30 November 2009

JAAM 28 call for submissions

Just briefly (cos I'm busy getting myself together for the launch of Ithaca Island Bay Leaves on Wednesday (pleased to hear the author has arrived safe and sound from Crete today!)) I wanted to let you all know that we've (finally) put out the call for submissions for JAAM 28.

It's going to be called DanceDanceDance, and we're looking for dancing words and images. Read the call for submissions on the JAAM site, and interpret it as you will.

This issue is going to be edited by Clare Needham and me (we're the co-managing editors of JAAM). We've been planning and plotting it for a while. Clare is going to write a fuller blog post about the genesis of this idea soon, but basically she's worked as a dance producer and got interested in the metaphorical, and actual, possibilities of dance.

Don't be put off if you have two left feet - in fact you could even write about that!

More here: http://jaam.wordpress.com/2009/11/29/call-for-submissions-for-jaam-28-dancedancedance/.

22 November 2009

Ithaca Island Bay Leaves launching

The venue is all confirmed, the book has gone to the printers (just need to sign off the final proof on Monday), and I'm starting to plan the refreshments.

We're going to be launching Ithaca Island Bay Leaves: a mythistorima - the debut poetry collection of Vana Manasiadis, on Wednesday 2nd December, at 6.30 pm, at the Adam Art Gallery at Victoria University.

As I said in a previous post, we'll be launching it amongst ancient Greek vases and modern New Zealand lithographs by Marian Maguire (whose art we're using on the cover of Ithaca) that combine ancient-Greek-vase-ish imagery with 19th-century New Zealand history.

Damien Wilkins will be doing the launching honours. And Vana, who will have just gotten back from Crete where she's been living for the last almost 3 years (I can't believe it's been so long since I've seen her!) will read some poems. I'm really looking forward to this launch, and getting this book out into the world. It's had a long journey.

Come help us celebrate.

18 November 2009

Where can I get me a copy of Watching for Smoke?

Well, seeing as you asked: if you don't already have one, you can get yourself your very own, made-with-love copy of Watching for Smoke, by Helen Heath by:
  • buying a copy off either myself or Helen, if you should be lucky enough to know one or other or both of us personally
  • emailing me at seraphpressATparadise.net.nz to order a copy
  • buying it off Helen's Etsy shop - she just popped it up today, complete with some lovely, lovely photos
  • buying it Unity Books Wellington, if you wait a few more days until I take in the copies for them
  • asking your nice, friendly local bookshop to order a copy from me - they might like to know the ISBN, which is 978-0-473-15379-3.
I've also just updated my Seraph Press website - an uncommon occurrence I'm afraid - to include information about Watching for Smoke, and the upcoming (soon!) Ithaca Island Bay Leaves, by Vana Manasiadis.

15 November 2009

Ithaca Island Bay Leaves update

As I mentioned below, I've been pretty busy getting Ithaca Island Bay Leaves: a mythistorima by Vana Manasiadis all finished so I can get it printed. I'm almost, almost there.

I can now present the cover, which features a wonderful lithograph by Christchurch artist Marian Maguire, entitled Athena Observes a Fracas. This image is particularly appropriate as it introduces Greek mythology into a New Zealand context in a similar way to what Vana does in many of her poems.

Marian does this in quite a few of her works, including the series this print comes from (The Odyssey of Captain Cook), and also in a more recent series, The Labours of Herakles, in which Herakles ends up in colonial New Zealand. I'm totally delighted that we're going to be able to launch Ithaca in the middle of The Labours of Herakles (and several ancient Greek vases - safely housed in sturdy cabinets) in the Adam Art Gallery. What could be more perfect! You can see some more of Marian's work on the Papergraphica gallery website.

As a taster for Ithaca, here's the blurb from the back cover:
the ocean is what I’m standing in – one tiptoe on the Pacific rim and one not.
(‘Talking Tectonics’)

Part family exploration, part personal narrative, this haunting and delicate debut collection weaves the mythic into the everyday.

Drawing on her Greek heritage, Vana Manasiadis has Icarus crashing in Wellington storm, Theseus as a DOC ranger, and her grandfather, grandmother and mother threading their way through times, places and incarnations.

Exploring the ex patria feeling of ‘being here and being there,’ she sews together Greece and New Zealand to create a playful and deeply moving journey.

Charlotte Simmonds at this month's Poetry Society meeting

This month's Poetry Society meeting is actually tomorrow, which seems to have come rather quickly. (This whole year has gone terrifyingly quickly, and this next less-than-three weeks before we launch Ithaca Island Bay Leaves will go very quickly. It's almost ready to go to the printers though, so I'm confident that it will all be done in good time.)

Charlotte Simmonds, this month's guest reader, is the author of The World's Fastest Flower, which was published last year and was a finalist in the Best First Book category of the book awards. I had heard good things about it from my friend Emma, who, when she first read it, enjoyed it so much that as soon as she finished it she started reading it again from the beginning.

I realised, after hearing that she was the next guest reader, that I'd seen/heard her read at a couple of open-mic poetry readings, and had been really impressed both times. So I decided I'd read her book before the reading, and I really enjoyed it.

How to describe it? It's a bit different, and thank goodness for that. It's like a breath of fresh, youthful air. It's not all necessarily easy poetry, but it isn't dense or dry. It isn't what you'd expect - or, at least, it isn't what I've come to expect.

There's a prose-poetryness about many of the poems, with lots of long lines, little narratives. But the language is playful and intense. Sometimes the poems were clear, sometimes they made no sense, but only a few didn't grab me. Many of the poems seemed very personal, raw even, but the narrative voices/personas are different from each other, and many are clearly not the poet (or at least not a straight-forward version of the poet), so it's a bit more complicated.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to hearing her read. If you want to go along too, the details are:

Monday 16 November, 7.30 pm
The Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave St
Entry: $2
The meeting will open, as always, with an open mic.

08 November 2009

Two new reviews of My Iron Spine

I’ve had two more (favourable) reviews of My Iron Spine recently.

The first was a brief review by the lovely Siobhan Harvey in Poetry NZ 39. She says it ‘underpins its author’s feminist concerns with a forceful poeticism’ and I am ‘at her best when lyrically reinventing the voices, lives and difficulties of the famous and infamous.’ She mentions ‘Handicrafts with Minnie Dean’, ‘Kate Sheppard and I go for a ride’ and ‘Partying with Katherine Mansfield’ as ‘just a few examples of Rickerby’s success throughout My Iron Spine in breathing new and cadent life into a faux-mythical cast.’

The second review was on the blog of Jennifer Sullivan, a US poet I’ve gotten to know on the net, due to our common interest in poet Anne Carson. So you can read the whole thing over there. But to make myself feel happy I’m going to quote my fav bits. She says that My Iron Spine is: ‘poignant, witty, tender, fun, and moving’, and says about the first section, ‘Flashes of déjà vu’: A charming voice waltzes through the narrative, saying things like, ‘I was playing hungry / hungry hippos / when my grandmother died’ or ‘I wonder / if the Kingdom of Heaven / is like the Titanic– / not enough lifeboats.’ Then she goes on to say lovely things about the other two sections, and even says that sometimes the book is akin to the work of our common idol, Anne Carson. High praise indeed.

01 November 2009

Watching for Smoke launch, and my Poetry Society reading

I’ve been a bit quiet lately. While this has partly been because my computer is still being fixed (Dad has replaced so many bits of it, in order to find out what wasn’t working, it’s going to end up as a different computer altogether), mainly I’ve just been recovering from a whole bunch of things, including the launch we had for the latest Seraph Press book, Watching for Smoke by Helen Heath (and getting lots of books made beforehand), and the reading I did at the Poetry Society the day after.

Watching for Smoke launch

This was lots of fun. I’d gotten a bit anxious because instead of arriving an hour beforehand to set up, as I planned, we got there with 15 minutes to spare due to a girl falling off her motorbike close to our place, and my kind friends bringing her up to the house to have a cup of tea and attend to her grazes. I needn’t have worried though – there were already people in the kitchen putting jam and cream on pikelets, and my team of family and friends helped us finishing setting up in record time (thanks guys!).

Being in an old church hall (St Peters in Paekakariki), and with treats such as the aforementioned pikelets, it had the feeling of a ‘ladies-a-plate’ sort of event, but in the best possible way. Kids ran around, or danced to the fabulous music of Dan, Stefan, and another musician whose name I’m afraid I didn’t catch.

Dinah Hawken launched the book. As well as being a poet admired both Helen and myself, Dinah is Helen’s supervisor for her MA in creative writing. (Helen will be putting the finishing touches to her portfolio, perhaps at this very moment.) Dinah said lots of lovely things about the book and about Helen’s poetry in general. She also said that she kind of wished that all poetry books could be just little books, like this chapbook, rather than having to be larger volumes. While I’m a fan of larger poetry books too, there is something very satisfying about the smallness and concentration of a chapbook.

Helen then talked and read a few poems, including one not from Watching for Smoke which she read especially for her father. We sold quite a few books, but I still have a few left (and a few left to make – though not too many). If you want to buy one, I’ll sell them to you for $15 direct – just email me at Helen.RickerbyATparadise.net.nz. Unity Books in Wellington will have some soon, where they’ll be $20.

Voyagers event and my reading at the Poetry Society

It was a bit of a busy day – immediately before my reading I attended the Wellington event for the Voyagers New Zealand science fiction poetry anthology publicity tour. (This must be the best-publicised book in NZ in recent history – and it’s actually published by an Australian
company.) Co-editor Tim Jones, who was MCing, kindly let me read first, so I could sneak off early to get myself together. I was very sorry to have missed most of the other readers, but I did end up really needing the time to get a bite to eat and, mainly, spend ages mucking around with my friend Angelina’s computer to get the datashow working. Actually, I didn’t muck around with it much, it was mainly my new heroes Angelina and Poetry-Society attendee Lonnard, who finally beat it into submission – or rather facilitated communication between the computer and the projector.

As always, the reading began with an open mic, and I thought it an especially good one. One of the highlights was Harvey Molloy reciting 'Caedmon’s Hymn' in Old English.

Everyone was wondering what I was going to do with the datashow, but I started off my reading low-tech, so they had to wait. I read some of my new poems that are playing with various ideas related to cinema, and then I showed them my wee video poem, ‘Calling you home’.

The main thing I used the datashow for was just to show an image while I read my poems. I’d tried this at my reading in Palmerston North in May, and it seemed to go well. So I expanded it a bit this time and while reading poems from My Iron Spine about women from history, I showed an image of the woman the poem was about (except Marie Curie, for whom I was unable to find a picture before my borrowed computer refused to connect to the internet any more that afternoon). So I had pictures of Kate Sheppard, Minnie Dean, Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath. My final poem was ‘Artemisia Gentileschi’, which is basically talking about her life while talking about her paintings, so it was really great to be able to have people look at the paintings while listening to the poem. It made a lot more sense to a lot of people, and I think helped them to get the funny bits (there are one or two) in the middle of what is mostly a fairly grim, raw poem (it gets much more hopeful at the end).

We had quite a lively question time, and my favourite question I think, was ‘Did you realise that all those women looked like you?’ I didn’t, and I still don’t really think they do.