20 March 2012

Tuesday poem: '6 The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'

While this image shows the very attractive cover of this new anthology of New Zealand love poetry, edited by Paula Green, it actually doesn't really do it justice. I had wanted to take some photos of the substantial hardcover book, with its thick creamy paper, gorgeous binding, place-marker ribbon, colour images - and possibly I will sometime later - but I haven't managed to today. I'm so proud and honoured to have a poem in this volume, which arrived by courier late last week. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but flipping through the pages I see poems by many of my favourite poets, living and dead. Makes me gushy.

Anyway, here's my poem, which is part of a longer poem sequence ('Nine movies') - the whole thing really is a long love poem.

6  The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I’m pretty sure I know now
what love tastes like
and it takes something so
to balance the sweet sharp salt
the corners of your tongue
to wash away the sticky syrup
that gets on my hands
and makes it hard to think

Running through the passages, tunnels of us
all made of books, stacked floor-
to-ceiling, and if they should topple
we’d be trapped beneath Brontës and Eliots
Dostoyevoskys, Tolstoys
Atwoods and Couplands and Greenes
Living in constant danger of being crushed
by the weight of Western literature
is just one of the risks we take

I know there are rooms inside of me
that you’ve never been to
You’ve whole basements
you’ve locked yourself out

Check out more Tuesday poems here: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.co.nz/

05 March 2012

Tuesday poem: 'severe weather warnings' by Vivienne Plumb

severe weather warnings

always come just as you have something nice planned/
thunderstorms a house-sized slip heavy rain causing localised
areas of surface flooding the grounds and soil will be sodden nil
visibility chains essential care required snow and black ice plus
low avalanche hazard/ the sheep were loaded into a cargo net and
flown out by helicopter/ the Desert Road is closed/ showers have
left the Rimutakas slippery and icy/ there will be a cold snap a
disturbed westerly flow a sudden southerly change gusts and gales/
we like our weather in New Zealand gives us something to talk
about flooding on the West Coast and Aucklanders are likely to
get drenched later today

This prose poem is in honour of the weather over the weekend, which was pretty awful and made early autumn feel like the depths of winter. I love this poem - as someone or other once said on The Simpsons, it's funny cos it's true. Like many New Zealanders, I find myself rather obsessed with the weather, despite my intentions of being a more interesting person than that.

This poem is from The Cheese and Onion Sandwich and other New Zealand Icons: Prose Poems, by Vivienne Plumb. Vivienne herself will soon be joining us Wellingtonians again - she is going to be this year's New Zealand Randall Cottage fellow from the middle of the year, where she will work on a new novel.

You can check out all the other Tuesday Poems via the hub blog: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.co.nz/

04 March 2012

Poetry reading and stuff (1-4)

I have been a bit quiet on this blog lately. I still feel like I'm just winding my way up into the year. This has meant that I've also been an appalling correspondent and way behind on all sorts of tasks. Once I finished working on the books I published last year (this, and this), and finished the year, I kind of collapsed - but in a good way.

What I have been working on is my own poetry, and it has felt really good to reconnect with that. I'm finally feeling like I'm nearly finished a big project - even though I keep on writing new bits for it, not just revising and polishing the poems.

Last year I attempted to read a poetry book a week, and failed. I'm failing already again this year, or at least I would be if that was my goal, but this year I think my goal will just be to read poetry books and record them. So, so far:

Stories I ain't told nobody yet by Jo Carson (1)

This book was among a bunch a friend gave me. They might really be short dramatic monologues in different voices, but they read like poems to me. The voices are all Southern (as in from the US South) - the author is from Tennessee. I found this really interesting, because I think we usually only hear these voices, this accent, when a movie wants a yokel or a redneck.

Urchin Belle by Jenni Fagan (2)

This is one of those gorgeous books produced by Kilmog Press, which has sadly stopped publishing.

Skin divers by Anne Michaels (3)

Dense, rich, often beautiful. Maybe a little too rich for me. I'm going to have to reread this. I read another of her books of poetry years ago, and had a similar response - I both didn't quite like it, and really loved it at the same time.

The Black River by C. K. Stead (4)

I liked how the black river (the styx) kept on turning up in various poems, like a black thread that just gently links things together. Also especially liked a poem where Karl and C. K. meet. C. K. is rather mean to Karl.

That's pretty poor for two months, especially given that there were holidays in there. In my defence, I have finally finished War and Peace. (My assessment: thumbs up, but not as good as Anna Karenina.)