Monday, April 26, 2010

Coverage by Tim Jones

He went south with the housing market
to a cottage facing the sea,

spent his last pay cheque
on Swannis and draught excluders.

Coverage was minimal.
He called his children

from the top of a nearby hill,
struggling through gorse, matagouri —

the visible teeth of the wind.
He got through at last

and begged until she put them on.
Given the chance, the kids talked

and talked: sports, school, when
they could fly down to see him.

That depends, he said, and then
they were breaking up —

fugitive crackles, then silence
under a polar sky.

Coverage was first published in North & South (May 2007) and is included in Swings and Roundabouts: Poems on Parenthood (Random House, 2008), edited by Emma Neale.

Tim Jones is a poet and author of both literary fiction and science fiction. He lives in Wellington, New Zealand. His fiction and poetry has been published in New Zealand, the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada, and Vietnam.

His most recent books are short story collection Transported (Vintage, 2008), which was long-listed for the 2008 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, poetry collection All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens (HeadworX, 2007), and poetry anthology Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand (Interactive Press, 2009), which he co-edited with Mark  Pirie. The latest news about Tim and his writing is on his blog at

Tim's Notes on Coverage
This poem went through a couple of versions before the published version you see here. It started from the pun about the housing market going south, which led me to the idea of someone moving south to where houses are cheaper - if I was thinking of anywhere in particular, it was Fortrose, east of Invercargill on the Southland coast, which used to be a thriving little fishing settlement when I was a boy but appeared to be largely abandoned the last time I was in the area.

I felt that the protagonist hadn't made this move by choice - perhaps his relationship had broken up and he had lost, or given up, his job? I pictured him trying, and trying, to get through.

Coverage is reproduced on Tuesday Poem with permission from the author.

Harvey Molloy is this week's editor of the Tuesday Poem. His first book of poems, Moonshot, was published by Steele Roberts in 2008. He has also published non-fiction work on Asperger Syndrome, and is the co-author, with Latika Vasil, of the book Asperger Syndrome, Adolescence, and Identity: Looking Beyond the Label.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tryst by Sue Wootton

Museum of Modern Art, New York

She leans several angles at once, is all planes of Picasso,
tilting. How will she stand, her six-sided shins,
her five-walled thighs? How will she talk, one lip a cylinder
and one a box? Her tongue is a skewed guitar;
her three unblinking eyes dropped bombs, falling. He
is a handsome proportion of blue, was mixed on a Matisse palette
and is gaze upon gaze from his frame a window
onto all astoundingness, such blue truth. So he comes to her
who is all quaked scaffolding, shifted. Like sapphire,
cobalt ink, like tide, like midnight over Lapland in July,

like withheld rain is how he comes to her, and takes
her fractured fingers in his blue kiss. Now they spend their small hours
in the waterlilies, wading from one end of the triptych to the other, through
blurred and purpled Monet-water, setting the cerises rocking, rocking.                                                                                                                                                        

Sue Wootton is a Dunedin-based poet who chose some years ago to set down her busy physiotherapy and acupuncture practice in order to write full-time. Sue's poetry and fiction have been widely published in journals and anthologies. She has won several awards for her writing, including both fiction and poetry prizes at the 2006 Aoraki Literary Festival, and first place in the 2007 Inverawe (Tasmania) poetry competition. One of her poems appears in Best New Zealand Poetry 2004. In 2008 Sue held the Robert Burns Fellowship at the University of Otago. Recently she was invited to read at the 2010 International Festival de Poesia, in Granada, Nicaragua. Her two collections of poetry are Magnetic South and Hourglass, both published by Steele Roberts Ltd. Some of her work has been translated into, and published in, Spanish, Hungarian and Romanian.

A children’s storybook, Cloudcatcher is to be published by Steele Roberts in mid-2010.

The poem Tryst had its genesis in a visit to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, where three powerful paintings (Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Monet’s The Waterlilies and Matisse’s Blue Window) were sharing a space. Tryst was highly commended in the Bravado International Poetry Competition 2007, and published in Bravado 11.

Other links you will enjoy - Best New Zealand Poems 2004 and Permission to Play (an interview with Rhys Brookbanks).

Tryst is reproduced on Tuesday Poem with permission from the author.

Claire Beynon is this week's Tuesday Poem editor. South African-born, she immigrated to New Zealand in 1994 and in 1999 was granted citizenship in this country. The lancewood sapling given to her at the citizenship ceremony is now a sturdy tree thriving in her Dunedin garden. Claire is a visual artist and writer of poetry and short stories. Visit her Tuesday Poem and others by the Tuesday Poets.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

No Metaphor by Bryan Walpert

A tuba and a man stroll through
the grass, a pretzel of flesh and brass
you could say, I guess, except it's
only a man wearing a tuba beneath late

autumn reds as blackbirds flock
overhead. The tuba is cold metal
fact, and this fellow bears
the weight on his back less like

a broken-hearted lament than a bulky
instrument. This sight, it's true, might
remind someone less sensible than you
of a duet, of a girl, of the year

that has unfurled since the touch of her
hand, of a melody that fluttered last fall
then collapsed to earth with no sound
at all, like the sudden absence of a breeze.

But, please: A tuba and its man are merely
crossing a park at bright noon, absent
a band or a tune, and there is no need
to notice, no need for a word about

the blackbirds, which ripple to earth behind
the man like the folding of a fan --
just not as final or as fast and,
overall, more like birds landing in grass.

Welcome to the first Tuesday Poem on our new blog! Bryan Walpert is an American-born NZ citizen who lives in Palmerston North, New Zealand, teaching creative writing at Massey University. I heard him read this poem last year when his collection Etymology (Cinnamon Press) was launched. I'd known Bryan until then as a colleague who gave astute and wildly generous feedback to students about their poems, and I had not realised how wonderful his own poetry was.

Etymology plays with language and its ability to both release and constrain the messy stuff of the heart and flesh. Along with the prism of science, it is used to provide distance between the reader and troublesome sentiment.In No Metaphor, the head dismisses the fancies of the heart as irrelevant - pleading with it in fact to stop - but the heart cannot help itself. The metaphor is insistent - turning the 'cold metal fact' of the man and the tuba into an image of lost love despite the head's best efforts to control it, and then shifting its focus to the blackbirds. The continual return to the facts of the matter powerfully evoke the interior struggle of the man in the poem to both remember and forget.

In a similar way, the poem acts as a paean to metaphor as well as a warning to poets of its dangers. Controlled, metaphor evokes the feelings at the heart of the poem; uncontrolled, it can become meaningless. Look at the control of the man-and-tuba image at the start (oh that astonishing 'pretzel of flesh and brass'!), and the blackbird image at the end - the way its exquisite sadness is fed by both the well-chosen language it contains, and the controlled shift once again to 'cold metal fact'.
'I think poetry is very much an intellectual (or can be an intellectual) engagement with the world (and word) ...  I think for me, as a writer, the way to the heart is often through the head.' Bryan Walpert

Read more from Bryan's interview with Tuesday Poet Tim Jones, and more on Etymology here. Go to Fishpond (NZ), Amazon (UK) and the Book Depository (free shipping worldwide) to buy the book. Fishpond also has Bryan's new short story collection Ephraim's Eyes.

No Metaphor is reproduced on Tuesday Poem with permission from the author.

Mary McCallum is this week's Tuesday Poem editor. She is a NZ novelist,  sometime poet, creative writing teacher and bookseller. Visit her Tuesday Poem and others by the Tuesday Poets.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A fresh poem every Tuesday and that's just the start

Tuesday Poem kicks off tomorrow. This week's editor is Mary McCallum of O Audacious Book where the Tuesday Poem started four weeks ago.  Once you've read this Tuesday's Poem, try the Tuesday Poets on our blog list. There are 16 of them at present, and every Tuesday they will try to post a Tuesday Poem (one by them or someone else) and link it back to the Tuesday Poem hub. 

We think of it as Open Mike Night in the blogosphere. If the post title says 'Tuesday Poem' then click on it and read. To join us, email We are a New Zealand-based blog, but welcome all poets, and aim to be inclusive rather than exclusive. The aim of Tuesday Poem is to encourage people to read poems and to write poems. It gives poets a place to publish their work and builds a poetry community without borders. We have ten contributing editors who will take a turn each Tuesday to bring you a fresh Tuesday Poem. And here is our copyright license: 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


We're just beginning. Our first Tuesday Poem will be launched here on Tuesday April 13, 2010. Please go to O Audacious Book for the past Tuesday Poems.