Tuesday, October 30, 2012

When we watched movies by Tim Upperton

I want to watch one bad movie
after another, and when I’ve seen them all
I will read all the bad books, 
the bad, rubbishy 
books with their stock characters and ridiculous plots,
and then I will listen to Europop—
no, country music, 
I’ll listen to Europop and country music
and the entire back-catalogue of Celine Dion while I eat 
triple cheeseburgers, grease running down my chin.
I want to grow fat and to start smoking.
I want to stub out my cigarette 
in a fried egg, 
I want to live in that Hitchcock movie,
which isn’t a bad movie at all, but more like the ones 
we watched when we watched movies,
not art-house exactly, but VistaVision kitsch—
how we loved the beautiful actors, their quick, 
brittle voices, their antique brio. We grasped 
their warm hands. The room filled with snow.

                                    Editor: Harvey Molloy

I find Tim’s poetry especially interesting because it continues to change and evolve.  If you’ve read his book House on Fire you’ll be familiar with poems such as the incredibly controlled ‘The Starlings’ which begins:

Anger sang in that house until the scrim walls thrummed.
The clamour rang the window panes, dizzying up chimneys.
Get on, get on, the wide rooms cried, until it seemed our unease
as we passed on the stairs or chewed our meals in dimmed

light were all an attending to that voice. And so we got on,
and to muffle that sound we gibbed and plastered, built
shelves for all our good books. What we sometimes felt
is hard to say. We replaced what we thought was rotten.

Tim’s work has a strong musical quality.  Sometime during the writing of House on Fire Tim started to read the poems of Frederick Seidel and the music of his poetry changed  – the effect on Tim’s work was akin to the effect The Sex Pistols performance at Manchester Free Trade Hall in June 1976 had on northern music: a new brash broom sweeps clean.  However, as you can see, in Tim’s case the musician is classically trained and capable of virtuoso performances.  

This poem by Tim first appeared in Turbine 2011 and won the Bronwyn Tate Memorial International Poetry Competition that year. Tim is writing his PhD thesis on the poetry of Frederick Seidel. His poems have been published widely in literary journals and mainstream magazines in NZ and the US, and recently in anthologies such as Turbine, Best NZ Poems (VUP) and Villanelles (Everyman). He reviews books, and blogs at A Spurred Word. 

When we watched movies is posted here with permission.

There are more poems in the sidebar with our poets from NZ, Australia, the UK and US. Thirty in all.

This week's editor, Harvey Molloy is a Wellington teacher who has published poems in a number of journals including Enamel, International Literary Quarterly, Landfall, NZ Listener, and Poetry New Zealand. His first book of poems, Moonshot, was published by Steele Roberts in 2008. He is the co-author of the book Asperger Syndrome, Adolescence, and Identity: Looking Beyond the Label, and is working on a second book of poems. He blogs here

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On small planes by Fiona Kidman

It’s the same again this weekend, wild weather,
rain and delays, and a long way south, suspension
on a cloud, books take you everywhere.

My epitaph may be that she was a small woman
who spent her days in small airports flying
on very small aeroplanes to middle-sized towns.

                                 Editor: Jennifer Compton

I was thrilled to bits to find copies of Fiona’s book of poetry – Where Your Left Hand Rests (Godwit, Random House) – in several bookshops while I was in Wellington. It is such a beautiful book. Kudos to the designer and the press. This is the poem I found when I opened the book at random. At random, just like the press. The book was published in celebration of Fiona’s 70th birthday. It’s selling really well, in fact there has been a reprint. Wonderful for poetry, wonderful for Fiona, and wonderful for us.

New Zealander Fiona Kidman is a leading contemporary novelist, short story writer and poet. Much of her fiction is focused on how outsiders navigate their way in narrowly conformist society. She has published a large and exciting range of fiction and poetry, and has worked as a librarian, producer and critic. Fiona has won numerous awards and been the recipient of fellowships, grants and other significant honours, as well as being a consistent advocate for New Zealand writers and literature. She is the President of Honour for the New Zealand Book Council, has been awarded an OBE and is a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to literature. The French Government has made her a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour.

'On small planes' is published with permission, when you've read it - try more Tuesday Poems out in our sidebar (to the left.)

This week's editor, Jennifer Compton, was born in Wellington, emigrated to Australia in the early 70s and lives now in Melbourne. She is an award-winning playwright and poet, with 'Barefoot' shortlisted for the John Bray Poetry Award in 2012 and 'This City' (Otago University Press 2011) the winner of the Kathleen Grattan Award in NZ.  She has also been awarded a number of residencies including one at the Randell Cottage in Wellington, and blogs here. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

'Listening to Glenn Gould on Orton Scar' by Kathleen Jones

From Ravenstonedale
driving north on unfenced roads,
moonlight reflects the tarmac’s

frozen wake across the moor —
a snail's trail  in my rear-view mirror.

Bach unwinds from the c.d.
a landscape of variations
into this zero night.

The grass is white; trees black.
The walls run off like staves.

The moon fingers each stone
separately, in unexpected harmonies
and structures, endlessly practising —

compelling me to stop.  Listen
to the quiet significance of the moment.

Across the counterpoint
I hear the chill cry of a predatory bird.
Single notes glitter like frost.

©  Kathleen Jones 2011
From: Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21 by Kathleen Jones, Templar Poetry, 2011.
Reproduced on The Tuesday Poem Hub with permission.

Kathleen Jones is a fellow Tuesday Poet so it was a great thrill when her collection, Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21 won the Straid Collection Award in 2010 and was subsequently published by Templar Poetry in 2011. The collection comprises a number of themes, including family relationship particularly those between mothers and daughtersboth history and natural history, as well as a strong sense of place. Every book of poetry will have some standout poems and usually many more again that I will enjoy reading. But to work as a collection, the sum of the poems must comprise a greater whole, so that when the final line is reached one may say:  yes, this is a book. For me, Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21 met that test.

Nonetheless, in every collection there will still be standout poems, and Listening to Glenn Gould on Orton Scar is one of those poems for me. It is both a poem of nature—the moonlight, the trees, the moor—but also of place. Although I have never been there, as a reader I get so strong a sense of Ravenstonedale and the unfenced roads to the north that I feel I have stood there and seen the "tarmac's frozen wake across the moor." Yet there is more to the poem than this: as a poet I admire both the strength and precision of the language, and the way music itself—as the poet listens to Glenn Gould—is used to encapsulate both the moment and the landscape:

  Bach unwinds from the cd
  a landscape of variations
  into this zero night.

I feel that Listening to Glenn Gould on Orton Scar achieves, in a larger form, exactly what the Japanese haiku form is intended to do:  the poem captures the experience of an "ah-ha" moment in language, lifting the discreet elements of the moment to a sense of something larger. Again as with haiku, I get the sense that no one word has gone unconsidered; every word has earned its place in the poem.

And so we end with:

Across the counterpoint
I hear the shrill cry of a predatory bird.
Single notes glitter like frost.

Chilling. Austere. Perfect.

Kathleen Jones’ first solo pamphlet of poetry,  Unwritten Lives, won the Redbeck Press pamphlet award and her first full collection,  Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21, was joint winner of the Straid Collection award, and published by Templar Poetry in November 2011. 

Kathleen is also a biographer, author of a life of Christina Rossetti, Learning not to be First [OUP] and A Passionate Sisterhood [Virago], a group biography of the sisters, wives and daughters of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey.  Her most recent biography, Katherine Mansfield: The Story-Teller, was published by Penguin NZ and EUP in 2011. 

Kathleen Jones’ home is in Cumbria, but as her partner is a sculptor working in Italy she lives there some of the time too. She has taught creative writing in a number of universities and is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow.  

Website:  www.kathleenjones.co.uk
Blog: www.kathleenjonesauthor.blogspot.com

This week's editor, Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer, and a 2012 Ursula Bethell Writer-in-Residence at the University of Canterbury. She emerged onto the NZ poetry scene in 2003 as an inaugural Robbie Burns Award winner and has since had over fifty poems published and anthologized, both in NZ and overseas. The Gathering of the Lost, the second novel in her The Wall of Night series, was published internationally in April, and she recently won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012 for the first-in-series, The Heir of Night. Helen posts every day on her Helen Lowe on Anything, Really blog and is a regular Tuesday Poem contributor. You can also follow her on Twitter: @helenl0we


Enjoy more wonderful poems from our Tuesday Poem contributors by navigating down the left side bar.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

just a point man in the ocean by Vaughan Gunson

just a point man in the ocean
holding a piece of rope

which starts at one point
on the shore, arcs out towards

the black island rocks, their skirts
of white foam billowing up

like Marilyn Monroe’s dress
long ago, or yesterday

distracted by what’s beneath
the ocean, to go down diving for

                 screams of children

bring me back, a chorus
rising high with each wave.

I stand with my fellow guardians
staunch against the waves

breaking cold on our backs.
we speak, only about the ocean,

the next wave coming towards us,
reaching its tipping point.

the line holds, the children scream
claiming all the world.

I’m there to see it: a point man
in the ocean, going down.  

From this hill, all it's about is lifting it to a higher level, Steele Roberts Ltd 2012
Posted here with permission from the author.

Vaughan Gunson lives in Hikurangi, north of Whangarei. He is concerned about the ecological, economic and political challenges facing New Zealand and the world, and has been active in a range of organisations and campaigns.

His poetry has been published in Blackmail Press, New Zealand Listener, Poetry New Zealand,
Side Stream, Takahē, the Lumière Reader, UNITY Journal, Workers Charter
and 52/250 A Year of Flash. "just a point man in the ocean" is from Vaughan's poetry collection this hill, all it's about is lifting it to a higher level, published last month by Steele Roberts Ltd.

What intrigues me most about this poem is its movement and ambiguity. The poem follows the arc of the rope of the second line, out across the frivolous and nostalgic – "foam billowing up// like Marilyn Monroe’s dress" – and the dangerous “black island rocks." We seem to enter the mind of the "point man" as he contemplates "what's beneath" but are snapped back out, as he is, to the populated world.

There are ideas of protection here, perhaps against the unknown – “just” suggests the solitude of one man holding the fort against nature but “screams of children// bring me back, a chorus/ rising high with each wave.” jolts us into a much livelier situation filled with the rise and fall of voices; the crash of waves. Then “my fellow guardians” again populate the scene and we are witness to an unfolding world or uncoiling, like the rope that leads us. 

My favourite line is "the children scream / claiming all the world" which brings each image back into focus for that moment: the people, the rocks, the foam, the mysteries beneath before that final submergence.

this hill, all it's about is lifting it to a higher level has been described as “Poems about the beauty of the everyday, parenting and childhood, the creative process, death, moments of transcendence, social justice, and hope."

It can be purchased online from Steele Roberts or by sending a cheque for $20 (includes postage) to: Vaughan Gunson, 71A George Street, Hikurangi, Whangarei (with a return address).

You can read more of Vaughan's work at his website,  Falling Away From Blue and "like" his poetry on his facebook page, Vaughan Gunson: Poetry.

Now take a look at the Tuesday Poems in the sidebar here - written or chosen by our 30 Tuesday Poets from around the world. 

This week's editor is Wellington writer, Saradha Koirala. She is the author of the poetry collection Wit of the staircase, and has recently finished a second collection, with the help of some serious time away from teaching. SaradhaKoirala.com

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

For John Pule by Karlo Mila

the poet told us
there was a beach
but a hurricane came
and swallowed it up

there was also a nation of people
but a New Zealand sponsored
just as hungry
swept away people like grains of sand

with the help of
longremembered newfound family
he finds the old foundations
where hibiscus trees grow wild
with memories of his mother

using a new machete
he follows the old tracks
to a not-so-distant past
meeting his ancestors along the way
capturing them on canvas
mapping out their stories
so they will
never be lost

and his own children
will be able to find them

From Dream Fish Floating
Poem shared here with the permission of the author.

‘For John Pule’ was published in Dream Fish Floating, New Zealander Karlo Mila’s first book of poetry. Dream Fish Floating went on to win the NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry at the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, the beginning of many accolades for Karlo.

Karlo’s work is courageous and broad. She seamlessly navigates political and personal subjects: from cultural considerations to identity in modern New Zealand society, from her personal development as a woman to pregnancy and motherhood. She is of Tongan, Samoan and Palangi (European) descent, and represented Tonga at the international Poetry Parnassus in London earlier this year. http://soundcloud.com/southbankcentre/sets/poetry-parnassus-2012/

Karlo has had work anthologised in Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English and Short Fuse: The Global Anthology of New Fusion PoetryHer latest work, A Well Written Body, was created in collaboration with artist Delicia Sampero. It is a powerful collection of Karlo’s poems and Delicia’s beautiful artwork.

Enjoy more wonderful poems from our Tuesday Poem contributors by navigating down the left side bar.

This week's editor Leah McMenamin lives and writes in Wellington, New Zealand. You can read her Tuesday Poem blog here.