12 February 2014

Cinema and the Hoopla poetry series

Dear everyone, I'd like to you meet my new book - well, the cover anyway.

Isn't it cool! And that image, which was taken by artist and designer Helen Reynolds, looks so cool and abstract, even though it actually isn't.

Cinema has been a long time in the making - the earliest poem in the book I wrote, um, ages ago, before My Iron Spine, but it wasn't meant for that book. (But it's found a home here.) I started deliberately writing poems connected to films in 2006, many of which haven't made it into the book. I don't think I realised quite how many I had written! But we've cut it back to the poems that I think are the right ones to be in this book.

This is the blurb my publisher, Mary McCallum, has written about my book:
The poems in Helen Rickerby's Cinema look at the personal through the lens of a camera and the world of cinema through the unfiltered eye. Meet the boy who learns to kiss from action movies, the girl made up of symbols and the director with the aesthetic of a sniper on the roof.
It has been wonderful to work with Mary McCallum and also Paul of Mākaro Press on this book. It's one of a series of set of three, the first batch in their Hoopla poetry series. I'm the middle poet, Stefanie Lash is the new poet (this is her debut book!) and Michael Harlow is the established poet. Here are all the covers side by side.

I'm lucky enough to have had an early read of Bird Murder by Stefanie Lash, and can assure you it's fabulous. It's by turns magical and lovely and grim and funny, and is so imaginative. It's like nothing I've read before. This is its official blurb:
An albino huia, a stranger in the attic and a pink-haired woman ... Bird murder by Stefanie Lash is a gothic murder mystery narrating the demise of a ruined banker set in the not-quite-fictional town of Tusk.
And while I haven't read Michael Harlow's collection of love poems, Heart Absolutely I Can, it's sure to be great too:
Five fresh poems and a number from past collections form this book on the hoopla of love – a theme long a part of the poet’s fascination with the mysteries of human nature and his job in finding the language and music to express it. Michael Harlow calls on ‘the music of the heart to sing us alive’

Our three books are going to be launched together in March (invitations soon!), but before then, Mākaro Press is running a PledgeMe campaign to help fund the printing costs (alas, poetry is not the money spinner we would like).

The rewards are excellent, if I do say so myself, from copies of the books (think of it as a pre-sale, and if you're out of town it includes postage too!), to an extra special high tea with us poets and we'll even read to you (that's kind of a bargain because you get ALL the books, and high tea, and fun and poetry). In between there's a copy of an extra-special limited edition hand-made book featuring a poem from each poet (not one from the books), which I will personally be making, a bespoke poem from Stefanie or myself and a mentoring session with Mary. There was also a cross-stitched line of poetry from Stefanie, but that's gone already.

Anyway, if you'd like to support it, or just have a look, you'll find it here: https://www.pledgeme.co.nz/projects/1816.

10 February 2014

Tuesday Poem: The Memoirs of Dick Grayson by Sandi Sartorelli

The Memoirs of Dick Grayson

The best part was always after
I enjoyed fighting crime but the ride home with him
filled me with longing for our cave
until at last, the sight of Bruce with his tights
around his ankles made my patience wane.

No one can rock the robin like Bruce Wayne.
Holy Moly! And he’d hold me after,
gloat over The Joker’s demise, one arm tight
around my waist, a naked bat dressed in socks –
there are disadvantages to love in a cave.
Before the shivering progressed, I’d wrap him

in ermine. I wanted the limestone, just me and him
but he had obligations in Gotham City. Wayne
I’d say, maybe we could camp forever in our cave.
Have Alfred bring us casseroles and LPs. After
Bruce all for myself, it was a terrible sock
to my spirits to surrender him. Straight resolve, lips tight,

I’d help him suit up in his playboy guise. Tighten
his tie for his entrance into the mansion, to watch him
woo the socialites. I’d lean against the wall, a sock
in my Adam’s apple. My role was ward of the Wayne
family – I was just another accessory. And after
our loving, I should have been content, should have caved

to the demands of the part, but my heart was the concave
side of a spoon filled with his broth. My appetite
for him spilled over until I fondled his tux. After
all (I have this urge to justify) I only wanted him
to own me in public – the one thing neither Wayne
nor The Batman could ever give. My claim was a sock

to his image. Could’ve wrenched his shackles from the socket
that day, but he was no Dobby. We hung out in the cave
for the last time that evening, his fortunes beginning to wane
on the stock exchange, all because I’d believed myself entitled
to be his beau. I said a tender goodbye to him.
To this day I stroke the imprint of batwings, long after

his thoughts of me have waned, super-hero/billionaire personas tightly
locked in place and a new robin in the cave to warm his socks.
But Todd can’t adore him in the way I still do all this time after…

Sandi Sartorelli lives in the Hutt Valley and is a graduate of the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme. Her poetry has appeared in a number of publications including JAAM, Blackmail Press, Penduline Press, Renee's Wednesday Blog and Shenandoah. Recently, two of her poems were highly commended in the Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize and the New Zealand Poetry Society Competition.

For my first Tuesday Poem of the year I've chose this poem by Sandi Sartorelli, which was included in JAAM 31. When I first read it I was taken by the alternative story it presents of Batman and Robin, and the tenderness and longing and sadness. It was only on my second reading that I noticed the very tight form of the poem, which is a sestina. All those gorgeous repeating words, except sometimes the poet playfully alters the words a little - eg: tights/tight/appetite/entitled/tightly. And using different meanings for the same word. Possibly the only thing that never changes is 'him', which always refers to the adored Batman/Bruce Wayne. It all adds up to a very satisfying poem, which is enhanced by its form, not overwhelmed.

Speaking of form, if you're interested in poetic forms you might be interested to see what Sonia Johnson, an NZ poet at large in Iowa, is up to. She's writing a poem in a different form every week, and is blogging it on A Formal Year.

And for more poems, not necessarily formal, check out the Tuesday Poem blog over here: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.co.nz/.

02 February 2014

A ramble through forests and bush, with a side detour to a paddock or two...

I've been reading Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland (and still am, but am almost finished), which was bringing up all sorts of thoughts and feelings about New Zealand forest/bush and also about how the land has kind of been colonised as much as the people. I haven't been able to articulate all of my thoughts, but I managed to wrangle some of them into a blog post, which you can read over here: http://blog.teara.govt.nz/2014/01/31/of-forests-paddocks-and-bush/.

The book is really good too. It's also been making me think a lot about fairy tales again. I'm a big fan of fairy tales - my masters thesis was about fairy tale intertexuality in Margaret Atwood's fiction. In my original proposal it was going to be about fairy tale intertexuality in women's writing. That was quite a big topic. For a while I cut it down to three writers: Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter and this very same Sara Maitland.

I haven't read a lot of fairy tales, or about fairy tales, since I finished my thesis, but this book, and another wee project I'm working on with a friend (about mermaids!) has got me thinking about fairy tales again, and I have an idea for another collaborative/contributive project about fairy tales. Anyway, I'm sure I'll write more about that later. Or I might just start bugging you all to write me things.