Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Albatross 19

Misha Becker

My poem 'The Shepherd' will appear in the next issue of Albatross published by Richard Smyth. My poem 'Corporate Identity' will appear in the following issue. Other poets in Albatross include Joy Gaines-Frieder, Misha Becker, Marcia L Hurlow, Barry Ballard and Gabriel Welsch. Albatross is poetry, just poetry, published in a chapbook. Thank you Richard!

Tim Jones will be the guest reader at the Poetry Society's next monthly meeting - Monday 17 March, 7.30pm, Paramount Cinema Lounge, Courtenay Place, Wellington. Creative New Zealand has slashed the Poetry Society's funding: a disappointing decision in my view. More details are available over at Tim's blog Books in the Trees.

I'm pretty busy at school this term. Planning classes, writing assessments, running a teaching blog, coaching junior debating, organising events, getting last year's assessments ready for external moderation, marking, etc. But I'm going to remember to set aside some time (even if it's just a little) to keep writing everyday.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Anansi Boys. Audio book.

Long time no blog. What's up?
Back 2 skool
Long hours. New classes.
& I created a blog for my students called the wonderhub.
{You know how I like to blog.}

& the students who go there seem to like it too.

&I went to the Lions Fair in Karori & bought four books:

A book on Neurolinguistic programming,
Pynchon's Against the Day,
William Golding's Pyramid &
Shadowplay: the hidden beliefs and coded politics of William Shakespeare
by Claire Asquith.
But I think that I'll read A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lweycgka
(sent all the way from Rhodes by my aunty Allison)
before this pile.

So perhaps one day I'll read them. Before I sell them.
The Pynchon looks a bit daunting.

Driving to Cannon's Creek and back everyday I listen to audiobooks. Neil Gaiman is a fantastic storyteller and a wonderful writer. Listening to Lenny Henry read Anansi Boys was a delight; Lenny's so good at changing his voice and you hear each character differently. Before hearing this Lenny Henry I could only hear him as Chef (serious , serious profession)! But now, I realize just how skilfully he used his voice on that show. His natural default voice setting isn't shouting! It's my favourite audio book to date. & as for Gaiman, well, there's a wonderful talent there that is just not prepared to sit back & not take risks.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Stephen Oliver dates/Polaris & beyond

Stephen Oliver

This in today from Stephen:

Stephen Oliver will be launching his two new titles, A collection of poetry, Harmonic, and the CD KING HIT (music and poetry) through Interactive Publications, Brisbane, at the following venues:

7.30 PM. Tuesday, February 19. POETRY LIVE. The Classic Studio - next door and upstairs from The Classic Comedy Club, 321 Queen St, Auckland

4 - 6 PM. Sunday, March 2. LEMBAS CAFÉ, Poplar Ave, Raumati South, Raumati, Wellington

3 - 5 PM. Monday, March 3. PENTHOUSE CINEMA & CAFÉ. 205 Ohiro Road, Brooklyn, Wellington

7.30 PM. Wednesday, March 5. at the CIRCADIAN RHYTHM CAFÉ. 72 St Andrew Street, Dunedin

5.30 PM. PM Friday, March 7. Floor 1, DUNEDIN PUBLIC LIBRARY, 230 Moray Place, Dunedin

I'll try to get over to Raumati to see him read...

NASA beamed The Beatles song Across the Universe into deep space yesterday. The song was sent to Polaris, the north pole star. Is it a good idea for us to broadcast in this way? I mean, it's one thing to listen and another to announce your presence. But I'm sure that we'll be long gone before anyone hears us . . .

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Villon in Millerton

Here's my review of James Norcliffe's Villon in Millerton which was first published last November in the NZ Poetry Society Newsletter.

Villon in Millerton

James Norcliffe.

Auckland University Press. $25.00

James Norcliffe's sixth volume opens with ‘Villon in Millerton’, a long poem in which the fifteenth century troubadour Villon, exiled from France for his crimes, hides out the West Coast town of Millerton. Villonwho has been translated into English by Rossetti and Poundis perhaps best known for his 'Ballade des dames du temps jadis' (Ballad of yesterday's women) which ends with the line "Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?" ("Where are the snows of yesteryear?") and for the imaginary wills (bequeathing his soul, his stolen wine, his love etc) of his Testaments.

Norcliffe's Villon is the kiwi man alone; "tired of screechy voices/of brotherhood and sisterhood"; he’s "tired of chipped Formica" and "sick of the Feltex floors." He's in exile from domestic life and on the run from the cops. Employing the imaginary wills of Villon's Testament, he bequeaths a “thundering yellow fart” to the helicopters, “astigmatism arthritis” to the cops and the “crock of shit that is the past” to the future. Like Vincent O'Sullivan, Norcliffe has a great ear for New Zealand English and like O'Sullivan Norcliffe's poetry combines intellectual concerns with visceral impact. It's a staggeringly good poem: bitter, humorous, middle-aged and angry.

The book ends with another long poem 'Samuel Marsden in Glory.' Marsden is Villon’s opposite or other. If Villon is the condemned criminal, Marsden is the judge (in a vital note to the poem, Norcliffe focuses on Marsden's reputation in Australia "as the 'flogging parson,' a man of violence, prejudice and cupidity” who “despised the Irish and looked down particularly on women convicts.”) If Villon is bohemian then Norcliffe's Marsden reminds us that in the catalogue of bastards there might be no bigger bastard than a respectable one. And whilst Marsden sees himself and his life experience in Biblical terms comparing himself to Daniel and Noah, the Villon personae has a less grandiose view of his own life as “just a mad ripple.” What Villon gains from lacking Marsden's sense of order and purpose (and brutal conviction) is a sharpness of perception and a more imaginative way of thinking about his own experience throughdare I say it?poetry.

Between these two engaging long poems are shorter works of many delights. I especially enjoyed the Anglo-Saxon half-lined alliteration of 'Boiled Sweets' and the prose poem 'Squeegee.' Villon in Millerton is an accomplished work by an established poet who continues to entertain and delight. The simple, striking jacket design by Christine Hansen perfectly complements the poems.

You'd have to made of stone not to crack a smile listening to Tony Robinson (Baldric) read a Discworld novel. This is my first Discworld novel and Robinson does a brilliant Nanny Og. Lots of fun.

Images: AUP and Amazon.