Tuesday, January 12, 2016

On Bowie's Death

Upset and saddened to hear of Bowie's death. At least he got Blackstar out in time! He changed my life with his songs. He opened doors to art and made life more exciting. God I am going to miss him.

You live in a tiny village by the Pennines and one day WHAM BAM Art Man comes and shakes you and your friends awake. I cannot even imagine how I would think about poetry without Hunky Dory and Space Oddity. All you need to know about the transformative power of art is in those first three albums. I'm not even sure how to explain how Bowie wired my understanding of sexuality because I was just this kid--but he did; he really did---but over everything else there was this great imaginative power wonder and dread in his music--think of the end of Belway Brothers. That is just so incredible. Such strangeness and awe: that changes you because you feel odd, a little strange yourself, 'out of the ordinary', I guess the word is 'queer' in a very broad encompassing sense. At the same time--totally paradoxically--he was also very English.
In ’95 I wrote ‘Ziggy ’72: A catalogue of LostObjects’ for Mike Harvey’s Ziggy website.  It was a popular piece with many thousands of readers and is quoted in Jim Miller’s book Almost Grown: The Rise of Rock.

I started work on a companion piece to ‘Ziggy ’72’ which I then shelved as I moved on to new projects.

Ziggy '72 ends with this sequence which I'll end with here . . .

width of a circle
When we get back, I lie on the bed staring at the ceiling. All I can hear in my head is the song 'Width of a Circle.' What is the width of a circle anyway? That can’t be the same as the diameter, or the radius, right?  Maybe he’s talking about the width of a circular line -- but I already know that lines are connections between points. You mark a circle with a line and suddenly you have a radius, a circumference, and a diameter, but the line has no properties of its own. For to mark a space is to generate properties.
It’s late. In the bed across the room, Paul grunts in his sleep. What had he been fighting with dad about today? Had he wet the bed or had I misunderstood the encounter with mum this morning? There was a sadness about my brother that was difficult to fathom. Dad was clearly disappointed with him.
I get up, poke my head through the bedroom curtains and look at the yellow streetlights. Once, perhaps, the world had been magical. There had been gods, elves, myths and places you could hide where the world couldn’t find you. You felt that magic when you followed the river from Delph to Uppermill. It was there but hidden, forgotten, like the power of the stone circle in Penrith. Now there were cars, streetlights, schools and factories. Someone had drawn a timetable in the air and had created routines. 
xenos: strange
You played the stranger
The one who stands on the threshold
Awaiting our reply

In the hard rock amphitheatre
I crammed in everything to store
yellow skin, beetroot hair, a few
idle remarks to the audience

You pushed the microphone stand
into waves of adulating hands
played the crowd for all we were worth
as all dictators do.

No grave Apollo, you asked:
would you follow the way from outside;
would you become an outsider too?
you were in this song
I had known loneliness -- the quiet walks by the river, the silence of the paper round when all I could hear was the soft crunch of my steps over fresh snow -- but I had yet to feel the loneliness that comes from a feeling of incompleteness. I was a virgin to the notion of romantic love. As ‘Five Years’ drew to a close, Bowie sang:
I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlour, drinking milk shakes cold and long
Smiling and waving and looking so fine, don't think you knew you were in this song.

And then I was touched by a new feeling. I was alone but now there was the hope that this loneliness might be removed forever by a girlfriend. I was alone but somewhere out there was a girl who would love me and I would love her. Our New Love would be magnificent, monumental, the stuff of legend! Fated to be together for all time, we would live our lives laughing at the world. And all the songs you ever heard were about this one simple truth: you would always be lonely until you found the one you would love at first sight. The one you would love and who would love you. All I had to do was to keep my eyes open for her. 
If you can slash your face by wearing the mark of a god, you are still a ghost who ignores the history of the sigil you wear and the debt you owe to the ones you haunt.
If you can put away the masks and puppets to uncover the face of the one you followed, this is still a ghost claiming another’s memories as his own.
Star and fan, adult and child: each one haunts the other, neither stands alone. Where is the face of the corpse to be found?
In the telephone box he stands waiting for the call; although the grave is only a cigarette away, still he savours the moment.

The opening line of Bowie’s last single “Lazarus’: “Look up here, I’m in heaven.’ 

Monday, January 04, 2016

Fey Exchange in JAAM 33

A big thanks to Kiri and Rosetta for such an interesting issue and for including my poem.

Summertime: I'm reading, writing, gardening--my long poem Night Music has been my main focus.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Walk on the Moor

Jennifer Compton has chosen ‘A Walk on the Moor’ for her Tuesday Poem this week.

I’m delighted that Jen’s chosen this as it keeps the poem alive—there are already some new readers.

This year we basically wound up the ain Tuesday Poem. It was a controversial decision given that the site had been running for more than five years. 

I’m going to keep posting the occasional Tuesday Poems on Notebook – it still uncertain what will Tuesday Poem’s place.

I’m going to write the blog in Baskerville for a while. My brother is in love with this typeface.

So my Tuesday Poems this week are three poems by Thérèse Lloyd.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tuesday Poem: the last post

The Tuesday Poem has finally come to a curtain call. I’ve had a great time being active in this poetry circle and I’ve made some great friends on the way.  All projects come to end and the decision to wind-up Tuesday Poem just means that another project will spring up in its place.  A big thanks to Mary McCallum for starting TP and to all who have edited the site over the many years. Our final composite poem And I know now what I didn't know then by the Tuesday Poets is our last post.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

brief 53

My poems ‘At the Armageddon Expo’ and ‘Grand Theft Aotearoa’ have been published in brief 53 –the twentieth anniversary issue – by poetry editor Brett Cross along with poems by Erin Doyle, Ted Jenner, Mark Young, CarinSmeaton, Murray Edmond, Nick Ascroft, Stephanie Christie, Keith Nunes, Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle, Richard Taylor, Jack Ross, Olivia Macassey, Geum Hye Kim, Vaughan Rapatahana, Joel Chace, Sugu Pillay, Sarah Bogle, Manon Revuelta, Sid Khanzode,  and Richard von Sturmer. A big thanks to Brett for publishing the poems.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

People's Climate March

The march was a great success today.  The brass band created a village fare atmosphere.  As we entered Civic Square they were playing ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’.  All good fun and the sun just shone.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

from Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

            Later, he’d walked by the open bathroom and heard her talking to herself as she removed her makeup.  “I repent nothing,” he heard her say to her reflection in the mirror.  He’d turned and walked away, but the words stayed with him.  Years later in Toronto, on the plywood second storey of the King Lear set, the words clarified the problem. He found he was a man who repented almost everything, regrets crowding in around him like moths to a light.  This was actually the main difference between twenty-one and fifty-one, he decided, the sheer volume of regret.  He had done some things he wasn’t proud of.  If Miranda was so unhappy in Hollywood, why hadn’t he just taken her away from there?  It wouldn’t have been difficult.  The way he’d dropped Miranda for Elizabeth and Elizabeth for Lydia and let Lydia slip away to someone else.  The way he’d let Tyler be taken to the other side of the world.  The way he’d spent his entire life chasing after something, money or fame or immortality or all of the above.  He didn’t really even know his own brother.  How many friendships had he neglected until they’d faded out?  On the first night of previews, he’d barely made it off the stage. On the second night, he’d arrived on the platform with a strategy. He stared at his crown and ran through a secret list of everything that was good.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

New book

Out in 2016
Udon by The Remarkables.
Mākaro Press. 2016

Sunday, November 15, 2015

NZ Poetry Conference 2016

Sweet Mammalian launch

What an incredible, poetry-filled, literature-rich week I have had.  The poetry reading in Christchurch went well and I’ve added a comment to the post about the reading (as much as for my own memory as anything else—as are all posts on Notebook).  I got back to Wellington on Thursday; back to work on Friday and then on Friday night the poetry conference in Wellington started for me around 6PM.

This event was buzzing from the very beginning.  Lonnard, Laurice and the convention group kicked off by a challenging, raw, heart-felt performance by Apirana Taylor followed by slam poets Te Kahu Rolleston—who I will endeavour to bring to our school—and slam champion Mohamed Hassan.  These are young, vital, exciting oral poets—Slam Poetry is the newest form of oral poetry since hip-hop.  I loved it—slam is high energy, theatrical, choreographed in its own way.  Courtney Sina Meredith then hopped out of a taxi, came into the National Library, and just blew us away. Such energy.

And then we had Fleur Adcock.  What an incredible mix.

I can’t recount all of Saturday: the blog would become too boring.  I met so many familiar faces; so many new faces.  At the end of the day I reckon I must have heard about 90 poems.
As I am leaving the Library, some tells a group the horrible news from Paris.  The stupidity of it all. The misery. 

In the morning: Karl Stead, Elizabeth Smither, Cilla McQueen: all totally brilliant. All poets I respect and admire.

To be present at the crowded launch of the NZ Poetry Anthology of poem submitted to a competition which I had been given the honour to judge . . . that was wonderful, hearing all those poems aloud, hearing these young poets from the junior section read their entries. What’s so great about the NZ Poetry Competition Anthology is the way adults and junior poets are all included within the same work.

In the evening, we hit Litcrawl.  I was especially keen to be at the Sweet Mammalian launch because I don’t know these guys but I like the previous issues—this is one of the most interesting developments in NZ poetry. Then the packed reading from the Hoopla series:  Helen Rickerby, Michael Harlow, Stefanie Lash, Bryan Walpert, Jennifer Compton, Carolyn McCurdie.  I got a real buzz when Mary McCallum announced that I would be published in Hoopla next year. In the after party I had a number of good chats and got to meet Doc Drumheller.

Today we had our final readings, and I was on a well-attended panel about judging poetry competition with Tim Jones and Siobhan Harvey and then a cool launch of new books by Heidi North-Bailey and Keith Westwater and then the final reading by Maris O’Rourke, Diana Bridge, Anna Jackson and Marty Smith.  It was quite an incredible saturation of poetry and this feeling of being part of this mad group of poetry fiends (and friends).   The next conference is in two years and I'm going to go . . . thanks Laurice, thanks Lonnard, thanks Jen, thanks Saradha, thanks Tim, thanks Bill Sutton, thanks all the poets and poet laureates . . . I know  this is all a bit rushed but I’m knackered.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

This Changes Everything Screening

This Changes Everything

Promoted by Peoples Climate March

Tuesday, November 17 6:30PM - 8:10PM

at Paramount Cinema 
25 Courtenay Pl, Wellington, N, NZ, 6011 (map) 
$16.00 NZD General

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Night Music

New poem starting tonight on Facebook: Night Music. Finally, all 88 pieces

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Poetry Reading in Christchurch 11 November

Harvey Molloy | Hagley Writers

Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
November 11 . 6.30 PM

The readings are at CPIT in Madras Street, begin at 6.30 and start with an open mike. After that we have a break, then readings from the students of the Hagley Writers Institute. Then I’ll be on reading some new poems from my upcoming Udon at the Remarkables and a couple from Moonshot.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

two new poems out soon

Two new poems out soon: Grand Theft Aotearoa | At the Armageddon Expo

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Fonterra: No New Coal

Coal cooks the climate. It is the most carbon-intensive fuel. If we are to keep climate change to less than 2 degrees of warming, a goal most nations have agreed to, most of the coal that exists must stay in the ground. All coal users need to start phasing out their coal use and replacing with renewable energy.
In New Zealand, Fonterra uses more than half a million tonnes a year of coal. Worse, Fonterra is aggressively growing its coal use. Since 2008 its coal use has grown by about 38% and is planning another big plant with 4 new boilers.
I just signed a petition calling for Fonterra to use wood waste instead of coal in all its new boilers at its milk factories.

Will you sign too? www.actionstation.org.nz/nonewcoal

You can get in touch with Coal Action Network Aotearoa directly by following these links here:

·  Join their mailing list so you can find out how to get involved in our current campaigns. Use this link: http://eepurl.com/mcWjn or email coalactionnetwork@gmail.com
·  Donate to CANA: http://coalaction.org.nz/donate
·  Follow their blog: http://coalaction.org.nz
·  Like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CoalActionNZ
·  Follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/coalaction


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Twenty-Five Books

A monster calls
recently read

1.      Strong motion. Jonathan Franzen
2.      Native bird. Bryan Walpert
3.      The night we ate the baby. Tim Upperton
4.      The world’s fastest flower. Charlotte Simmonds
5.      Death is not the end. Ian Rankin
6.      The embassy of Cambodia. Zadie Smith
7.      Farenheit 451. Graphic novel. Bradbury & Hamilton 
8.      The Daylight Gate. Jeannette Winterson
9.      Bones in the Octagon. Carolyn McCurdie
10. Clampdown. Rhian E Jones.
11. Nanotech.  Denis Wright
12. Metric Conversions.  Michael Howard
13. The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  Brian Selznick
14. Low. Hugo Wilken.
15. Derrida. Benoît Peeters
16. Black and Blue. Ian. Rankin
17. Phoenix without Ashes. Harlan Ellison
18.  Mr. Clean and the Junkie.  Jennifer Compton
19. The Islamist Phoenix.  Loretta Napoleoni
20. Aurora. Kim Stanley Robinson
21. Trotsky. Graphic biography. Geary & Helfer
22. The Mountains of Madness. Graphic novel. Lovecraft & Culbard
23. Sandman vol 1: Preludes &nocturnes. Neil Gaiman et al
24. Surface tension. Joy Greene

25. A monster calls. Patrick Ness

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tuesday Poem: hypocrisy by Joy Green

Today's poem is hypocrisy? by Manawatu poet Joy Green who died unexpectedly this week.  I met Joy at the Wellington launch of 'Surface Tension' and I just finished her book. I am so glad that had the chance to meet and chat with Joy and I'm saddened at her sudden passing. I hope her family and friends accept my condolences. Thanks Joy for your poetry. 

More poems at Tuesday Poem.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Taran before the Ball

My son Taran before his year 13 high school leavers’ ball. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Stevens on 'the way of all mind'

I suppose that the way of all mind is from romanticism to realism, to fatalism and then to indifferentism, unless the cycle re-commences and the thing goes from indifferentism back to romanticism all over again .  .  .  At the moment, the world in general is passing from the fatalism stage to an indifferent stage:  a stage in which the primary sense is a sense of helplessness.  But, as the world is a good deal more vigorous than most of the individuals in it, what the world looks forward to is a new romanticism, a new belief.

Wallace Stevens

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tuesday Poem: The World Is Too Much With Us by Wordsworth

The World Is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Spine Poetry

Poem by Danica Fontein

I don’t usually blog about school. It’s best to keep professional and personal lives separate.  Today’s an exception. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve run a competition at school, suggested by our school librarian, where students make spine poems.  A spine poem is a found poem composed solely from book titles. The poet arranges these titles, takes a photo,  then emails the shot to the competition address.  You can have up to ten books in a stack and up to five entries per entrant.  Students loved it—we were flooded with 70 or so entries.  It was so much fun. In the middle of a stack of marking and paperwork I once again felt very lucky to have to job where I can encourage this sort of creativity. (Without sounding greasy, thanks also to my school’s management who supported the competition with a book token prize. I bought some small runner-up prizes.) 

Friday, September 04, 2015

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 . . .