Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday poem

Mary MCCallum is promoting a 'Tuesday Poem' meme for bloggers.
Mary says: "Other bloggers are joining me in posting a Tuesday Poem this week. Over the day, visit poets Tim Jones and the Paradoxical Cat , and poet and publisher of poems Helen Rickerby Author of 'Fifi Verses the World' Fifi Colston might join us, and you'll always find one here by NZ Poet Laureate Cilla McQueen . She's writing an astonishing poem in instalments called Serial using images from the National Library. A new instalment is published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. She's currently writing the third chapter 'Birdie'." Here's my poem 'A walk on the moor' from Moonshot.

A walk on the moor

My camera eyes
survey the moorscape

as I approach
the soft arc of the ridge

I pitch then yaw
arms extended

to avoid a small pool
in the bracken

the Pennine wind bites against
the thermal insulation

of my Parka suit
but telemetry tells ground control

we are still go
& confirms a green light

somewhere under the peat
the graves of the children

Brady & Hindley murdered—
what were their names?

& why did she name her dog Puppet?
& what happened to Puppet

after she was sentenced to life?
I moonwalk bounce

from left foot to right
pretending to be light

to be free of the earth
my gloved hands collect

samples of heather
for detailed analysis later

in the bedroom laboratory
should I make it home

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Janis at the Ballroom pics

Over at Janis's blog there a picture of me amongst the other Ballroom poets in Newtown. I'm the guy in the back row wearing a blue bush shirt. We had a lot of fun that day! The whole place was a-buzz, as you can tell from the story reported by the local paper. I read a new unpublished poem 'The rediscovery' which required full-throttle. Janis's reading was lively, playful, entertaining and yet also thoughtful. Simply put, I think it's the most memorable poetry reading I've ever attended in Wellington. Magic.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Kevin Connolly Revolver playlist

Last week, I had the pleasure of hearing Canadian Kevin Connolly read his poetry. At the reading, Kevin told how the table of contents for Revolver, his latest book, consisted of song titles and so didn't match the poems included in the book. Here's the table of contents in full with links to relevant YouTube videos (I couldn't find one for Lars Horris). Kevin mentioned that this wasn't all merely a jape and that there are subtle links between the songs and the poems. It's such a great idea and I felt a sort of stab of recognition in this practice as I've even made up compilation CDs for some of my own poems because like others I know I get great pleasure from making compilations and compiling song list. To Kevin's credit, it's a bloody good song list. I haven't delved much into Revolver yet because I'm reviewing and need to get some reading out of the way. Oh, yea, I'm off to the Ballroom Café in a couple of hours to hear Janis Freegard. Poetry readings have just started there and I'm looking forward to the new venue. I'm going to read a new poem 'Revenant.' I've heard Janis read the odd one or two poems before but you get so much better a sense of the work when you hear a more sustained set.

The Kevin Connolly Revolver playlist


Free range. The Fall
Cruel to be kind. Nick Lowe
Briliant disguise. Bruce Springsteen
Let's Go. The Cars
Gentlemen take Polaroids. Japan
Multitude of casualties. The Hold Steady
To hell with good intentions. Mclusky
Insectivorous. The Constantines
Doubts even here. New Order


Cure for pain. Morphine
Negative creep. Nirvana
Train in vain. The Clash
Each and every one. Everything but the girl
North American scum. LCD Soundsystem
Dumb it down. Lupe Fiasco
Thank you for sending me an angel. Talking Heads
Love my way. Psychedelic Furs
So. central rain. REM


Here's where the story ends. The Sundays
It's my life. No Doubt (coz this is the better version!)
How soon is now? The Smiths
Heart of glass. Blondie
Watching the detectives. Elvis Costello
Our lips are sealed. Fun Boy Three
Cities in dust. Siouxise and the Banshees
Mirror in the bathroom. The Beat.
The carpet crawlers. Genesis


Cause=Time. Broken Social Scene
Tattooed love boys. The Pretenders
Fake Empire. The National
Lips like sugar. Echo and the Bunnymen
Gold sounds. So It Goes.
Locked in the trunk of a car. The Tragicaly Hip
This Monkey's gone to heaven. The Pixies
Love song. Simple Minds
Wonderwall. Oasis


In the evening. Led Zeppelin
Sleepwalk. Ultravox
Constant in opal. The church
Just like honey. The Jesus and Mary Chain
Fade into you. Mazzy Star
Even the losers. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Ceremony. New Order
Caterpillar. The Cure.
Voices carry. Till Tuesday

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Janis at The Ballroom

Sunday, March 21, 2010
4:00pm - 6:00pm
Riddiford St, Newtown, Wellington: Ballroom Cafe

Open mike plus musical interlude! Great food and drink available! This month's guest poet Janis Freegard! & introducing new voices Abdalla Gabriel and Admire Barnes! Janis Freegard's poetry has been described as “quirky and often surreal”. Co-author of AUP New Poets 3 (Auckland University Press, 2008), her poems have wriggled their way into many journals and anthologies, most recently Big Weather: Poems of Wellington, Poetry NZ, six little things, Blackmail Press, brief, Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand and Moments in the Whirlwind (the latest NZ Poetry Society anthology). Janis also writes fiction and is a past winner of the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award. She shares her Wellington home with an historian, a cat and the occasional weta. You can find her blog at http://janisfreegard.wordpress.com
I missed the first one due to work . . . but I sure intend to be there and have a crack at the open mike. I heard that attendance was fantastic for the February session.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Saturday Seven

Ah, Writers and Readers week. The town's abuzz and you get to hear some great poets read (I've heard Kate Camp, Geoff Cochrane, Ian Wedde, Kevin Connelly and Glyn Maxwell this week--all superb readers of their own work, as well as writers) and you also get to bump into poets you know (and have sometimes performed with at the odd reading) in the audience. And the Embassy Theatre is such a classy venue. Sitting in the front rows with 24 students from school I still felt that Peter Singer was talking to me. Taking the same bunch of students off to Wellington College to see Neil Gaiman was tiring but well worth the effort.

I've hit a bit of wall with a long poem I've been writing. The poem has four sections, the first begins with a translation of an Exeter Book riddle. I'm quite happy with the first three sections but the last section has been tangled and difficult and it doesn't read as well as my idea of the poem. The drafts fall short. I've written the poem out longhand (I hand write first anyway) and then I've typed and tweak a little and now I've put it away for a few months to avoid frustration. Besides, I have a deadline for a review I'm writing coming up. It's frustrating to have a piece of work that's 85% good, fine, thumbs up, working (sounding right) and then to feel that all your notes are off and you've just sort of thrown it away. I'll have a look at it during the school holidays when I have entire days dedicated to writing instead of some of the very early morning or late night shifts that I have at present.

Here's today's seven:

  1. The insomniac learns a lot. Kate Camp
  2. The sheen. Ian Wedde
  3. History. Geoff Cochrane
  4. The only work. Glyn Maxwell
  5. Kevin Connolly reads 'Plenty' from Revolver
  6. Two poems. Harvey McQueen
  7. Hitler is angry about the Wellywood sign.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sunday Seven

  1. Critics on Lowell's 'Skunk Hour.'
  2. Rich Horton on Brian Aldiss' Non-Stop.
  3. Ben Wilkinson reviews Simon Armitage's Tyrannosaurus Rex versus The Corduroy Kid.
  4. Two poems. Aleksandra Lane.
  5. NZ Poetry Society competition details.
  6. Ten poems. David Howard.
  7. The Outsider. Tim Jones.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Once upon a ukelele

Ihab Hassan in The Georgia Review
on the necessary pact between reader and writer:

"Once upon a time": yes, yes. This "yes" knows a certain truth, the truth of imaginative trust. This "yes" is also what a deep reading of literature demands . . ."

Hassan's essay is called 'The way we have become: A surfeit of Seeming.'

Am I alone in feeling a change in the way we have become, the way we live, online? Obviously not.

I began my online life BW (Before Web) with a dial-up account at Actrix. Back in those days Telecom wasn't even an ISP.

A cartoon caption that captures the spirit from those days: "on the internet no-one knows you're a dog."

Life online was masquerade: we all had 'handles'; we all played with online identities as we sat Lambda Moo's spa pools.

I was, for a while, Valerian.

Now we are only ever our IRL selves and we take full responsibility for our online acts, for what we say, for what we read, for whose profiles and pictures we choose to view. On the internet, everyone knows what you say and read. On the internet everyone wants your status update: it's all about you, you, you. And me, me, me.

On a lighter note, I have taken up the ukelele. (Yes, I've read The Listener article and I know it's a craze and I guess I'm part of it--first glam, punk rock, then high falutin' theory, then cyberpunk, and now the ukulele. Hop on that bandwagon, kid. Put your zimmer frame down and I'll give you a hand-up.

What happened was that I was invited to join an informal ukulele group by a colleague. But isn't that always the way with cults?

After a couple of sessions I can now play C, G7, F and, at a pinch, G. That's because my ukulele on loan has little coloured stickers near the top frets. So there's no need just yet to fret about the frets, pet.

Yea, I can play a couple of chords.

The ukulele's great charm lies in its silliness. I'm reminded of one of the aspects of my job that I love--I think it's typical of teachers to stay behind after school to strum some silly songs on ukuleles. Compared to academics, teachers don't take themselves
too seriously.