Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Helen Lowe's blog celebration

Go over to Helen's here.
Good one, Helen.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday poem: Pear tree, apple tree, green glass tree by Lynn Davidson

Pear tree, apple tree, green glass tree

It is mid afternoon and we haven’t gone far.
Ahead of me his hand
pulls back the pear-tree branch.
I duck under and, briefly, a golden pear lies
against my hair, heavy as a chant
in a foreign language. I turn

as though in church again, as though I turned
towards a far
light, a nonsensical chant,
tremendous, opaque, cupping hands.
As though I could lie
along the length of this green branch –

faith. But in that branching
maze I have stumbled every turn.
So I follow the land’s lay
and go too far
for green glass trees and mighty hands
and all those enchantments.

The children start up a plaintive, nursery chant
recalling their own hallway like a branch
from which their bedrooms blossom every night. I take their hands
and both heads turn
towards me but their eyes are far
away back home in their bedrooms where they lie

each night – lie
like little dashes in the long, spell-binding chant
of night. ‘How far!’
they yell. Their arms stiffen like branches
and their hands turn
angrily inside my hands.

He slips free of me and his white hand
darkens a nest where three eggs lie.
They want to wait for the bird’s return.
She starts a sing-song chant.
A bird bobs along a branch.
Too far, it sings back. Too far, too far.

It’s night time and we have gone too far to return.
The lay of broken branches makes a scratchy chant.
The children flush out birds with their quick hands.

Lynn Davidson is the author of three collections of poetry, How to live by the sea, Tender and Mary Shelley’s Window, and a novel, Ghost Net. In 2003 she was awarded the Louis Johnson Writer’s Bursary.

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

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tuesday Poem. Birdie Bowers' Hat by Meliors Simms

Image: Meliors

Birdie Bowers’ Hat

Birdie Bowers was universally loved
for his old-fashioned virtues:
hard-work and loyalty, the most
stoic and cheerful member of Scott’s party,
he was the kind of chap the Empire needed
and chewed up
and spat out.

Birdie was the wrong class
to be an explorer or a scientist
but his exploring and his science
won respect from better educated men
whom he kept alive
even after the tent blew away.

Birdie was a wonder because he never felt the cold,
except at the very end, when he had to choose
between survival and loyalty,
and of course he stayed with Scott
in that long dark blizzard, even after Oates
stepped outside
for some time.

Birdie made himself a feral snowboarder’s hat.
In its multi-coloured plumage,
he wouldn’t have been out of place
among maverick mountain climbers,
a century later and he would be
just as loved today,
just as used up.

Meliors writes: "This is the third poem I've written about Antarctic explorers of the Heroic Age. I have spent most of the last year making sculptural relief maps of Antarctica (and now icebergs) out of embroidered blankets (see photo of Ross Island). So I think about Antarctica all the time, looking at photographs and reading anything written about it. But though I can talk endlessly about Antarctic history (friends know better than to set me off), my creative work on it is almost entirely visual.Without actually having been to Antarctica I don't have any stories of my own to tell and so the old heroes seem to be the only way I can write about this continent that so obsesses me."

Meliors blogs at

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

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tuesday poem: Battle of San Romano by Harvey Molloy

Battle of San Romano

Vasari once saw

a destroyed cartoon

for the centre panel

of Uccello's

Battle of San Romano

which depicts,

in the background

a young scholar

distracted from reading

by the clamour of the battle.

Faint pencil strokes


a hesitant gaze

as he chooses between

the pleasures of his book

or recording the scene.

Later sketches

show him on the summit

of a distant hill

sitting back

against a matchstick tree

trousers unbuttoned

seduced by the written

he reads

while on the fields below

plasticine horses

snort at their opponents.

The battle

we are told

was a bloody one

the fate of the scholar


This poem has its origins in a writing exercise for Greg Ulmer's inventio class I completed in 1987 when I was studying at the University of Florida. It's all made up of course.

Eat your words: Café Poetry Competition


Café Poetry Competition 2010

Here’s a chance to win one of 42 (yes, 42!) prizes by writing a poem about your favourite Wellington café.

The Whitireia Creative Writing Programme has an excellent reputation for developing the talents of New Zealand writers from all walks of life. This year the students have teamed up with 42 Wellington cafés in a poetry competition centred on cafés throughout the greater Wellington region.

We are inviting people to write poems inspired by a café in the greater Wellington region. Cafés can inspire all sorts of poems, about food, about the view, something that happens in the café, a memory – cafés are full of ideas.

The prize for the overall winner is a fantastic lunch for two at Cobar Restaurant in Days Bay*, including ferry tickets to and from Eastbourne. Forty other poets will win a voucher to one of the participating cafés – and they’re some of Wellington’s best.

At the close of the competition, there will be opportunities to publish some poems, and to read them at poetry readings hosted by several cafés.

The judge for the competition is award-winning New Zealand poet Jenny Bornholdt.

The competition runs through September with a closing date of 15th October.

To enter:

· Enter original, unpublished work only, 30 line limit, maximum 3 poems per person.

· Put the poem on one page; put the title of the poem, your name and contact details on separate page. Email to or post to Café Poetry Competition, Creative Writing Programme, Whitireia New Zealand, Private Bag 50910, Porirua (include stamped address envelope).

· There is no entry fee.

The competition is closed to current Whitireia Creative Writing Programme students and tutors.

* not to be used in conjunction with any other vouchers or promotional offers

The cafes who have sponsored this competition are:

Aro Café, Aro St, Wgtn Central

Beach Deli Café, Paraparaumu

Bellagio Café, Hataitai

Butlers Chocolate Café, Willis St, Wgtn Central

Butlers Chocolate Café, Lower Hutt

Café Figg, Petone

Café Kaizen, Porirua

Café Romeo, Upper Hutt

Café Tart, Petone

Café Vella, Plimmerton

Café Villa, Ngaio

Caffe L’affare, College St, Wgtn Central

Chocolate Frog Café, Miramar

Chocolate Fish Café, Shelley Bay

Cobar Restaurant, Days Bay

Drift Café, Waikanae

Elements Café, Lyall Bay

Fig Tree Café & Larder, Heretaunga

Lembas Café, Raumati South

Light House Cinema Café, Pauatahanui

Light House Cinema Café, Petone

Makara Café, Makara

Marrakech Café, Evans Bay

Marsden Village Café, Karori

Martha’s Pantry, Cuba Street, Wgton Central

Nikau Gallery Café, City Art Gallery, Wgton Central

Paekakariki Café, Paekakariki

Parsons Café, Lambton Quay, Wgton Central

Penthouse Cinema Café, Brooklyn

Peppermill Delicatessen, Porirua

Plum Café, Cuba St, Wgton Central

Reikorangi Pottery Café, Waikanae

Seatoun Café & Bar, Seatoun

Sweet Mother’s Kitchen, Courtney Pl, Wgton Central

The Bach Café, Island Bay

The Ballroom Café, Newtown

The Beach Café & Restaurant, Eastbourne

The Big Salami, Plimmerton

The Short Straw Café, Whitemans Valley

The Wadestown Kitchen, Wadestown

Tiki Lounge Café, Lower Hutt

Valhalla Village Lounge and Garden, Raumati South

Good food, good poetry GREAT TIMES!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Tuesday Poem: The Slash-slash-Slosh of California by Nick Ascroft

The Slash-slash-Slosh of California

\ for—Kate/

Coming up a bit ah … rubicundly from under a half of a wine if you follow,
it’s his otherwise ash-witted queen of what in publishers’ rough back-offices
we call the separatrix or whack, the slash to you ill-typographically washed,
as in mean-slash-funny, and not the solidus-slash-shilling mark which either
I’d find hard to say here or she’d be leaning as obliquely forwards as.

Coming up in a wistful pine only though, an image of some drab dead subeditor’s
pub-lunch she’s weathering under and pining right back at him—I—in her
unimaginable scenario, the sky a ruddy morning apricot out the window of
a warm abandoned Central Otago Post Office. [Should a comma insert there,
so that it isn’t abandoned of warmth but abandoned and warm? Email q to ed.]

But his ashy-slasher lies over an Atlantic, drooling tiny waves, patting tiny
turtles, crushing dark into trenches of unfreezable drowning, as seen from his
aeroplane were he to return to her. She lies in the hummingbird-hot lights and
overpunctuated counties smearing obese out from Los Angeles. He’s here,
cold right hand of a mouse, cold socks and jealous of his earlier clarity

of pine: his überwunderkind, rubicund under a wine.

Nick Ascroft is the acclaimed 2000 debut
From the Author of and Nonsense (2003). He has also been an editor of the Dunedin literary magazine Glottis and in 2003 was a Burns Fellow at Otago University.

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

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Takahe poetry competition: deadline approaching


This year our poetry competition will be judged by

Two runners up will receive one year's free subscription to Takahe

Unpublished poems of up to 50 lines on any theme will be accepted.
Entry Fee: NZ$5.00 per poem
Each poem should be printed on one side of A4 and posted to:

Takahe Poetry Competition 2010
PO Box 13-335
Christchurch 8141
New Zealand

To be received no later than 30 September 2010.
No email entries, please.

Results will be published in Takahe 71 (December) 2010.

Download the entry form here.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Poetry NZ 41

On the day the quake shook Christchurch Poetry NZ 41 edited by Nicholas Reid, arrived in the mailbox. Along with my poem 'Moth eats word', the issue features poetry by Richard Reeve and, amongst others,
Zarah Butcher, Fern G.Z. Carr, Jennifer Compton, Majella Cullinane, Gregory Dally, Shirley Deuchrass, Belinda Diepenheim, Anne French, Josie Charlotte Jackson, Leonard Lambert, Joy MacKenzie, Janet Newman, Mark Pirie, Vivienne Plumb, Vaughan Rapatahana, my old friend Harry Ricketts, Iain Sharp, C.K. Stead, Hayden Williams, Alessio Zanelli.

Photo of Richard Reeve: NZ Book Council.