Monday, August 30, 2010

Tuesday Poem: Raven Fork by Lana Faulks

Raven Fork

Imagine a raven or a flock
occupying the banks of a river
where it forks. Their feathers shine
in the tapering light, almost blue
if you look askance. It's a perfect
scene, a painting if talent were in bed
with inspiration. But birds are birds
less symbol than event in this portrayal.
When they lift off you think they're
courting air until you see the carrion,
until their beaks go digging in the rot.
Their wings turned out for dining only,
you see the back of light, the inside of hunger.

Note: Raven Fork actually exists in the deep parts of the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. I wrote this poem after a description of a friend's adventures there.

Lana Faulks grew up in Oklahoma on a cattle farm. Choosing not to be a cowgirl (though known to barrel race on a Shetland pony), she decided to become a literature teacher. Thereupon, she taught many a person and studied the works of the beloved Iris Murdoch. She has written a book on the novels of Fay Weldon published by Simon and Schuster.

Voyagers win Vogel

The Voyagers anthology of SF Poetry won this year's Vogel award for best collected work. Well done editors Tim Jones and Mark Pirie. (Of course, I'm biased as I wrote my poem 'Nanosphere' for the collection.)

Ah, SF Poetry. We didn't have a lot of people at our panel on SF poetry at this weekend's well attended Au Contraire. But Tom Becker filmed me reading my unpublished poem 'The next ten thousand years' and the small group liked it and as it's an adaptation of George R Stewart's Earth Abides into a sonnet it's going to be published in the Potlatch 20 Programme in 2011.

I also got a nice boost from the New Zealand Poetry Society today as the latest issue of A Fine Line features on online interview with me and my review of Vincent O'Sullivan's fantastic collection Further Convictions Pending.

There's more on the award over at Tim's blog.

Au Contraire was held at the Comfort Inn, next to Alastair's Guitars--so I ended buying a new ukulele. Even my infant playing sounds better. And my brother Kris and nephew James sent me a early birthday package with two Vampire Weekend CDs, Mark E Smith's autobiography and some nifty little Bowie badges. Cheers, bro!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tuesday Poem: from a hundred verse sequence. Richard von Sturmer

from a hundred verse sequence, inspired by The Book of Equanimity, a Zen Buddhist collection of one hundred koan.

It’s in the space between
the pillar and the lattice windows.
It’s drawn to scale
by a blind person in a dream.
Look — when the kingfisher flies
into a phoenix palm
all the colours of the Nile
carry you across the evening sky.

What I love about Richard's work: it's so full of the world and a sense of delight in the world.

Links about Richard:

NZ Book Council author page.
Auckland Zen Centre site.
Trout Online Journal No 15, featuring Richard Von Sturmer's work.
Mudlark: An electronic journal of poetry and poetics, Mudlark No 11 features Von Sturmer's work
Richard Von Sturmer in Best New Zealand Poems 2003
Richard Von Sturmer on the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre site

Photo taken from Jack Ross's blog.

Thanks to Richard for this poem. More Tuesday poems at Tuesday Poem.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tuesday Poem: The Darkness. Jack Ross

The Darkness

My father had a plan to float down
part of the Waikato River
on a lilo
through the darkened canyons
seeing things
that you could never see
from up above

The plan was for my mother
(They were newly courting
not yet married
Junior Hospital
House Surgeons
in Hamilton)
to let him off at one reserve

then drive downriver
& pick him up
at the other end
She drove downstream
& waited
for hours
(it seemed)

She worried that he might have fallen off
The airbed gotten tangled at a bend
When he finally floated
out of the darkness
he was soaked to the skin
chilled to the bone
‘I don’t remember anything about it”

“No, but I do,” she says to him

Jack blogs at
The imaginary museum.

There's more information about Jack at the NZ Book Council.

Thanks to Jack for this poem. More Tuesday poems at Tuesday Poem.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Tuesday poem: Milk for Money by Emma Barnes

Milk for Money

You are the moon, have been a tree,
you have seen me. This time outside
I stand with my feet apart. I am the
master, the linesman, the light house
keeper. I was born 40 years ago in a
tiny house to a midshipman’s wife. I
squalled like a storm and grew like a
he. After ten bowls of soup, and five
of rice I was tall enough to leave the
house. I left a girl, walked younger,
grew older, fell down, crawled up. I
found you wound up backwards. We
spent the next years of our life, walk-
ing. You had five children in between
five consecutive summers. I smoked
a pipe and it chattered between my
teeth. I was the best impression of a
man you had ever met. I won bread.
I brought home choice cuts of pig. I

had a shadow that was happy to be
following me around. And then I was
left at a bus stop like a small ball of
rags. Scrunched up I reacquainted my-
self with my feet. They were smaller
than I recalled. I stood up and started
walking again. Somehow I had always
been walking. This time when we met
you were facing the right way. I was
tempted to count all your fingers and
toes. Instead I held up my head and
thought about my own small feet. Our
children grew and grew. They grew
into the image of me as a man and
you with a bowl of fruit. Eventually
they grew taller than the house and
their faces would float in the upstairs
windows. You and I stayed inside with
bread, butter and the dog. We passed,

weeks passed, you became an old, frail
woman. I became a wall, a wardrobe a
child of a midshipman. But once again
I found myself at the side of the road.
This time I had a handkerchief tied to
a stick. You had packed me a lunch to
release me. I imagined your wrinkled
elbows being touched by someone I
couldn’t know and my insides made a
sound of deep longing. But I walked on.
Bravery was something that I could fake.
I wandered downstream and through
trees. I kept a close watch on my six
and left 3 and 9 to themselves. At the
close of a day I walked into a room of
women and lay down on a bed. They
bathed my body free of sweat and only
asked about you when they saw your
face in my chest, between my breasts.

I woke alone as a newborn. The smell
of milk and money filled my nose. The
rest of your life unknown to me, made
a small thing for me to cry over. As a
baby everything was relative. Waking,
sleeping. Cradled in hands the size of
yours I was fitful. Aching. How to know
anything when your voice is that of a
lamb. I spoke and instead I yowled, a
cat, a kitten, a dream of speech. Lifted,
cradled, taken from hand to bed and
bed to hand. I grew dim. I was com-
forted, cooed, swaddled to sleep. Sleep.
My final thought picked up and rattled,
the sound of your voice at night. As
babies grow and grow, you were less
and less. My body, spreading arms
and thighs, left little room for you. I
loved you just once, just one love.

Emma Barnes

Emma Barnes hasn’t long been back from a couple of years in Japan, but she’s been busy – she launched the first two issues of her new literary magazine Enamel in early 2009, and mid-2010. She's had poetry published in JAAM, Landfall, Catalyst and Best New Zealand Poems 2008, among other places.

'Milk for Money' was first published in Landfall 219, edited by Bill Direen.

Emma's blog:

For Enamel:!/group.php?gid=137829206230906&ref=ts

And for Best New Zealand Poems:

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

Monday, August 02, 2010

Tuesday poem: Pauatahanui Inlet by Natasha Dennerstein

Pauatahanui Inlet

Saltmarshland of tussocktown,
I still smell your brackish swamp
and hear your flapping chorus,
your parliament of plovers.

Through a strip of vision,
a strip of highway
bisects the saltlake
wetland swamps.

A TV repairvan whips through:
someone can't get enough SKY.
The tussocks clump up protecting
each other from the fridgewinds.

Naked hills artistically lit,
yolk-olive, stark.
Putangitangi chatter.
A flock takes off, chorkling.

Copses of coprosma and harakeke vibrate.
I hide in the structure, weathered,
wooden, antique as Shackleton's hut:
plywood, cratewood, silvered old man pinewood.

Through three low wide
eye-height apertures, slits of sanctuary
unpadlocked: a triptych of saltwater lagoon,
birdmarshland, freshwater lake.

Natasha Dennerstein is a Melbourne-born writer who is living and studying in Wellington. She had poetry published in Landfall last year and is currently writing a novel.

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

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Au Contraire

I'm looking forward to the Au Contraire convention.

Au Contraire
is the New Zealand National Science Fiction Convention for 2010.

The convention will be taking place in Wellington over 27-29 August 2010 - the weekend before the
WorldCon in Australia. I'm on the SF Poetry panel with Tim Jones. I'm looking forward to this big time as I'll be able to read some more SF/fantasy orientated poems that I usually keep well under wraps. (I enjoy writing them but accept that not many editors are interested in works such as a Shakespearean sonnet adaptation of George R Stewart's Earth Abides.) Elizabeth Knox is Guest of Honour: a fine writer with a gleeful disregard for distinctions between 'high lit' and popular genres. I'm celebrating my 23rd wedding anniversary today: L. bought me a copy of Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed. A wonderful novel that I'll enjoy reading again.