Thursday, December 29, 2005

Scarab (again)

After reading Vivienne Plumb’s excellent Scarab: A Poetic Documentary for the third time, I’m reminded that small is beautiful. Do you remember those small first books of Hone Tuwhare, illustrated by Ralph Hotere? I’m thinking here of Come Rain Hail. A handful of well-crafted poems arranged in the right sequence can be just as satisfying as the Faber & Faber prescribed length of 64 pages to a book of poems.

With my book vouchers I took home Leonardo: Flights of the Mind by Charles Nicholls (recommended to me months ago in a social studies class by Hamish Tocher) and Anna Jackson’s Sing-Song (which I took home although it looked a little dog-eared; it must have been sitting in the St. Luke’s Whitcoulls for months).

This morning over at Trout I read enjoyable poems by Helen Rickerby and the prolific Richard von Sturmer.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

George's Marvelous Medicine

Time for your medicine, Grandma.

This morning I had a good look around the magnificent Awa Press website. There’s lots of information about new books as well as a secure online purchasing facility. Thanks to The Page I also read a good poem by Charles Simic at the Virginia Quarterly Review.

For a present, one of the boys was given Roald Dahl’s George's Marvelous Medicine, illustrated by Quentin Blake. There’s a creepy scene between George and his sadistic grandmother before George secures his revenge with a nasty home-brew medicine. As usual Dahl’s prose is wickedly hilarious and Blake’s drawings help to lighten the story’s darker tones.

Photo from BestBookBuys.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

2005 Hugo Awards

Merry Christmas everybody

I'm in Auckland and have spent the day reading, snacking and playing in Cornwall Park. One of my holiday reads is the magazine Isaac Asimov Science Fiction; the only magazine I know that publishes SF Poetry. The December issue includes a complete list of this year's Hugo winners. This year's best novel is Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Looking over the Hugo winners of recent years, I see a real blurring of the boundaries between fantasy and SF. Previous recent winners include Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2001) and Neil Gaiman's excellent American Gods (2002). A complete list of all Hugo Awards is available at the Hugo site.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Moonage Daydream

keep your electric eye on me babe

We don’t worry about giving Christmas presents before the big day, so earlier this week I was given the lavish Moonage Daydream: The Life and Times of Ziggy Stardust which features more than 600 photographs selected from Mick Rock’s vast photographic archive. There’s a low key commentary by Bowie on these photos which recounts influences and events and this welcomed approach lets Mick Rock’s photographs shine. There’s something tacky, something Japanese, something cobbled together on the fly, something SF, something stolen from Brell, but nothing pretentious at all about Ziggy. Bowie had an enormous influence on kids in the 70s with his slightly tacky but wildly imaginative and lucrative approach to rock. The book’s a treat and a perfect present. I still think that some of the most important art you encounter happens to you between the ages of 10-15. Don’t you agree?

More on Moonage Daydream: The Special Collectors’ edition is available at
The Ziggy Stardust Companion.
An excellent review of the NZ publication of the book and related matters by Gavin Bertram is on the
NZ Listener site.
My own memories and reflections of a Ziggy concert are at
Ziggy '72.

Photo from Amazon Books. You can read more about the book at Amazon here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Buying the Summer read

Christmas shopping—such a good excuse for buying your own summer reading! Downtown I try to buy James Shapiro's 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare at Bennetts, Whitcoulls, Dymocks and Unity but they are all out of stock so I select another book from my list of books recommended by friends that I've not yet read and choose John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. Over a few coffees I read the stunning first chapter and find myself already in love with the book. I suspect this is going to be a wild ride.

Pottering around the web this morning I find that the
Glottis web site includes David Eggleton’s great poem 'A Walk though Albert Park after an All-Night Party.' I love the phrase "Even twigs have the hooked forms of alphabets." 'Marvelous' as John Campbell would say (and he appreciates a good poem).

Monday, December 19, 2005

Poneke Poets

We had a good turn out yesterday at the Southern Cross for the inaugural reading of the Poneke Poets group. The pub has a large private room with its own bar for just these sorts of functions. The event was well-organised--thanks to Neil Furby and Simon Webber--and there was a great range of styles and voices. I read three poems: 'Cleaning', 'Even If' and 'Moonshot'. In the new year, we hope that these readings over at the Southern Cross will become a regular feature.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Turbine 05

The new edition of Turbine has just gone online featuring poetry by Jenny Bornholt, Cliff Fell, Helen Heath, Anne Kennedy, Greg O'Brien and Elizabeth Smither (to name a few). There's plenty to read here. On my first spin I took in Helen Heath's striking poem Show your workings. Just one minor quibble: I think that the font size of the Turbine '05 contents page is a wee too small.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Vivienne Plumb

Earlier this week I stopped by Unity Books and picked up Takahe 55 which includes poetry by Leonard Lambert, Sugu Pillay, Tim Upperton and Jennifer Compton. Dipping into the magazine I’m struck by the humour of Lambert’s ‘Bed Rhymes’ and ‘Skywire.’

My main reason for popping into the shop was to buy a copy of Vivienne Plump’s superb Scarab: a poetic documentary. A good friend has a copy and I’d been reading it over at his place. Scarab documents her son’s 10-year struggle with cancer. It’s a small, intimate volume of 28 pages---12 poems and photographs by her late son. Scarab is Published by Seraph Press with a wonderfully restrained and effective book design by Helen Rickerby. The edition is limited to 250 hand bound copies and mine is 166 – so get in quick!

If your interested in reading more about Scarab, there’s an article about the book over at The Big Idea. (Thanks to NZ Poets Online for Vivienne's photo).

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

LeafSalon for Best Blog

The LeafSalon crew are soliciting votes for NZ NetGuide Web Award for the best blog. Well, they've got my vote. LeafSalon is essential reading; never boring, always up to date.

Locus Online reports that the SF writer Robert Sheckley died on Friday, in New York , at the age of 77. I have fond memories of reading Sheckley's bizarre Dimension of Miracles. He was a highly original writer whose farcical SF was precursor to Douglas Adams. Gerald Jonas's New York Times orbituary has been republished on the official Robert Sheckley web site.

Now that Bob's gone over to the Dimension of Miracles, I expect that before he joins Immortality, Inc St. Peter will have to ask 'Can you feel anything when I do this'?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Open Mike at the Southern Cross

Poneke Poets
The Southern Cross

Able Smith Street
Sunday 18th of December
Starts at 5:30 pm

“A feast of spoken words “

Open Mic for all

first post

Welcome. I guess the point of this blog is to promote poetry events around Wellington and to let friends and students know what I'm working on and what I'm reading.

The Takahe 2005 Short Story competition winners have been announced and I'm delighted that Latika Vasil, my partner, has won third place for her story "Monkeys on the Roof." I've heard on the grapevine that Neil's organising a poery open mike evening over at the Southern Cross tavern on December 18th. Hopefully I'll be there.