Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Watertower



Have you read Gary Crew’s The Watertower (illustrated by Steven Woolman), an interesting picture book from Australia? I spoke to our school librarian about the book and she told me the many different readings she’d heard; some read a story of an alien invasion, others a parable of finding your own identity—and all in such a short book. It’s a wonderful, intriguing fantasy and won the Australian Childrens' Book of the Year Award in 1994.

I’ve also seen the Poetrymath anthology, edited by Mark Pirie and published by Earl of Seacliffe. It’s a great, short, fun compilation featuring contributions by Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, Meg Campbell, Chris Else, my old school chum Andrew Fagan, Bernadette Hall, Harvey Mcqueen, Michael O’Leary, Mark Pirie, Harry Ricketts, Iain Sharp, and Richard von Sturmer—to name a a few. Lots of fun for all the family and I’ll buy one at the readings and return the borrowed copy I have in the house.


Image from Interlink Books.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

not one more death


Not one more death, published by Verso in collaboration with the stop
the war coalition, is more a collection of frustrated diatribes against
the invasion of Iraq rather than a collection of reasoned essays. I
never supported the war but neither did I support the inhumane
'blockade' of essential medical supplies to Iraq during interim
period between the end first legal war against Iraq and the illegal and
foolish invasion of Iraq in 2002.

John Le Carr
é writes the most convincing piece in the collection as he tackles the problem of what it means to be against the war but also against the Hussein regime (most of the other writers don't seem to find this a problem worthy of consideration). For Le Carré The danger lies in an US administration out of control with no respect for international law (including conventions against torture) or the feelings of less powerful nations or even the interests of Iraquis. Brian Eno also writes a sharp, well-crafted essay on the Bush administration as the culmination of anti-liberal politics in the US. All are rightly appalled by the pathetic lies and poorly executed deception of 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' as a rational for the war.

Image from The Stop the War Coalition
.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

the smell of oranges


I’ve just finished Jill Chan’s The Smell of Oranges. The poems are dark, compressed stars into which light falls. Chan excels in powerful, sometimes violent images. Things fall apart; especially the bundle of conflicted forces tied in a slippery knot called the ‘I’. At times the poems are difficult, especially the relationship between a poem’s title and content. But the poems are never abstract or deliberately obtuse. My favourite poem in the collection is 'Temperance' where an egg is 'most clearly resembles the visible world':

But fragility

Known too late, cracks

Like skyless lightening

That's a very powerful, suggestive image. You don't realise the delicate balance until the balance is lost and the shell (or orange peel) breaks.

On my way to the library I stopped by Unity Books and left with Tony Beyer’s City Limit, my second purchase from Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop’s mini series and ‘select ed; unity books selects New Zealand writing’; a gorgeous annotated selection of books by past and present staff at Unity. This catalogue commerates the first anniversary of Unity’s founder, Alan Preston, and is nothing less than a book in its own right.

Image from Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop

Friday, July 21, 2006

Enjoy a Poem

My poem 'Diwali' is now up on the Enjoy a Poem section of the NZ Booksellers site. (You have to scroll down a bit to get to the poem). All are invited to submit a poem for others to read. This is all part of the wonderful Montana Poetry Day.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Molloy

I recently finished Molloy, the first book of Beckett’s trilogy. It’s an unsettling read. Molloy’s never quite sure where he is or what has happened to him. Believe me, I know the feeling. Everything has an ephemeral quality. I was reminded of my granddad Molloy and how I used to look after him once his alzheimer's began to fade him away (not that he talked much to others to begin with—but that’s another story.) Molloy’s really a book of fading. Online I found a concise, interesting article 'Nothing is More Real' by my friend Paul Sheehan on the Beckett’s Texts for Nothing and their relationship to the trilogy and to Beckett’s opus.

I’ve heard that due to a poor funding decision from Creative New Zealand, the NZ SF poetry anthology hasn’t been given the green light. This means that publication has been delayed for a time so my poem 'nanosphere' has yet to appear.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bravado 7

Bravado 7 arrived in the mail today featuring poetry chosen by the new poetry editor, Tim Upperton, from Tim Jones, Catherine Mair, Leonard Lambert, Sue Wootton, Jessica le Bas, Jennifer Compton and others. I always read Bravado immediately—it has a very friendly, accessible design. I also had a good laugh—yes, I actually laughed whilst reading, which I rarely do—at Tracie McBride’s short story ‘Kill All Your Darlings.’ I’d like to read more of her work.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Comments fixed?

I think the comments glitch may have gone. Just as I finished creating a new blog...hope you like the new template. I'm not that fond of it and will change it sometime soon.

Comments/makeover

I've completely opted for a new template but this still hasn't fixed the mysterious comments bug that doesn't allow anyone to leave comments. I've checked the code and it looks fine to me.

One option is for me to create a new blog and to redirect you over to the new site that allows you to leave comments. It's not that I get lots of comments but a blog without comments seems pointless to me. That's a drastic option. However, I may go down that route because this blog does serve as an online tool for me. It's here that I keep all the links to the sites I regularly visit. If you know of a solution, please email me.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Poetrymath

Headworx is now publicising their winter poetry readings in Wellington called Poetrymath.

There's a great line-up of poets including: Harry Ricketts, Bernadette Hall, Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, Richard von Strumer, my old school chum Andrew Fagan and many others. The poster for each winter poetry reading is modelled on a famous rock album--this one's playing with the Rolling Stones' Aftermath.

And, yes, I've entered the bFM competition.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

bFM Competition

bFM Breakfast Poetry Competition BANG THE DRUM ! The bFM breakfast Poetry Competition.

Rules: simply make reference to a fave band / music artist 1st prize: Bottle of Moet & Chandon, ‘The Bob Dylan Scrapbook’ boxed book & a Nom*D T. 2nd prize: Bob Marley boxed book and CD plus ‘ Essential New Zealand Poems’ 3rd prize: “Please Kill me “ – An Oral History of Punk & ‘Motel Life’ by Willy Vlautin

OPEN TO ALL: ENTRIES CLOSE FRI JUL 14. DRAWN JULY 21 Email to: breakfast@95bfm.com Judges: Richard & Paul (bFM Creative Dept) + mystery guest. May be published with permission. 95Bfm BREAKFAST WITH WALLACE 7 – 10 AM WEEKDAYS.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Facts of Life

My review of Jim Ferris's chapbook Facts of Life is coming out in the next Disability Studies Quarterly. You have to be a subscriber to read it. I don't think I've ever got used to idea that you'd have to subscribe to read scholarly content online. I'm an old pre-WWW nethead and the original idea of the Web was to share content and ideas. No disrespect to DSQ here. I know that they are far from alone. But only those in the Disability Studies community or those working at a university will be able to read it. So secondary schools are already out of the loop...

I'm also working on an experimental piece (fan fic? digital art?) called BusyKillingAbel. This is a series of speculations, fragments, loops riffing on the band Minuit. I'm having a lot of fun writing this one. As part of this work I've been learning about myspace and, as usual, I find myspace to be full of ideas and possibilites often ignored by those in the net moral panic business. I'm much more concerned about my kids spending hours on the Playstation than I am about myspace.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A good book in a wet letterbox

I'm worried about the shuttle now... foam falling off, cracked fuel pipe. . . And Billy Piper is leaving Dr. Who. I'm fed-up with this rotten weather but there was a nice book in the post. I'm reviewing Classic New Zealand Poets in Performance for the NZ Poetry Society newsletter and it sure looks pretty. Did I mention the football?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Junk. Melvin Burgess

Burgess won the Carnegie medal and the Guardian award in 1997 for this harrowing tale of teenage junkies in Bristol during the early 1980s. The British tabloid press accused Burgess of encouraging drug use amongst teenagers. Nothing further could be true.

This is a powerful novel. Burgess doesn’t preach—there’s no single authorial voice telling the story. Chapters are narrated by the main characters in the story—including one extremely powerful chapter towards the end of the novel narrated by Tar’s alcoholic father. The myth of the ‘pusher’ is smashed forever. The kids start by wanting to take drugs and we clearly see how these drugs complement their values and politics. Everything starts off OK but soon we see how addiction is twisting these values and all their relationships. It’s a marvelous, sensitive, deeply moving piece of writing. The bright young things slide into dark junkies on the game. And many don’t even see how their addiction has caught and broken them until much too late. Denial is a part of addiction.

Burgess has a simple, no nonsense homepage that has lots of information on Junk.

Finally, did I imagine that Downstage Theatre was scheduled to stage The Winter’s Tale in July? No: here’s the link on their site. And now there’s no mention of it …