Monday, December 24, 2007

I am Not Esther. Fleur Beale. AoNZPSA Blog

Christmas Eve: the kids are chomping at the bit to open their presents early. Go on then. . . just one.

Last night I finished reading Rohan Fleur Beale's I am not Esther. This is my second reading of the novel. It's a creepy story about a girl who is abandoned by her mother and sent to live with a fanatical religious group near Wanganui. This time I felt the weirdness of the story a little more. How powerless Ester becomes; how only her will and tenacity can help her survive a world of crazy adults who are so sure that they all know best.

The phenomenally productive Jack Ross has created a blog for the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive. This is a Bibliographical Aid for the Use of Those Consulting the Waiata Archive (1974) and the AoNZPSA (2002-2004) - Audio Recordings available in Special Collections, University of Auckland Library and in the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Unfortunately the sound archives are not online but who knows…perhaps one day. Even so, there's a nifty brief biography on each of the poets. Imagine if these files were available online--that would be great.

I'm off to Auckland tomorrow for Christmas with my sister-in-law and then we're off to Whangerei. No doubt I'll still be blogging. Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays.

Image: NZ Book Council.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


  1. Blue Alert. Anjani Thomas
  2. Innermost Door. Anjani Thomas
  3. Golden Gate. Anjani Thomas
  4. Black Mirror. The Arcade Fire
  5. Neon Bible. The Arcade Fire
  6. Perhaps Vampires is a bit strong but… The Artic Monkeys
  7. Venus as a Boy. Corinne Bailey Rae
  8. Tacoma Trailer. Leonard Cohen
  9. Young Idealist. Lloyd Cole
  10. Antidepressant. Lloyd Cole
  11. Pran's Departure. Mike Oldfield
  12. Gimme Shleter. Patti Smith
  13. Soul Kitchen. Patti Smith
  14. Smells like Teen Spirit. Patti Smith
  15. Midnight Rider. Patti Smith
  16. Granny takes a Trip. The Purple Gang
  17. #9 Dream. REM
  18. I Bet that you Look Good on the Dancefloor. The Sugarbabes.
  19. Black Swan. Thom Yorke.
  20. Not Even a Dream. Voom.
Image from Musicbox.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Reaching for the Baxters. Peter Old/X-mas Surprise

If you're looking for stocking fillers or 'Secret Santa' gifts and want something for around $5 books then why not pick up an Earl of Seacliffe mini-book at Unity Books? They're great presents and nifty little books. And if you want some free poetry then pop over to the Earl of Seacliffe for their 2007 Christmas Surprise PDF book.

Today's poem is 'The Mall' by Owen Bullock.

Space news: An asteroid may hit Mars at the end of January and over at my old Alma Mater, the University of Florida (Gainesville), astronomers reckon that aliens might be able to discern earth's features.

Image: Earl of Seacliffe

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Thinks. David Lodge

I finished listening to David Lodge’s Thinks on CD. Does listening really count as reading? I can’t stop and wonder about a word or day dream. I think I’m a pretty slow reader these days. I’m not in any rush. It’s a clever, interesting novel about a neurology professor and a novelist and their affair. The novel clearly has three different narrators: Ralph (the self-centered, philandering Prof), Helen (the quiet, widowed novelist) and an omniscient third person narrator. Whilst Gordon Griffin does a good job playing all three voices, I think the audio would have been better if each narrative voice had been given to a different actor. Was this a budget decision I wonder? After 14 CDs I could hear Griffin's voice chattering in my head. Weird.

Like a lot of others online, I’ve been playing around in Facebook. And, back IRL, my brother’s visiting today from Sydney. And it’s a little cold and raining in Wellington which will only confirm his longstanding decision to live over the ditch in Sydney.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bernard Gadd 1935-2007

Sad news this morning: Mark Pirie emailed me that Bernard Gadd died on December 11. Although I did not know Bernard personally, I am familiar with his work as a poet and reviewer. He was an active member of the New Zealand Poetry Society. A short notice on his death and links to some of his poetry are up on the NZ Poetry Society Haiku Newz page. A detailed biography (which has not yet been updated to record Bernard's passing away) is available at the Book Council's excellent web site.

He was a great promoter of New Zealand poetry and (like myself now) a high school teacher. Bernard was very active as a teacher and editor in creating resources for Maori and Pacifika students.

Bernard's contributions to poetry will be missed.

Image: NZ Book Council

Sunday, December 16, 2007


The Headworx party was well attended. It was good to catch up with Helen Rickerby and Tim Jones and Latika and I especially enjoyed the live African drumming. At the party, Helen gave me two issues of Sidestream, a free (donation supported) poetry zine. Issue 11 features poems by Helen and Jill Chan and Miriam Barr. It's small, fun and totally of the street.

My poems 'The Shepherd' and 'Corporate Identity' will be published in issues 19 and 20 of Albatross. (Richard Smyth wants to spread them over two issues.)

I've added Sidestream and Albatross to the poetry links. And I've changed the template to Minima Blac. It's black and, er, minimalist.

Image from Sidestream

Friday, December 14, 2007

Books in the Trees

Tim Jones has started his blog Books in the Trees. Tim's a poet, short story writer, novelist, lover of SF and Russian literature; he's someone who cares and someone who can't be slotted easily into a box. Go and have a look: it's gonna be good.

School's out for summer (but it hasn't been blown to pieces). I'll go in next week and tidy my classroom and file some papers. Then I've got some writing to sink my teeth into: a review for NZ Books and revisions on the poem 'The Exorbitant.' I'm looking forward to hunkering down and just focusing on writing a lengthy review. Good, scary fun. Then I'm off to Auckland on Christmas Day and going off to Whangerei for a break with the family.

Don't forget the Headworx Christmas party on Sunday. I wonder what range of books Mark P will bring to sell? I'm keen to get a copy of Richard Von Sturmer's Suchness. He's a prolific writer who I find immensely interesting. I'd like to meet him someday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

AS Adolescence and Identity @ the Library

The mighty Wellington Public Library will soon add mine and Latika's Asperger Syndrome, Adolescence and Identity to their stacks.

Archives New Zealand has just launched their new website and once the kids stop gobbling the limited bandwidth then I intend to go and play. This does look like an interesting site.

Rachel McAlpine’s blog is now password access only. We’ve gone from feast to famine.

And it’s nice to see that our own Straitjacket Fits are recognized for their cover of a Leonard Cohen song over at the Leonard Cohen Files. (Click on 'Tributes and Covers' in the left side menu). And BTW: the Anjani CD produced by Mr. Cohen is actually bloody good!

Image from JKP.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Jack Ross/Astronomical Yearbook/i-Pod RIP

There's a great interview with Jack Ross about the excellent Landfall 214 over at Radio New Zealand. Can we keep to 'Open House' formats please?

The most essential (for me!) yearly NZ publication is out. Stardome's great Astronomical Yearbook. One day, I hope, I'll learn all the constellations--but I'm a long way off.

My old school I-pod shuffle has died just before its first birthday. Yes, I was warned. But mourning begins regardless.

Too young to die...

Monday, December 03, 2007

SF Matters

Well, I've sent my subscription off to Jaam & now I'm at home looking after Latika and Rohan who both have a nasty flu bug. Ansible came out this weekend. It includes this rather sad news :

Peter Haining (1940-2007), UK author and editor best known for
some 150 anthologies of supernatural, horror, fantasy, sf and crime, died unexpectedly on 19 November. He was 67. He also published many single-author collections and scores of nonfiction titles (e.g. several volumes about Doctor Who), and edited anthologies for Peter Cushing and Alfred Hitchcock. His family announced that he died 'doing what he loved -- playing football and wearing his Arsenal shirt.'

I remember those large volumes on Dr. Who. I used to read library copies on wet Saturday afternoons when there was nothing else to do.

And Norman Mailer which I didn't note earlier. The Armies of the Night and the manic Why are we in Vietnam? are well worth reading today.

And I've found a good NZ SF site: the Science Fiction & Fantasy Association of NZ. You know, I think I might join. It's a good 30 years since I was in a SF club!

Saturday, December 01, 2007


I've changed the template again. This one's minima. It's, er, minimalist.

Leafsalon's up for grabs. What a pity Kathy's going because it was a fun, useful, enjoyable blog. And like so many others I've joined Facebook but I'm not finding it that friendly to use. I hunt for people on Facebook and I can't find them. But the idea of a visible social network intrigues the lapsed information designer in me. I've only spent half an hour on it so far. And for no particular reason at all today's poem is Vincent O'Sullivan's Nice Morning for It, Adam.