Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Four paintings by Kiri Piahana-Wong

In the morning
the light touches the walls
like a painting
the morning sun falling in thin brushstrokes
her hair a dark tangle
his face blurred with sleep

Painting #1: How She Fell In Love With Him

In this painting, she is wearing
the red dress she likes to sleep in
and it has fallen to her waist

He is naked
his arm curves around her
his mouth pressing against her neck
in the place she most likes
him to kiss her

Painting #2: Their First Fight

In this painting, she is sitting
in the outside area of a bar
wearing a black lace dress.
The night is a solid block of
darkness behind her.

He is sitting next to her, wearing
a pale green shirt, his hair
dishevelled, his back slightly turned
to her, facing away.

Cars pour past in streaks of
bright light.

Painting #3: Whatever I Said, I Didn't Mean It

In this painting he is standing alone
on an empty beach.

The sky stretches away in a blaze of light.

Painting #4: The Reunion

In the last painting she is
standing looking down a road

She is wearing a purple and gold
dress and her hair has blown
back from her face.

It is early evening. Above her
the sky is golden, wide open
and empty.

This poem from night swimming (Anahera Press 2013) is published here by kind permission of the author.

Editor: Elizabeth Welsh

Kiri Piahana-Wong is a New Zealander of Māori (Ngāti Ranginui), Chinese and Pākehā (English) ancestry. She has degrees in Law and English literature from the University of Auckland and has had a varied working life, including roles as a legal editor, sailing instructor, freelance writer and event manager, and is the publisher at Anahera Press.

Kiri's poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies, most recently in Dear Heart: 150 New Zealand Love Poems (Godwit), Mauri Ola: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English (AUP), Trout, JAAM and Ora Nui. She is also a performance poet, poetry slam champion, and a former MC at Poetry Live, New Zealand's longest-running live poetry venue. Kiri lives at Laingholm on Auckland's west coast. Her first poetry collection, night swimming, was released at the beginning of May 2013.

I am delighted to share Kiri's poem 'Four paintings' from her inspired first collection, night swimming. Kiri was generous enough to share her personal inspiration behind this beautifully crafted poetic sequence with me: 'I was inspired by watching my partner, artist Jim Gaunt, at work. Watching him paint every day made me wonder what it would be like to see the world through a painter's eyes'. 

Coming to this poem, I immediately felt a distinct directness that I heartily admire in the four discrete images and sequences, conveying powerful emotive responses, which come to rest and settle in the final celebratory painting of openness and life. I am particularly drawn to the second section/painting in the sequence, with the almost theatrical 'caught in time' pose of the two lovers. The solid black night, with the woman merging into it, contrasted with the pale green of the man's shirt and the streaks of bright light trespassing on the scene is so impressionistic and painterly. 

I have known Kiri as a poet for many years, first meeting her as a fellow postgraduate student in a New Zealand poetry class in 2006. It is such a celebratory event to witness a fellow poet's artistic trajectory, and I am so delighted that Kiri has just published her first poetry collection. She is a woman of many, many talents, so as well as writing the collection, she is also the publisher! I highly recommend dipping into the pages of her collection. I am always fascinated by Kiri's fresh, honest approach to threading words together. She exudes calm, poise and a peaceful confidence and I can feel this in her poetry. 

Please do check out Kiri's collection, night swimming, at Anahera Press: http://www.anahera.co.nz/books/night-swimming

For more inspiring Tuesday Poems, look to our sidebar for the blogroll of poems and talented poets! There is always something for everyone.

This week's Tuesday Poem editor is Elizabeth Welsh, a freelance academic editor and poet from New Zealand, who is currently living in and travelling around Europe. She blogs about all things literary here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Saturday, Ocean Creek by Fred D’Aguiar

Sometimes the morning shakes itself from its moorings
To this world and lifts skywards with a fighter jet's roar,
Everyone lucky enough to be up and about looks to the east

But the sound follows idly a much faster comet too quick
For lazy eyes, so we ink in a sleek cross with exhausts
And settle for sound in place of sight for peace of mind.

A morning without wings, or adrift on one wing-beat,
Skimming waves for their fumes and saltlick,
That's gulls, waves, and wind, sharpening pines.

That's me happy to see that I am nowhere to be found,
Thrilled to be lost at last in things outside of myself
Until I belong to a world that ignores my footprint:

That pine umbrella, a flock, a handclap away from liftoff;
The pike of a heron, on one pirate-foot, stalking its reflection.

This poem appears by kind permission of the author

Editor: Belinda Hollyer

'I should never ask / directions to my childhood,' writes Fred D’Aguiar, 'there is no way back home; home is always elsewhere.' This sense of dislocation is at the heart of his writing, in particular the complex legacy of slavery and colonialism. 

His latest collection of poetry, The Rose of Toulouse, from which this week’s poem is taken, traces the places he has lived, together with their histories and his own. His transformations and shifts – between Britain, Guyana and the USA – are his identity: 'Each year I travel, my passport photo / looks less like me.'

'My first scrape with the arts happened in Secondary School, in London around age 13,' Fred remembers. 'An English teacher read a few poems to us and asked us to write imitations. I forget the poems now but I remember the feeling of liberation when I started to copy the poem in terms of my experience or to put it another way, translate my experiences as a teenager in terms of the given forms of the poems. 

'A few years later another English teacher, Geoff Hardy, revisited the same poets and this time his readings made me pay attention to the poets themselves, to the intensity of feeling in their utterance. From that moment I knew I wanted to write but had no idea what I would write. ... This is wisdom miles after the event and partial wisdom at that, fashioned by my desire to turn a chaotic past of accidents and incidents into seamless narrative, or at least a story with as many of the crinkles in it ironed out by a highly selective process of recollection.'

Fred D'Aguiar was born in London in 1960 to Guyanese parents and grew up in Guyana, returning to England when he was a teenager. He trained as a psychiatric nurse before reading African and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kent, Canterbury. His previous collections of poetry include Airy Hall (1989; winner of the Guyana Poetry Prize), and Bill of Rights (1998; shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize). 

He is also the author of four novels, the first of which, The Longest Memory (Pantheon, 1994), won both the David Higham Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread First Novel Award. His plays include High Life (1987) and A Jamaican Airman Foresees His Death (1991), which was performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London.

Fred D'Aguiar is currently Professor of English and Gloria D. Smith Professor of Africana Studies at Virginia Tech State University.

You can hear Fred read part of one of his poems on the Poetry Archive, here. And If you want to order The Rose of Toulouse at the special price of UK£8, with free UK delivery (the RRP is UK£9.95) go to www.carcanet.co.uk and use the code TRACE (it's case-sensitive) at the checkout - valid until 30th June.

When you've listened to Fred - do check out the sidebar for poems posted there by our Tuesday Poets. 

This week's Tuesday Poem editor is Belinda Hollyer, a New Zealand writer and anthologist living in London. She doesn't write poetry - she thinks it's far too difficult - but other people's poems inform and sustain her life. The details of her other publications can be found on her website, and also on her blog, where her Tuesday Poems reside.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sonnet for a Hunter by Marisa Cappetta

He catches rabbits
in the paddock

with spotlights.
He catches frightened

sand coloured luckless
bundles, quivers of musk.

He catches them alive
with his hands. I thrive

on this, complex and complete,
like Australian heat.

He makes our den
with the foxes. We rest

with eyes alert
like spinifex, like silent red dirt.

Editor: Andrew M. Bell

Marisa Cappetta won the 2011 Hagley Writers' Institute of Christchurch Margaret Mahy prize. Marisa's poetry has been published in anthologies, e-zines and journals including Crest to Crest, Takahe, InterlitQ, Enamel, Voiceprints 3, Snorkel, Blackmail Press, Turbine and Landfall. She is the recipient of a NZSA mentorship, and is on the boards of the Canterbury Poets Collective and Takahe magazine.

I first heard Marisa reading her poetry at a Canterbury Poets Collective reading when the readings enjoyed a warm and cosy home at the Madras Bookshop and Cafe, sadly now replaced by a bustling Cafe sans bookshop. I've heard her read a couple of times since, most recently at the WomanSpeak event at the Pallet Pavilion in central Christchurch. Her work is always a joy to listen to, drawing, as it often does, on her rich ancestral heritage.

"Sonnet for a Hunter" holds a special appeal since I lived in Western Australia for eight years. The images speak to me. I must confess that I don't entirely understand the poem, but I enjoy the ambiguity. Is the "he" of the poem a man or an animal? Does it matter? The couplet "sand coloured luckless/bundles, quivers of musk" is a striking image of a helpless ensnared rabbit and the final line locates it succinctly in the arid landscape of inland Australia.

You can read more of Marisa's poetry at http://marisacappetta.com

"Sonnet for a Hunter" is published on Tuesday Poem with permission.

For lots of other wonderful poetry, go to the blog roll of our Tuesday Poets. This week's editor Andrew M. Bell is Christchurch poet who also writes screenplays, fiction and non-fiction. His work has been published in NZ, Australia, Israel, US and the UK. You can find his poems here.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Resilience by Keith Westwater

Mathematicians      have worked out
how to calculate       the bounciness of a ball:

(the coefficient of this  x  the cosine of that)
+   the differential of today's weather     all ÷ by
a piece of string      (and the speed of the train)
=  the same as     dropping different balls together
and seeing which ball     has the longest bounce

Measuring how well     a person will rebound
after being dropped on     is still being worked on:

some believe     it has something to do with
the thickness of their skin           whether their stretching
reaches a breaking point     or results in       withstanding
whether they can fight and flee          how many times
the person has returned to a vertical position before

Keith Westwater 

                             Editor: Alicia Ponder

I love this poem and its real yet understated sense of drama.  The jumpiness reflecting not only the subject, personal resilience, but the metaphor itself.

The mathematical description of pain could, being so terrifyingly distancing, act to push the reader away, but instead it does almost the opposite, as 'a person' is brought into the equation.  Not blatantly a poem about Christchurch, it clearly has its roots in the work the poet has done there in the wake of their devastating earthquake, because the prose fissures even as it bounces.

Keith Westwater feels a deep association with New Zealand, its geography and history, and is proud to be a third generation Pakeha here.

He joined the New Zealand Army as a Regular Force Cadet (Parkinson Class) and spent the three years based in Waiouru.  After that he took to education like a fish to water, gaining a B.Sc in Geography, a Diploma in Teaching,  and a postgraduate Diploma in Education at Massey University.

Keith began writing poetry in 2003 while attending the 'Writing the Landscape' course at Victoria University of Wellington, and gained a Master of Letters in Creative Writing in 2009 through Central Queensland University, Australia. He is a Tuesday Poet and blogs here.

His work has appeared in Landfall, JAAM, Snorkel, Idiom 23, and other publications and he has received or been shortlisted for awards in New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland. His poetry includes an equal first place in the 2006 Yellow Moon Spirit of Place competition, and first place in the International Tertiary Student Poetry section of the 2009 Bauhinia Literary Awards.

Keith's debut collection of poetry, Tongues of Ash was published by Brisbane-based trans-Tasman publisher Interactive Publications and awarded the publisher's 2011 IP Picks Best First Book prize.

This week’s guest editor Alicia Ponder, loves poetry, speculative fiction and writing for children.  She lives in Wellington, New Zealand, is the author of Wizard's Guide to Wellington, co-author of two art books and an early reader, and has published short stories for both children and adults in New Zealand and overseas.  She blogs her poetry here at an Affliction of Poetry and other writing as A.J. Ponder

Remember to check out the sidebar to see some wonderful poems posted by Tuesday Poem's 30-strong team of poets.