Sunday, January 31, 2010


I'm dreaming of the island of Skye (which I've never visited) and I know that the capital is Maeb. The word Maeb is extremely important: I must note it down and repeat the word. I know this in the dream: I am being told something important that I must explore. The net tells me that Maeb is Queen Maeb--I'm not a Jungian, but I'm Irish (Dad's side) and Cumbrian (Mum's side) and not that surprised that I've stumbled on to Queen Mab (or she has stumbled onto me). No amount of rational neurology will ever reduce the significance of the dream for me as message even though I cannot explain where this message comes from or even if it counts as a determinable message with a fixed content and an sender and addressee (as I am all three!). Outside of the punishing constraints of required academic reading I have the luxury of reading Shelley. My go(o)dd(n)ess, there are some very peculiar poems out there. Now, I don't take any of this too seriously, but for me poetry is in part about being open to these connections even if they are only feathers or seeds in the wind.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

sadly missed

Once upon a late 80s-early 90s I lived in Gainesville, Florida, where I completed a Ph.D and did a little teaching at the University of Florida. I have fond memories of those days, especially the many hours spent at Goerings bookstore which I found, this sunny afternoon, is now due to close.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Another Galaxy cover

What connections can be drawn between the character of Mercer in 'A Planet called Shayol' and the figure of Mercer in Phillip K. Dick's 'Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep'?

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I couldn't help but think of racism and the struggle for civil rights as I read of C'mell's desire for equal rights in the face of the tyranny of 'The Instrumentality of Mankind.'

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday seven

The holiday winds down and I wish I'd been able to write more. Why am I so slow? Why does it take me so long to write a poem? How do other poets I admire and respect write so much more than I do? At least I have a sense of where I'm going with my new book. I do want the arrangement of poems to be quite tight. But I can't plan out all the poems beforehand--I just don't work like that and a new poem is like a horse. You feed it, pet it, and then you jump on and ride and hopefully don't get thrown off. After the ride's over you can go back (so in this way it isn't really a ride at all). Then the really hard work begins (or not). The highlight of the week was the superb Neko Case concert and that odd tingling excitement I feel before starting a new school year. Teaching is tiring, frustrating, brilliant, crazy and never boring (well, ok, some of the paperwork is boring but you get that in nearly all jobs). Let's not talk about the weather.

Here's the seven

  1. Janet Hunt remembers Hone Tuwhare.
  2. Mike Hunt on moves in contemporary poetry.
  3. Sarah Jane Barnett's blog.
  4. The Tyre Shop. Bob Orr
  5. The Stolen Child. W.B. Yeats
  6. Flarf poetry in Poetry magazine. Bruce Sterling
  7. Colin Thompson's website.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

After New Year

Here's a little poem for the new year.

After New Year

This morning I packed away the Christmas tree

and flicked through a book

of science fiction movie posters

gifted by a thoughtful aunt.

I turned to the poster for 1984’s

2010: The Year We Make Contact and

remembered John Lithgow’s hapless

spacewalk, some unconvincing

special effects, and Roy Scheider

cast as the mission’s captain after

his maritime experience in Jaws.

This year, I thought,

I bet we wont make contact,

given the disappointments

of Mars, the silence of the night skies

(no ancient civilizations shouting primes)

and despite all those abductions

in the Southern United States, and the fusion

of camera and phone, not one

decent picture of a bona fide UFO.

We thought we could shrink space

just as we shrank the world

with planes, trains and container ships

occasionally captured

by pirates off the Somalian coast,

but the universe refuses to be shrunk;

we’re safe from visitors

and they are safe from us.

It’s as if we grew on a remote

Pacific atoll; everyone’s related

and nobody knows if there’s

habitable land beyond the blue horizon;

we’ve few canoes and the fastest vaka

reaches only halfway to the treacherous reef

and granted if we crossed that,

dodged the sharks and mermaids,

we’d still have to tackle

the perils of the far reaches told in song.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

flarf and seven

Jeez, what a week. The terrible earthquake in Haiti is horrible to watch. Here in Wellington we are putting up with shocking weather. I'm really back to work now planning for the year ahead. I have also been playing around with Flarf poetry--in particular using Google's translator to create enjoyable nonsense from a Hungarian friend's Facebook status lines.


The Budapest Autostake is on
but you can write
to the notary
begging her to withdraw
the brand-new
residential parking zones.

Yes, there are complaints
And the more people speak
the better the notary feels
unless she's talking to
"Bernard of Thunder."

Here's the seven:

  1. An interview with David Hare
  2. The dead so tired watching. Tony Trigilio
  3. Scoop review of Books best of the best list for 2009
  4. Lynn Davidson. Two poems
  5. Immaterial. Sharon M White
  6. The US Authors Guild on the Google settlement
  7. The piano holds its breath. David Howard

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Holiday seven

I've spent all day gardening and I've had a good solid week writing. I'm ready to start getting prepared for returning to work. I have read a couple of good YA books over the holidays: Margaret Mahy's The Haunting and Brian Faulkner's sf-thriller The Tomorrow Code (Faulkner is popular with my son Taran and the novel was a well-crafted page turner). Our weather here's not been great but given the snow in Northern hemisphere I guess we have nothing to complain about. I have tickets to the Neko Case show even though I haven't heard all her work. Here's this week's list of items of interest:
  1. My letter of resignation to the Authors Guild. Ursula K. Le Guin
  2. Google and the new digital future. Robert Darnton
  3. Frederick Pohl's blog.
  4. Dark Spirits. Natasha Dennerstein
  5. Dylan Horrock's new Hickville.
  6. Two poems. Eli Kent
  7. Neko Case's site.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Wall door

Photograph 1995

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Big weather at City Art Gallery

‘Beautiful Theories in the Capital’: Wellington poets read on Wellington light
Thursday 21 January, 6pm

City Art Gallery

Adam Auditorium, Free entry.

Enjoy an evening hour of readings from Wellington poets Bill Manhire, Kate Camp, James McNaught and Dinah Hawken. These poems respond to Wellington’s light and weather. Light is a key theme in Wellington painter Gerda Leenards’ work, whose exhibition Following the Blue Ribbon is currently showing in the Hirschfeld Gallery.

Koha Entry. In association with the NZ Book Council, who will provide light refreshments following the readings.

Sunday supplement

There's no Sunday magazine in my paper today. Am I alone? Over the weekend a wit quipped 'What a mild Winter Wellington is having this year." Anyway, here's a few extra links that I hope you'll enjoy:

  1. Chad Taylor's marginalia blog
  2. Paul Reynold's Peoplepoint blog
  3. Chemo. Sarah Jane Barnett
  4. Good fortune. PJ Harvey (video)

Saturday, January 02, 2010

New year's seven

Whose there?

Nothing much to report: just writing and editing as I do over the holidays. All's going well. I finished a submission and sent it off and now I'm working on polishing some poems for an editor I just happened to bump into in town. Good movies I watched on DVD this week: a documentary on Robert Crumb and Bergman's amazing '
The Silence' (which I'd never seen before). Here's this week's list:
  1. Impossible. Claire Potter
  2. Gogolo. Doug Poole
  3. My childhood in Ireland. Bill Manhire
  4. Two poems. Amy Brown
  5. Some operations of truth: a personal response to Margaret Mahy's The Haunting. John McKenzie
  6. On Style. Susan Sontag
  7. First memory. Louise Gl├╝ck