Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Tuesday Poem: Love Poems by Airini Beautrais
LOVE POEM FOR VAL
Val, lately you are resplendent
in your ideology.
I see you cycling across an intersection
with an orange basket
the sun bright on your hair.
Val, lately you wear black
a lot and laugh through your nose.
Words march out of your mouth
in tight formation.
LOVE POEM FOR
A QUEER BOY
Your tummy hangs out of hot-pants.
A new freedom propels
you around the room.
May you be lucky tonight.
May you be happy tomorrow.
May your tummy rest
in the small of a beautiful back.
LOVE POEM FOR
A FELT-TIP PEN
Pete said 'I love felt-tip pens.
I want to marry a felt-tip pen.'
And then there was a smudgy drawing
of him beside his smiling bride.
I first posted an Airini poem I said her poems had 'enchantment' - and I believe her new collection Western Line (VUP) holds true to this. Her poems enchant because they are enchantments, and curses and love poems and prayers and fables and fairytales.... I kid you not. This is a book packed with people Airini has blessed and cursed and written a fairytale about.
Look here we have Val and 'a queer boy' and Peter who loves 'felt-tips' - each one resplendent in their own way. There are many more of these short love poems - as I'm writing this, I see that Helen Heath posted some of them a couple of months back as part of Tuesday Poem. Funny how we both fell on the love poems.
Airini's poetry breathes as she breathes: a woman who watches the world up close and loves the 'queer' people she sees in it and their queer little ways (even as she's cursing them.) Who else could write with love about a tummy hanging out of hot-pants and give it a future tucked into a beautiful back? There is a series of poems called 'Travelling with Us' at the end of the book about people seen on a Wellington train - but I'll save one of those for another day.
Here's a link to another post from me on my friend Airini and the poems in her award-winning first collection Secret Heart. She really is one out of the box.
For more Tuesday Poems click on the quill in the sidebar here or click THIS.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Music is medicine, music is sanity
When I pick it up, I love the weight of it, the curve of it, the way it fits across my body, and when I touch the thick, heavy strings, I love the voice that comes. Not my own voice, but somehow from me. I love the patterns I make, patterns that weave with other patterns creating an astonishing texture that is rhythm and sound, and something more that it's hard to put a finger on. In becoming part of a piece of music, I slough off my life - its anxieties and concerns and busyness - and I am 'other' at the same time as I am deeply myself. The best self. Unburdened.
In this TED piece, violinist Robert Gupta talks about the genius schizophrenic musician Nathaniel Ayers (whose life was portrayed in the movie The Soloist), and how he saw in this man's eyes the redemptive power of music; and how that look reminds him why he first came to music, and continues to play. Below the TED vid. is the most exquisite piece: Gupta playing 'Passacaglia' with cellist Joshua Roman. This is about the connection between two musicians released from their skins and meeting somewhere in between that is ... celestial.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Feedback on a novel: I have thick skin
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Little Things - this vid. will stop you in your tracks
TEEB Little Things from Will Walters on Vimeo.
Thanks to Claire who is always gently reminding me of my place on this planet, and to her mate Penelope who found the vid. and is in the process of launching a fascinating new e-book called Slightly Peculiar Love Stories over at Rosa Mira Books.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Tuesday Poem: Tulips
I wrote this before I had children. I remember the tulips in the apartment in Athens, their exquisite colour and delicacy, and their unexpected heaviness. They were red not yellow, but this photo of tulips I bought a week or two ago will have to do.
Having had three children, the feelings I wrote of aged 24 hold true - the picture of 'Mother' as nurturer and protector, feeling one has to project that, but fearful too that one won't be strong enough to do what's expected.
For the hub poem by Michele Amas - the wonderful 'home to you' - click on the quill in the sidebar here, or go here. And there are stimulating offerings in the TP sidebar by the other Tuesday Poets that deserve to be read too. Take a moment.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Reclaiming the semi-colon: Kate de Goldi
Kate de Goldi is crazy in love with semi-colons. She told a gathering of writers and readers this last night at a Writers on Sunday session at my bookshop. Not those exact words - I might have Steve Tyler from American Idol on my mind here - but something close. I was supposed to be conducting proceedings, so I wasn't taking notes.
Really, I should have guessed about this semi-colon thing. I re-read The 10 PM Question in preparation for Kate's session - a truly delightful experience, I'm not a re-reader in general, but I loved re-reading this book and it makes me wonder if I shouldn't do it more often - and anyway, I did notice that one sentence had THREE semi-colons.
Kate says children's books, and literature in general, are rapidly shedding the old semis and she regrets it - passionately. She says the semi-colon allows for longer sentences and, as a result, more complexity of thought, and it's simply rubbish that children aren't capable of handling semi-colons in their reading.
Just recently Kate visited the great children's author KM Peyton and they discussed the way she has had to shed the semi-colon at ( I believe) her publisher's behest. Certainly, when she did it, the publisher was pleased. However, in discussion with Kate - who is a big fan - KM admitted her writing was stronger when it embraced that odd-shaped dude, the semi-colon.
(While I was hunting for a semi-colon image, I found this hilarious post on a semi-colon rampant.)
Kate de Goldi was the first of our guests in our Writers on Sunday: Rona Winter Series. She was a stimulating, generous guest - talking about an awful lot more besides the semi-colon. She also went into the thinking behind her book The 10 PM Question, about place and character in her book, about children's and adult literature in general and how her book fits into those categories, about the nourishment books give and how 10 PM shows us this, and so much more besides. She read from 10 PM, as well as reading three pages from her novel-in-progress.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Kate de Goldi at 4.30 tomorrow Eastbourne
Kate's The 10 PM Question (Longacre)has been a runaway bestseller and won Readers' Choice in the NZ Book Awards and Book of the Year in the Children's Book Awards. I reviewed it here.
We'll start the Sunday event with a glass of wine and a chance to chat with Kate, then there's an Open Mic for local writers to share their work, a refill of wine, then Kate will read followed by questions... and more wine...
A similar event held at Rona Gallery last year with Fiona Kidman was both stimulating and fun with a crowd of 50 people.
Here's an extract from my 10 PM Question review....
If you love story read this book. If you love a story which has in its arms myth, fairytale, legend, picture book, adult and childhood classics, read this book. If you have a family member who is different from the people in other families you know, read this book. If you love a book which pulses with the chaos of family life - of life in fact - but at every turn reminds you of the wonder there, read this book. If your family harbours a secret, read this book...
Be there or be square... (Koha $5)
Thursday, May 19, 2011
'After Reading Auden' out in the world
I am thrilled by the poem's chutzpah, delighted it is still a little shy of all the exposure, and more than a little amazed that it is somehow connected to me. This is how it should be for a poem. Too much time inside a computer hard drive can make it a pale and meagre thing, drained of the confidence it needs to step out into the world.
It made its first steps here, but now it's out there, the poem seems pinker and plumper and its shoulders are set a whole new way - and listen, it's singing our song.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Tuesday Poem: Swallowed your Tongue?
Photo by Dermal Denticles (photostream on Flickr).
Feeling brave? The Best of the Best NZ Poems.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Feijoa Chutney recipe
I still haven't made it, but I intend to. Maybe tomorrow. Here it is courtesy of Esme and Anna at the Kiwi Diary 2011 (see previous post). For overseas readers, Feijoa are also known as Pineapple Guava, and are available March - May. They grow here freely.
1.5 kg feijoas
300 g raisins
500 g onions
500 g dates
500 g brown sugar
2 tpsp ground ginger
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt
4 cups malt vinegar
Trim ends of feijoas and slice by hand. Chop onions and dates. Combine everything in saucepan.
Boil and cook for 1 1/2 -2 hours gently until thick. Pour into clean hot jars.
Jar of enjoyment!
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Feijoa Chutney and other gems from the Kiwi Diary
I have a a huge bag of feijoas and a recipe courtesy of The Kiwi Diary 2011. Hopefully in the weekend I can bring the two together.
I have to say I wouldn't have thought of chutney but for this diary which has all sorts of wonderful things in it to lighten my week - Text Poems by Sarah-Jane Barnett, other sorts of poems, prints, artworks, photos etc. Snippets of things that happened on a particular date in NZ history, references to things cultural....
It's a big solid ring-bound thing, but I keep it by the computer to throw all the family dates in.
This week there's the feijoa recipe and then these dates for every day of the week:
Mon 9 May - "VE Day Celebrations 1945 marking Victory in Europe Day, following Germany's unconditional surrender. Seven years of war and rationing, and over a million parcels sent to troops, is marked by the party to end all parties. Kiwis celebrate VE Day one day late, so celebrations are on the same day as Britain."
Tues 10 May - "The first shipment of NZ gold from Dunedin for London, 1945. It makes approximately 60% of Kiwi exports for the rest of the decade."
Wed 11 May - Charles Upham receives thje Victoria Cross from King George, 1945. His skill, daring and ability to outthink the enemy during the war were legendary. he is the only combat soldier to win the Victoria Cross and Bar."
Thurs 12 May - "The Waihi gold miners' strike begins, 1912 - NZ's most violent industrial dispute. the strike culminates in the death of Frederick George Evans in a fight between strikers and blackleg miners' union 'the arbitrationists.' The strike last 6 months."
Fri 13 May - "Frances Hodgkins, one of our country's most celebrated artists, dies aged 78, 1947."
Sat 14 May - 'The PLunket Society is formed at a meeting of the Dunedin Town Hall, 1907."
Sun 15 May - "The Government announces an end to Rimu logging by 2002 on the West Coast...."
Feijoa Chutney recipe tomorrow....
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Tuesday Poem: Love the Glove
pot, notebooks –
Monday, May 9, 2011
It's certainly caught my imagination. I've written two so far and found the exercise not unlike doing a sudoku puzzle or cryptic crossword - it challenges and sharpens the mind, and is surprisingly satisfying. Maybe it's just me and my easy distractibility - but one short story idea I've had for awhile, that I haven't managed to get down on paper, has now found a home, and others are lining up ... However, the first 150-word story I wrote last week began from an overheard phrase and an associated idea, and then just unfolded on the page much like a poem (with hours of editing afterwards.)
In fact my novelist friend Thom Conroy says, the 150-word story is a category for a poet (at least one who also likes dabbling in fiction.) It certainly has to have a narrative - albeit concentrated down to the nth degree - but at the same time, as with poetry, economy of language is the key. Each word has to pull its weight and most are freighted with meaning. At the same time, the story needs to have 'space' in it to make it feel like a story not a poem. I guess I mean the reader doesn't need to feel the weight in each word - an unfolding narrative feel is the key.
It's like a tale told over a beer, a joke. It also reminds me of some of the excellent prose poems floating around at the moment. Poet Airini Beautrais is particularly good at them.
Flash fiction has interested me for awhile - in this busy era overloaded with apps, I think it may well find its niche. Why not give it a go? And if economy is not your thing, there are always the other awards to enter... Go here.
Friday, May 6, 2011
We invent fictions in order to live somehow the many lives we would like to lead
|Mario Vargas Llosa|
An extract from Mario Vargas Llosa’s acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Literature. The whole thing is free as a pdf download.
My thanks to UK writer Kathleen Jones for spotting this, and for her thoughtful discussion of it (and more quotes) on her blog. I love this about blogs - there you are on an ordinary day, contemplating walking the dog before heading out the door to work at the bookshop, and suddenly BAM - you find something that sends the brain cells in complex, satisfying loops.
I don't have time to read the whole thing now, but Kathleen's given me a taste and a link and I can come back to it tonight - with a glass of wine - before American Idol.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Tuesday Poem: Sing Joe (2) by Chris Tse
nested in three noble syllables read from right to left.
Father and son with different appendages: Kum, Wing.
You seemed unfazed to start anew an abandonment of past graces
while your son reset from Joe to Wing and back again
with bank accounts in each name like conjoined rooms to store each breath.
This is where our table of contents splinters
and the hue of countless generations suddenly shifts.
As the younger entries begin to spread their ink
our once-unifying name arches further from the clan
cuts itself a groove in the family's bristled opera.
We carry its melody on everyday breaths but can't undo the words.
Chris Tse's first forays into poems about his family were mine to savour six years ago when we were both studying for an MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters here in Wellington. I wasn't in Chris' class, but my good friend Penny was, and she and I would share the work we brought home from our respective classes.
Chris' poems interested me because they were about a world I didn't know but had glimpses of via a sister-in-law: the lives of New Zealanders of Chinese descent. They also spoke more broadly about the dislocation of the immigrant - especially the dislocation of language - something I did understand. I liked (and still like) the voice of the poems, of a sensitive writer with a wry eye and sense of humour who is part of but also at the periphery of his family, shaping what he's known all his life into fresh words and images.
The poem posted here deals wonderfully with the way Chinese immigrants often changed their names to make them easier for English-speakers to get their - woefully ignorant - tongues around. I also like the way Chris builds his love of music into his poems - language and names as music, for example: 'we carry its melody on everyday breaths.'
I was delighted when a collection of Chris' poems 'Sing Joe' was included in Auckland University's AUP New Poets 4 publication, along with work by Harry Jones and Erin Scudder. I went to the launch (with Penny) and bought a copy. You can find it at independent booksellers like Unity in Wellington, or ask your bookseller to order it from AUP.
Since then, Tuesday Poet Janis Freegard (who knows Chris from another poetry class they attended) has posted one of Chris' poems on her blog and last week had an interview with him which elucidates his work. He says,
My family have been really supportive and generous with letting me share these stories. Hopefully they see that I’ve approached it with the utmost respect for my ancestors, especially since I have written about some fairly delicate moments in their lives. My great-grandparents’ situation wasn’t uncommon back then – many Chinese men remarried when they came to New Zealand because it was near impossible to bring their wives out too. My great-grandmother wasn’t mentioned much when we were growing up so these poems were a chance to give her a voice.
As Janis says, the poems written about the great-grandmother left behind are among the most poignant in the collection. I was torn between the poem I've posted and These Days, which faces it in the book, ending:
The sun hooks her eye
and in the light
she recollects days of
when all she hoped for
was a life of family
to spill out at her grateful feet.
I am thrilled to see Chris is working on a new collection of poems, as well as film scripts and, at the insistence of his mother, fiction! I think there is a novel inside this poet. He has many more stories to tell, and I look forward to them.
For more Tuesday Poems click on the quill in the sidebar or go here. There is a magnificent poem at the hub by US poet Hayden Carruth, and then a host of other marvellous poems to dip into and out of at will in the sidebar.