30 May 2010

Ithaca reviewed in Lumiere Review

Haven't had much time for blogging lately, but wanted to tell you about another great review of Ithaca Island Bay Leaves: A Mythistorima by Vana Manasiadis, and published by moi.

Julia Cooper has reviewed it in The Lumiere Reader. You can read the whole thing here: http://lumiere.net.nz/index.php/ithaca-island-bay-leaves/, but here are some highlights:

Ithaca Island Bay Leaves: a mythistorima ... is a beautiful atlas of real and fabled locales—mapped, charted, and photographed by a distinct poetic voice.

With poems like “Hectic Hector” and “King of Mycenae,” she fills the quotidian spaces of family and community with mythic abundance. In this abundance, a cross-cultural poetic voice emerges confidently and provocatively, inaugurating a text very much aware of its humour and the boldness of its manipulations.

Indeed, there is a sense of lightness throughout Manasiadis’s work, invoked no doubt by the gusty winds and cyclones of the poems, but also in the poet’s seamless and manifold transitions between cultures and lexicons.

This collection is a masterful debut, speaking with grace and candour to ancestry, migration, community, and love—well worth getting for that long, perpetual trip ahead of you.

24 May 2010

Tuesday Poem: Biograph, by Scott Kendrick


By Scott Kendrick

Chapter 1 – Early Days

First Name Second Name Last Name was born.
In that era, it was common practice.
A sickly, stunted child, Last Name quickly.
Even at school, the young First Name often.
Friends from that time say he was never the sort.
A teacher recalled a typical example.
In the holidays, a job in his uncle’s shop.

Chapter 2 – The Watershed

It was at university, however.
Here, Last Name discovered for the first time.
Inspired by his new-found freedoms, he completed.
But even then, the political climate.
Recalled Last Name, “It was a time.”
From that point on, Last Name’s mind was.
But for the ambitious young man, there remained the problem.
So Last Name returned.
It was a decision that was.
Would the future bring?
Or would it?

Chapter 3 – The Arrow Flies

The tensions were evident from the moment Last Name.
Despite these setbacks, however, he never once thought.
It was simply not his way to.
Disappointed, but more determined than ever, Last Name approached.
And so, at A Specified Age, First Name Second Name Last Name became.
Said Last Name at the time, “It’s simply not.”
But if he could have known then, would he still?
This is a question.

Chapter 4 – What Price Success?

The critical and commercial reaction was.
Although Last Name feigned indifference, it came as no surprise.
Family and friends found him.
It was during this time that the drinking.
In an interview, Last Name said “I”.
In A Specified Year, buoyed by his success, Last Name made the fateful.
It was to be the last time.

Chapter 5 – The Backlash

The public response was.
Hitting out angrily at his critics, Last Name accused.
Furiously, he began.
But the new work wouldn’t.
Again, Last Name turned to the bottle, but this time.
By now Last Name’s physical appearance shocked even.
Worried for his health, his friends tried.
“He just didn’t care,” said Footnote Friend, “no matter how.”
There seemed to be no way.

Chapter 6 – Final Days

On A Specified Date, Last Name visited.
The diagnosis was.
Last Name, however, was determined to.
Throwing himself into his work.
And there was to be another.
After A Specified Number of Years, Last Name and Footnote Friend at last.
Despite his rapidly declining health, Last Name.
A Specified Amount Of Time before he died, Last Name.
It was to become known as his finest.
On A Specified Date, First Name Second Name Last Name finally succumbed.
But even in death, Last Name.
As he said, just hours before.
“I was.”

Scott Kendrick is a poet who is, in my opinion, vastly under-rated. Some of this is his fault, some of it is mine, and some of it is just the way it is.

He' s a poet who isn't afraid to rhyme, and who knows how to do it in just such a way that it gets past my oh-my-god-it-rhymes-and-therefore-is-either-terrible-or-written-100-years-ago meter. Usually it does this through being brutally funny.

He's great on the page, and especially awesome in performance. He wins poetry slams. I like his work so much that I published his second book Cold Comfort, Cold Concrete: Poems and Satires in 2007. (His first book, Rhyme Before Reason, was published by HeadworX in 2001.)

The above poem is from Cold Comfort, Cold Concrete, along with poems about United States’ foreign policy, materialistic culture, love, student loans and cricket. Flip the book over and you have satires, originally published in the underground satirical newspaper The Babylon Express.

Around about the time I published Cold Comfort, Cold Concrete, he moved to Otaki and started having children, which has curtailed his writing somewhat, but he'll be back.

17 May 2010

Tuesday Poem: Two sisters whisper after lights out

Two sisters whisper after lights out

drops of icy water
into the pool of dark
slick knife
a rush

The tap tap tapping of the keys
are little marching feet
are drops of icy water
pert and ordered

the other jumps straight in
submerged, surrounded
she drinks it all in
feels it against her skin
she doesn’t need saving

“I loved once
but not well
he never knew, and
I couldn’t understand
I jumped, I fell, I couldn’t swim”

“Do I have a voice?
The dead often do
talking louder from the other side
than ever before
I could even shout
if I wanted
but you quickly learn to forgive”

A dark, woody sound
like music in the room
next to the room
next to the room
next to where

This poem was published in the latest issue of Takahe magazine (no. 69), which is just out. And, despite my best efforts, I can't get this to display correctly even though I tried using correct html and all and my old friends - every second stanza should be indented, with other extra indenting. Have a look in Takahe 69, and it'll all make sense.

Anyway, I'm quite fond of this poem, because after I wrote it I completely forgot about it. And then I had the odd and, for me, uncommon experience of rediscovering this poem I had no recollection of writing, and no idea what it was about. I read it totally from the outside, which is so unusual for my own work. It seemed quite mysterious and haunty, and made some weird kind of sense to me, even though I couldn't remember what sparked it.

After reading it over a few times, some cogs in my brain started recalling things, and I eventually remembered that it was inspired by a movie I'd seen. I won't say which one, because then it might seem too bounded by literalness, but if you guess I might give you a chocolate fish.

Check out the other Tuesday poets here: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/.

15 May 2010

Poetry events in Welly

It's poetry week this week in Wellington, perhaps...

Poetry Cafe
Tomorrow (Sunday 16 May), 4 to 6 om
Ballroom Cafe, junction of Adelaide Rd and Riddiford St, Newtown. The guest poets are going to be Gerald Melling and Geoff Cochrane, with music from Terry Shore.

Poetry Society
Monday (17 May), 7.30 pm
At the Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave Street.
This month's guest poet is Pat White, who is currently the Randell Cottage fellow. Entry: $5 (NZPS members $3).

10 May 2010

Tuesday poem: 'Portrait: Pahiatua, 1942' by Kerry Popplewell

Portrait: Pahiatua, 1942

They pose for their portrait in summer.
(No bombers cross those blue skies.

When a siren goes, workers at the sawmill
break off, dusty, for lunch.)

The Man
He leaves as leaves begin falling
This is the photo he carries

Creased by a wallet’s fold
Each day he studies these faces

Each day they slide from sight
as his ship moves north

under strange stars. He stares
at the sepia print – his wife’s hair

so perfectly set in coils,
the tiny child on her lap,

his own face that he hardly knows –
faces silent as an empty wharf.

The Woman
She is learning an art long practiced
by women in time of war.

Like Penelope, she is waiting
for her stranger to return.

Straining to recall his voice,
she cannot unscramble the static

months, then years interpose.
She forgets the rough surface of serge.

Hope slumps into apprehension
She pulls her hair back in a scarf.

The Child
I was five when my father came home.
When he tried to hug me, I hid.

This poem is from Kerry Popplewell's debut collection Leaving the Tableland, which was just published by Steele Roberts. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get the formatting quite right (the limits of formatting on this blog) but you can have a look at the book itself to see how it is.

I went to the launch of this book a couple of weeks ago at the Mt Victoria Tramping club - a very cool, old hall, with charming windows - which was very appropriate because Kerry is a keen tramper, and many of the poems are set out in the landscape, often during a tramp.

I choose this one, because it's my favourite in the collection, and because it spoke to me. War stories are familiar to us all - and sometimes that familiarity turns them into cliche. But what I like about this poem is its specificity. When I read it I get a feeling of 'Yeah, it would have been like that' - these people becoming strangers.

Leaving the Tableland will most likely be available from Unity Books in Wellington, and probably some other bookshops around the place, and from the publishers.

You can read the official Tuesday Poem and find links to the other Tuesday poems here: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/.

03 May 2010

Tuesday poem: Emily Dickinson at home

If you look through the hedge
you can sometimes catch a glimpse
A woman in white at the window
It would be a cliché were it not true

The pane of glass cool against her palms
as she pauses, mid-sentence —
to watch what the world is doing
then a turn — a return

to her desk in her room
her almost whole world
Her room, an embrace
an encasement

her blanket, her box
her shelter at the top of the stairs
rafters and panels
a corset, a comfort

the boundaries of her circumference
But from here she can navigate
further than she has travelled
further than she can see

My Tuesday poem last week was by Emily Dickinson, and so this week's is my own poem about Emily Dickinson. This poem and 'Passion', my Emily Bronte poem, bookended the main, middle section of My Iron Spine - Emily B at the front and Emily D at the end. I really enjoy reading this poem out loud, because I like the rhythms. Maybe I should record a sound file...

I'm also the editor of the official Tuesday Poem blog this week, so go there to check out the official Tuesday Poem I've selected for your poetry-reading pleasure: 'come here at once' by Emma Barnes. And there you'll also find links to many other fabulous Tuesday poems.

Tuesday Poem

This week I'm the editor of the official Tuesday Poem on the Tuesday Poem blog. Look out for it, I'll set it to publish sometime this evening.

I'll still also be publishing a Tuesday poem (an entirely different one) here on Winged Ink.