Sunday, September 28, 2008

Brief 36: The NZ Music Issue

Brief #36 'The NZ Music Issue' edited by Brett Cross and Bill Direen came out late last week. As well as including my short prose poem 'Il est Minuit', Brief #36 includes
among others pieces by independent label creator Antony Milton, Wellington poet Will Christie, Jen Crawford, Scott Hamilton, the always enjoyable and lively Owen Bullock, an extract from Jack Ross's novel EMO (you must visit Jack's blog Mairangi Bay), Ted Jenner, the mighty William Direen, Richard Taylor, the ever brilliant Richard von Sturmer, Iain Britton, K.M. Ross, George Henderson (his piece 'My spunky little friend' is just magic) and David Lyndon Brown. (I know that I haven't mentioned all of the contributors, just those with Web pages I can link to).

As if this wasn't enough Brief #36 sports an excellent cover (issue #35's cover was a classic) by Sherry Hamid and includes an audio CD which I have yet to listen to and will dedicate another blog post to once I've had a few listens.

Full content details are over at the Brief blog.

Image: Brief.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mucking about

Over the next week or so I'm going to be mucking about with the format of the blog: template, archiving, etc. So please expect some, er, disruptions. Normal service will be resumed in a week or so. I'll also be blogging a lot more than usual. I'm just experimenting and fiddling around with the language test tubes.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Launch report

The launch on Wednesday night at Exhibitions: Gallery of Fine Art was a great success. Ron Epskamp's gallery featured a variety of stunning art and being surrounded by Lisa Wisse's was inspiring. We had a great spread of food provided by Latika, Anamika and Deepa and my son Rohan was the family photography. Sarah, Moonshot's designer, poured drinks and instilled a soothing pre-launch calm (Nervous? Me? Not half). All in all I think we must have had fifty of so people at the launch. It was great to see all my family (both my Celtic and Indian sides) together and also wonderful to see old friends that I hadn't caught up with in ages. My friends, too, looked like they were enjoying bumping into old friends they hadn't seen in years due to the Big Chill of life after varsity.

Me, Roger Steele, Tim Jones
(with camera)

The publisher, Roger Steele, gave a short introduction to me and Moonshot and then my friend Tim Jones introduced Moonshot by pointing out that I've put all the space and SF at the front and not at the back. Roger also mentioned that we had a lot of poets present and given that Notebook records poetry events I want to note the poets there and say 'thanks guys' to: Tim Jones, Helen Rickerby, Emma Barnes, Harry Ricketts, Vincent O'Sullivan, Mark Pirie, James McNaughton, Laurice Gilbert, Sarah Barnett and Neil Furby (and I hope I haven't missed anyone out!).

My sister Joanne, My sister-in-law Anamika, and my son Taran

I read four poems at the launch: Gemini spacewalk, Lamech's complaint, A walk on the moor and Diwali. Then people rushed up and bought the book and I chatted and flitted around in manic fashion. I really appreciated all who were there for turning up, supporting the book, supporting me, supporting NZ poetry, and for creating this really warm lively atmosphere and thanks to those who weren't able to come but who emailed support. Now I can come back to Earth and continue working on new poems.

Images: Sarah from Steele Roberts.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Book fair buys

I've been busy, too busy to blog. There's the launch coming up on Wednesday, so invites have had to be sent out. I've also been busy marking, planning lessons and writing senior reports. I did pop down to a fair at Saint Theresa's school and picked up these books:

  1. The Longest Journey. E.M. Foster.
  2. Nebula Award Winners 8. Isaac Asimov (ed).
  3. Gagana Samoa (language course).
  4. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Muriel Spark
  5. Middlemarch. George Eliot

I'm 720 pages into Middlemarch already so it's good now to own the book. Remember, I'm a slow reader. It's brilliant, complex, intelligent, sometimes melodramatic. It's also very long and I'm looking forward to the end. I suspect, though, that my busyness has marred my reading pleasure and that now I'm not quite so rushed I can reader longer stretches of the book.

I greatly enjoy Jack Ross's blog and his recent lengthy post on Rita Angus's 'dream children' is well worth reading.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The collectors

I wrote this very short story about three or four years ago. Since the series Life on Mars, though, I haven't really thought about sending it anywhere as readers will only say "That's so Life on Mars!" In a way it does follow some of the concerns of Moonshot. It's also probably a bit daft.

The Collectors

Simon stared at the model in the newsagent’s window. It was a green Dinky Shadow Interceptor from the television series UFO, pristine in its unopened box. Soon it would be his to keep forever.

The late afternoon December sky was already growing dark and the cold wind from the moors made him plunge his hands to the fur-lined bottom of parka pockets. In the right pocket he felt the familiar curled five pound note. The village clock said 3.15PM — he had just enough time to buy the Interceptor and see his Mum before heading back to his own time.

This was his fourth visit to 1972. On his first visit, he’d bought Joe 90’s car; on his second he’d bought a white Spectrum Patrol vehicle—from the TV show Captain Scarlett and the Mysterions—and last year he’d bought a Dinky Model Sea King Helicopter with a white recoverable Apollo capsule that could be hoisted up to the chopper by a battery-operated winch.

The discovery of the wormhole three years ago had come as a surprise. He’d been cleaning under the bed when he noticed a bright light shining from a crack in the skirting board. He had crawled towards the light and to his astonishment found himself falling lightly onto the main street of the Penine village of his childhood. He was dressed in a fur-collared parka, a five pound note in his pocket, and he could tell from the date of the Christmas edition Radio Times in the newsagent’s window that he was back in 1972. He had enough money to buy a model car and a comic. In less than an hour the wormhole would open again by the village clock and he would find himself back to his forty-six year old solitary self, living in a small bed-sit with his extensive collection of model cars.

In the blackening sky he saw the prospect of early evening snow. Once he’d bought the Interceptor he’d walk home and his mother would serve him pea soup or a hotpot. The promise of his mother’s smile as he entered the kitchen, the soft burr of her welcoming ‘hello love’ as he kicked off his shoes and warmed himself by the fire; these thoughts had the quality of a sepia photograph in a museum that had been admired by countless visitors.

He looked at the Shadow Interceptor and decided to go in and buy it immediately. Inside the sealed box it would always be 1972. He knew the wormhole opened only once a year and it was a refreshing change from his life in the bed-sit: like the models which evoked such rich memories, these trips back allowed him to enjoy the pleasures of a lost world. He worked at home as an internet programmer and he rarely left the apartment. All his needs were met; his food was delivered and his laundry collected and returned. At night, if he felt so inclined, he could watch the adult movies on cable TV. There was no need to leave the apartment so long as he had the chance to return here to buy his treasures. He wondered though at how seldom he had the chance to meet new people.

From outside his enclosure his green-skinned captors and benefactors watched Simon, one of the last remaining humans from the late planet Earth, enter the shop to buy his treat.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Two books/Violence 101/New poems in BMP in 09

Two books I want to briefly blog about that I’ve finished this week.

Will Leadbeater’s Jubal’s Lyre, like so much light verse, creeps into your day. I find myself going back and re-reading the small book. There’s a sense of loss here and more than the odd poem about drinking. Leadbeater has a relaxed, casual style that stays with you. And the cover photo of a younger Will at Fairburn’s grave points to another concern in the book—the ‘anxiety of influence’ or the need to ‘make a name for yourself’ and the troubles encountered when approaching poetry in this way. Like a good verse, beneath the breezy ease there’s a lot going on.

Regular readers will know that I’m working my way through the Manga Shakespeares which just continue to grow in quality. What I love about A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream is that the whole project is approached as a manga book. The aim is to produce the highest quality graphic novel. The drawing, lettering, frames and storytelling techniques all come from manga. Old Bill provides a plot and some lovely dialogue. And the words really do shine. The very terseness of manga sometimes throws into relief relations and tensions between characters that you can miss reading a script.

Last night I attended the lively, well attended and enjoyable launch of Denis Wright's first young adult novel Violence 101 at the Children's bookstore in Kilbirnie. The novel's antihero is an intelligent, maladjusted, violent fourteen-year-old boy. Denis read a a couple of riveting passages and I'm looking forward to reading this once the holidays come around.

Back to the poetry: three new poems will appear in the next Blackmail Press sometime next year: 'The Goodbyes', 'Courtship & marriage' and 'Midsummer forest.'

Hyperbanal revelation: The opening of Weezer's 'We are all on drugs' sounds a lot like the bars of Magazine's 'A song from under the floorboards.'

Images: ESAW, Selmadehero, Penguin NZ.

Saturday, September 06, 2008



(Click on title for youtube links if available)

1. Moonlight sonata. Beethoven
2. Waiting for the moon to rise. Belle & Sebastian
3. Blue moon. Big Star
4. Out of the moon. Goldenhorse
5. Fall dog bombs the moon. Bowie
6. Moonage Daydream (live from 'Cracked Actor' BBC doco). Bowie
7. The moon. Cat Power.
8. Moonbeam monkey. Tanya Donnely
9. Mystic Moon. Phil Manzanera
10. Moondance. Van Morrison
11. Moondog. Prefab Sprout
12. Someone like the moon. Pulp
13. Sail to the moon. Radiohead
14. Man on the moon. REM
15. Moonrise (acoustic live). Nitin Sawhney

Moonshot launch: you're invited

(Click for larger image).

The book will be selling for $19.95. (OK, so we all know that it's really selling for $20).

The antibiotics I'm taking are kicking in so I should be fine by then!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The White Album Readings

The White Album Readings anthology edited by Mark Pirie is available from the Earl of Seacliffe for only $5. It features poems from all the readers at the session, including two of my own poems 'Albedo' and 'Nanosphere.' Poets included are Gemma Claire, Evelyn Conlon, Bill Dacker, Marilyn Duckworth, Rob Hack, Richard Langston, Will Leadbeater, Me, Michael O'Leary, Mark Pirie, Helen Rickerby, Harry Ricketts, Nelson Wattie and FWN Wright. Get your copy here.

R.I.P. Pauline Baynes

This just in from Ansible:

R.I.P. Pauline Baynes (1922-2008), UK illustrator perhaps most famous
for her line drawings in all the C.S. Lewis 'Narnia' books, died on 1
August at the age of 89. She also illustrated Farmer Giles of Ham and
other works by Tolkien (who said: 'more than illustrations, they are a
collateral theme'), painted the first paperback cover of _atership
Down, and won the Kate Greenaway Medal for her nearly 600 drawings in
Grant Uden's A Dictionary of Chivalry.