Sunday, October 31, 2010

Phantom Billstickers

Have you seen the
Phantom Billstickers Poetry page over at the NZ Electronic Poetry Centre? A great page.

I also finished listening to Alan Garner's The Owl Service on audio book. This is still one of my most beloved novels (he was a local author for me when I first read it!)

I'm planning to post shorter, more link-related posts until Christmas for a bit of fun. (Yes, I know I have enough to do).

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Highway Blues by Cliff Fell

Fuses and fires and a very fast car—

llllas though in the voice of
this alliterating wind
llllyou could blow your way down

the dirt road from the mesa-top
lllland south onto Highway 666
where the poor beast will rock

lllland roll tonight
and wrangle beneath your wheels
llllpanting and sighing and

lllltrying to say

grunt o grunt oh grunt

Originally published in Beauty of the Badlands (Victoria University Press, 2008).

Cliff Fell lives near Motueka. He is the author of two collections of poetry, The Adulterer’s Bible (Victoria University Press, 2003) and Beauty of the Badlands (Victoria University Press, 2008). He can occasionally be heard talking about poetry on Nights with Bryan Crump on Radio New Zealand National.

Author’s note

‘The Highway Blues’ was written while travelling through Colorado and New Mexico in 2004,driving a Thrifty rental car south from Mesa Verde, where I’d been visiting the numerous ruins of pre-conquest cliff dwellings. I was passing through towns like Shiprock and Farmington, Navajo country. It was getting late, the weather was turning wild and I was lost. I couldn’t find Highway 666, so-named because it was the sixth highway to cross the old Route 66. I’d been looking forward to driving down this stretch of road as I was intrigued that such an ominously numbered highway should run north to south in that region, bisecting Los Alamos, where I was headed, and the nuclear test sites of Nevada. But, as I say, I couldn’t find the highway anywhere, and wherever my map suggested it should be, I found myself on some kind of a usurping highway, named Highway 492. Eventually, I pulled into a truckstop and asked. The waitress looked at me curiously for a second, but then when I unfolded my map and showed her Highway 666, written clear as day on it, she explained that a couple of months before, due to resounding public demand, the highway authorities had renamed the highway, and that 492 was the new 666. The poor beast, I thought, driven out of even this most formidable of lairs. And why 492, you may ask? Well, I’m not sure, but it probably has something to do with Interstate 40, which has replaced Route 66. Back on the road,I played the numerology game on 492 and, what do you know? – 492 reduces from 15 down to 6. There must be something in that. I slept that night in the car, in a clearing off the road, way up in the Jemez mountains. The next morning was the first day of the elk hunting season. I awoke to guns going off everywhere and a fleeting glimpse of elk bounding past the windscreen. So, that’s the poem, really. – Oh, except that people have asked me why there are the different renderings of o/oh in the final line. Well, there is a reason of course, a good reason, but it would take at least another thousand words to explain – or a lifetime even – so another time, maybe. In the meantime, if you really need to know, go figure . . .

Many thanks to Cliff for this poem.
More Tuesday poems at Tuesday Poem.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tuesday poem: Angel Falls by Barbara Strang

Angel Falls

Awake at three o’clock –
the night glow is soft,
a moth’s wing.

The grey light grows
caressing me through
the lack of you.

I was fair once,
you had ideals,

now we don’t touch,
shut in our separate

As a child
I was led
to believe

an angel was assigned
to watch over me.

On the screen
a man in Venezuela
falls as in a dream

by cascades of angels’ hair
also falling.

Barbara is a poet and haiku writer who lives on the Estuary, Christchurch. She has been widely published, with one collection of her poems “Duck Weather”, published by Poets Group (2006). She has just edited the New Zealand Poetry Society’s anthology for the second year running, and is also an editor for Sudden Valley Press. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University, Wellington. This poem, previously published in Takahe, is taken from her hew collection “The Corrosion Zone”, about to be published by HeadworX. The book charts a journey through grief and loss, to a different region.

Barbara says "this poem was partially inspired by a razor ad on TV depicting someone doing a dive by Angel Falls, of the 'don't try this at home' type."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tuesday poem: The horse by Fiona Farrell

The horse

Imagine a horse. A dapple
grey, standing in a field.
Eyes closed. Its lashes
demure, its pink nostrils
flaring on warm air. One
foot on point like a dancer
resting. The very image
of motion stilled. No jump
no dumdedum.

The horse dozes by a fence
and you, a small child,
sprawl on its back. Bare
legs straddle its warm
coat. Bare arms about the
neck of the beast. This beast
who lets you lie upon his back,
legs straddled in the sun.

And then there comes a
cloud, a cloud of flies no
bigger than a needle’s
point, all prick and agitation.
They land upon the horse’s
coat. His skin quivers. Not
all over. Just in that place
where the flies nick. Skin
quivers under bare legs.
He stamps one hoof.

Quiver and stamp.
Quiver and stamp on
a blue day and you small,
straddled across the back
of a big beast. And
that is how the earth is.

Fiona Farrell is one of New Zealand’s leading writers, publishing work in a variety of genres.

Fiona Farrell's first novel, The Skinny Louie Book won the 1993 New Zealand Book Award for fiction. Other novels have been shortlisted for the Montana New Zealand Book Award and nominated for the International Dublin IMPAC Award. Farrell's short fiction has appeared in the company of Alice Munro and Hanif Kureishi in two volumes of Heinemann’s Best Short Stories (ed. Gordon and Hughes), while her poems feature in major anthologies including The Oxford Book of New Zealand Poetry and Bloodaxe’s best-selling Being Alive. Her play Chook Chook is one of Playmarket New Zealand’s most frequently requested scripts.

Fiona Farrell is a frequent guest at festivals in New Zealand, and has also appeared at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Vancouver International Writers’ Festival.

She has held residencies in France (the 1995 Katherine Mansfield Fellowship to Menton) and Ireland (the 2006 Rathcoola Residency).

In 2007 Fiona Farrell received the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Award for Fiction.

You can find out more about Fiona at her website (from whence this blurb is pinched).

Many thanks to Fiona for this poem.
More Tuesday poems at Tuesday Poem.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Thursday, October 07, 2010

South Pacific Press - call for maths poems

This just in from Laurice Gilbert over at NZ Poetry Society.

South Pacific Press - call for maths poems

Submission deadline: 5pm, Tuesday 21 October
South Pacific Press (SPP) is searching for Math poems for an upcoming book for the American middle school market. The book of math poems will be part of a wider series, which will contain titles across English, Math, Science and Social Studies.

Successful maths poems will:
* Be of suitable tone and difficulty for 9/10-year-old children (US Grade 4/NZ Year 5)
* Be written in US English
* Be engaging
* Contain elements of humour
* Gather momentum throughout
* Help the reader think differently, or "outside the square"
* Open up new worlds to the reader's imagination
* Be uncomplicated to read, yet contain complex ideas
* Preferably be between 50 and 250 words
* Be submitted by email as Word attachments
* Be based on one or more of the following mathematical areas:
o Numbers and operations
o Algebra
o Geometry
o Measurement
o Probability
o Problem solving.

Fees and use of work:
~ SPP will select and purchase poems for a one-off fee of NZD $250 each.
~ SPP will purchase the copyright in the work.
~ Authors will retain all moral rights.
~ Please don't submit previously published work.
~ Authors will be notified if their work is selected by Friday October 22, 2010 at 5pm.
~ Writers may submit more than one poem.

Please email submissions to: Matt Comeskey at

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Tuesday poem: Hamlet nurses his beer by James Norcliffe.

Hamlet nurses his beer

It needs must be strong and black
from some honest microbrewery,
none of that Wittenberg weissbier;

that’s the sort of cat’s-paw’s cat’s piss
he would drink before he paws and
paddles at her roiling royal flesh.

This is a forthright drop, the real
thing. Isinglass has made it as clear
and dark as a midsummer midnight.

He’d rather mist, swirling mist to hide
his dwarfish shadow. When you hold it
up to the light all you see is cloud.

But then again the bastard is right. Why
should he be able to see me entire for
what I am? Seem should seem merely.

I should switch brews. Finings should
not flocculate my yeast into a jellylike
mass. Rottenness is all about and murk.

And of course the murkiness is all,
while the taste is as sharp and clean
as the clatter of a tankard on stones.

Many thanks for James for this wonderful poem.

James Norcliffe is a poet, fiction writer and educator. He has written collections of poetry and short stories, and several books for young adults. His writing has been featured in journals and anthologies, and he has also worked widely as an editor. Norcliffe has won awards and prizes, and has been the recipient of key fellowships, including the 2006 Fellowship at the University of Iowa. His sixth collection of poetry,
Villon in Millerton, was published in 2007.

You can find out more about James at the Book Council (from which I've pinched the above blurb).

You can read more of his poetry over at the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre. (Be sure to check out one of my favourites, the kids are smoking.

More Tuesday poems at Tuesday Poem.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Tingling catch

Mark Pirie has started a blog of cricket poems over at Tingling Catch. And he's chosen a nice looking template.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Friday, October 01, 2010

Tim Jones at the Ballroom Café

Tim Jones is guest poet at the Ballroom Café in October. Come along for two hours of poetry, music (with The Gracious Deviants) and great food and coffee. Check out the full details here:

Sunday, October 17 · 4:00pm - 6:00pm

Ballroom Café
cnr Riddiford St and Adelaide Road, Newtown
Wellington, New Zealand

I'm planning to read one of my poems at the open mike.