31 March 2009

Reprint of My Iron Spine arrives

Ooh, how exciting! I came home today to find a box full of My Iron Spines. We've done a small reprint, cos I didn't have any left to sell, and I plan to keep selling (and giving away) this book for years to come, cos I'm quite fond of it.

So if you want one, now is the time. I sell them direct for $20. (Email me at the address in my profile thingie.) You can also get them through your local bookshop for an extra $5, though you'd probably have to ask unless your local bookshop is Unity Books Wellington, or some other lovely independent bookseller type. (The ISBN is 978-0-473-13596-6 – that's the kind of thing booksellers like to know.) Also you can buy it through some online booksellers - New Zealand Books Abroad, Timeout bookstore and The Women's Bookshop.

Perhaps like many poetry books, it has been selling much better via me than via the bookshops. Is that the experience for other (non-famous) poets?

28 March 2009

JAAM 26 reviewed in Poetry Society magazine

JAAM 26 has received a very favourable review by Keith Nunes in the latest issue of the Poetry Society magazine A fine line (March 2009).

A begins by saying 'New Zealand is bubbling over with great writers and storytellers – just look at JAAM 26.' And continues, 'The annual publication by the JAAM (Just Another Art Movement) Collective is a triumph for editor Tim Jones and the team. The 164-page journal is an entertaining mix of poetry and prose that challenges and moves the reader.'

He says that he isn't a big fan of speculative writing, of which there is some in JAAM 26, but 'the stories I read in JAAM 26 won me over.' He particularly mentions Tracie McBride's story 'Last Chance to See'.

Among the more traditional prose peices he highlights 'When an Older Brother Dies' by LE Scott, 'Banshee' by Darian Smith, 'Voodoo' by Renee Liang and 'A Body of Land' by Michele Powles. And he gives Michael Botur a 'special mention' for his 'imaginative and amusing' story 'Historic Breakfasts'.

Of the poets, he praises Laurice Gilbert's poems ‘Divided World’ and ‘Island Bay’. 'Both soar and toy with you and leave images lingering.' He continues:
The highlights come thick and fast with a number of poets impressing, including Janis Freegard with ‘he has your eyes’; Dean Ballinger's ‘Antananarivo’; Helen Heath with two poems; Barbara Strang's ‘Fatigues’; Sue Reidy's ‘Bottomless Love’ and Miriam Barr's ‘3 Phases in a Journey (Towards Self)’.

He concludes with the very positive: 'All in all this is a wonderful journal and one which provides the reader with hours of thoughtprovoking and entertaining reading. Well done.'

26 March 2009

Enamel – issue one

Welcome to the world Enamel!

Enamel is New Zealand's newest literary magazine, edited and published by poet Emma Barnes.

Enamel is the most attractive first issues of a literary magazine that I've ever come across. Not only does it have a full-colour, matt-laminated cover, but it also has colour images on the inside.

This first issue features work by some familiar names, including Johanna Aitchison, Tim Jones, Miriam Barr, Jennifer Compton, Helen Heath, and yours truly (with 'Nothinghead', which is one of my 'movie' poems).

I enjoyed the work of the above-mentioned people, but another particular highlight was 'Inside' by Lori Leigh, a US poet and playwright I'd never heard of.

If you'd like to get your paws on a copy of this attractive journal, it' s stocked by Unity Auckland, and will probably be stocked by Unity Wellington. Or you can buy a copy on Trade Me - Emma is trying out this selling books over Trade Me business (I blogged about this a while ago) and I'll be interested to see how it goes.

Or, you can email email enamel dot editor at gmail dot com, and buy a hard copy for $15 or a pdf for 'a donation of your specification'.

Enamel is going to be published annually at this stage. Submissions for issue two don't close until the end of September, but you can read the submissions guidelines on Enamel's blog.

Wellington Sonnet Competition reading

From the Poetry Society:
Hi all. Please remember we have an extra meeting this month, to host the Wellington Writers' Walk Trust's Sonnet evening. Prizewinners in last year's contest will read their winning sonnets (the top prize was won by Michelle Amas, with a truly wonderful sonnet), and some of the Highly Commended entries will have an airing as well. A satisfying number of NZPS members were in the honours list.

There will be an open mic for anyone who entered the competition, as well as any other members of the audience who have a sonnet to share.

The venue is our regular meeting place, The Thistle Inn, at 3 Mulgrave St, Wellington (near the Railway Station), and the meeting will start at 7.30pm.

Also, if you're that way inclined, you might be interested to know that Poetry Society now Twitters: http://twitter.com/NZPS

Day at home/JAAM website

I've just had a fabulous day off. It was gorgeously sunny, and I managed to get a few of the things I wanted to do done - or at least started. I could have done with many more hours though.

One of the things I did today was to start building and new website for JAAM magazine using Wordpress. It's by no means finished, I have heaps of things to add (including lots of links) and I'm still fiddling with the design. But you can have a look at what I have so far at http://jaam.wordpress.com/.

I really felt it was time that JAAM had its own proper website, because having its pages on the HeadworX site was confusing people, and I couldn't update it easily.

23 March 2009

JAAM 26 is a finalist in Sir Julius Vogel Awards

I'm delighted that JAAM 26 is a finalist in the Collected Works section of the Sir Julius Vogel Awards for science fiction and fantasy works.

JAAM 26 was guest edited by Tim Jones, and contained a number of speculative and interstitial stories and poems – hence its eligibility for the award. Hopefully this will be good publicity for JAAM.

All congratulations are to go to Tim himself, who assembled such a fine issue of JAAM, and who knew about the awards in the first place. Tim also deserves congratulations because his own book of short stories, Transported, is up against JAAM in the same category, along with The Invisible Road, by Elizabeth Knox.

JAAM has a couple of other connections to these awards too. Helen Lowe had poems and a story in JAAM 26, and they are part of the body of work for which she has been selected as a finalist in the Best New Talent category. Also published in JAAM was 'Banshee' by Darian Smith, which is a finalist in the Best Short Story category.

Members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy and Fantasy Association of New Zealand will vote at Conscription, the 30th New Zealand National Science Fiction Convention, in Auckland on Queen's Birthday Weekend.

Tim Jones has some more about this on his blog: http://timjonesbooks.blogspot.com/2009/03/sffanz-press-release-finalists-for-2009.html

21 March 2009

How Eliot makes me a braver poet

Lately I’ve been making my way through T S Eliot’s Collected Poems re-reading my old fav The Waste Land and the wonderful but less-familiar ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’. And I’ve been discovering some new treasures that I hadn’t read before (like ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’), and some I’d forgotten I’d read, but recognised again (such as ‘Hysteria’). There are some that I can take or leave, but, by and large, I’m loving them.

My reading of Eliot has been strangely patchy. Even though I’d get excited about what I have read, it never seemed to compel me to devour it all – until now.

The reason I jumped back into Eliot was because of Twitter. (See, it can have some usefulness – or so I’m telling myself.) I was looking for short lines of poetry for my #Poetry tweets. (For those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, tweets are kind of like mini blog posts – each can only be a maximum of 140 characters, including spaces.)

I’ve found this an interesting exercise so far – looking for two to three gorgeous lines of poetry that works well out of context, in isolation from the rest of its poem. Strong and interesting images seem to work well, or some kind of interesting or wise statement. It makes me really think about the meaning(s) of those two to three lines, which helps me appreciate the poem all the more.

‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ is full of such lines, and ‘The Waste Land’ – to my surprise – less so. I think because ‘The Waste Land’ gains its power in longer portions, in repetition and in context.

Of ‘The Waste Land’ I twittered:
“April is the cruellest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire”

And of ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’:
“And time yet for a hundred indecisions,/and for a hundred visions and revisions/Before the taking of a toast and tea”

“And indeed there will be time/To wonder, 'Do I dare?' and, 'Do I dare?'/ Time to turn back and descend the stair”

“I grow old ... I grow old .../I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.”
Reading Eliot again, particularly ‘The Waste Land’, has reminded me of how opaque his writing is, how he puts together a bunch of things that don’t make obvious sense together. It just isn’t that accessible. But who cares?! It’s wonderful!

The first time I read ‘The Waste Land’ I was sitting on my bed in my room at home. I was in my second year at university, and studying it for my course on modern poetry. I read it out loud, and was totally entranced by how it sounded, how it felt. I didn’t have a clue what it meant. Even now, after a thoroughly researched essay and many re-readings, I have only dim ideas what it’s about. But it doesn’t matter – I love it and have gotten a lot out of it.

Re-discovering it has been making me think about my own poetry. I write quite differently to Eliot. My poems – especially the ones in My Iron Spine – tend to be quite narrative. And while I like to think that I’ve put layers of meaning into them, I think they’re pretty accessible really.

But each time I’ve finished a collection of poetry – ok, so that’s only twice so far – I’ve wanted to shift into a different direction. I don’t want to keep writing exactly the same kind of poem until it becomes a parody of my own style. And I have been moving away from the narrative poems of My Iron Spine, but I’m a little nervous.

I’m drawn towards more imagistic, less straightforward style, and yet I’m afraid I could end up writing poems that no one will like because they can’t understand them.

But Eliot has reminded me that opaque and bad are not the same thing, and that poetry can be meaningful without obvious meaning.

I think I’ll be thinking and writing more about this…

My Iron Spine reviewed in Bravado

There was a reasonably positive review of My Iron Spine in the latest issue of Bravado (thanks to Harvey for letting me know).

The reviewer, Tim Upperton, says he read it in one sitting. He says the 'poems aren't so much discrete inventions as they are an unfolding of an idea', and 'carefully crafted'.

He was most engaged by the first section - the 'autobiographical' poems. Particularly, it would seem, because he finds the book a bit too thematic in the later sections. I guess thematic isn't for everyone.

He picked out 'Gardening with Ursula Bethell' as a 'fine poem', and I was pleased he recognised it as a 'reading of Bethell's own gardening poems in From a Garden in the Antipodes' - though it isn't just about that - it's also about migrants, and making yourself a home in new places. Oh, and my own inabilities as a gardener.

18 March 2009

Stuff I've been up to lately

I've been up to heaps of things lately - possibly too much - and there are heaps more things I ought to be doing. Quite a few of them are poetry-related.

Saw Kate Camp at the Poetry Society
She read mostly new poems, which was nice. I particularly enjoyed her reading of a poem twice. She read it first without telling us anything about it, and while it wasn't a poem that made obvious sense, you could make your own interpretations of its images. A bit later, she read it again, but this time first told us what it was about, the story that had inspired it. It was like a whole other poem. It was clearer in meaning, but less universal. It was quite a fascinating exercise.

Saw Richard Langston at the Poetry Society
Richard Langston combines being a journalist for TV3 with being a poet. He's an engaging reader, and he also mainly read new stuff. I was inspired by his quoting of the end of what I thought was an uncharacteristic Philip Larkin poem: 'The Mower' the hunt it down, and Twitter it: 'we should be careful//Of each other, we should be kind/While there is still time.'

Went to the open mike night at Aunt Daisy's Boathouse Cafe
This was a fun, informal evening, where anyone could get up and read a few poems. Excellently hosted by Mike Eager. I read some poems, listened to some other poems, hung out with some people I already knew, met some people I didn't know before. I'll be back. It's on the last Wednesday of every month, so this month it's next Wednesday, 25th May, from 7 pm. It's at 28 Bay Road, Titahi Bay - it's right next to the beach.

Helping out with the publication of Viet Nam by Jenny Powell
I've been just helping make some final changes to the design file for this new book of poetry by Jenny Powell (formerly Jenny Powell-Chalmers), which is going to be published by HeadworX soon. So I've been lucky enough to have a sneak preview of this collection, which is an imaginative journey to Viet Nam. A Vietnamese teacher came and stayed with Jenny in Dunedin, and she, in turn, wanted to go and visit him in Viet Nam. She was unable to, and so could only travel there in her mind. It's so vivid and specific in it's details and responses, that it's hard to believe she was never there.

Re-reading the manuscript of Ithaca Island Bay Leaves by Vana Manasiadis, which I'm excited I'm (as in Seraph Press) going to publish
This is a gorgeous collection, about Greece, and New Zealand, and her mother, her grandmother and, more subtly, about herself. It also has several playful peices that are reworkings/updatings of classic Greek myths. I'm sure I'll have much more to write about this as the project moves ahead.

That'll do for now. I'm planning to write a post about the book my new imprint Alley Cat Chapbooks published - which means me and the author (my friend Karen) handmade 25 copies of it. It will have photos, and perhaps instructions for hand binding little books.

15 March 2009

Things to do: #3 See Nikki Patin in her Phat Grrl Revolution Tour

Chicago-based Def Jam poet and member of the American National Slam Team Nikki Patin is heading to New Zealand on her Phat Grrrl Revolution Tour. Her Wellington event is at Happy (underground, cnr Vivian and Tory streets) on Saturday (21 March) at 8 pm.

I was planning to go to this, because the reason she came over to NZ is because of the lovely Miriam Barr, whose Literatti group did a show with her. But after reading Miriam's write-up of Nikki's solo show, I'm definitely going. If this is your sort of thing, you should too.

Postscript: Oh, and I was totally blown away by Nikki Patin's impressions of her time in Auckland so far: http://theliteratti.blogspot.com/2009/03/nikkis-impressions-just-remember.html

UPDATE: From the Word Collective:

Word Collective is hosting a Def Jam poet, Nikki Patin, who is doing one show only in Wgtn on Sat March 21st after touring the motu.
Check her out on Youtube

The Wgtn Word Collective will be represented by two performers; Glenn Ashworth, with his hybrid word glide thru Pakeha and Maori kaupapa, and Ciara Mulholland, checking out of Godzone with a swansong appearance.

Tickets are $10 unwaged, $15 waged and the show starts at 8pm.

Things to do: #2 See 'The Last Great Snail Chase'

The Last Great Snail Chase is a magic-realist, independently produced movie that was written and directed by my friend Ed Lynden-Bell. It's showing at the Academy Cinemas in Auckland right now (from the 12th to the 26th of March).

I've seen it twice, and I recommend it. It's very imaginative, very odd, and full of cool things. It's set in the present day, around a group of friends. The sky is cracking apart, turtles are swimming in the sky, and a colossal tidal wave threatens to destroy the planet. Despite that, everything is going on much as it always does. The tag line is: 'In a world where whales walk the streets, you still gotta go to work'.

Some reviews: http://www.flicks.co.nz/movie/the-last-great-snail-chase/.

Because it's showing in Auckland, this isn't something I'll be doing right now (though it's likely to show in Wellington later), but if you're in Auckland, you might just want to go along.

14 March 2009

Stuff to do: #1 See Richard Langston at Poetry Society

From my reminder email:

Hi all. Our monthly meeting is coming up again. On Monday 16th March our Guest Poet is Richard Langston, Wellington poet and TV3 journo. I heard Richard read at the White Album Winter Readings at the City Gallery last year, and immediately decided he deserved a whole reading to himself.

The meeting will run to its usual format: starting at 7.30 with the open mic, a short break to enable you to support our sponsor, Thistle Inn, and then Richard will read for 20-30 minutes. There'll be a Q&A session at the end, and if we're lucky, Richard will bring along some of his poetry books to sign and sell.

Monday 16 March, 7.30pm
The Thistle Inn
3 Mulgrave St

10 March 2009

Classic Kiwi TV commercials

Ok, so not related to literature, or art even, but I guess it is related to New Zealand culture more generally ... After watching a bunch of old commercials while editing a entry for work about the history of advertising in NZ, I was compelled to write this blog post: http://blog.teara.govt.nz/2009/03/10/classic-television-commercials/

Feel free to join the discussion, and add your two cents about your favourite ads.

08 March 2009

JAAM 27 submission reminder

Just wanted to remind you all that submissions for JAAM 27 are due at the end of this month - 31 March 2009.

Call for submissions below. For more info, visit JAAM on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/jaammagazine (am in the process of creating a more-proper website for JAAM, but this has happened yet because I haven't found the time, but it's something to look forward too).

Call for submissions for JAAM 27

JAAM 27 (2009) will be edited by writer Ingrid Horrocks, who currently teaches creative writing at Massey University in Wellington.

The theme for this issue is 'wandering'. As well as work that features literal wanderers and travellers (a mainstay of New Zealand literature) we're also interested work that wanders - works that digress in creative ways from narrative, argument, or genre. Wandering fiction, poetry and, especially, creative nonfiction, should be sent to Ingrid by the end of March 2009 at jaammagazine@yahoo.co.nz or PO Box 25239, Panama Street, Wellington 6146.

As always, this issue of JAAM will also be open to general submissions, which should be sent in by the same date.

JAAM 27 will be published in the second half of 2009.

03 March 2009

What else I learned at Woodstock, and my new adventures (?) on Twitter

Following up from my previous post, you can read more about what I learned at Webstock on my day-job blog. Basically, it's about how I realised how important emotion and connection is for me on the web.

And to update that previous post - despite being way more interested in geotagging poetry, I haven't done that at all yet, but have joined Twitter. This is after not being very interested in it, and saying, in front of witnesses at about 5.15 pm last Tuesday, that I would never join Twitter. By around 2 pm the next day, I had joined. Sigh. What ever happened to my principles.

The reason I joined was mainly because we've started twittering (tweeting?) at work, and I wanted to be able to follow it to see how it goes. You can learn all kinds of exciting things by following us: http://twitter.com/Te_Ara.

Just now I tweeted my first poem - or rather a bit of a poem - you can't do much with 140 characters. It is a small bit from Eavan Boland's 'The Black Lace Fan My Mother Gave Me': 'The past is an empty cafe terrace. / An airless dusk before thunder. A man running.' It's a poem I read today, and liked. Let's see how often I actually tweet poetry...

Also, I've put my photo back to normal, because section 92a of the Copyright Act thingy has been delayed.