Monday, January 31, 2011

Tuesday Poem: 'One Art' by Elizabeth Bishop

Today's poem is 'One Art' by Elizabeth Bishop.

More Tuesday poems at Tuesday Poem.

Please contact me if you'd like to publish a poem on Notebook. You can leave a message in comments or contact me via Facebook or email.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Service for Harvey McQueen

I attended the memorial service for Harvey McQueen yesterday. It was good to sit with a bunch of fellow writers and hear tributes to Harvey. I felt a sense of shared values with himvery old Stoic values, really. Poetry matters. People matter. Family matters. Teaching matters. Avoid all philosophies which promote the 'dog eat dog' view.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday Poem: Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney

Today's poem is Seamus Heaney reading his poem 'Blackberry Picking.'

More Tuesday poems at Tuesday Poem.

Please contact me if you'd like to publish a poem on Notebook. You can leave a message in comments or contact me via Facebook or email.

Monday, January 24, 2011

RAN Petition for Nasrin Sotoudeh

RAN Petition for Nasrin Sotoudeh

Writers in Prison - International PEN

Our latest Freedom to Write petition is in protest of the eleven year sentence handed down on January 9, 2010 to prominent Iranian writer, journalist and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, pic right. She was also banned from practicing law and from leaving the country for twenty years. We believe that she is sentenced solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party, and call for her immediate and unconditional release.

According to International PEN's information, the eleven-year sentence was delivered by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court on January 9, 2010. The sentence comprises one year imprisonment for "propaganda against the regime," and a total of ten years for the two charges of "acting against national security" and "violating the Islamic dress code (Hijab) in a filmed speech." She is believed to be charged for critical interviews she gave to overseas media following the disputed June 2009 presidential election, and for her membership of the Association of Human Rights Defenders (see below for more details). Her lawyer stated that she has twenty days to appeal against the sentence. After the sentence was delivered her husband was summoned for questioning by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court, allegedly for interviews he had given to the media.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, aged 47 and a mother of two young children, was arrested on September 4, 2010 when she was summoned to the special court in Evin prison on charges of "propaganda against the state," "cooperating with the Association of Human Rights Defenders" and "conspiracy to disturb order." The arrest followed a raid on her home and office by security officers on August 29, 2010, who confiscated her files and documents. Her lawyer was not allowed to represent her in court or accompany her client during questioning. She is held in solitary confinement at Tehran's Evin Prison, where she has been on hunger strike for much of the time since her arrest and concerns for her welfare are mounting. Since her arrest Nasrin Soutadeh has been allowed very limited access to her family, in violation of the Iranian Penal Code which guarantees the right to weekly visits and receive phone calls from relatives.

For more information or to sign the petition, please visit

Thanks to Beattie's Book Blog for this--let's use the Net to do what's right.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Summer Holiday


Last Sunday, we returned from our summer holidays in the North Island. We went to Taupo and took a lake cruise (if you visit there I recommend the harbour cafe that serves a delicious salmon and caper crêpe). We sat in the DeBrettes Spa Resort pools and I bumped into an old friend and work colleague from my information architecture days who I'd lost touch with and who is now doing well in business. Then we stayed in Whakatane and walked to the Tararera Falls where we saw an underground river plunge out of the side of a mountain. We used Whakatane as a base to drive to Ohope and the East Cape. Above is a shot of this secluded beach in Ohope you walk over a hill to reach. We saw two other people on the beach--I just love how spoilt we are here for peace and quiet. The weather was wonderful and we encountered far less crazy drivers on the road this year.

My tune this week is The Pogues 'Dirty Old Town' which I'm learning to play on the ukulele. Parts of the song remind me of 'The Banks of the Ohio'--practicing 'Banks' I started to think of 'Dirty Old Town.' (I got the chords to the song here).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tuesday Poem: Time and Materials by Robert Hass

Today's poem is Robert Hass reading his poem 'Time and Materials.'

More Tuesday poems at Tuesday Poem.

Please contact me if you'd like to publish a poem on Notebook. You can leave a message in comments or contact me via Facebook or email.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Sat. Note: Thornspell

Just a quick note to say how much I'm enjoying Helen Lowe's Thornspell. This is a fine fantasy novel. There's so much care and craft in the writing: you get marvelous words such as 'destiers' and 'green fretted' and 'cavalcade.' It's more than a childrens' novel and is written in a way that would appeal to many adults. It's an intriguing twist on Sleeping Beauty.

Here's Vampire Weekend's 'A Punk.' . This song has had over 15 million hits on YouTube.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Tuesday Poem: The Third Form by Mark Pirie

The Third Form

In the third form we began
to fear a Nuclear War.

It was 1987 and on TV
there'd often be

a movie threatening
'the end of the world'.

When I went home
to study I couldn't look

at the pictures.
Then, the next day,

back at school, I'd watch
the other boys play 'soldier'

at lunchtimes, firing their
water-blasters like guns.

I shied away from them
and thought of the pictures.

I sat at the back of the class
and hid outside my textbooks.

Mark Pirie is a Wellington poet, writer, editor and publisher. He has done much to cultivate and encourage poetry in New Zealand. You can find out more about Mark at his website.

This poem is from his book No Joke and was reprinted in New New Zealand Poets in Performance edited Jack Ross and Jan Kemp.

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

Please contact me if you'd like to publish a poem on Notebook. You can leave a message in commentsI wont publish the commentor contact me via Facebook or email.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Harvey McQueen

I'm sorry to pass on the news that teacher and poet Harvey McQueen (1934-2010) has died. Harvey was the editor (with Ian Wedde) of the Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse. I first met him at the launch of his last book Goya Rules (which was one of my favourite books of last year). We had just swapped poems with each other for the Tuesday Poem Christmas special. I was struck by his openness, his genuine love of poetry, and his lack of pretension and snobbishness. I'm sorry to hear of his death and I'd like to pass on my condolences to his family.