Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Otoliths/Shooting stars/Rise of Endymion

Poetry first: Issue Eight of Otoliths is now online featuring poems by Jill Chan, Michelle Leggott, Paul Hardacre and many others. Otoliths is a blog transformed into an ezine--well worth a visit.

I had a fun session star watching on Makara hill last night. I'm trying to learn some of the more obscure, fiddly constellations. Finding the small triangle in Monoceros (the Unicorn) wasn't difficult as its smack in the middle of a line between Sirius and Procyon but I couldn't make out the basic shape of the constellation. I had more success finding and learning the shape of Apus (the Bird of Paradise), a cute little four star constellation near Musca and the south celestial pole but I couldn't be sure if I was identifying Chamaelon correctly so I was looking at Taurus and trying to make out the shape of Perseus when I saw, at around 10.40 PM, the brightest meteor I have ever witnessed appear between The Hunter and The Bull shoot down below the Pleiades. Such a lovely long tail! It was probably a satellite burning up. And that's one reason I don't use binoculars or a scope: I like the big view of the sky so I can see the unexpected and besides I have so many rudimentary constellations to learn.

Back home, I finally finished The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons, the final (for now) hefty volume in his brilliant Hyperion cycle. I think I'll have a break from epic space opera for a while. . . maybe I'll read some short stories next time I feel like some SF.

Image: Wikipedia

Monday, January 28, 2008


As well as catching up with Mum, Dad and my sisters, I stopped by Sunnyo's place in Otaki and received a nice gift of a bag of macadamia nuts which I have yet to crack open…thanks! Now I'm back online ...

Look out, we're going to crash into the Tui factory!

When I got back to town, I sat up and watched Speed. Remember the bus? It has an advert for a bank on the back. Here's the slogan:

Money isn't Everything

(Yeah, right).

Speed was released in 1994. The Tui "Yeah Right" campaign began in 1995.


I also read Bernard Beckett's Redcliff over the weekend and I'm planning to set the novel to my level one NCEA class this year. Beckett has also created an interesting teaching resource for the novel including essay questions. (The next step is to include the resource inside the story--hang on, Harlan Ellison has already done that in his bleak short story The Deathbird.)

Image: Time Inc.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Laureate site/Jaam 26/Jupiter

Loose Yarns and UFOs put me on to Michele Leggot's blog over at the National Library. Michele is our current poet laureate and she creating an interesting and lively blog. I wonder if future laureates will inherit the blog.

I heard from Helen Rickerby this morning that Tim Jones will be editing Jaam 26. He didn't mention that when we had lunch earlier this week but we did talk a lot about SF :) ! And our appreciation of the ESAW minibook series and how great it is to have affordable poetry out there... Tim also showed me a copy of his novel Anarya's Secret and I was impressed by the quality of the production: great cover art and a lovely typeface.

The deadline for Jaam 26 is 31 March this year. Details are over at the Jaam myspace page.

Finally, there's a good newstory over at New Scientist on thunderstorms on Jupiter.

I'm off to Otaki for a few days to spend some time with my Mum & Dad and sisters. I'll be doing a little work, a little writing, and I'll probably be offline.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Thanks to Tim Jones's blog, I know that the next Landfall's all about utopias and dystopias. All the info you need is over at Tim's.

I've been told that it's not a good idea to show your date of birth on Facebook. I like the way that Facebook has put me back in touch with family in Manchester and Greece but I'm tired of the silly quizzes.

Here's my music playlist:

  1. Robbers & Cowards. Cold War Kids
  2. Sci-Fi Lullabies. Suede
  3. Best of Louis Armstrong Vol 2
  4. Room on Fire. The Strokes
  5. Psych Out! Mojo compilation
  6. Make Believe. Weezer
  7. Marie Antoinette Soundtrack
  8. Best of Sam Cooke
  9. Best of Steely Dan
  10. At War with the Mystics. The Flaming Lips

Monday, January 21, 2008

Victor O'Leary's gone

This just in from Mark Pirie:

Michael told me that Victor O'Leary (republished "The Sensual Anchor" in his ESAW mini series) died a half hour before Hone in Dunedin.

Info on O'Leary's book is on the ESAW web site. He was part of the Wellington group and his only book "The Sensual Anchor" was published by Johnson in his 3 poet anthology with Peter Bland and John Boyd.

Nelson Wattie informs me there is still more of his poetry unpublished in his literary remains.

I didn't know Victor or his work but my thoughts go to his family. We've had many deaths in NZ poetry recently: Hone Tuwhare, Meg Campbell, Bernard Gadd and now Victor.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Deborah on poetry

Unlike Deborah Coddington, I'm a great fan of both Elizabeth Smither and Brian Turner. Still, each to their own.

And I enjoyed Elizabeth Knox's interview of Margaret Mahy last night on TV. I thought she did a great job.

Today I'm going to plant more native grasses in the garden and then think about preparing classes for the new school year. Chill out, Deborah!

Friday, January 18, 2008

No bulbs

I'm not a handyman. I'm no good at building garden sheds, concreting, or wallpapering the house. But I don't consider myself to be inept when it comes to fixing appliances, or troubleshooting computer problems, or even changing a light bulb. Yesterday my mother-in-law called and asked me to change a halogen bulb in their kitchen which has just been renovated. I could not get the bulb to come out. Now what do I do? As Zippy the Pinhead used to say "My life is a patio of fun!"

There's a good orbituary for Hone Tuwhare with a picture of Hone and Charlotte Yates over at NZ Musician.

Image: Bulbman

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hone's gone.

This in from TVNZ:

Poet Hone Tuwhare passes away
Jan 16, 2008 6:19 PM

Hone Tuwhare, one of New Zealand's most celebrated poets, has died.

The prolific Maori poet died in hospital on Wednesday afternoon following a long illness.

ONE News reporter John McDermott spoke to friends who said Tuwhare was in good spirits right to the end and never lost the sparkle in his eye.

Tuwhare was also a playwright and short fiction writer - a contemporary of great New Zealand artists such as James K Baxter and Colin McCahon.

He was born in Kaikohe in the Far North in 1922.

His mother died when he was only five years old and Tuwhare later moved with his father to inner city Auckland.

He left school in his early teens and got an apprenticeship at the Otahuhu Railway Workshops. It was during this time that he started to write.

In 1964 Tuwhare published his first book of poetry No Ordinary Sun. It was the first book of poetry written by a Maori author in English. It was reprinted 10 times in the next 30 years and was one of the most widely read individual collections of poems in new Zealand history.

In 1999 Tuwhare was named as New Zealand's second Te Mata poet laureate and in 2003 was awarded one of the inaugural prime minister's awards for literary achievement for poetry. He also received honorary doctorates from Auckland and Otago universities.

Tuwhare spent his later years living in a tiny house in the South Otago settlement of Kaka Point where he continued to write prolifically

Hone Tuwhare's Tangi will be held in Kaikohe but a service will also take place in Dunedin.

He is survived by three sons and many grandchildren.


Oh, Hone. If I had a dollar for every one of your poems that got me writing . . . God, I've had so much pleasure and excitement and laughs and sounds from your poems. Thanks for everything. Good on you. Arohanui! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Purday review/Turbine 07/Teacher Man

Let's start off with shameless self-promotion: yesterday we found a favourable review of mine and Latika's book on Asperger Syndrome by Kevin M. Purday at Mental Help Net.

Back to promoting NZ poetry . . .

Turbine 07, edited by Joan fleming and Chris Price, has been online since December 12 and includes poems by Hinemoana Baker, Lynn Davidson, Emily Dobson, Anna Jackson, Alison Wong, Sue Wotton and others. One of the great features of Turbine is the inclusion of sound files so you can hear some of the poets read their work. I'm not so keen on the layout of Turbine 07 as there's too much spacing between the lines for my taste. Go back to the 06 style sheet! But of course some others might like the space.

And a few words about. . .

Our Frank

Frank McCourt. Teacher Man.

I'm guess I'm one of the few Molloys on the planet never to have read Angela's Ashes, so I had no idea what to expect when I was given Teacher Man as a Christmas present. McCourt's writing is melodious, enjoyable, and totally irresistible. I can't imagine any reader finding this book boring or difficult to read (although Brendan Halpin at the stuffy old Boston Globe didn't like it as you can see from this list of reviews) . Teacher Man recounts his career teaching in a number of New York high schools. McCourt never preaches or pontificates about what good teaching is and he never presents himself as an ideal teacher (though he does make it clear that he cares about his students.) When he asks his students to read out recipes to a musical accompaniment, he doubts whether he's really preparing his students well enough for college. He doesn't have any lesson plans or unit plans and I don't think that he'd have been any good at creating 'assessment activities' according to the strictures of NZQA. But in this chaos he does seem to have interesting classes, good relationships with his students, and lots of class participation. And he has a vision that school should be engaging, interesting, relevant to students and a road towards personal freedom. A great memoir but to be taken with a pinch of salt. Over on YouTube you can see McCourt reading from the book.

Image: NEA

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Jaam 25

Jaam 25 arrived yesterday, edited by Siobhan Harvey, and it's almost all poetry. There's a great list of contributors (I've now read all the poetry in there and I'll try to get to fiction but I always read poetry first) including: Kapka Kassabova, Kerry Popplewell, Alison Wong, Helen Rickerby, Owen Bullock, Stu Bagby, Jan Kemp, Jan Hutchinson, Harry Ricketts, Jill Chan, James Norcliffe, Alistair Paterson, Richard Reeve, Jessica Le Bas, Sue Fitchett, Riemke Ensing, Sarah Jane Barnett (whose work I've just started to notice--I liked 'Grandmother'), Iain Sharp, the late Bernard Gadd, Jack Ross, Raewyn Alexander and Jennifer Compton…and these are just the poets I've heard of before! As usual, Jaam features established writers and new voices. The 'new voice' that grabs my attention here is Iain Britton--I just haven't noticed his work before and enjoyed his work. A great issue.

Gimme a gottle 'o geer. And I'm not getting back in the box.

The other night I was watching the movie Magic with a friend. It's a strange tale of a magician and his dummy (or, of a dummy and his magician). The magician needs an act, needs a 'charm' as his manager puts it, and the dummy 'Fats' becomes that charm. But Fats begins to develop his own personality and begins to take over Corky, the magician. Anyway, Corky decides to go back to his home town to chill out and meets up with an old flame, played by Ann Margaret. I don't want to spoil the movie but we watched the last scene twice and discussed the significance of Ann Margaret's delivery of the movie's last lines which we took be given 'in the voice of Fats.'

Now why don't DVD distributors include the date of the original film? I poured over the DVD case looking for the date of the original release for the film. Not there. So we tried to work out the age of the film based on Ann Margaret's and Anthony Hopkins appearances (dodgy!) Later at home I looked over the DVD cover again--no sign of the date. I had to go online to find out that Magic was made in 1978.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Press release from Stephen Oliver

This in this morning from Stephen Oliver ...

Hi Harvey

I attach a media release from Interactive Publications. Here’s a little more detail about the reading times / venues for the launch of the CD KING HIT and my poetry collection, HARMONIC.

The publisher of Interactive Publications (Brisbane) Dr. David Reiter [an award winning Australian author] will be arriving in NZ Feb 16 for a two week tenure at the Michael King Residency in Davenport. Over this period and extending into early March we will be doing a reading tour covering Auckland and Wellington. In Auckland at ‘Poetry Live’ on Feb. 19 and Deport Art space in Davenport, Auckland, for a launch on Sunday, Feb. 24. There will be readings in Wellington on the 2nd and 3rd March at ‘The Cross’ in the city, and Lembas Café on the Sunday afternoon at Raumati South.

Interactive Publications of Australia is extending its publishing arm into New Zealand. My two titles coming out through IP, the KING HIT CD, [IP Digital] words written and read by this author, to original music by Matt Ottley, a highly regarded Australian picture book illustrator and accomplished composer, will be launched here during the NZ tour, in conjunction with my new poetry collection, HARMONIC, thus spearheading IP’s introduction into the NZ marketplace. David will also be launching a couple of his own titles, Children’s books, while here. Anyhow, that is it in a nutshell.

There are one or two links below [plus media release] which will take you to the IP site for further details on my forthcoming titles, etc. I believe this is a first for an Australian Independent publishing company to make such a concerted push into NZ. A transtasman enterprise. Thanks again for your assistance.



Stephen Oliver is a broadcaster and author of thirteen titles of poetry, Now available, a new collection titled: Either Side The Horizon, Titus Books, New Zealand, 2005. <> He has Lived in Paris, Vienna, London, San Francisco, Greece and Israel. Signed on with the radio ship, ‘The Voice of Peace’ broadcasting in the Mediterranean out of Jaffa, Israel. Free lanced as production voice, narrator, newsreader, announcer, voice actor, journalist, radio producer, copy and feature writer. Check out his website:

Now available: KING HIT (words) Stephen Oliver (music) Matt Ottley. IP/Interactive Publications, Brisbane, Australia: Also check out CD Baby page: and the Apple iTunes link:

Books Published

Henwise (1975), & Interviews (1978), Autumn Songs (1978), Letter To James. K. Baxter (1980), Earthbound Mirrors (1984), Guardians, Not Angels (1993), Islands of Wilderness - A Romance (1996), Election Year Blues (1999), Unmanned (1999). Night of Warehouses: Poems 1978-2000 (2001), Deadly Pollen (2003), Ballads, Satire & Salt - A Book of Diversions (2003), Either Side The Horizon (2005). Forthcoming: CD ROM of poetry by Stephen Oliver and music by Matt Ottley, titled, KING HIT. IP digital. In November, 2007. A new collection of poetry, Harmonic, Interactive Publications, Brisbane, Australia, 2008.

‘Transtasman’ Publisher to Tour New Zealand

Carindale, Qld - Interactive Publications Director Dr David Reiter today announced the impending release of an exciting new CD, King Hit, featuring spoken word performances by poet Stephen Oliver and musician and composer Matt Ottley, who is also an gifted children’s author and illustrator.

King Hit will feature on a tour of the North Island from 16 February through 8 March that will also see Stephen Oliver’s new IP poetry title Harmonic launched in New Zealand before it lands in Australia as well as Dr Reiter’s own new works. Events confirmed so far include Depot Artspace in Devonport, Poetry Live in Auckland, Poetry at The Cross and Lembas Café in Wellington.

As a part of his visit, Dr Reiter will be writer-in-residence at the Michael King Centre in Devonport. At the Centre, he will lead classes in Creative Writing for high school students as well as complete work on a new novel for adults. A multi-award winning author and multimedia artist, he will read and present his latest work including the controversial picture book Real Guns as well as Global Cooling, the sequel to his children’s chapter book The Greenhouse Effect.

“I’m looking forward to meeting with New Zealand publishers, authors and artists along the way,” Dr Reiter said. “In this age of collaboration — digital and otherwise — it makes sense for there to be more traffic in cultural material across the Tasman.”

IP is supported by the Australian Council, and regarded as an important national publisher of contemporary Australian authors, but it recently expanded its business to include New Zealand authors and artists. IP is the leading publisher of digital literary titles in Australia and it also has a very strong prose and poetry list.

For more information, to receive a review copy of the books to be featured on the tour, or to schedule an interview, please contact The Assistant Editor, Promotions, on +61 (7) 3395 0269 or email to


And in other news ... check out Snorkel 6. A great issue featuring lots of NZ poets: Harry Ricketts, Mary Cresswell, Chris Price and Sue Fitchett. I really like Snorkel's design. (The deadline for submissions for the next Snorkel is February 7).

Hugh Roberts doesn't mince his words as a critic. I have to agree with him in his review of Jenny Bornholdt's Mrs Winter's Jump in the latest Listener. It's enjoyable, it's light and breezy, the short lines are intriguing. If the book was a drink it would be H20 to Go spring water with bubbles and a splash of tangerine. But I was a little disappointed: I wasn't taken anywhere unexpected and the book is 100% risk free which is what I don't want when I read poetry.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Arrival. Shaun Tan

Last night I finished reading (if you can read a book without words) Shaun Tan's superb The Arrival. This will be the first of many re-readings. Gene Luen Yang's excellent review at The New York Times neatly summarizes my admiration for the book. I'm thinking of joining The Book Council this year so I can meet some of these talented authors when they come to NZ.

And this is coming up . . .

New Zealand Poetry Society - Extra Poetry Reading, Wellington

Friday 18 January 5.30pm
Museum of Wellington (Sponsor), The Bond Store, Queens Wharf

Fleur Adcock, ex-pat poet extraordinaire, and daughter of Irene Adcock, founder of the New Zealand Poetry Society, is in New Zealand to receive an Honorary Doctorate from Victoria University of Wellington, and to celebrate the 100th birthday of her late mother. Fleur has kindly agreed to present a public reading for us, and the Museum of Wellington has generously sponsored the reading. There will be no open mic, and entry is by koha. No booking required, though space may be limited.

And Blackmail Press 20 is online featuring work by Owen Bullock, Mark Pirie and others.

Over at Jacket, there's some new poems by Mr. Leonard Cohen.

And I really enjoyed Peter Campion's poem Recurring Dream in a New Home over at Poetry Daily. (I've been working on a dream poem over the last week).

And I've removed links to Glottis and 4th Floor (the Whitireia Creative Writing site which had some good poems on it) as Glottis is out of date and 4th Floor is a 404!

Image: New York Times.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy new year. I found this over at the Te Ara blog.
Not much happening. I'm writing, writing, writing.
Good to see that Helen Heath's blog Show Your Workings is back. I like the old photos.
And I'm enjoying Strange Horizons, especially the articles on Samuel R Delany.

Anyway. Happy New Year. Love on you all.