Monday, June 28, 2010

Tuesday poem: The haunting. Jennifer Compton

The Haunting

A stranger on stage, playing the lover,
leaned up to switch off the lamp.
Desire surprised me.

The ad in the mag - his glasses askew
the dolly birds clawed his white coat
for the jewel-coloured bottle

he held it aloft, the heroic vernis à ongles
he smiled such a smile - how a stranger
might smile at someone he knew.

The long slim line of him, oblique and elegant,
on location on the TV set in black and white
wrangling the reptile, ancient enough to cling

to a vestigial third eye from an ancien régime.
Then the genres turned inside out
and we met in the flesh.

Jennifer Compton

Jennifer's notes on the poem:

I don't often write about my husband, Matthew, but this is a poem about him.

Over the years we found that I had noticed him three times, in three different genres, before we met. One was a stage play - The One Day Of The Year - at the Concert Chamber in Wellington Town Hall. I was 14. He played the young anti hero.

And there was an ad in an English mag called Nova, if I remember right. He did the job for money before he returned to NZ. He played a scientist who had invented a new nail polish and dolly birds were clawing at him to get it. He had a most intriguing smile and his glasses were knocked askew.

And then he was a TV reporter on Town & Around and they did a trip to the tuatara island and I remember seeing this slim and handsome young man holding a tuatara - which I thought was a lizard but when I came to write the poem and do my research, I found out was a reptile.
So that is the story behind the poem.

I have been surprised that people have quite liked the poem and have been puzzled as to what they understood from it. because I was deliberately obscure.

PS: I deliberately used jargon terms in the poem - the heroic nail polish for instance - ad executives talk about the hero toilet paper. The thing that has to have the spotlight on it. And wrangling is jargon too. The horse wrangler, the cockroach wrangler etc.

Bio: Jennifer Compton was born in NZ but is now based in Melbourne. Her new book of poetry - Barefoot - is just out from Picaro Press and she has high hopes for her new stage play - The Third Age.

Works by Jennifer at the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre.
More Tuesday poems at Tuesday Poem.

Thanks to Jennifer for this poem.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Poetry reading and poetry panel

On Friday July 16 I'll be reading with two other poets (I'm pretty sure that they are Tim Jones and Robin Fry) as part of the Museum's Sample Season. I'm planning to read all new 'post Moonshot' material.

From Friday 27 August till 29th August I'll be attending the Au Contraire SF con where I'll be having fun and sitting on a panel with Tim Jones on SF and Poetry. I'm planning to read some poems which I haven't read before.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Review in NZ Books/Practice

A rainy Saturday. Taran has learnt to play the opening to 'Redemption 'Song on the guitar. So I find the above on the internet and pass time learning to play the opening; the song proper presents more than a few challenges.

My review of Apirana Taylor's latest book appears in the current issue of New Zealand Books but I haven't received my copy in the post yet.

Links: Uke Club; New Zealand Books.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tuesday Poem: The Damaged by Joanna Preston

The Damaged

Against a backdrop of lost Atlantis
they come, one after the other
in chariots of steel and webbing –
a beautiful boy with an emptied face,
a gaunt girl with a thick black mane
whose hands beat and beat the air, escaping,
a child with a sharp crooked spine,
limbs tangled like mangrove roots.

Grown men lift them from their chairs,
bear them into the pool, light
as petals in their arms – the damaged
children with lotus faces, who slip free
of their bodies into the water, and blossom.

Joanna Preston

Joanna writes about 'The Damaged':

It was at one of the pools at QEII in Christchurch. We'd been for a swim, and I was waiting for my friend at the coffee shop overlooking one of the wave pools. While I was waiting, a group of kids were brought in for a hydrotherapy session. What struck me was the incredible tenderness there – these were adolescents, and none had control of their limbs, so the task of carrying each of them from chair to water took a bit of doing. And all the carers were men, which I hadn't expected. I remember watching the faces, and seeing the transformation as they settled into the water. The kids blossomed – there was no other word for it. It was beautiful. And the memory of both the gentleness and the transformation stayed with me, nagging to be written, for two or three years.

When I did eventually settle to write it, I knew it was going to be a sonnet. I didn't know the words it would use, but I could almost hear the poem in my head, the shape and the cadence of it. I also used a technique I'd heard of from reading about Welsh poetry and ‘cynhanedd’, – the intricate system of sound patternings that poets like Dylan Thomas and Wilfred Owen dabbled in. Somewhere along the way the poem shed its first line, so no longer a makes the count as a strict sonnet. But it still pulses that way, to my ears. And even six years after writing it, I still really like this poem. It feels true.

Joanna Preston is a Tasmanaut poet and writer. Her first collection, The Summer King, won the 2008 Kathleen Grattan Award and has been shortlisted for the 2010 Mary Gilmore Poetry Prize. As well as being co-editor of Kokako magazine, she is a part-time poetry tutor at CPIT, and the slave of a flock of Very Spoilt Chickens.

Joanna's blog is A Dark Feathered Art.
More Tuesday poems at Tuesday Poem.

Thanks to Joanna for this poem.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Jennifer Compton

I'm planing to read at the open mike...


Jennifer Compton

Jennifer Compton is an Australasian poet whose work has been published widely in a number of countries. Recent work has appeared in the Best Australian Poems & Best Australian Poetry series and this year one of her poems will be in Best New Zealand Poems. A book of memoir, Merrimba, is forthcoming.

Carlos Navae singer, guitarist, percussionist Mexican artist Carlos Navae plays regularly at venues & festivals around NZ. He is leader of Cuban trio Son Asere & salsa band Son Clave plus Open Mic & other surprises…

Sunday 20 June 2010, 4pm – 6pm

The Ballroom Café, Newtown
(corner of Riddiford Street & Adelaide Road)
Poetry @ The Ballroom: 3rd Sunday Every Month

For information contact: Neil Furby,
L. E. Scott, (04) 801-7773 (daytime)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tuesday Poem: The Astronomical Yearbook. Harvey Molloy

The Astronomical Yearbook

Each year the charts are different

in 1998 no lines join the dots

to form basic constellations

in an year-long aquamarine sky

the names of prominent stars are set

in lower case

the constellations capitalised

in what looks like 4 point Verdana

how flat, how depthless

the December sky

white blots of correction fluid

on a blue-glazed plate


in 2000 the blank skies are all white

the mapped stars

blots of black ink

squeezed from the bladder

of a gold-nibbed fountain pen

the outlines of rudimentary shapes

are afterthoughts

patterns formed in a Rorschach test

on the night’s white linen sheet

Harvey Molloy

This is one of the last poems I wrote for book Moonshot. Every year I faithfully buy the Astronomical Yearbook, published by the Auckland Stardome Observatory, and the book was central to the Moonshot poems. The maps are never exactly the same. A lot of my poetry I hear as music, think of as music, and so some of the words here I chose, at the risk of sounding too precious, to resonate with others poems in Moonshot ('blue-glazed' with the poem 'Zeus' and the last line with the last line of 'At the Zoo'). Astronomical maps occur in other poems in the book: 'Moonshot', 'Sea of Rains' and 'The Astronomer's Christmas.' Nothing much happens in the poem at all; no bangs, no surprises, just little movements. I was hoping for something like the atmosphere of Brian Eno's Discreet music.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ghosts of St James

Helen Rickerby has chosen my poem 'Ghosts of St. James' as her Tuesday poem over at her blog Winged Ink.

Thank you, Helen.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Broadsheet 5

Interested in NZ poetry? Broadsheet is a must.

Press release from Mark Pirie:

broadsheet is a new New Zealand poetry periodical in chapbook form edited by Wellington writer and publisher Mark Pirie.

The aim is to publish high quality New Zealand poetry at an affordable price to readers. This is emphasised by the broadsheet format, which is in between a magazine and a book.

broadsheet: new new zealand poetry is published twice yearly in May and November.

Issue 5 May 2010 - Featuring Harvey McQueen poetry and interview

The fifth issue features well-known New Zealand anthologist and poet Harvey McQueen. Also included is new work by Ian Wedde, Diana Bridge, Tony Beyer, Ron Riddell, Fiona Kidman, Jessica Le Bas, Laura Solomon, Paul Hill, Michael O'Leary and Anna Rugis. As well as an interview with Harvey McQueen, there are new translations of Anna Akhmatova by Wellington translator Margaret Borshevsky.

Subscriptions are $NZ12.00 for two issues. Please send cheques to The Editor, broadsheet, 97/43 Mulgrave Street, Thorndon, Wellington 6011, New Zealand. Overseas subscriptions are $NZ24.00 for two issues. Cheques payable to HeadworX.

Please Note: No submissions. Poems will be solicited by the editor for each issue.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Landfall deadline reminder

Just a reminder to all that the deadline for the next Landfall issue is June 10.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Tuesday Poem: Orpheus and Theodora descend by Helen Rickerby

Orpheus and Theodora descend

We turned down the right road

off the highway to

Hamilton and found ourselves

approaching the Land

of the Dead

‘Shouldn’t we be going through it?’ I say

The corpses of trees pattern the

hillside beside my

window, but to the other side are

greener pastures

‘Nah’, he says, ‘it’s the new way, modern

life and all. They’ve built a

bypass around the Land of the Dead, we

can skirt the edges’

The Hidden Valley

contains many mysteries

but you have to cross the lake

to find them

Charon has traded up

his dinghy for a motor boat

TTTHe doesn’t make idle chit chat but

says he will return for us

if we call

We advance up the hillside

steaming water streams down

beside us blocking

all ways but one

boiling water bubbles

up from underground

molten earth stews in

muddy caldrons

‘That was the source’

he says ‘but this

is the heart’

and he leads me

down, down, down

into the silent belly

of the earth

The poem was first published in Papertiger. Helen Rickerby is a Wellington poet, editor and publisher. She is the author of Abstract Internal Furniture and My Iron Spine and is one of the founding editors of Jaam. Helen is also founder of the literary press Seraph Press. She blogs at Winged Ink.

For more poems visit the Tuesday Poem blog.
Thanks to Helen for this poem.

Once again I posted this early on Monday night . . . but my schedule's busy!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Bravado 2010 Poetry Competition

Here's a press release from Bravado

Wanted: great poetry from around the world

“What is required is simply the masterpiece we'd all write if we could.
There is only one prescription for it: it's got to be good.” Fleur Adcock
(from The Prize Winning Poem)

FOR THE 7TH YEAR RUNNING, Bravado Magazine is announcing its popular poetry contest. Last year a special prize was inaugurated for a previously unpublished poet. Carol Cromie won, and another poem of hers was also Highly Commended. Bravado invites this year’s hopefuls from around the English-speaking world to send us their poems.

Bravado always chooses an experienced poet as judge, and Michael Harlow is no exception. He has published seven books of poetry, most recently The Tram Conductor’s Blue Cap (AUP, 2009), and Cassandra’s Daughter (AUP, 2006). Himself a past Bravado winner, he’s also been a Katherine Mansfield Fellow in Menton, France and a Randell Cottage Writer in Residence. In 2009 was both Burns Fellow at the University of Otago and the Caselberg Inaugural Artist in Residence. Michael lives and works in Central Otago as a writer, editor, and Jungian therapist. So if entrants need instruction on how ‘to deal with triumph or disaster’ perhaps they can turn to Michael for some good advice!

His task for Bravado is to read all poems as they’re gathered in. Entries are anonymous, and
Michael will choose nine winners. The First Prize is $500; Second $250 and 3rd $150. Five Highly Commended poets get a year’s free subscription to Bravado. All winning poems will be published in the November issue. The closing date is 31st August 2010.

There’s an entry fee of $NZ5 a poem, or $NZ10 for three. You can download a copy of the rules from the website at

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Minuit at Sandwiches

Sidestream 24, edited by Miriam Barr, arrived in the mail day. Sidestream 24 features cover art by Michael Botur, my poem 'Minuit and Sanwiches', along with poems by among others Stephanie Grieve, Jason Morales, K.A. Phyn, Neesha Bremner, Penny Somervaille, Vaughan Gunson, Doug Poole, Ila Selwyn, the Marquis Prasad and Rangi Faith.

I'm a huge Sidestream fan so I'm very honoured to be in the Zine.