24 August 2008

Week of poetry readings

Last week was a busy poetry week – I went to two readings in three days!

The first of these was the Poetry Society meeting on Monday night. Australian Geoff Page was the guest poet, and I very much enjoyed his engaging style. His poems bounce along with his regular iambic rhythm, and often rhyme, which is fairly unusual these days. I guess there is probably more of a tradition of this in Australia, what with the bush poets and Banjo Paterson and so forth. You can catch Geoff Page at the Writers on Mondays event on Monday (25th) at 1 pm at the National Library, Wellington.

There was a pretty decent turnout for this reading, with some new faces. I really enjoyed the open reading as well. A particular standout poem for me was Harvey Molloy’s ‘The ghosts of the St James’, a new poem he’d written after taking his class to the St James theatre in Wellington, and hearing about the two resident ghosts: Yuri and the Woman in Red. This poetic retelling (and invention) of their stories was fabulous, and right up my alley.

My second poetry event of the week was the first of the Winter Readings series at the City Gallery, where Mark Pirie, Rob Hack, Richard Langston and Harry Ricketts read.

Mark has become known for dressing up and using props in his poetry readings. (One such occasion, where he dressed as Courtney Love for reading his ‘Ballad of Courtney Love’, apparently got twisted into a rumour that he went to the Prime Minister’s Awards in drag. Some journalists heard this and wanted to interview him about it, and were reportedly most disappointed to discover it wasn’t true). On this occasion he appropriately wore his cricket jersey and cap from Lords, as he was launching Slips, a book of cricket poems (along with Bottle of Armour and Trespassing in Dionysia, both previously uncollected early poems, published by Original Books).

Harry is always great to see read, and I enjoyed the poems of Richard Langston also, who I first heard last year. But the highlight for me was discovering Rob Hack – a poet whose work I don’t think I’ve come across before. He’s currently working on a collection about his experiences of the islands (he spent some of his childhood in Niue, and seems to have connections to Rarotonga). He read a couple of poems from the manuscript and I was really struck by them. I look forward to seeing more of his work.

Next week’s Winter Reading is on Thursday, not Wednesday. I’ll be reading and launching My Iron Spine. Yay!

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