Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Listener listens

I posted my letter to the NZ Listener on Notebook a few days ago and the good news is that given the massive outcry over this decision The Listener has relented and has decided to return to publishing poetry. Dear Listener, you have saved yourself from becoming a mere tabloid and have made the right choice not to marginalise poetry. Your publishing of poetry is no small matter but is vital to keeping the art alive (and don't you enjoy it just a little bit?). So I'm glad that you listened. This week's poem by Brian Turner contains the lines "a wish to be audible is a fight for life." Enough said.

Helen Heath, Tim Jones, Helen Rickerby and I will be reading at the Paekakariki Fair this Sunday at around noon. I've heard that the not to be missed Apirana Taylor will be reading around 10.15. So let's hope the weather holds! I hope that I don't buy too much. Paekakariki is a very small town chock full of all manner of talented artists.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Maureen's blog

I'm getting ready this morning to attend a funeral of long-serving colleague who battled cancer till the very end. I've practiced my waiata and the Samoan hymns (I teach at a school with a very large Polynesian student body). And I know that she's not in pain anymore and that she was such a tough, no-nonsense, fiery personality that she never really let me know just how much pain she was in or what she was really going through. So I'm going to get my best jacket out, put on a tie, polish my shoes, practice my waiata to try to get it just right, have another go at the Samoan hymns, to try to send her off properly with the school, & I'll try not to get upset, try to remember that the wave never leaves the ocean. Goodbye, Karen!

I've just come across Maureen's Crisp's blog. Maureen's a children's author, a teacher, and an astronomy enthusiast. Her blog also contains an item on how Creative New Zealand has decided not to fund a particular event. (Boy, I'm really doing myself no favours with CNZ this month but stuff it!). I hope that she doesn't mind if I quote from her blog this morning:

Creative New Zealand felt that professional development for Children's Writers and Illustrators wasn't worth funding....but we are still going ahead....pull out Plan money, virtual speakers....WE CAN DO IT....

But the Creative New Zealand decision was such a cruel blow. As an industry we are struggling to remain upbeat and focussed as the opportunities dry up here.

In the end...New Zealand has to ask itself... Do you want New Zealand children growing up on a diet of books from overseas...Support your Writers and Illustrators!

Well, I would have thought that supporting a little PD for Children's Writers and Illustrators would be a good thing and not so expensive to arrange.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blog changes

I've been thinking about Notebook for a while now. I'm still happy to run the blog but I've decided to spend less time recording what I read and writing often short, somewhat hastily composed reviews. If you have a book you want me to review, then by all means send it to me. But I'm going break from reviewing every book I read for a while and spend more time talking about poetry journals, online publications/teaching resources, and whatever else comes to mind. And I'm still keen to joining a reading group in the Wellington region if you're looking for a member (I wouldn't mind blogging about books I read in a group).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Broadsheet 2

Louis Johnson

The poetry reading went well at the new Thistle Inn venue. Once again, we had a full house and next time will need to have more chairs at the back. I just hope that the room we have in the Thistle wont be too small. Isn't that great? Live poetry is alive and kicking.

And Broadsheet 2 arrived in the mail. This is a small, elegant, no-nonsense poetry magazine edited and published by Mark Pirie that reminds me a little of Richard Smyth's Albatross. (Pirie, by the way, deserves to be nominated as Wellingtonian of the year 2009 or even made a member of the Order of New Zealand for his tireless unpaid services to poetry.)

Broadsheet 2 is dedicated to the memory of Wellington poet Louis Johnson who died twenty years ago and includes poetry by Peter Bland, Richard Burns, Marilyn Duckworth, Kevin Ireland, Louis Johnson, Miranda Johnson, Vincent O'Sullivan, Harry Ricketts and Helen Rickerby. Talk about a quality line-up!

I have a couple of memories of Louis. Back in the early 80s, I started my first bout of poetry writing (which I let go once bitten by theory, but that's another story). Louis, dressed in a blue suit, would sometimes come into the Salient office where I worked and hang out. I remember him coming in once to proof his poem 'The Night we Didn't Sleep on the Beach.' I was in awe of this poem and it's power and we talked a little about writing. He was very unpretentious, yet confident, and he thought that the new burst of poetry being published in Salient was a good thing.

Image source: NZ Book Council.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Poetry reading

I'm off to a poetry reading tonight and no poetry demon will plague my attendance. It's a meeting of the NZ Poetry Society over at the Thistle Inn, Mulgrave Street, at 7.30 PM. I'm going to read the final version of 'The Goodbyes': a new poem that will be published online by Blackmail Press next year. The guest readers are a group of Wellington poets called 'The Academy' so it should be an interesting night. The weather here this morning (I'm writing this at 6.30 AM) is shocking, yet I've sometimes found that when the weather's worse the attendance can really boom.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

4 poets & a fair

We're sorting out the details but it looks pretty definite that Helen Heath, Helen Rickerby, Tim Jones and myself will be reading at the Paekakariki school fair. Great poster!

& the Leonard Cohen tickets for his Wellington concert selling at jaw dripping $137 have old sold out in a day or so. The rich may well 'have their channels in the bedrooms of the poor' but they will no doubt also have their cameras out at this concert.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

the rich rule us

About last night

The Rich Rule Us.
Rennie Pilgrem & Minuit.
You can buy the single here!

Minuit Live.


CNZ kills NZ Poetry Society Funding.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Letter to The Listener

Dear Editor

I was surprised to read that The Listener has decided to no longer publish poetry. I have always enjoyed poetry in The Listener and I’m disappointed in this short sighted decision. Every week I flick through the pages to see which poem has been printed and I’m shocked that what I thought was a temporary drought of poetry is actually a hard headed editorial decision to purge poetry from your pages.

Poetry is a vital part of New Zealand literature and The Listener has a long tradition of encouraging poetry. The Listener’s large circulation as a weekly magazine means that readers have the opportunity to read poetry without turning to a literary journal or more specialised publication. That’s good because The Listener provides poetry to a mass audience and this helps to stop poetry becoming a purely specialist activity.

Surely the reason for this decision cannot be the paltry $150 you pay a poet for a poem. I find it hard to believe that $150 takes such a bite of your finances. I also wonder who has been complaining about or bemoaning poetry in your magazine. Who would want to give verse the chop? It’s true that poetry may not be the most notable feature readers identify in your magazine but does this mean that you cut out any content that does not immediately make a shock impression? You are well-respected magazine and a record of our art and culture—not a tabloid newspaper.

You are in danger of ruining your magazine’s reputation in New Zealand and you are also pulling the shutters down on poetry. I’m saddened that you’ve decided that our poetry is now longer worth publishing. Why shaft poetry?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The academy: November 17

The next meeting of the Poetry Society (aside from the anthology launch on Nov 8th which I wont be attending) will be at the Thistle Inn in Mulgrave St (next to the railway station / bus terminus) on Monday 17 November, as a 'welcome to our new home' celebration for Wellington Society members. The guest reading is by 'The Academy', a group of Wellington poets which has been meeting regularly for several years to share and workshop their poems, with a view to eventually producing a group publication. As always, we'll start off with an open mike so bring some poems.