Friday, March 30, 2007

Framed. Frank Cotterrell Boyce

Have you seen the video for Jarvis Cocker’s ‘Don’t let him waste your time?’ Jarvis plays a singing cabbie with eyes rarely on the road as he ploughs down cyclists, pedestrians, anyone and anything who gets in his way, as he crones to the young woman in the back. The song has the line “But when some skinny bitch walks past in some hot pants”— the line’s a bit nasty but the delivery and whole tenor of the song makes the line both funny and oddly enough even tender. I stopped at a CD store in Johnsonville Mall yesterday on my way back home and they didn’t Jarvis’ CD. I wonder if CD stores will still be here in five years. I’m still not into downloading music.

I finished Frank Cotterell Boyce’s Framed the other night. If I remember right, Boyce’s Millions was one of the first books I noted in this blog (which I use to record what books I read and what I books I buy or am given). The plot of Framed, Boyce’s second novel, has many similarity’s to Millions: a strapped for cash family discovers a way out of their financial woes. Framed isn’t quite as exciting or as well paced as Millions—I wondered towards the end where the book was going. The storyline’s outrageous enough: Dylan, the only boy in a tiny Welsh village, meets Lester, a curator from the National Gallery in London who is storing all the paintings in a secret cavern in the mountain as London faces floods. Due to a misunderstanding concern the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Lester believes Dylan to be an art nut. Meanwhile, Dylan’s sister hatches a plan to steal Van Gogh’s Sunflowers from Lester so as to get their family out of the red and into the black. Boyce writing has a charming quirkiness and like Philip Ardagh I found it delightful.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

tennis with raw eggs

Jill Chan

I’m reviewing Tennis with Raw Eggs, a new anthology of teenage writing, and I’m struck by Kevin Clarke’s excellent cover photo. I want to start reading this sometime next week. On Thursday I’m due to have major root canal work and this morning I started a hefty dose of Augmentin to fight the gunk that needs to be removed. Yes, I’m a baby and I’m not looking forward to spending a couple of hours on the dental chair. The editing’s going OK—luckily my partner Latika is a good editor. We’ve gone through the first draft of the book and we’re sorting out the order of poems, the title (still being changed) and which ones to prune or ditch.
I’ve been too busy to read much this week but I have browsed through the new online edition of Foem:e 4 which features poems by Jill Chan.
Laurice over at the New Zealand Poetry Society is doing a cracker job keeping the site up to date and so, courtesy of NZPS, here are some upcoming poetry events. (I won’t be at Tony Chad as I’ll be snorkelling in Rarotonga).

Poetry Exhibition, Wellington

Coromandel writer Tracey Slaughter (2004 Katherine Mansfield Award and author of Her Body Rises) presents new poetry with photographer Peter Quinn in ‘An age of innocence' at the Photo Space Gallery (37 Courtenay Place). Opening night is 15 March (5pm - 7pm) and includes readings from Tracey Slaughter, Anna Jackson and Therese Lloyd. The show runs until 7 April.

NZPS, Wellington

Thursday 19th April 2007, 8.00pm. Turnbull House, Bowen St. Admission free. Guest Poet: Tony Chad, Poet, Singer, Song writer, Editor of Valley Micropress. Tony's reading will be preceded by a members-only mic.
Bravado International Poetry Competition
Bravado will be running the 4th Bravado International Poetry Competition this year.
Cash prizes are $500 for 1st, $250 for 2nd and $100 for 3rd, plus 10 Highly Commended poems net $50. each. All prize-winning poems will be published in Bravado 11, due out in November. (If you want to read last year’s winning work, Bravado 8 is still available @ $9.95 incl. P. &P.)
Any style or subject is acceptable, but poems must be no longer than 40 lines long. Your work must be original, unpublished and not under consideration elsewhere. The entry fee is $5 a poem or $10 for three entries, and the closing date for submissions is August 31st 2007.
The competition is now open. Download an entryform from or e-mail Or send an SSAE to Competition Secretary Bravado PO Box 13 533 Grey Street Tauranga.
Image from Miporadio.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Robert Lowell. Poems selected by M. Hoffman

Frank Kitts Park

I received a reply for a submission I’d made: not exactly rejecting the poem but not accepting it either; asking, instead, for five more poems and an essay on aspects of two poets whose work I’d mentioned in my submission letter. Interesting: do I follow that avenue by writing more poems and a letter? I dunno—I have other immediate projects to finish as well as the first term marathon to run.

Latika gives me her book token as a gift as she hasn’t spent it since Christmas so we go to Dymocks, peering in on the way to the new almost completed Borders store on Lambton Quay. At Dymocks, I’m just about to buy a hardback edition of Pauline Kiernan’s Filthy Shakespeare when I see that Taran’s found a Horrible History of World War II (lots of fun) and so I decide to be frugal and select instead a selection of Robert Lowell’s poem chosen by Michael Hoffman and selling for $16. (We must find ways of making poetry books cheaper).

It’s late morning, we eat sushi, wander over to Frank Kitts park, watch the dragonboat races, Taran explores an NZArmy armoured car, then both boys go for a quad bike ride. I lie under a pohutakawa and look up into the ocean blue sky: seeds pass over head, blown elsewhere, floating some high and distant others low. The seeds are like spidery threaded dandelions. They seem to be everwhere today and I have no idea what they are called.

Photo from Wellington Waterfront.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

In search of dark matter. Freeman & Mcnamara

It’s been a crazy week. We’ve bought a half-built house, both been crazy busy at work including working during the weekends, and have both had the feeling that we’re caught in some sort of marathon sprint. Somehow I’ve managed to squeeze in a little revision of the manuscript of my book of poems now called Even if. My poem ‘Karori morning’ has been accepted by The Listener and will come out sometime later this year.

As well reading Seamus Heaney’s lucid, mountain spring clear essay on Plath’s development as a writer, called ‘the indefatigable horsetaps’ in his anthology Finders Keepers—an essay that says more about Plath to me than Jacqueline Rose’s more clever-cloggy book The Haunting of Sylvia Plath—I’ve also finished a slim, neutrino dense In Search of Dark Matter by Ken Freeman and Geoff Mcnamara. I get lost as an electron in a Bohr experiment trying to understand the particle physics but as a lay stargazer I can at least appreciate the immense problems that the theory of dark matter tries to answer. Something is terribly wrong with the way galaxies behave—they must have more mass given their rotations and movements relative to each other. And gravitational lensing can be measured: so we can see the effect dark matter haloes—which the authors favour—have on the light from distant galaxies they distort. Dark matter isn’t uniformly distributed. Apparently, it’s clumped in massive haloes that surround galaxies. As we’re in the rim of our galaxy we’re away from the dark matter halos. Of course there are other explanations: tricky neutrinos, mini-black holes and even the notion that perhaps Newton’s laws don’t apply to massive galactic structures.

The Poetry cafĂ© in Porirua hosts an open mike and a guest reading by on Monday. I’ll go if I can… Poor old Poetry cafe--the web site has been suspended. Hey, you poets gotta go kneel to the man!

And how do you get those dinky icons to appear on the left hand side of the URL indicator window? Hm.

Image from Amazon Books