciate things, and other soppy stuff.
The real star of this video though is the manky flat I lived in when I wrote it, and where a friend still lives – so I got to go back and film most of this there.
Anyway, here's 'Calling you home':
If for some reason you can't view it here, you can see it here on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lq21OmFTF4.
You can find more Tuesday Poems here at the official blog: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/.
28 June 2010
Poem for lovers
Because you are loved
you must be careful
crossing the street
You must look both ways
before you step out, and
you must never dawdle
Because you are loved
you must eat vegetables
even on weekends
take vitamin C
Because you are loved
you must drive
at the speed limit, over-take
safely, watch out for drunks
Because you are loved
take a warm coat
Because you are loved
because you love
This was originally going to be in My Iron Spine, but I ended up taking it out, because I thought it sounded to schmaltzy. I did mean for it to be soppy, but it kind of is, despite it's dark undertones. But it's also true, for me anyway. I don't have any kids, but I imagine this the same experience. You just don't want anything bad to happen to people you love.
I always thought that this poem would be good in one of those poems-for-weddings books.
To get your fix of more Tuesday poems, visit the blog: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/