Friday, September 29, 2006

Learning the World. Ken MacLeod

As you all know, I love science fiction and I’m sure that I read altogether too much of it—but what can you do when if written well it gives so much pleasure and isn’t fattening or bad for the lungs or liver? This is my first Ken McLeod read and I was impressed by how well the book worked on a number of levels; it’s a very crafty, tersely-written first contact novel and it’s also full of little SF in-jokes. A colony of humans who have been traveling on a series of generation-ship habitats for thousands of years finally come into a system inhabited by intelligent humanoid bats who very closely resemble early 2oth century Western European culture. One of Mcleod’s jokes in this first contact novel is that we sometimes find the aliens more human and understandable that the complex ‘humans’ aboard the habitats. (The name of the entire habitat “But the sky, my lady, the sky!” is obviously a nod to Iain Banks’ culture novels). You can read two more cogent, coherent reviews of the novel by Niall Harrison and Dan Hartland over at Strange Horizons.

(And I’ve added Ken Mcleod’s blog to the roll although I’m not sure if it’s dead or dormant).

Of course, I’m still on the poetry and I urge you to fork out a measly $NZ5 and go and buy Peter Olds small book The Mad Elephant now.

And here’s a poem by Peter you might enjoy: Walking Down Elder Street.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ireland: Awakening

I just returned from a very enjoyable sleepover at my parents' place in Otaki. The whole family got together: Mum, Dad, my two sisters, my two nephews and my brother-in-law. We had a pasta and green salad dinner and a bit of an impromptu party. My Dad give me the thickest historical novel I've ever seen--Edward Rutherford's Ireland Awakening which covers the period from the Reformation to Joyce and Yeats. This will certainly keep me out of mischief for a while.

And I've been playing on net vibes, a very simple and powerful web tool that allows you to create a manageable home play. Go on, have a go . . .

Monday, September 25, 2006

More books ...

My birthday came and went and I was as ever delighted to receive book tokens. Today, the first day of the holidays, I went into town and cashed them in for John Grigsby's Beowulf and Grendel: The Truth Behind England's Oldest Legend and James Shapiro's 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare. I've already started Grigsby's book ...

Today's poem is No Rest by James Brown.

Today's lyric The Celibate Life by The Shins.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Today's poem are by David Howard.

Today's totally mental lyric is the Fall's Hit the North.

And now, the notices ... today's notice from Mark Pirie . . .

Dear all,
We have pleasure in inviting you to the "Four Poets Reading" to celebrate the return visit to New Zealand of Australian poets Ken Bolton and Cath Kenneally. The two poets last visited here for Writers/Readers Week at the International Festival of the Arts in Wellington, 1996. Their work was well published in literary magazines like Sport and JAAM at the time and now they are back to entertain us once more! Come along and hear them read with two local poets Dinah Hawken and Mark Pirie.

Ken Bolton (Adelaide, Australia)
Cath Kenneally (Adelaide, Australia)
Dinah Hawken
Mark Pirie
Venue: Paekakariki Memorial Hall, Paekakariki
Date: Saturday September 30th 2006
Time: 3.00pm-5.30pm.

Drinks from 3pm to start of reading at 3.30pm.
MC: Michael O'Leary, the Earl of Seacliff
Wine and juice and poet's books for sale, cash sales only. No EFTPOS.

Notes on the Poets

Ken Bolton lives in Adelaide, where he is associated with the Experimental Arts Foundation. He edited the magazines Otis Rush and Magic Sam and is the publisher of Little Esther Books. Much of his own poetry has appeared, Selected Poems (Penguin Books), Two Poems (EAF), and Untimely Meditations (Wakefield Press). A new book from Wakefield Press, At the Flash & At The Baci was published this year. An essay on Ken's work by Gregory O'Brien has appeared in Sport.
Cath Kenneally lives in Adelaide, South Australia, and makes radio programs on Australian arts and literature. Her collections to date include Harmers Haven (1996) and Around Here (1999). Her first novel, Room Temperature, appeared 2000. She has won a Barbara Hanrahan Fellowship, Adelaide Festival of Arts 1998, and John Bray National Poetry Prize for Around Here (Salt Publishing), Adelaide Festival 2002. All Day All Night has been shortlisted for Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize. She has three children.

Dinah Hawken
is a Wellington poet whose first collection, It Has No Sound and Is Blue (1987) 'won the Best First Time Published Poet section of the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for 1987 and at once established Hawken locally as 'one of the most distinctive new voices of her generation' (Oxford Companion to NZ Literature). Her other collections include Small Stories of Devotion (1991, UK edn 1995), Water, Leaves, Stones (1995), The Little Book of Bitching, which appeared with issue 21 of the literary magazine Sport in 1998, Where We Say We Are (2000) and the volume of selected and new poems Oh There You Are Tui! (2001). A new collection of prose and poetry appeared from VUP in April this year.

Mark Pirie
was born in 1974, in Wellington, New Zealand. Work includes the anthology of young New Zealand writing, The NeXt Wave (University of Otago Press, 1998) and 13 poetry collections, including Shoot, Reading the Will, The Blues, Dumber and London Notebook. A new collection Wellington Fool has just appeared from ESAW. His new and selected poems, Gallery, was published by Salt Publishing, Cambridge, England.

Michael O’Leary
’s work includes collections of poems, several novels and a published thesis on small press publishing in New Zealand. His most recent novel is Unlevel Crossings (Huia Publishers, 2002), a highly original work in the Irish-Maori tradition. HeadworX published his recent collections, Toku Tinihanga (Self Deception) and Make Love and War. He is also the publisher for Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop (E.S.A.W.).

Saturday, September 23, 2006

David Eggleton at Poetry Café

Today's poem is Musée des Beaux Arts by W. H. Auden.
I love Seamus Heaney but I'm finding Circle and District hard going.
Welcome Cicilie who is currently in Paris.
Today is the first day of my two week holiday.

And now, the notices...

Poetry Café meets every second
Monday of the month. 7:30pm

(except January & December)

Poetry Cafe is back.
@ the Cruz Cafe & Bar

The gods of weather and liquor licensing kept David Eggleton from appearing in June, but we look forward to the return of the Great Kiwi Ranter in October......

· Entry is Free ·

7:30 October 9: David Eggleton

David Eggleton is a Dunedin-based poet, writer and critic. He has published five collections of poems. ...... MORE

Dinah Hawken

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Takahe Poetry Competition

Just a reminder that the Takahe Poetry Competition closes at the end of the month. Overseas entries are welcome.

My poem 'Heurodis' will be available online in the next issue of the
Southern Ocean Review.

Today's poem is
'Today is the piano's birthday' by Michael Harlow.

Today's lyric is
45 by Elvis Costello.

Y'all come back now, y'hear.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Bravado Poetry Competition Results

The Bravado Poetry Competition results have just been released. Congratulations to all the winners-especially to Michael Harlow whose entries have been recognized by various competiton judges over the years. Michael’s work is consistently noted and all these competitons are judged blind. Congratulations too to Margaret Vos whose work has been recognized by the Bravado judges for two years in a row.

Joanne Black also mentioned Ralph Proop’s reading at the last session of Poetry Math, commenting on his introductions helped to make the poems accessible. Good to see The Listener covering poetry readings-now if only the Poetry Café could get some coverage …

Results of the 3rd Bravado International Poetry Competition 2006
Judged by Tony Beyer

1st Prize
Return of the Matariki. Jan Hutchison

2nd Prize
Training Ground. Bruce Rankin

3rd Prize
bird talk. Karen Peterson Butterworth

Highly Commended
Synaesthesia. Alice Hooton
The country I never visited. Margaret Vos
and the tapa says. David Best
Mr Li’s Spectacles. Janis Freegard
Stroke David. Lyndon Brown
Being Nobody. Michael Harlow
Talk of Snow. Sandra Simpson
Biography of dancer. Margi Mitcalfe
The trees will tell you. Helen Lehndorf
Family Photo. Karen Peterson Butterworth

Says Jenny Argante, co-ordinating editor for Bravado, “We were delighted with both the quality and quantity of the competition entries this year, and yes, we will be repeating it next year. Our judges so far have been excellent judges so far - Catherine Mair (with Owen Bullock), Alistair Paterson and Tony Beyer. We will be considering whom to ask to take on this rewarding task in 2007.”
The judge's report from Tony Beyer, and the winning poems - 13 in all - will be published in Bravado 8 due out in November. Congratulations to all our winners, but let’s remind ourselves - as Tony said - “Besides the finalists and winners, there were many other strong and enjoyable works.”

Orders for single copies can be taken now @ $9.95 ea., but a 2-year subscription is still the cheapest way to buy Bravado - 6 individual copies delivered to your door for only $50. Enquiries: Kaye Hubner Subscriptions Manager Bravado PO Box 13 533 Grey Street Tauranga.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes

A good friend of mine lent me this book and I’ve had a fair amount of pleasure form the poems. Collins poetry is unaffected and highly imaginative—there’s a delight in how the world appeals to the imagination. There’s also a touch of bravado: the poem on looking through the Victoria’s Secret lingerie catalogue and the fantasy about undoing Emily Dickinson’s corset are worth the whole book. But there are also poems about how men used to wear hats in the old days and what it would be like to walk into a painting. There’s plenty of Billy Collins work online if you fancy a look.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

How Maui Defied the Goddess of Death

I’m very busy with schoolwork at present—there seems to be no end to assessments, reports, etc and somehow between all this I squeeze in teaching. And on top of this we’re selling our house. I was too busy to attend the Dinah Hawken reading on Monday but I’m hoping that I won’t be too busy for the next poetry café wherever that might be. In the meantime, I’ve re-read two of Peter Gossage’s storybooks retelling the great stories of Maui (“How Maui Defied the Goddess of Death” and the "Fish of Maui”). These are great books which I’ve read before and which my younger son Taran enjoys immensely.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Two new old epics

About six weeks ago I was asked if I wanted to take part in a focus group for which I was rewarded with $50 worth of book tokens for Dymocks. I gave $30 for a book for my son Taran and today I decided to take a break from the seemingly endless marking regime I’m on and spend the tokens. I decided to buy two classics in the new Penguin epics series, Saga and Myths of the Northmen (which is a short selection from The Saga of the Volsungs, The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki and the Prose Edda) and Siegfried’s Murder (which is an extract from the Nibelungenlied). My interest here has been prompted with discussions with Mary, our school librarian with whom I carpool to work, who told me how Melvin Burgess’s new sequel to Bloodtides is a futuristic adaptation of these very tales. I also have to confess to not being able to finish Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin which I loved for the first hundred pages and then grew tired of as the gears changed down from overdrive.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Mad Elephant

Peter Olds

The last of the winter readings at Wellington’s City Gallery was well-attended (I counted over fifty people). The more I see Elizabeth Thomson's My Hi-Fi My Sci-if the more I see the simple beauty of leaves and moths. Unable to resist buying anything at these poetry readings, I picked up a copy of Peter Olds The Mad Elephant—number 8 in the Earl of Seacliff Artwork miniseries. It was good beforehand able to be able introduce myself to Michael O’leary and I liked the way Fagan’s performance brought the series to a close—he sang a few of his poems as songs and this seemed to fit nicely with the tongue-in-cheek ‘poetry is the new rock’ theme of Poetrymath.

The Poetry Café will be held over at Bar Bodega on September 11 and I’m planning to turn up to hear Dinah Hawken read and to have a crack at the open mike.

The Poetry Pudding anthology (which includes my poem ‘Meet the Ws’) is go and is now due to be launched next year on Montana Poetry day. Now all I have to do is finish that review ...

Image from ESAW.