The next Wellington meeting of the NZ Poetry Society features poets reading from Voyagers. I'll be reading my poem 'Nanosphere' and probably another selection from the anthology. Voyagers has received good publicity; it's been mentioned in a few national dailies, a weekend paper's giveaway magazine, and has had a couple of mention of the good old National Programme (always a good, steady, reliable supporter of poetry).
Monday 17 August, 7.30pm
The Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave St
The meeting will open, as always, with an open mic. Guest poets: Contributors to Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand. Entry: $2. Sponsor: Creative Communities / Wellington City Council.
We now have a new poet laureate, Cilla McQueen. I think that she'll be a good poet laureate; she's written a good solid body of work and one of her books, Antigravity, made a very strong impression on me in the 80s( I read it quite a few times). Antigravity has minimal punctuation and is very high energy--given how so many New Zealand poets, myself included, have found ourselves writing about science Antigravity was very prescient (hey, it has a SF title, proof enough that Cilla has been thinking outside the box for many years). I love that book. And then her poem 'Doggywobble'; that's a riot of a poem. Just magic.
I was at the National Library when she was announced poet laureate. Good snacks! I met up with a few poetry people, ah, but I'm not going to name drop. I thought there was a relaxed atmosphere at the gathering.
National Poetry Day has been and gone. I didn't really plan for the day and so ended up doing a small improvised poetry reading at school. It was a bit of 'one man band' show really. There's was a small turnout and I sold a few Moonshots (shift that product!) but next year I'll be more organized and try to have the students read poetry and get a spread of NZ poems ready for the day. Still, we did something and a few students said that they liked it afterwards. I didn't keep them too long and you never know if any of them will catch the poetry bug and start enjoying it. Enjoyment is the point of the day. I needed a warm-up before the Palmerston North reading on the 5th anyway.
It's not confirmed but I should be visiting a school soon up on the Kapiti coast to talk with some of their students keen on creative writing. I'm also attending a workshop run by Bill Manhire at the end of the month devised for secondary school teachers and I'm looking forward to developing more activities to encourage young writers.
I'm not going to say too much about the Montana Book Awards. Truth is I'm a little frustarted with them and it's not sour grapes. As many others have noted, they are dominated by University Presses. I've lost a bit of confidence in the Montanas and I'm beginning to feel that we need some other kind of award or at least some fairer selection process. This is no disrespect to the winner, Jenny Bornholdt. It's just that the judges must start to realise that there are other presses out there publishing. Don't get me wrong, if a University Press wanted to publish 'Flies and Gods' (work in progress) then I'd jump at the chance. The University Presses have the resources and will to actively promote their own books. So University Presses are vital to poetry in New Zealand and I'm grateful for that . . . keep on publishing guys. . . but we do need a wider selection of judges on the panels at the very least. Did I say I wasn't going to say much about the Montanas? I'm getting off my soapbox now.