Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Caselberg Trust International Poetry Competition 2011

Greetings TP readers. 

Consider today's invitation to enter the Caselberg Trust's inaugural competition a comma in Tuesday Poem's usual weekly rhythm. . . and a challenge to submit one of your poems to this exciting new comp.

TP contributors will be back in the New Year with curator Mary McCallum hosting the year's first posting on Tuesday 18 January. 

Meantime, we wish you all the very best for a happy holiday and an expansive and poetically rewarding 2011. Thank you for being a part of this wonderful online community. 


Inaugural Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize for 2011

The Caselberg Charitable Trust runs a residence for writers and artists at Broad Bay, Dunedin. The Trust has organised a variety of collaborative artistic events since its establishment in 2006, including the Fiordland Wilderness Residency in 2007, and, most recently, ‘A New Line’, in which 8 poets and 8 jewellers presented work inspired by each other’s disciplines.

The Inaugural International Poetry Prize competition will be judged blind by the distinguished poet Bernadette Hall. First Prize will be $500, Second Prize $250, and there will also be 5 Highly-Commended awards (with no monetary prizes). 

Submission deadline is 31 January 2011

The first- and second-placed poems will be published in the May 2011 issue of Landfall, and all winning and highly-commended entries published on the Caselberg Trust web-site (copyright remains with the authors).

For the Conditions and Entry Form, please go to http://www.caselbergtrust.org/

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Why We Do What We Do" by James Brown

James Brown is great live. He has had a lot of success, having published several collections of his funny, satirical and clever poetry with VUP. He has also won an armload of awards and residencies during his time. But it's when I see him read to an audience that he seems in his element.

Afterward, the crowd drifts away energised and uplifted. This may be because Brown's readings are self deprecating and funny, and it may be because he knows how to read a crowd, pausing at the right times, laughing at others. But it could also be because he seems like a normal guy. He gives other writers hope that, one day, they might be as relaxed with their own work as Brown appears at the podium.

“Why We Do What We Do” is one of my favourite James Brown poems because it gives me the same satisfaction as seeing him read. The poem is from The Year of the Bicycle (2006), a book that circles around Brown's obsession with mountain biking. It comes toward the end of the book and as part of a longer series. The poem can be read as a justification for having spent so much time writing poetry about his favourite subject. But if you flip that around, the poem can be seen as an encouragement to write about what interests you.

For this reason, “Why We Do What We Do” is the perfect poem for the Christmas post.

Since Tuesday Poem started in April this year, up to thirty Tuesday Poets have committed to posting poems weekly on their personal blogs and linking to the Tuesday Poem hub here via the live blog roll (see sidebar). The poems are written by themselves and other poets whose permission they have. As Tuesday Poem Editor, they are also rostered on to select and post poems on the hub.

The depth and breadth of the poetry selections and associated commentaries - by poets from NZ, the US, the UK, Ireland, and Australia - has been breathtaking. Also exciting is the interaction between poets and readers in the comments at the bottom of the posts. For Christmas, the Tuesday Poets have been paired as in 'Secret Santa' (when gifts are exchanged), and are posting poems or other offerings by their 'partner' poet.

We want to celebrate what interests us as writers, and our own voices. We also want to celebrate the Tuesday Poem which provides one more way to fit poetry into our lives. So check out the different blogs to see ones from our “shelf.” If “there's something / you want to hear, / you can sing it / yourself.”

Merry Christmas!

Sarah Jane Barnett is the week's Tuesday Poem editor and organiser of our 'Secret Santa'. Based in Wellington New Zealand, she is a writer, reviewer, and PhD student at Massey University exploring the prose poem. In her spare time, she makes things out of fabric and tries to live sustainably. Sarah blogs here. Why We Do What We Do is posted with permission.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

To Stuart by Alistair Te Ariki Campbell

Early spring, and a cold wet morning.
     The wind mooches about outside,
          planning a home invasion.
It’s Mary’s birthday, our Mary whom
     you’d have loved had the Fates
          spared you. I take you back
five years before you joined
     the Maori Battalion, and six before you
          died. I have many questions to put
to you, many that may not even have
     an answer. Why being blessed with
          enviable gifts did you abandon
your studies after only a year?
     You could have made your mark
          in any field that calls
for passion and imagination.
     As a boy I followed you about
          from match to match marvelling
at what you created with a
      cricket ball. Your bowling
          action and the flight of the ball,
gathering speed as it flew
     towards its target, were to me
           a work of art. As an admiring
younger brother, I celebrate
     this image of what you promised
          and never lived to fulfil.
‘Nature,’ wrote William Blake,
     ‘has no Outline, but Imagination has.’
          I see you turn and run up
to the crease. I see your
     arm swing over. I see the
           ball in flight – and that is all.

Alistair Te Ariki Campbell

I selected this poem because of its personal connection with the Maori Battalion, and my admiration for Alistair Te Ariki Campbell who was the first Polynesian poet to have a book published in English, the spectacularly successful Mine Eyes Dazzle (Pegasus Press, 1950, 1951, 1956) with an Oxford revised edition called Wild Honey in 1964.

Campbell’s brother Stuart (named in his ‘Personal Sonnets’ as 446853 Private S.A. Campbell) was killed as a result of ‘friendly fire’ in 1945 while waiting to cross the Santerno River near Massa Lombarda, Italy. An RAF Bomber tragically dropped a 500 pound bomb near Stuart’s D Company unit of the 28th Maori Battalion. The poem shows the younger brother’s admiration for Stuart, and the tremendous promise that was never realized in Stuart whose sharpness of mind and athleticism is captured in the poignant image of the cricket ball in flight that never lands.

Campbell was continuously revising. In a previously published version of the poem the quote from Blake in the penultimate ‘stanza’ uses ‘Art’ rather than this most recent version which uses ‘Imagination’. It’s a revealing re-vision, emphasizing a five-senses aesthetic rather than the highly abstract term art. The quote also grounds Alistair Te Ariki Campbell’s poem in Blake’s English tradition of visionary poetry, while keeping it in the same field of play as cricket, and the promises of university study “…that calls for passion and imagination.” It also shows Campbell’s tremendous artistry, continuing to reshape work well after it was first published.

There are technical aspects to notice. I put stanza in inverted quotes above because the poem moves in eleven stanza-like tercets. The tercet pattern:  the first line far-left, the second line indented, then the third line further indented, cleverly creates small spaces in the long-flowing lyric, or ‘spots in time’ during the bowler’s run-up and then release. The maestro also lays a regular pattern of three stresses per line, creating a sweet or dolce music when speaking of his deceased brother.

Campbell returned and returned to the theme of his brother’s death, perhaps beginning with his famous 1948-49 sequence ‘Elegy’ which mourned his friend the mountain climber Roy Dickson’s death, but  contains an edge of familial grief conjuring his brother’s recent death; through to the 1960 ‘Personal Sonnets I’, 1964’s ‘Grandfather Bosini’ who calls out for Maireriki (Stuart’s Tongarevan name) and then dies, and the 2001 Maori Battalion sequence where this poem “To Stuart” first appeared. An enduring theme of the orphaned Campbell’s poetry was family, and his yearning to re-connect with them.

More on Alistair Te Ariki Campbell here and here. The poem is posted with the kind permission of Andrew Campbell.

This week's Tuesday Poem editor is poet Robert Sullivan of Maori (Ngā Puhi, Kai Tahu) and Galway Irish descent. He has won several NZ literary awards for his poetry, children's writing and editing. His poetry collections include Star Waka, Captain Cook in the Underworld, Voice Carried My Family, and his most recent: Cassino City of Martyrs (Huia) and Shout Ha! to the Sky (Salt Publishing, UK). 

Robert co-edited Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English with Albert Wendt and Reina Whaitiri. Robert is the new Head of the School of Creative Writing at the Manukau Institute of Technology in Auckland, and before that, directed Creative Writing at the University of Hawai'i.  He blogs here

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hunt the slipper: a romantic divertissement by Jo Thorpe

‘Taglioni’s lilies,’ he says
handing her a long-stemmed
bouquet in the bar near his chambers.
He’s going through his repertoire –
eyes locked over Brut Cuvée,
fingers brushing hers as they reach
for antipasto. He imagines her
conferring limbs. (After the tangled
sheets. After the moonlight).
It seems like the right time to move.

But she’s miles away, out on the
Russian steppes, not with him
not with anyone she’s ever known,
recalling a tale of that chaste ballerina
stopped by a highwayman wanting
not gold, but demanding she dance
on her black panther skins
spread out on the scintillant snow.
For fifteen minutes she plunged him through.
There were stars. They glittered on her
emerald rings, diamonds bestowed by royalty.
Then the highwayman, Trishka, led her
back to her carriage: ‘I keep the rugs,
mademoiselle. I will never part with them’.
And how later, a pair of her ballet slippers
were cooked and eaten by fans.

He’s talking now of bubbles
beaded, winking at the brim
(having googled her clear loves)
but she’s grasping at memory – a slipper
in a lit case. The memory’s piercing,
is standing in a hushed space, peering
through a vitrine at a single ballet slipper,
feather-light on its see-through shelf,
pale, with a faint blush as if it
might once have been pink.
And caged, like a moth in amber.
Emphatically darned around the sides.

He’s taking off her side-laced shoes –
the kind a sylph might wear
on an occasion calling for boots.
There’s pollen on the sheets (from all those
perfumed lilies) and her limbs!
so lustrous under moon.
But her memory insists. That slipper in its
lit case? Where? In what opera house?
Moscow? Paris? New York?
She can’t recall. And when? No idea.
Decades ago, perhaps.

Author's note: Marie Taglioni was the first Sylphide, the most famous ballerina of the Romantic era. The poem draws on two sources – a real-life experience recounted in Taglioni’s own words in Parmenia Megel’s book The Ballerinas, from the Court of Louis XIV to Pavlova, and an article by Tobi Tobias Taglioni’s 'Shoe: Memory & Memorabilia'. In dance spectacles of the 18th century, a divertissement referred to inter-act diversions or episodes loosely connected with the plot. Taglioni is reputed to have loved Christmas lilies, and the poem plays with all these ideas, moving between the present and the past.

I chose 'Hunt the slipper' as the Tuesday Poem for two reasons. Firstly, it's one of the poems in JAAM 28: dance dance dance, which has recently been published. Clare Needham and I are the co-managing editors of JAAM, and together we selected the work for this issue – Clare chose the short stories, I chose the poetry, and we consulted on everything else.

The initial idea for the issue was Clare's. She was producing a theatre/dance show, Sleep/Wake, and she got 'thinking about how exciting it would be to get writers thinking about dance and dancers thinking about writing, then see what happened.'

It seems to have hit a rich seam of creativity, as we were overwhelmed with submissions. We were delighted at how contributors interpreted the theme laterally as well as literally. Some work is about dance or features dances or dancers – such as 'Hunt the slipper'. Other work dances on the page, or sets up dance rhythms – which 'Hunt the slipper' does also, jumping around in time and with language.

In many pieces dance is metaphorical – people dancing gingerly in their relationships with other people (also true of 'Hunt the slipper'), or dancing with death, for example. As you can see, 'Hunt the slipper' is an excellent example of the kind of work that you'll find in JAAM 28, though the issue is nothing if not varied.

The second reason I've chose 'Hunt the slipper' as the Tuesday Poem is that this week 'Hunt the slipper' will be launched in another form – as part of Jo's second collection of poetry: In/let, which is published by Steele Roberts. It's going to be launched by Greg O'Brien on Thursday (9th December) in the foyer of the New Zealand School of Dance, Te Whaea: National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown. All welcome.

Jo Thorpe is a dancer, lecturer in dance history (at the New Zealand School of Dance), and a dance writer and critic as well as a poet, so you can see that our theme for JAAM 28 was right up her alley. Her first poetry collection Len & other poems was published in 2003 (also by Steele Roberts). She has an MA in creative writing from Victoria University, in 2001. She has danced for many years with the Crowsfeet Dance Collective under the artistic direction of Jan Bolwell.

You can read more about Jo on the Book Council website, and don't forget to check out the other Tuesday Poems in the live blog roll. The Tuesday Poem on my own blog is 'Forty-League Boots', by Vivienne Plumb (my favourite from Viv's collection Crumple, which I've just published as Seraph Press.)

This week's editor is Helen Rickerby who is the author of two collections of poetry: Abstract Internal Furniture (2001) and My Iron Spine (2008) (both with HeadworX); and a sequence of poems, Heading North, published in a hand-bound edition by Kilmog Press. As well as being co-managing editor of JAAM literary magazine, she runs Seraph Press, a boutique poetry publisher. Helen lives in Wellington, in a cliff-top tower, and works as a web editor. She can be found blogging irregularly at Winged Ink.