Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Collapse of Globalism

In less than an hour I'll hop on a plane with my family to Auckland, stay overnight in Ponsonby with my sister-in-law and--if we get to the Airport on Monday morning by 6.00AM-- we'll set off for a week in Rarotonga. I just finished all the grading that I should have done last week.

I've just finished John Ralston Saul's The Collapse of Globalism and the Re-invention of the World. Saul totally demolishes Globalism: if Globalism is defined as the notion that totally free trade and the removal of all protections will greatly increase international political and economic stability. Saul's target is the notion of that the 'reality of the global marketplace' puts certain restraints on options open for nation states. His chapters on Malaysia's solution to its economic crisis--which was to totally disregard the advice given by the World Bank in order to foster recovery-- and New Zealand's about face from free-market privatisation give weight to his argument. But Saul's globalism is a straw man--so very easy to demolish and the other senses of Globalism (the net, the pressing need to find global solutions for climate change and resource depletion, etc ) are given short shrift. Now I have a plane to catch!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

River Boy


Tim Bowler

On the last day of term, I heard a science teacher comment to a colleague that she will "probably get a bug in the holidays as teachers do." Well, I came down with a nasty bug on Monday and I'm now just coughing my way out of it. At least I should have recovered by Sunday when we set off for Rarotonga. I've been belting through John Ralston Saul's highly readable The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World and last night finished reading aloud Tim Bowler's River Boy to my eldest son.

Bowler has written a very original, haunting story. Jess's Grandpa is dying but he refuses to stay in hospital and insists that he returns to his childhood home in a village in Essex to complete his final painting. The secluded house is by a river and although there are supposed to be no other teenagers nearby Jess sees a mysterious swimmer in the river that she calls 'the river boy.'

Over at Tim Bowler's
website Susan Cooper says of the novel 'A river is a natural metaphor for life and death and Tim Bowler uses it to wonderful effect in this lovely simple story. River Boy is written in quiet, non-poetic prose - but it's a poem, as well as a very moving novel.' I agree that it's a poem but I'm not so sure that the prose is 'non-poetic'; reading the work aloud I was very caught by the rhythms of Bowler's crafted prose. I was a little worried that my ten-year son might find the polished descriptions of the river tiresome but to Bowler's credit the book held him spellbound until the end.

River Boy won the Carnegie medal in 1998. Here's a full review of the novel by
Paula Rohrlick.

So now I'm off to finish Saul's book but not before making a plug for supporting Fair Trade Coffee and Chocolate. Do you ever wonder about the child labour that goes into making those Easter eggs and
bunnies?

Image from Tin Bowler's website.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter/Cup. Alison Wong

I'm having a busy, enjoyable Easter visiting family and friends. On Saturday we drove up the Kapiti coast to visit my family in Otaki and stopped at the Archway Bookshop at Pukerua bay--a much loved shop--where I picked up a Penguin Shakespeare edition of All's Well that Ends Well. I'm not overly fond of The Penguin Shakespeare with its fiddly notes at the rear but I do want to read the play.

I've just finished Cup, Alison Wong's first book of poems. Alison lives in Titahi Bay and is one of the founders of Porirua's Poetry cafè. Megan Fleming has a detailed review of the book over at The Lumière Site that serves as an excelent introduction to the book and I don't have much to add to her review except to say that as well as the poems I enjoyed Sarah Laing's design and the calligraphy by Stan Chan.

A poem I've written for a children's anthology now seems likely to published soon. In a week, we go to Rarotonga for a short holiday and I'm hoping to do some more writing while I'm away.

Monday, April 10, 2006

blue monday

I'm not going to the poetry reading at Titahi Bay, although I've been reading and enjoying Alison Wong's Cup. I've been under the weather lately--perhaps it's the large dose of antibiotics I've been taking to cure an infected big toe. Or perhaps it's the weather.

Over the weekend Rohan and I popped in for a quick look at Patricia Piccinini spectacular show at the City Art gallery. There's a lavish web site to support the show so go and have a look yourself. Just remember to click on journey starts here. Let's have more brilliant SF art please!

I also bought and thrashed Minuit's superb The Guards Themselves CD yesterday. The lyrics loop and flow with the music; a music for defecting gymnastics on the verge of crossing the line while the guards watch. Expatriot identities; matters for the authorities (I'm riffing off the back cover photo 'The Defecting Gymnast'; a testament to Minuit's theatrical imagination that looks beyond the smug parochialism of some local music).

Friday, April 07, 2006

Moving Mars. Greg Bear.



One reason I read science fiction is nostalgia. In good science fiction, I feel the 'sense of wonder' that takes me back to the golden age of eleven years old. Moving Mars succeeds as a wonderful tribute to Golden Age SF as well as clear development of the classic 'hard SF' novel.

Cassiea, the protagonist and narrator, owes more than a little to Cassiea, the protagonist and narrator, owes more than a little to Heinlein's Podkayne of Mars (although she succeeds as a believable character more than Podaykne). I found the novel to be totally engrossing—I was immersed in the Mars that Bear had created. That sense of immersion, of being 'lost in the text', is something I also enjoy in a good SF novel. I know that there was a flurry of Mars novels written in the late 80s/early 1990, including Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy which I started but never finished and Ben Bova's somewhat plodding novel Mars. I haven't always enjoyed Greg Bear's work but Moving Mars rightly deserved the Nebula for best novel in 1995.

A full review of the novel by science fiction novelist Kathleen Ann Goonan is available at her site.

And you must read Tim Jones's quirky and highly original poem about the first artist on Mars.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Alison Wong & David Chan at Poetry Café

Poetry Café
April 2006 Venue: The Club Bar, Titahi Bay
· Entry is Free ·

7:30 April 10: Alison Wong & David Chan
Open Mic session!

***
Alison Wong's work has appeared in various journals and she has read at many venues throughout NZ including the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival and the Wordstruck! Festival in Dunedin, as well as being a speaker for the Stout Research Centre Chinese New Zealand Seminar Series.. She has been awarded many awards for her fiction and poetry including the 2002 Robert Burns Fellowship at the University of Otago, a Readers Digest - NZ Society of Authors Fellowship at the Stout Research Centre and a NZ Founders Society Research Award. She has been a finalist in several poetry competitionsIn 2001, together with Lindsay Forbes, she received a Porirua City Council Civic Honour Award for co-founding and running Poetry Cafe. Her 1st book of poems cup was recently released by Steele Roberts.

David Chan has written poetry since a young child. He has published in various journals in Australia, and won first prize in the Victorian Writers’ Centre, Melbourne Poets’ Prize 1994, second prize in the Australian Radio National Poetry Competition 1993, and commendation in the Fellowship of Australian Writers, John Shaw Neilson Award 1991. He has worked as a spray painter, university tutor, die-maker, toolmaker, and lawyer. He is currently practicing law in Wellington.

They will be supported by Wellington singer/songwriter Les Knight. When not playing his own songs Les is the bass player for Wellington band The Spines. As usual there will be an Open Mic with great prizes.

Information from Poetry Café.

See you there!