Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fables: Animal Farm

The Fables epic continue with a gun-toting revolutionary Goldilocks, hungry for show trials and total control, inciting a riot on Animal Farm, a haven for non-human fables in exile.  It’s great fun but not without flashes of insight as when the razor-sharp Reynard the Fox throws Goldy the question: “Why is it you intense political types insist on living entirely in the symbolic world?’  Wow.  I’m in for surgery next week, so fingers crossed.  What to take into hospital?  An Ian Rankin Rebus novel; that’s the ticket.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Books in: December-January

Books in :December-January in no particular order; goodness me!

Derrida. Benoît Peters.
Ghosts and Other Plays. Ibsen.
Iris. John Bayley.
The Distance Plan #2. Abby Cunnane et all.
Girls of the Drift. Nina Powles.
Beowulf: A Student Edition.  George Jack (ed).
Shenzen: A Travelogue from China.  Guy Delise.
Darwin: A Very Short Introduction.  Jonathan Howard.
The Complete Roderick. John Sladek
Words that Matter: 10 years of Seraph Press. Helen Rickerby (ed).
DMZ: On the Ground.  Wood, Riccardo, Burchielle.
Phoenix without Ashes.  Harlan Ellison & Alan Robinson.
Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah. Tim Footman.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fables: Legends in Exile

A busy cover—but I do like how Little Boy Blue blows his horn to the Fables  crew.  Do I want to read more? Of course.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuesday Poem: Ariel by Sylvia Plath

On listening I hear the shock of ‘nigger-eyed’ and its stark contrast to the white Godiva riding; the bitter half-laugh of the final pun of morning/mourning.

The poem is available online at the Poetry Foundation.

More poem at Tuesday Poem.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

from Animal Farm by George Orwell

The farm was more prosperous now, and better organised: it had even been enlarged by two fields which had been bought from Mr. Pilkington. The windmill had been successfully completed at last, and the farm possessed a threshing machine and a hay elevator of its own, and various new buildings had been added to it. Whymper had bought himself a dogcart. The windmill, however, had not after all been used for generating electrical power. It was used for milling corn, and brought in a handsome money profit. The animals were hard at work building yet another windmill; when that one was finished, so it was said, the dynamos would be installed. But the luxuries of which Snowball had once taught the animals to dream, the stalls with electric light and hot and cold water, and the three-day week, were no longer talked about. Napoleon had denounced such ideas as contrary to the spirit of Animalism. The truest happiness, he said, lay in working hard and living frugally.
Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer–except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs. Perhaps this was partly because there were so many pigs and so many dogs. It was not that these creatures did not work, after their fashion. There was, as Squealer was never tired of explaining, endless work in the supervision and organisation of the farm. Much of this work was of a kind that the other animals were too ignorant to understand. For example, Squealer told them that the pigs had to expend enormous labours every day upon mysterious things called "files," "reports," "minutes," and "memoranda." These were large sheets of paper which had to be closely covered with writing, and as soon as they were so covered, they were burnt in the furnace. This was of the highest importance for the welfare of the farm, Squealer said. But still, neither pigs nor dogs produced any food by their own labour; and there were very many of them, and their appetites were always good.

As for the others, their life, so far as they knew, was as it had always been. They were generally hungry, they slept on straw, they drank from the pool, they laboured in the fields; in winter they were troubled by the cold, and in summer by the flies. Sometimes the older ones among them racked their dim memories and tried to determine whether in the early days of the Rebellion, when Jones's expulsion was still recent, things had been better or worse than now. They could not remember. There was nothing with which they could compare their present lives: they had nothing to go upon except Squealer's lists of figures, which invariably demonstrated that everything was getting better and better. The animals found the problem insoluble; in any case, they had little time for speculating on such things now. Only old Benjamin professed to remember every detail of his long life and to know that things never had been, nor ever could be much better or much worse–hunger, hardship, and disappointment being, so he said, the unalterable law of life.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Highlights of 2014

Highlights of 2014

Writing:  I was chuffed to have my poem ‘Battle of San Romano’ included in the anthology Essential New Zealand Poems and to also be the featured poet in Takahe—I’ve never had seven poems published in a single periodical. 

Poetry: Charles Simic's Selected Poems; Alice Millar’s The Limits and the Essential New Zealand Poems Anthology —the Hoopla series of poetry (Michael Harlow, Helen Rickerby, Stefanie Lash),  Turbine2014Phantom Billboard Café Reader, Sweet Mammalian (totally brilliant!), and, as ever, The Page

Novels of the year:  NW by Zadie Smith which I followed by reading her earlier novel On Beauty.  I also stumbled across Graham Joyce’s Some Kind of Fairy Tale and The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit

Non-Fiction:  This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein; Dirty Politics by Nicky Hagar and John Gray’s provocative, bitterly pessimistic Straw Dogs and Silence of Animals.

Graphic Novels: Charles Burns X'ed Out, The Hive, Sugar Skull and Black Hole; Climate Changed by Phillpe Squarzoni; Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and Logicomix by Apostolos Doxiadis.

TV: Game of Thrones and Broadchurch—on a lighter note I do enjoy ‘The Chaser.’

Live Performance: the school production of Spamalot was superb and The Bacchanals production of ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ has stayed with me all year.
Film: The Grand Budapest Hotel and Alister Barry and Abi King-Jones' superb NZ Documentary Hot Air.

Music: Damon Albarn, First Aid Kit, Alisdair Roberts & Robin Robertson, Jenny Lewis, Morrissey, Angel Olsen, Dylan (Another Self-Portrait, Bootleg Series Vol 10), The War on Drugs. The song of the year, though, has to be Darren Watson's Planet Key.

Thanks to Helen Lowe whose blog spurred me on to write this . . .

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Saturday, January 03, 2015

from The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit by Graham Joyce

        “You can’t come in.  I’ll have a good look for you and bring it to you later.”
        I resisted all of his protests until finally he went away.  We heard him go out of the building, blathering incomprehensibly.  I lifted back the curtain to see him trotting across the yard away from us, still prattling to himself.
        “Is he on drugs?” Terri asked me.

        “No, he’s from Manchester.”

Joyce was, for me, one of the great finds of 2014 and it's a pity I discovered his work in the year of his death.  I'm looking forward to working my way through his work which speaks to me so directly.

Monday, December 29, 2014

from Logicomix

by Apostolos Doxiadis,  Christos Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos and colour by Annie Di Donna.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

from number9dream by David Mitchell

‘Reality is the page. Life is the word.’

'Maybe the truest difference between people is exactly this: how they see why they are here."

David Mitchell

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tuesday Poem: December 26 by Kenn Nesbit.

My Tuesday Poem for this week is December 26 by Kenn Nesbit  . . . but you’ll have to pop over to the Poetry Foundation to open this one.

Oh . . . and have a great holiday and all the best for the New Year!  I’m looking forward to a nice family get together in Otaki, messing around with my ukulele and banjolele (both of which I cannot really play at all), reading Summer thrillers (I’m greatly enjoying Directive 21 by John Barnes), gardening (the heke heke will be tamed!) and listening to the tuis.

More poems at Tuesday Poem.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Heads in the Sand

Wow, what a crazy month it’s been.  My poem ‘Heads in the Sand’ was published in Poetry 24; this is an unabashed protest poem to accompany and promote the ‘Heads in the Sand’ climate protest action which I helped to organise in Wellington—I also had fun writing the script for a short silly film I acted in promoting the event.  The event was a great success with lots of media coverage—it was a satisfying to work with people from all different climate action groups to get our message across that we want to transition away from fossil fuels.

I have to have an operation at the end of January which is a bit of drag.  Looking back on the year, 2014 has been really good for me.  Teaching has gone well, I keep scribbling away with my writing, and I've worked with some great people in the community. The election was a disappointment, but, hey, that's the way it goes and I accept the result.  I appreciate the help and advice that editors and friends have given me regarding my poetry--a new book is on the way but not for a while! All the best to everyone for the holidays.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday Poem: Midsummer Forest

I've taught A Midsummer Night's Dream for many years now and the play has almost become a part of my year.  It's so heady and full of scents; so unapologetically lush.  I remember, too, those busy streaks when I worked in design and some days we'd rush around town from meeting to meeting. I'd try to get out on my own for a pause in a park and this whole other world, running at a slower speed would open up to me for just a few moments. Then I'd head back to figure out site architecture or write an analysis report.  One day I didn't come back.

More poems at Tuesday Poem.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ruth Corkill on Tuesday Poem

This week I'm the editor over at Tuesday Poem and the poem I've selected is Ruth Corkill's You are nocturnal but I am insomniac.  Go and have a read!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Tuesday Poem: Look, How Beautiful by Robinson Jeffers

Video by Alex Maloney.
More poems at Tuesday Poem.

I'd like to read more of Jeffers . . .

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Tuesday Poem: Minuit at Sandwiches

Here's my poem which appeared in Sidestream 22.  Minuit have released a free song 'happy'  as they bow-out of NZ music

More poems at Tuesday Poem.


Monday, October 06, 2014

Climate Changed by Philippe Squarzoni

Climate Changed: A Personal Journey through the ScienceClimate Changed: A Personal Journey through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A thoughtful, detailed, moving mediation on climate change. At times, a few too many talking heads fill the pages. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

notes from On Beauty by Zadie Smith

“When people get married, there is often a battle to see which family – the husband’s or the wife’s – will prevail.” (18)

“It is an unnatural law of such parties that the person whose position on the guest list was originally the least secure is always the first to arrive.” (97)

“To misstate, or even merely understate, the relation of the universities to beauty is one kind of error that can be made.  A university is among the precious things that can be destroyed.”  Elaine Scarry

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday Poem: 'Avoid' by Tim Upperton

My Tuesday Poem is 'Avoid' by Tim Upperton but you'll have to hop over to the Best American Poetry blog to read this cracker of a poem

More poems at  Tuesday Poem.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Freedom of Speech gagged in NZ

Bikini Roulette rockin' it!

Yesterday afternoon Latika and I went down to The San Francisco Bathhouse for Off Key, a benefit concert to support local Blues legend Darren Watson fight the decision made by the Electoral Commission which deemed his song Planet Key a piece of party political broadcasting.

In the Commission’s words:

In the Electoral Commission’s view, the Planet Key track cannot be broadcast on radio or television because it is an election programme.  There are strict rules in the Broadcasting Act 1989 that prohibit the broadcasting on radio and television of material by third parties that appears to encourage voters to vote or not to vote for a political party or candidate. 

What does this mean?

Well, it means that this song can never broadcast on TV or the radio. That’s right: never. I have no idea why but suspect that its because the government doesn’t like it. Holy Singapore, Batman!

But wait, there’s more.

It means that the song cannot be sold on i-Tunes. You can’t even buy it.

Good job The Sex Pistols made their records in the 1970s.

This is a satirical song and Darren has been effectively gagged for writing a protest song. This sends a strong message to other artists: think before you write a song, or make a video, or write a poem during an election year.  Don't make your own art: you think what you are told to think, blah blah blah.  No satire permitted. 

So we went to the concert to raise some funds for Darren . Darren played a few songs—I’m a fan and have seen him before—and then this band Bikini Roulette took the stage by storm and transported me into exuberant state. The crowd loved them. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sue Wootton reviews Latika Vasil's 'Rising to the Surface.'

Review of ‘Rising to the Surface’ in Takahe Review Online, August 2014, by Sue Wootton. See review here

“Vasil’s stories are peopled by folk either swimming in circles or floating adrift in their own lives. The stories begin when someone or something unexpectedly knocks a character out of the deeper tides and compelling currents of habit, offering them a chance to change tack, change stroke, even to completely change ponds. In story after story I could almost hear the rust creaking as personalities began to stretch. Vasil writes this tension well, taking the question to the wire: will the person break or adapt? She has an eye for the “harmless enough eccentricity” which can end up, for better or for worse, dictating the course of a person’s life. Many of her characters are doomed by their particular peculiarities of character to live a life other than the one they once imagined for themselves. How like most of us, then! Vasil, knowing this, writes with kindness. She can be funny and witty, but she is not cruel about failure or disappointment; she does not mock. The reader warms readily to the characters, even the ones with the obviously very annoying or self-destructive habits. My heart lifted and fell alongside every character’s own rise and fall, a sure sign that I was hooked.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Poem: Udon by The Remarkables

Here's my poem which appeared last year in Hue & Cry

More poems at Tuesday Poem.