27 June 2011

Tuesday Poem: 'Memories of the civil war'

Memories of the civil war

When the Springboks came
we were six or seven or eight.
I didn’t know much
about that
but I knew all about
the Royal Wedding.

Karen says
that she was probably
making veils for her
friend’s Barbie. They’d play weddings
‘But don’t worry,
we’d always drown her afterwards’.

I was in Standard One
and my friend Catherine
was English and had the
same haircut as Lady Di. In class we
wrote stories about royal visits
but not about riots in
the streets of Wellington.

Brian was fifteen
and lived in the Waikato.
‘We were very pro-tour and pro-rugby’.
He begins to explain how
it was the last straw
for the Kiwi blokes
who’d recently been
told they were racist and
sexist and now
they couldn’t even watch the footy.

I think we must have watched
one game on television, because
I remember my South African mother
saying she wanted the Springboks to win.
I remember some other kid
telling me that his mum said
South Africans were bad. Most kids
just said ‘Your mum can’t be South African –
she’s not black!’

Joeli says she remembers being
scared, but she hadn’t been
back long from Iran, escaping
during the revolution. Loud noises
still terrified her.

We’re watching footage on the television
twenty years later. There’s a riot and
I can see the building
where I work.
I had no idea
what was going on
outside my window.

I wrote this about 10 years ago, after watching an documentary about the 1981 Springbok tour. (It was published in Abstract Internal Furniture.) At the time I worked at the National Library, and it was chilling seeing footage of The Battle of Molesworth Street.

Next month it will be 30 years since the tour. Because, as the poem suggests, I don't really remember it, I'm fascinated at how it really tore the country apart. I had an interesting talk with some of my colleagues this afternoon about it - some of them were involved in protests, some of them were arrested. They all had interesting stories and also ideas about what happened and how it hooked into the psyche of our country. I'm looking forward to hearing more stories - I feel like people haven't really talked about it enough. I think there's still some healing and understanding yet to happen.

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the hub blog: http://www.tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/

Submit to Pasture

I haven't even had time to write about the gorgeous new literary magazine Starch, which arrived in my post box last week (though I will), and already it has a sibling publication: Pasture. Both of these, published by the talented Kilmog Press, are hardback and hand-bound and gorgeous.

Pasture is calling for submissions, but you have to be quick! Submissions close on 1 July 2011. That's Friday! Details in pic below (you'll need to click it to make it bigger to read it properly):

In case, despite clicking the pic, you still can't read it, it basically says that you can submit poetry, short fiction, reviews or essays to starcheditors@gmail.com. Put Pasture in the subject line. All submissions in one word doc. Include bio and postal address. Submissions close 1 July.

20 June 2011

Hansel in the house, by Anna Jackson

Hansel in the house

When you lie in your bed at night
hearing your parents talking?

That’s the sound of your coffin
being assembled for you to climb in.

That’s when you have to get out
of the house, of their life.

And all you want from them
is to leave the door open.

All you want . . .

All you want is for them
never to wish you were gone.

I'm the editor of the Tuesday Poem hub blog this week, and I asked Anna Jackson if I could publish a poem from her upcoming collection, Thicket, which is coming out in July. (I'm very much looking forward to it.) And then I thought, ooh, I could publish another poem from her collection over here, to give you all a double taste of the book. I chose this poem because it really struck me. I'm a big fan of fairy tales - or maybe fan is the wrong word: I'm interested in them, but find them often disquieting and disturbing. And this poem is certain disturbing - especially the image of your parents talking being the sound of them assembling your coffin. *Shiver*.

The poem I chose for the Tuesday Poem blog isn't as dark - or rather it has a different kind of darkness - a much more pleasant kind. Go check it out here: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/2011/06/margo-or-margaux-by-anna-jackson.html and then take a look at the other Tuesday Poems (in the right-hand side bar)

12 June 2011

Forthcoming Seraph Press books: New Zealand Icons by Vivienne Plumb, and The Comforter by Helen Lehndorf

Seraph Press is basically just me, and over on the Seraph Press site I've just announced the two books it/I is/am going to publish in 2011: New Zealand Icons: Prose Poems by Vivienne Plumb, and The Comforter by Helen Lehndorf. You can read more about them over there: http://www.seraphpress.co.nz/1/post/2011/06/forthcoming-books-in-2011-poetry-by-vivienne-plumb-and-helen-lehndorf.html.

11 June 2011

More poetry books I have read (13-16)

I am giving up on writing separate posts for each poetry book I've been reading, at least until I feel like doing it again. I may resort to just listing them. There are many other things to juggle, and while I generally fail, I try to juggle them in a sensible, prioritised fashion. No, that's a lie - if I tried to do that I'd spend much more time writing my own poetry, and less time on twitter or reading news on the internet. Instead, I have good intentions.


Because Paradise, by Charlotte Trevella (13/52)

I was really curious to read this book because the year I judged the junior section of the New Zealand Poetry Society's annual competition (2008) the winning poem was by Charlotte Trevella. (It was 'Other people's gardens' and you can read it on the Poetry Society site) Turned out one of the highly commended poems was also by her. And it turned out that she'd won the year before, and possibly the year before that. So definitely someone to watch.

And yet, when reading Because Paradise, I wished that I could forget I knew that, forget that she was a teenage wunderkind, because it kind of affected how I read the book. I particularly found the poems that were full of nostalgia a bit hard to take - I mean, what does a teenager to be nostalgic for - they've barely lived. Then again, children and teenagers are probably the most nostalgic people of all, and I guess there is something about that teenage nostalgia for childhood, that seemingly carefree time they've just left.

Despite my misgivings, and feeling that Trevella would have been better to have waited until she was older before pubishing her debut collection, there were some lovely poems and lovely lines in there. And I'm still a fan of 'Other people's gardens'.

In Vitro, Laura Solomon (14/52)

Laura Solomon's debut poetry collection. I wrote about this book when I included a poem from it as my Tuesday Poem: http://wingedink.blogspot.com/2011/05/tuesday-poem-conversation-overheard-on.html.

Small Stories of Devotion, by Dinah Hawken (15/52)

This is an amazing book. It's not the first time I've read it - I read it several times many years ago when I was first discovering Dinah Hawken - probably back in 1995 when Mark Pirie and I interviewed Dinah for one of the very first issues of JAAM. I love many things about this book, starting with the shape (it's almost square). It's full of gloriously connected but varied poems. It's mysterious but also grounded in physical reality. I always recall it as a book of female power, but it's much more than that. It's hard to describe. It's beautiful. Reminds me it's time to go and read Hawken's most recent collection, The Leaf-Ride.

Kingdom Animalia: The Escapades of Linnaeus, by Janis Freegard (16/52)

I went to the launch of this, and was lucky enough to get to see the author reading whilst wearing a rather fantasic long-beaked mask. (You can see Janis in the mask reading a 'The Icon Dies' on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfS_b52SBNE).

I have a particular liking for poetry books that work as books, so enjoyed the arrangement of Kingdom Animalia - there six sections relating to a different order of animals (Linnaeus's taxonomy apparently), with the poems in them referencing in some way an animal (or animals) in that order. Woven between them are poems about Linnaeus, parts I to VII.

The poems I particularly enjoyed in the collection tended, I found, to be the more surreal ones. 'Three Hummingbirds' is a favourite.