Sunday, August 30, 2015

Poetry Day Reading

Janis Freegard and Sarah Jane Barnett

As a secondary school teacher, this time of year is what I call “The Term three marking bender.”  I mark from dawn to dusk: mock exams, internal assessments, mock exams, internal assessments.  It’s quite crazy, really.  So small breaks when you get back to other aspects of your life are essential.  The reading on Friday for National Poetry Day at St Marks Church in Lower Hutt for Poetry Day was one of those breaks.

Vivienne Ball  who arranged the reading over at the lovely St Marks church put on a nice spread of hot drinks and cakes and it was great to meet up with other fellow poets Janis Freegard, Sarah Jane Barnett, Kerry Popplewell, Adrienne Jansen, Keith Westwater and my old cobber Tim Jones.  It’s a handsome church with fine acoustics. Naturally books were on sale and I picked up  Janis Freegard’s The Glass Rooster—which I’ve been meaning to read—and Kerry Popplewell’s Leaving the Tableland. Kerry’s work had been on my mind as last week I’d read her great poem ‘Seeing the Red Hills again’ in the wonderful anthology The Nature of Things edited by James Brown with photographs by Craig Potton.  As we all chatted there was talk of the upcoming NZ poetry conference which I’m looking forward to and for which I need to register.

I read three poems: ‘Udon by The Remarkables’ and ‘Tekapo Night Sky’ from my new book to published next year by Makaro Press and ‘Singapore Morning’ from Moonshot.  I thought ‘Tekapo Night Sky’ was received well which is good to know as it’s different from my other work and is unpublished.  Now, back to the bender . . .

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tuesday Poem: The City by C.P. Cavafy

I came across this wonderful Cavafy poem ‘The City’ in Kim Stanley Robinson’s incredible novel Aurora; a novel I think is the most powerful SF novel I’ve read since Gibson’s Neuromancer.  So much of the novel can be found in Robinson’s astute and timely reading of this poem.

More poems at Tuesday Poem.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Voice. Digital photograph. 2015

Thursday, August 20, 2015

2015 International Poetry Competition

This year I judged the Open Section of the New Zealand Poetry Society’s Poetry Competition the winners were announced last week and published on the society’s website along with my judge’s report.  I was honoured to be asked to judge the competition.  Competitions have their place but there's more to poetry than winning.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

TPPA No Way!

Even protests have their funny moments.

Today’s march against the TPPA was a good-natured event.  We met at Midland Park and walked over to Parliament.  I got to say hi to some old friends.

Parliament steps and the forecourt was off limits for us protesters as we gathered behind metal barriers to hear our speakers.

As Brian Bruce began speaking about the demise of democracy a troop of suited young college students walked awkwardly across the forecourt to enter parliament, well aware they were being observed by a crowd of 1000 protestors – a few of which called out to the young people.
“You’re on the wrong side!”  “Come join us!”  “Privilege!”   

But Latika and I knew who these well-heeled youngsters were—not Young Nats but senior college students taking part in a model UN Security Council scenario hosted at Parliament.

There in the line of sheepish, somewhat embarrassed students was our son Taran.   Standing in the front line of the protest we smiled and waved and I even flashed him a peace sign.  I wouldn’t blame him if he saw us and pretended he hadn’t noticed.  Little did the rabble know that Taran is a veteran TPPA protestor!

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Poetry Day: Reading at Poems of Place

This Poetry Day I’ll be reading some poems which explore landscape and place at St Marks Complex, Lower Hutt, 58 Woburn Road with fellow poets Anne Powell, Kerry Hines, Keith Westwater, Tim Jones, Keith Johnson, Adrienne Jansen, Kerry Popplewell along with an open mike session.
  The event runs from 7.30PM9.30PM and is free for all.

At school, a small cabal comprised of myself, a fellow English colleague passionate about creative writing and our school librarian are hosting a poetry reading combined with a ‘spine poem’ competition. I hadn’t heard of spine poems before today—you arrange book spines in a pile so that they form a poem.  Theres a national calendar of poetry day events for poetry day and a Facebook page which is quite handy for getting your hands on images to help promote events in your area.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

'White Noise': Séraphine Pick at The Dowse.

There are some artists you feel are indispensable, essential; that’s how I feel about Séraphine Pick’s work. Her landscapes were the grey washed, colour daubed stuff of Winter dreams.  In her work, pockets of deep time: that part of us which is animal, which follows the life cycle of an animal, which behaves as an animal in a flock or herd; but then that other part of us which is an individual, an ‘I’ wanting to be loved, wanting others, seeing ourselves in the mirror and wondering how others would see us if only we could reach the image of completion—a painter who always evoked, in some quite mysterious way, feelings from my adolescence—a sort of ‘gothic adolescence’;  all of these are my feelings when I remember Pick’s earlier work. Really, she’s a visual poet.

So the brilliant  “White Noise” show at The Dowse is a new direction for Pick.  There is so much colour here—unbelievable heady pinks and reds—heady is the word: you feel the reel of intoxication; the whole show’s awash in intoxication, you can’t help feel out of it.  These impressionistic well-oiled states of intoxication—so different from her earlier dreamscapes or, as I liked to think of them ‘imagined gardens’—are distinctly varied and this variation can be plotted on an axis of solitude and merged communal ecstasy.   Heady rock stars zonk out in their own garden spaces and these are contrasted with the tight claustrophobic works of the ‘wankered’ series: nasty abject sacrifices of the twenty-something blottoed to the dark gods of social media.  But it’s the large canvases which devour.  The communal nakedness of ‘Group Hug’ and the dancing around the maypole—so much colour, like Indian hali, like a festival to dancing gods—has that edge of disquiet, that off-kilter sense that I am not quite getting what’s going on which I love in her work. There are mysteries, even in the Rugby Sevens, in our social behaviours which have irrational, possibly terrifying, dimensions which we chose to turn away from as they point to uncomfortable aspects of our ‘whiteness’—for perhaps our perfect white imagined bodies shall devour us all in a million likes and we shall have it; we shall have it all, for one golden moment.

Tuesday Poem: Toby Fitch reads 'Blackout.'

More about Toby here and here.

More poems at Tuesday Poem.

I can’t get enough Australian poetry at present . . . 

Monday, July 06, 2015

on Nothing and Poetry (Heidegger)

                One cannot, in fact, talk about and deal with Nothing as if it were a thing, such as the rain out there, or a mountain, or any object at all; Nothing remains in principle inaccessible to all science.   Whoever truly wants to talk of Nothing must necessarily become unscientific.  But this is a great misfortune only if one believes that scientific thinking alone is the authentic, rigorous thinking, that it alone can and must be made the measure even of philosophical thinking.  The reverse is the case.  All scientific thinking is just a derivative and rigidified form of philosophical thinking.  Philosophy never arises from or through science.  Philosophy can never belong to the same order as the sciences.  It belongs to a higher order, and not just “logically,” as it were, or in a table of the system of the sciences.  Philosophy stands in a completely different domain and rank of spiritual Dasein.  Only poetry is of the same order as philosophical thinking, although thinking and poetry are not identical.  Talking about Nothing remains forever an absurdity and an abomination for science.  But aside from the philosopher, the poet can also talk about Nothing —and not because the procedure of poetry, in the opinion of everyday understanding, is less rigorous, but because, in comparison to all mere science, an essential superiority of the spirit holds sway in poetry (only genuine and great poetry is meant).  Because of this superiority, the poet always speaks as if beings were expressed and addressed for the first time.  In the poetry of the poet and in the thinking of the thinker, there is always so much world-space to spare that each and every thing —   a tree, a mountain, a house, the call of a bird — completely loses  its monotony and familiarity.

M. Heidegger.  Introduction to Metaphysics. Trans. G. Fried and R. Polt (29). 

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New poem out soon

New poem

'Fey Exchange' 
Out soon.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Rieko Woodford-Robinson

An exhibition of new works
at Eyeball Kicks, 177 Cuba St, Wellington
Opens 6pm Friday 12th June
13th - 24th June, Opening Hours:
Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday to Tuesday 12pm-4pm,
Wednesday to Friday 10am-6pm

Latika, Taran and yours truly popped into the awesome Eyeball Kicks gallery to take in RiekoWoodford-Robinson show and had a great chat with Rieko who is very friendly, approachable and one of the most exciting pop-surrealist artists working in NZ today.  The immediacy, warmth and narrative power of these images is so fresh and striking. Unfortunately we got their too late and most of the originals had sold so we bought a print. If you can get down there then go see the show.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Playlist 20/6/2015

  1. Girl On The Phone     The Jam
  2. Rattlesnake St. Vincent (live)
  3. Digital Witness   St. Vincent
  4. I Prefer Your Love St. Vincent 
  5. Two Weeks FKA Twigs
  6. Dissolved Girl   Massive Attack
  7. I've Been Let Down   Mazzy Star
  8. Wasteland   The Jam
  9. Jackie Boy    Scott & Charlene's Wedding   
  10. The Dancing King Damon Albarn
  11. Sibelius, The Swan Of Tuonela, Op. 22, No. 2
  12. Sibelius, Symphony No. 4
  13. Warp And Woof Mal Waldron
  14. Memories    Leonard Cohen    

Sunday, June 14, 2015

introducing Michael Howard

I caught up with poet Michael Howard who I know from Newlands College.  Michael’s a new poet on the Wellington circuit and I’d missed his show a few weeks back at the Fringe Bar.  We met over at Clarke’s Café as they have wicked lumberjack cake, good coffee and are situated right next to the library—my favourite Wellington haunt.

Michael’s chapbook ‘Metric Conversions’ captures the fun, good humour and vitality of his personality.  This is well-crafted comic verse with wonderful illustrations by Nina Weil.  There’s a wry intelligence and real love of language at work here.  Here’s the opening stanza from ‘Final Words’:

When that clever German nation
Had a need for delegation
Of the oversight of labels for their beef,
They passed a certain law
With a name one can’t ignore,
Though this in German fashion wasn’t brief.
A law at which the seasoned speller frets,
It was the Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz.

If you’re interested in picking up a copy of Michael’s $5 chapbook let me know and I’ll pass on his contact details to you.

In other news, I’m judging this year’ s NZ Poetry society competition and that’s going well; which is about all I can say about it!

Last night’s NZ Symphony Orchestra Karen Gomyo plays Beethoven was just phenomenal.  Her playing, composure and vitality was unforgettable as was her striking sapphire blue gown which added to the event's bold glamour.  Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major and Sibelius’s Lemminkäinen Suite are both achingly beautiful pieces.  The Beethoven concerto has such a profound confidence in intelligence and art; it’s a real presence—as if it were itself cognisant and appreciating its own inner reflections and speculations.  Such shocking clarity!  Sibelius took me to a much darker place—you face the deathbirds of your own demise—but he finds the notes to take you there and then to bring you back. Last night we gave Pietari Inkinen a fine send off as this was his last performance as Music Director. We clapped, cheered, threw ribbons.

There's a full review of the concert by John Button over at Stuff

And I’ve been invited to Christchurch to read poetry in November, just before the NZ Poetry Conference. I’m so delighted to be invited to read; it’s just such a great buzz.  I’ll say more about this later.  I'm also delighted that Essential New Zealand Poems, which includes my poem 'The Battle for San Romano',  has been nominated for the 2015 NZ Book Design Award.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Submission on New Zealand’s Climate Change Target

Here is my submission to the Ministry for the Environment on New Zealands Climate Change Target

Harvey Molloy (Ph.D)
Wellington 6012

Overview: the need for action

Climate change threatens the future survival of humanity.  There is overwhelming consensus in the scientific community of the need to take action. We are at risk from severe weather events including drought and flooding, and from rising sea levels.  Biodiversity is threatened by climate change. In short we do not know the full extent of the dangers we face.  The fifth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2014) on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability states:

Impacts from recent climate-related extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones, and wildfires, reveal significant vulnerability and exposure of some ecosystems and many human systems to current climate variability (very high confidence). Impacts of such climate-related extremes include alteration of ecosystems, disruption of food production and water supply, damage to infrastructure and settlements, morbidity and mortality, and consequences for mental health and human well-being. For countries at all levels of development, these impacts are consistent with a significant lack of preparedness for current climate variability in some sectors. (p14).

We are already experiencing these impacts in New Zealand and the Pacific.  Over the last five years summer pasture production in New Zealand has been reduced due to drought. Severe storms have wrecked devastation throughout the Pacific.

Key recommendations

We need to set an effective emission target (Intended National Determined Contribution) and put into place policies which will allow us to meet this contribution. 
1.       Aim to reduce per capita emission from 17 to 8 tonnes and then to 2 tonnes per capita. Our aim should be to reach a zero carbon target by 2050.
2.       A moratorium on the opening of all new coal mines and fossil fuel extraction including a moratorium on fracking.  An immediate end to all government subsidies, tax breaks and incentives for the fossil fuel extraction industries.
3.       The abandonment of the failed Emission Trading Scheme which has proved to be totally ineffective as an economic instrument in reducing emissions and the implementation of a Carbon Tax used in such a way as not to be punitive to individuals on low incomes.
4.       The closing of the Huntly Power station.
5.       The establishment of an Independent Climate Commission to ensure honest reporting of our emissions and compliance with our own emissions targets.
6.       A massive education programme to raise public education on climate change and the need for a transition to a low carbon economy. 
7.       The immediate implementation of fuel efficiency standards for all vehicles entering the country with higher standards set for newer vehicles.  Promote the use of public transport.
8.       More incentives and guarantees for the maintenance and creation of Permanent Carbon Sinks to stimulate new tree planting.

The Consultation Process and Consultation Document

Finally, I would like to express my great displeasure at the lack of professionalism of the consultation process and the poor quality of the consultation document.
Our Climate Change Target is a serious matter which requires full and frank discussion. The pitiful time given for the public to meet and consult with the Ministry for the Environment, coupled with the lack of political accountability as government ministers chose not to meet the public whose interests they serve was disheartening.   The consultation document is seriously flawedit fails to propose any emission target and is orientated around a consideration of costs to individual households.  There is no recognition of the grave challenges ahead or of the severe  consequences—outlined in detail by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—of inaction. The risks of not transitioning our economy into a low carbon state or the potential economic opportunities of innovation presented by the need for such a transition are entirely absent. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015


Image pinched from The Bacchanals.

So last night I went to the riotous, high-energy, totally friggin’ brilliant production of Aristophanes' Lysistrata from my favourite, and looking like totally unmissable {is that a word?}, theatre company, The Bacchanals.  This was the best $20 I’d spent on entertainment for a while,  the joy of the evening added to {can you use that as a phrase?} by the show being prefaced by a long meal and chat with friends at Monsoon Poon.  I had that feeling, sitting in the Dome Theatre (the “do me” as one of the players quipped) that Wellington is a pretty great city (shit politicians  aside) to be in right now . . . and hey the theatre was packed.  The show was irreverent, playful, contemporary, employing the counter-discursive practices of post-panto-mimesis  {OK, I’ve coined that one!}”meta –theatrics” (as announced by one of the players) with kinky boots, glitzy frocks (lads only), massive phalli , nudity (golly!), quite cool musical numbers, and fundamental questions—is warfare tied to having a dick? (Isn’t there an Anglo-Saxon word for ‘males’ which is ‘sper-mannum’ or something similar?—I have foggy memories of this word; probably wrong).  But this was no simple farce—unlike this early morning’s scrawl—the masks and menacing black dolls of the chorus of Old Women invoked a sense of ritual deep time—while mentioning the Chaffers New World supermarket.  What was being performed here had been happening for a long time.  Just keep on rockin’, Bacchanals.  Go see it. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Leaving Facebook

I joined Facebook back in 2007—that’s seven years ago. It’s been mostly good, some bad; but for me it’s getting worse.  The company seems to have no decency or sense of fair play. It really doesn’t care about my privacy at all or the privacy of my friends. This story in The Guardian, coupled with a story on the FBI spying on citizens who don't  want  the massive Firestone pipeline to be built was the last straw,  If you don’t like it, leave.  I’ll still be on Twitter and Blogger.  I’ll miss the family stuff, sure. But I don’t want any spook tracking what I’m doing online and following my friends around.  Hey, Facebook, that's wrong and it’s illegal.  Get the message?

Saturday, May 23, 2015