Friday, July 24, 2009

The Rocky Shore Wins

It's National Poetry Day and I am at Rona Books in Eastbourne selling books. No poetry yet but I live in hope. Someone called Jill just showed interest in Vincent O'Sullivan's Futher Convictions Pending but had to dash off to the doctor.

I have put Jenny Bornholdt's The Rocky Shore at the centre of the poetry display now because I see she's won the Montana NZ Poetry Award this year - it's always announced on Poetry Day. Congratulations Jenny. And to Sam Sampson who won the novice award.

Interestingly, Jill the Customer and I were pouring over The Rocky Shore earlier not knowing Jenny had won. Jill has a copy she got for Christmas and we were talking about the lovely way Jenny Bornholdt writes of gardens and yet - by her own admission - has a garden that languishes. In one poem, a newspaper photographer comes to capture the garden on film for an article, and all he can say is 'Jesus.'

And here's a poem I have to share. Tim Upperton wrote it. Like me, he's a tutor at Massey University, and he launches his first collection of poetry A House on Fire at the Palmerston North City Library at 7 tonight [all welcome]. Tim's poems are tender things - rich in language and finely observed quotidian detail - much like a Jenny Bornholdt. This villanelle is a little different from other poems of Tim's I've read ...

The drill’s bright bit, its tip, its jewel
by Tim Upperton

In a lane as straight as a child’s rule,
as twilight falls, not dark, not quite,
I swim another lap of the pool.

The water encloses me, comfortably cool.
The attendant passes, flicks on a light.
In a lane as straight as a child’s rule

The rest here.

5 comments:

harvey molloy said...

Thanks to link to Tim's poem, Mary. It's a cracker.

Rachel Fenton said...

The villanell is probably my least favoured poetry form, however, there's something about the imagery in this one of Upperton's which lends itself perfectly - and not the obvious thing, of the repetitive motion of swimming, either - it's the child's rule. It's the childish, almost naive quality of it, I think. Wasn't going to comment, but I was drawn back to it. There, I feel better now, :)

Mary McCallum said...

Thanks Rachel for your comment [glad you feel better!] - you're absolutely right - the child's rule makes the poem and the repetition of the villanelle works wonderfully well with the subject matter. There are some nice surprises in it too like the line about the drill. Like you I find myself returning to this poem...

Tim Upperton said...

Thank you for mentioning my book launch, Mary, and I'm glad you singled out this particular poem. Thanks to you too, Rachel. I like the villanelle as a form, myself - I've just contributed one to an American anthology of them that will come out next year, I think. It's a form that lends itself to incantation, a kind of spell-making - also to obsessive subjects, in a non-linear way. Thanks again,
Tim

Mary McCallum said...

yes i like the idea of the incantation and spell-making - i find teaching it in class, that even quite ordinary poets can make something quite marvellous in the confines of the villanelle