Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Heavier than Heaven. Charles R Cross

This is a detailed biography but I did wonder about Cross's account of the Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain relationship. In this account Kurt was the mega-junkie, not Love, and it was Lynn Hirschberg damning 1992 Vanity Fair piece (which I remember reading in Florida) that essentially set their relationship up as a Sid N Nancy, John 'n' Yoko type affair. Love always wanted to get off heroin; Kurt was hooked from day one. Kurt was an artist; part sculptor, part painter, part lyricist, part musician; he was a working class child from a broken home who suffered throughout his life from a painful, mysterious stomach condition, who crunched Ritalin at an early age and later claimed to have started on dope to dull the stomach pain. The drugs did not work. He estranged himself from others who held him in awe and never fully reaped any benefit from his fame: at the time Nevermind was top of the charts Kurt was sleeping in his car. But so much of the biography doesn't quite fit my memories of events. There's no account of Kurt turning up to MTV's HeadBangers ball in a dress. (Kurt's sexual politics: his cross-dressing in videos and his hostility to macho 'blue collar' culture are somewhat ignored here although his interviews with the Advocate are noted). And, hey, I've got a real minor complaint: Despite what Cross says, Kurt does mess up, as he said he would, his performance on MTV Unplugged of Bowie's 'Man Who Sold the World' when he fumbles a line. Cross doesn't accept any of the conspiracy theories surrounding Kurt's death which was clearly a suicide. The ending makes for a harrowing read. My gripes are minor. Cross has written a well-crafted, engaging and sympathetic biography.

Image: Charles R Cross

Saturday, April 26, 2008


  1. Poets. The Tragically Hip. (Thanks to Homie).
  2. [Untitled]. Interpol
  3. Hang me up to dry (live). Cold war kids (on Later with Jools Holland).
  4. Been a Son (live). Nirvana. Amsterdam, 1992.
  5. The Daily Show. Often more bitterly insightful than serious news.
  6. I hate guns (live). Minuit. Brighton
  7. Room on Fire. The Strokes.
  8. A Hard Day's Night. Remastered print. Look what John does with the coke bottle.
  9. Battlestar Galactica Season 1. It's all Jack Ross's fault.
  10. Under the Black Light. Rilo Kiley.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bean and Tomato Hot Pot

Bean and Tomato Hot Pot

(A meal in itself. Serves 6)

2 Tbsp oil
1 med. sized can of savoury tomatoes
2 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups cold water or stock
3 carrots, sliced
1 Tbsp marmite/flaky yeast
2 sticks celery, chopped
sea salt/kelp/ seasoning
1 large leek, sliced
4 large potatoes, scrubbed & thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 cups of vegetables in season e.g.cauliflower, broccoli, peas
1 cup cooked beans of your choice e.g.kidney beans/ haricot beans/ black-eyed/pinto beans or pink beans
3 tsps butter

Sauté onions in oil for several minutes. Add carrots, celery, leek, garlic, and vegetables in season and stir fry for a further 5 minutes. Then add the cooked one cup of beans, tomatoes, water, marmite and seasoning to onion mixture. Mix well. Put into casserole dish. Arrange the thinly sliced potatoes neatly on top.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Shepherd. Albatross 19

Misha Becker in Albatross #19

My poem 'The Shepherd' has just been published in Albatross #19. You you can download a PDF edition for free or you can subscribe to Albatross (details are in the PDF).

Albatross #19 features poems by writers including Kathleen Kirk, Linda King, M. Mirriam Herrera, John Grey, E.G. Burrows and Joy Gaines-Frieder, Misha Becker, Marcia L Hurlow, Barry Ballard, and Gabriel Welsch.

Thanks to Richard Smyth for keeping the Albatross aloft all these years.

Monday, April 21, 2008

All sorts: the news

The holidays mean I have some time to read blogs. I often find very valuable news from blog sources, for instance:

Neil Gaiman's detailed blog recounts rumours spread by certain journalists that he feels JK Rowling has ripped him off. He does not. He's petitioning for freedom of speech for comic book writers and nursing a damaged nose caused by an energetic dog.

Helen Heath gave me the sad news that Mahinarangi Tocker, who worked amongst other things on the Tuwhare music project, died suddenly from an asthma attack.

Tim Jones covers the Climate Change Denial story in The Listener and implications for our news media. The Listener canned Dave Hansford's Ecologic column after Hansford published a piece critical of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

From Ron Silliman I read a story on the arrest of Jamyang Kyi in Tibet and Alice Walker's reasons for supporting Obama, not Clinton.

Brief (aka A Brief History of the World) now has its own blog that provides an index for all every issues and a scan of every cover. (OK, I got that from googling Brief).

I tend not to use this blog as a political soapbox. However, I have signed the Free Tibet petition and intend to go down to Parliament on Wednesday when Sue Kedgley will accept the petition from the Tibetan Solidarity Network, Wellington. I think that the Chinese Communist Party has responded extremely poorly to the opportunity presented by the Olympics and I've always been gobsmacked that Beijing was chosen to host the games in the first place. I mean, that's the best location for a world sporting event? Tibetans are not the only people who suffer under the current regime. My frustration here isn't so much with the need for Tibet to be given immediate autonomy--in fact, as East Timor has shown, establishing 'democracies' takes time and patience and it may well be that remaining a part of China will present Tibet with more benefits than fighting for independence.
But I don't think that that the current actions of The Party are good enough and they need to start listening.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Pyramid. William Golding/BMP 21

Dredging the web I'm surprised to learn that The Pyramid has a reputation by critics as a 'minor work' lacking the vigour of Lord of the Flies. There's a softness, a kind-kindheartedness that reminds me that Lord of the Flies speculates on war without ever being a war novel. (Though the somewhat unreliable narrator Oliver seems to have more than a touch of the dark about him: & if you've read the novel then what do think of Evie's accusation at the end of the second novella?) The Pyramid's domain is passion (for music) and lust (for the gorgeously wanton): think of Laurie Lee playing Chopin, or H.G. Wells without the need to bring the story to a climax and you have The Pyramid. I have no idea why the novel is called The Pyramid and I like the mystery, the total refusal to bring the title to bear on the work that Golding employs here. The novel, comprised of three novellas, works as a performance piece of music: there are motifs, choruses, refrains but no overarching meaning. (Although business rather than talent takes over the small business of Stilbourne (good name for a village): the novel does ask what it means to consider art seriously without giving an answer and still recognising that mortgages have to be paid). And there's more than a couple of very funny scenes as well as one of my favourite final sentences: "I concentrated resolutely on my driving." I found The Pyramid a wonderfully funny, mysterious, beguiling novel.

I'm not sure that I'll make it to tomorrow's reading as Latika's starting a new job and I'll need to look after the boys.

And have a look at the new strong Blackmail Press 21 featuring poems by Bernard Gadd, Alison Wong, Siobhan Harvey, Jill Chan (when will you read in Wellington?), Raewyn Alexander, Harry Ricketts, Owen Bullock and many others. Enjoy!

Image: William Golding.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ruth Dallas 1919-2008. Moonshot. Jennifer Compton

Thank you

I only found out from Tim Jones's blog the other day that Ruth Dallas has died. I read a great deal of her poetry in the 70s and was attracted by her romanticism and dialogue with Buddhism and Buddhist aesthetics. Although I never met her, her poetry encouraged me to write. At the time I was fascinated by Asian art and philosophy.

There's a good account of her work over at the Book Council and an obituary over at The Dominion Post.

Moonshot, My first book of poems, is nearly ready.
Images: NZ Book Council & Nature.

And I'm hoping to see Jennifer Compton at the next Poetry Society reading:

NZPS Monthly Poetry reading, Wellington

Monday 21 April, 7.00pm Note that this is earlier than usual.
The Greta Fernie Room, Leuven Belgian Beer Cafe, cnr Featherston and Johnston Sts, CBD

Open mic and guest poet: Jennifer Compton, a poet and playwright who sometimes writes prose. She was born in Wellington in 1949 but has spent many years living in Wingello, a small town in Australia. She spent six months in residence at the Whiting Library Studio in Rome in 2006. During this time she was a guest at the Sarajevo Poetry Festival. Her next book of poetry is called Barefoot.

Jennifer is the current resident of Wellington's Randell Cottage.