Thursday, May 31, 2007

Blinded by the light. Sherry Ashworth

Sherry Ashworth

I finished Sherry Ashworth's
Blinded by the Night last night. It's a tightly written thriller about a bright lad in his gap year between school and university who finds himself drawn into a cult. What I liked about the novel was that many of the cult's values seem entirely reasonable at first (belief in the universal good, acceptance of truth in other religions, seeking higher wisdom) but as Joe, the narrator, enters more deeply into the cult the practices seem more demanding (fasting, sensory deprivation) and some ideas seem even more weird (fighting 'antimatter'). There's also a love interest as he's attracted to Bea and their relationship forms the core of the novel. All the characters are well-developed and believable and the book ends with an exciting finish. The book won the Lancashire book of the year award in 2003.

I wonder when the BBC documentary film on Mark E Smith will make its way here?

And I was appalled and moved to tears at the horrible story of Mercury Energy disconnecting the power of a Mangere Samoan family whose mother was reliant on a respirator. Within a few hours the woman was dead. John Campbell's interview with the head of Mercury Energy brought out the heartless character of many of these SOE managerial elites. (Check the NZ Herald for the story).

My poem 'Meet the Ws' will be published in the Reed anthology Poetry Pudding on June 15. Once school settles down I can get back to writing. I do have a review to polish up this week for the Poetry Society...

Music this week: Jarvis (can't get enough of it); Dear Heather. Leonard Cohen. Musicale. Eric Reed.

Image from Sherry Ashworth's site.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Nebula Award 2007

The Nebula Awards for 2007 and Jack McDevitt's Seeker has won. I guess McDevitt deserves an award but I'm not sure that Seeker is really what I consider a Nebula novel. A Nebula has a wider significance or at least engagement with society. I greatly respect McDevitt's talent as a storyteller and I've enjoyed many of his yarns. But I don't see Seeker as a significant novel and as I go along with other critics I've read online who see the novel as a variation of one of McDevitt's core storylines. (Not that there's anything wrong, as any Phil Dick fan will tell you, with retelling versions of the same story. But PKD did touch on the 'big themes' which I just don't find in McDevitt's well-crafted and compelling space opera.)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A220H Black

We just bought three of these stools from Stacks in Newtown for our new house. Each stool has a built in air pump and you adjust the height by releasing the air. Ours are black.

I enjoyed The Children of Hurin a great deal; I needed a distraction to take me from the world. There’s an excellent review of the book in the Independent by Murrough O'Brien. All I can add to the review is that Alan Lee illustrations and jacket added a great deal to my pleasure of the book.
(I'll link to the review when it comes back online.)
A badge on a girl's schoolbag: Aotearoa is not a US state.

And I'm adding astronomical observations to my links list.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Three poets reading

This came in my gmail box today from Mark Pirie. I'm hoping that I'll have time to go--this is a killer term so far. I'm still not sure if I'll make it to Othello at Downstage. Still, 'Moonshot' is at the publsihers so let's hope that he likes it.

Dear all,
A an invite to the "3 Poets Reading" celebrating the visit to New Zealand of leading contemporary Australian and Chinese poet Ouyang Yu.
**3 POETS READING** and launch of Mark Pirie's The Search (poems and stories)
Ouyang Yu (China/Australia)
Alison Wong (Wellington)
Michael O'Leary (Paekakariki)
As well the reading will include the launch of Mark Pirie's latest collection of poetry The Search (Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop, 2007, 200 pages). The book is accompanied by excellent black and white photographs of Wellington city and street scenes by Paekakariki photographer John Girdlestone.
Ouyang Yu is a leading contemporary Chinese and Australian poet, who teaches at Wuhan University in China. He has published several collections of poetry in English, including "New and Selected Poems" (Salt Publishing, England) and has translated many books from English into Chinese and Chinese into English (
Alison Wong is a noted local poet and former Burns Fellow at University of Otago. Her first collection "Cup" was published by Steele Roberts in 2006.
Michael O'Leary is a well-known Paekakariki poet, publisher and novelist. His most recent book is the collaborative volume "Sounds of Sonnets" with Mark Pirie (HeadworX, 2006) (
Mark Pirie is a Wellington poet, editor and publisher. Work includes the anthology of young New Zealand writing, The NeXt Wave (University of Otago Press, 1998) and 14 poetry collections. His new and selected poems, Gallery, was published by Salt Publishing, Cambridge, England. (
Venue: Aaron Laurence Gallery,
The Basement, 326 Lambton Quay, Wellington
Date: Wednesday 6 June 2007
Time: 6pm-8pm for 6.30 start.
MC: Mark Pirie
Poet's books will be on sale. Cash sales only.
Admisson is by Koha.
BYO drinks! Glasses will be provided.
Don't miss the rare chance to catch leading poet Ouyang Yu reading in Wellington!
More information on Mark Pirie's The Search attached.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

can't seem to get what I'm after till the day I die

I finished Jack McDevitt's Seeker last night. It's a treasure hunt in space as commercial antique collectors look for a long lost colony. I'm not sure how many times McDevitt's written versions of this story. I don't read a great deal of pulp but I am attracted to the fast narrative and the promise that the joyride might rekindle my childhood love of SF. I was happy enough until, as with other McDevitt novels, I approached the end.

I'm going to have to flag going to the Poetry Cafe tomorrow night. Too much paperwork. If you're looking for a cool music blog don't forget Trembleclef. I'm going off now to listen to Jarvis and get the boys to make a breakfast for Mother's day. Then back to grading, tracking attendance, writing units, etc. It's all seems unusually busy this term. (I was grading yesterday morning at 7.00 AM.) Still, the kids are alright.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tim Powers on free will

Here's a quote from a Locus March 2007 interview with Tim Powers:

"It has always seemed to me that if you really believe you have free will--if you believe that in any kind of moral quandary you are able to look at both choices and eventually say, "I'll do B, rather than A'--you've admitted the supernatural. The other way (which Betrand Russell, for example, insisted on) is that all your choices are inevitable. "

To take a totally materialist view of our lives and consciousness is to deny free will as free will would itself be an illusion caused by the complex play of chemicals and firing neurons in our brain. On the other hand, jumping to the supernatural--the soul or 'free will' seems questionable for me for a variety of reasons. If death is the end then it seems reasonable that free will really is an illusion caused by the play of chemicals and electrical currents in our heads. But the play of complex chemical and energy hardly seems adequate as an account not only of all our experiences and reflections but more importantly of our experience of volition, of what we choose to do with our lives. So I'm on the fence on this one.

This week’s music: Milk-eyed Mender, Joanna Newsom; The Devil and God are ranging inside me, Brand New, Tranesition, John Coltrane; Fountains of Wayne, Fountains of Wayne.

Still working on the manuscript: culled a number of poems, rewrote one. Working title: Moonshot.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Children of Hurin. J.R.R. Tolkien

Yes, I know that it's a marketing ploy. Yes, I know that Turin's story is in The Simarillion. But the book's lovely and there's an inviting quality in having this story in its own book and how can you say no to Alan Lee's fantasy art? So today I splashed out and bought it.

A big 'hello' to postpunkpete whose just got his blog going. Starting out with a post on the Fall has to be a good move. My music this week's Joanna Newson's The Milk-eyed Mender, John Coltrane's Expression and Black Box Recorder's Passionoia. Listening to Newson (I own Yves) and The Shins somewhat convoluted Wincing the Night Away has me wondering if there's a new taste for long, incomprehensible lyrics that you can't possibly follow--not that this is 'bad thing' but both Newson and The Shins require investment and concentration rather than a quick listen on the i-pod whilst you're in the check-out line.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Hit the north

Sometimes I miss the north.
But I'm kiwi now.


There is no afterlife
Do the best you can

when you're dead
you play footy with the worms

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Exhibitionists at Poetry Cafe

More detail at Poetrycafe.

It's hard to write at present because school requires so much time and energy. Like many teachers I've put in a few 12 hour stints so I'm pretty tired. But I'll get my bounce back soon.

Reading through the manuscript we've found more than a few typos. Typos are the bane of my writing life. I cringe when I see a typo in print. There are few of them these days and no howlers but I want to make sure that there are none in the book. I'm still tossing around titles. I'm thinking of:

Diwali songs
Waiting for songs
Gemini spacewalk
A catalogue of lost objects
Sound before stars

Hopefully there wont be a typo in the title. No school for me today as I'm on leave helping at a Primary school camp at Camp Wellesley in the beautiful Akatarawas. Pity that the weather's strong southerly and showers but anyway the change will do me good.