19 November 2013

Tuesday poem: 'Sigourney Weaver and I Go to Bed' by Emma Barnes

Sigourney Weaver and I Go to Bed

Sigourney Weaver flew me some place on what seemed a too small
aeroplane. We didn’t talk about her appearance in Avatar. The
papyrus got between us: A font of discontent. She held my hand
inside her shirt and said that she just wanted me to hold her up.
I had a potato gun in my back pocket. She passed the tuber.

After landing we arrived at a white bed. It seemed as tall as she was
to me: a more dumpling sized human. There were steps around the
edges and the middle was a long marshmallow cloudland in the style
of my home country. I could see her foggy outline reflected in the
roof. Her flannelette pyjamas were covered in the faces of dogs.

‘This is where we go to bed’ she said. I looked up into her size-9
eyes. ‘But, I’m more of a cat person?’ This was just like going out with
the 42-year-old butch I dated when I was 21. A lot of determined
looks and short phrasing. But she was already up on the mountainy
pillowtop and a long, slender arm loomed at me. The life rope of

a completely different social class. This place was no Dream Father
mansion, but it sure had something going for it. I was lying in bed 
with you. It was a Thursday. Outside the white noise said it was 
summer and the cicadas were okay with that. It had been clear weather
for almost ten days. Standing in the sun a person could be 

described as hot. But I’m not allowed to write letters in bed, says
Sigourney. The ink will make a mess of the linen. So I lie there
composing in my head. In bed with Sigourney Weaver. In bed with
you. She can palm a basketball. You’re more of a music man than
sports fan. Sigourney Weaver and I go to bed. All I can think of is you.

Emma Barnes

(Please forgive some of the line breaks, my design just isn't wide enough to fit the longest lines)

I wanted to share this poem because Emma read it at the launch we had for JAAM 31 on Friday, at 19 Tory, a space run by the Concerned Citizens Collective (thanks guys!). We hadn't had a bit public launch for JAAM for a long time - or actually maybe never. (Though we have had smaller launches from time to time, but not that often.) It was really lovely to gather together the Wellington-based contributors (though more of them are scattered around the country) and have a celebration. It was nice to put some faces to names, and also people could put our faces to our names. JAAM has been quite an anonymous work sometimes and it was good to connect with some of our community.

Cover image by Andy Palmer, cover design by me

But the big treat was having some readings from a few of the wonderful writers whose work is in JAAM - Helen Heath, Tim Jones, Pip Adam, Sandi Sartorelli, Lucy Kirton, Chris Tse and Emma - and there were more writers we would have loved to have had read too.

This poem by Emma is just one of three 'Sigourney Weaver' poems in this issue of JAAM, which are just three of many of a wonderful series. They're all quite different, but they all have the same form, and a similar tone I think. I've been loving seeing more and more of them appear

As well as in JAAM, you can read more of them in the recently published 4th Floor journal, and in Cordite, and you can listen to some on Soundcloud here and here (this is the poem above).

And once you're done with Sigourney Weaver, you might want to check out some other Tuesday poems at the hub: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.co.nz/.

12 November 2013

Tuesday Poems and 4th Floor and Ray Harryhausen

A poem of mine, 'I hear you singing in the next room' is the Tuesday Poem over at the hub blog this week! Thanks so much to Janis Freegard for selecting it. It was published in My Iron Spine.

There's also a poem of mine, 'Vana’s life, as directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski and Ray Harryhausen', in the just-launched issue of 4th Floor Literary Journal, which is published by Whitireia Polytechnic and edited by the very lovely and talented Hinemoana Baker. This poem came to me, or started to come to me, when I thought I'd already finished the manuscript for Cinema, and so was a late arrival. And actually it arrived in two parts - I  had the beginning, but didn't know where it would go, or even if it needed to go anywhere - it could have stayed an almost haiku. But a few months later I sat with it again and the rest turned up. It seemed a good ending poem - a goodbye-to-the-project swansong. And I've put it near the end of the book - though not the very end.

Ray Harryhausen and some of his creations
Subsequently I've seen quite a few more Ray Harryhausen films - he died not long after I wrote the poem. If you're interested in his films, they've been showing a retrospective at The Roxy in Miramar, and this Sunday it's Jason and the Argonauts, which I think might be my favourite of his films. Or maybe that's Clash of the Titans... anyway...

There's heaps of other great poems and stories in this special issue of 4th Floor, which marks the 20th anniversary of the writing course at Whitireia, but also of the publishing course, which I did many mumble years ago and in which I learned heaps of useful things that has kept me in gainful employment and has also helped me with various publishing ventures. I haven't had a chance to read this issue thoroughly, but can see from the contents page that there are heaps of my favourite writers in there, and probably lots of yours too.

05 November 2013

Tuesday poem over on the Tuesday Poem, and Hawke's Bay poetry conference

I'm the editor of the Tuesday Poem blog this week. I always enjoy having the opportunity to share a poem I love, and this time I've chosen a poem, 'No time like the ‘80s/ No future' by Airini Beautrais, from the latest issue of JAAM, which has just come back from the printers and is filling up a large area of my dining room. It's a great issue, guest edited by Harvey Molloy (poetry) and Clare Needham (prose), and I hope you will get yourself a copy. You could even subscribe and we will send it to your letterbox!

In other news, I'm just back from a poetry conference in the Hawke's Bay. It was organised to celebrate the 20th (or maybe 21st) anniversary of their Live Poets Society group. It was such a lovely conference with a really good, open, sharing feeling. There was such a variety of poets - different ages and levels of experience, and totally different styles of poetry. And very democratic. The only poet who got longer than anyone else to read was Vincent O'Sullivan as the poet laureate. All the rest of us invited readers only got 10 minutes - strictly enforced!

I got to read my poetry on Saturday night, and I was also involved in a panel discussion about what editors want (what don't we want!) yesterday morning. Due to poor time management and having too much to say, I think I only said about half of what I wanted to say. So I have an idea I might write it up as a blog post.