Sunday, December 31, 2006

a personal post for homie bear

I’ve been working and re-working four poems that I want to submit to an online journal early in the new year. Sometimes I find that I have to go back and completely start again with a poem—it’s the same subject matter but a completely different poem. And then there’s the polishing and tinkering. But the four poems (‘puriri’, ‘a walk on the moor’, ‘karori morning’, ‘Zeus’) are nearly ready: one in particular I’d like to do another ‘cut’ with a different versification just to see what it looks like. I’m not going to publish drafts on the blog as I do sometimes find myself working at odd hours at the last minute and there’s too much good poetry out there for you to be reading my drafts. But I will talk a little more about the writing process this year as I’ve hardly mentioned it at all so far on the blog. I’m working on a number of projects at present—I’m looking at blogs for a guide to poetry blogs and online groups I’ve been asked to write for the members’ section of the New Zealand Poetry Society and I’m cobbling together some information and some mp3s of my poems for the Paekakariki Fringe Festival. I have also been improving my survival Hindi by watching some sub-titled Hindi movies. I do want to improve my Hindi this year. I drank and ate too much (but especially drank) and smoked cigs over Christmas so now I'm on the wagon, eating carefully, doing a little yogic breathing in the morning and exercising at the local park. But I guess I shouldn't bore you with tales of my own excesses and regimes.

Today is my son’s Rohan’s birthday—he’s eleven years old. We have a big party for him before the holiday season kicks in so all his friends can celebrate before they leave town. Tonight we’ll all go out for a family dinner.

This is my first 'personal' post on this blog that hasn't been a book review or a piece of news and it feels...well, it feels a bit strange, actually.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

re-make re-model

Happy holidays everyone. I've changed the name of the blog againthis coming year I imagine I'll be writing shorter, more informal posts. I'm tempted to change the 'harbor' template and give it a whole new look but I'm actually fond of 'harbor' even though I know that Blogger templates are considered boring. I also added a link to the New York Times Review of Books as I've been reading the site recently. I read a great review of Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day by Luc Sante there yesterday. Also of interest is Jonathan Strahan's pick of the best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the year over at his blog.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

How We Fell. Glenn Colquhoun

We’ve just moved and all my books, except a handful and a good dictionary, are packed away in storage. I’ve just been received a signed copy of How We Fell as a welcomed impromptu gift. It doesn’t look like a regular poetry book: it has a bright cartoon cover, a full colour cartoon strip in the middle, and many line drawings. The title strikes a note with me as it brings to mind Jenny Bornholdt’s How we met (and the strip, oddly enough, on first glance, features a meeting between poetryman and poetrygirl—which immediately brings to mind Bornholdt and O’Brien. I was moving yesterday so I wasn’t able to listen to Colquhoun’s playing his favourite tracks on Kim Hill’s
Saturday Morning show, but it’s all online and I can always hear it later once I'm more settled.

Image from Steele Roberts.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Bravado 8

Bravado 8 arrived in the mail yesterday featuring poetry from Vincent O’Sullivan, a column by Iain Sharp, the winners of the Bravado Poetry Competition, and a bright cover featuring from a painting by Leonard Lambert. I haven’t had time to read through the issue yet but I was disappointed to read, in the editorial, that Bravado had, at the last moment, not secured their expected funding from Creative New Zealand. Luckily, an anonymous patron donated the funding needed to get Bravado to press. This is the second project I’ve heard of that hasn’t received funding—the proposed anthology of Science Fiction poetry never reached lift-off due to CNZ not coming to party. I find the decision not to fund Bravado worrying, especially given that this particular issue devotes considerable space to winners of a poetry competition. Bravado is a unique publication in that it has a strong Taranaki/Bay of Plenty flavour without excluding writers from other regions. What’s CNZ thinking about in not encouraging regional voices and high-calibre writing? And good on Vincent O’Sullivan for supporting Bravado.

Bravado has also revamped their website so there's now more information about the magazine online.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Charles Olson: the allegory of a poet's life. Tom Clark

Is it really a good idea to visit a library sale when you’re packing and trying to get rid of books? Probably not. But Latika encouraged me to have a browse at the city library sale and I ended up buying Tom Clark’s book on Charles Olson which I hope to read over summer.

I’ve been reading the latest Southern Ocean Review—check out The Theologians by Peter Olds.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Paekakariki Fringe Festival

I’ve been invited to read at the Paekakariki Fringe Festival next year on Sat 10 February and Wednesday 14 February with Helen Heath and Helen Rickerby and others whose names I can't find right now—I’m not sure of al the details yet but it sounds like a lot of fun.

I’ve also been reading the latest Snorkel, enjoying poems by Kate Lilley and Olivia Macassey.

I've busy packing books, papers, kids' toys, electronics, junk, etc as we're moving house next week to a rental property while we look for a new house.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Beowulf and Grendel. John Grigsby

I’ve just finished John Grigsby’s Beowulf and Grendel:The Truth Behind England's Oldest Legend. Grigsby essentially argues that Beowulf is a god and that his fight with Grendel and Grendel’s Mum mirrors a conflict in Norse mythology between the Gods of the Aesir and the Vanir. In his reading, Beowulf can be seen as a similar, if not identical, figure to Odin. The conflict in his view represents the triumph of the Vanir over the Aesir.

There’s really quite an excellent pithy review of the problems of this argument over at Amazon by A Holt Holtingar. I enjoyed the book—although it was a little tough going at the end—but I disagree with Grigsby’s argument because while I accept that there probably are many stories behind the poem—and these lost tales are part of the appeal of reading Beowulf—I see Beowulf as quite clearly a mortal. He may think that he’s a God but, as Hrothgar warns him, even his finest victories cannot alleviate his mortality. Beowulf must die and somewhere down the line the dragon or some other monster will turn his flesh to dust. This bittersweet fact is part of what makes Beowulf, for all of it’s difference from us today, part of it’s appeal and relevancy—unlike Superman Beowulf is human, all too human and must face this simple truth.

Poetry New Zealand has a revamped website and it’s a cracker. I like both the design and the new content—great stuff!

four poets reading

ESAW along with the Aaron Gallery present four poets reading

Vivienne Plumb

Michael O’Leary

Mark Pirie

Basim Furat

Venue: Aaron Laurence Gallery, 326 Lambton Quay, 7pm-10pm, Friday 22 December. Mark Pirie and Michael O’Leary’s new book Sounds of Sonnets (HeadworX) will be launched on the night along with Vivienne Plumb and Adam Wiedemann’s Doppelganger (part of the ESAW mini series). If I’m in Wellington I plan to attend—I’m still not sure if I’m going up to Auckland for Christmas.

BTW: I did enjoy the last ESAW mini series I bought and read: a signed copy of Karen P Butterworth’s Fluid. Good to see poets in Otaki can get published. I’m not overly fond of haiku as a form but Butterworth uses haiku here as little breaks or drops in the larger flows of the surrounding poems.

In other news I read on Locus today that the writer Jack Williamson died in November. There’s an article on the importance of Williamson (who first popularised the term 'android' and 'terraforming') at the Portales News Tribune. I haven’t read a great deal of Williamson but his chilling short story ‘Jamboree’ has stuck in my mind since I first read it back in 1978. Photos of the memorial service have been posted on flikr by Patricia Rogers.