A new poem from Joan Fleming: ‘Was the night before’

 

Was the night before

 

[because fast and faster aren’t necessarily

[this lucky and the lights burning her feet like

[angry because people are saying “happy hols” and the jingling

[was the first sign the roast was too long in the

[wondering if burnt feet stay burnt like

[decorations and shoved them onto the coffee table like here

[dry streets don’t you remember how we always

[someone is always closing them again, “it’s the flies”

[her favourite, marshmallows liquefying into the mashed

[a skin on it because we left it too long or

[not the smell that sets the alarms off, it’s the smoke’s

[makes my soul slack out she said, those tunes you want to claw your

[“over here” said the Santa, because where were all the little

[crackling, that’s my favourite part even though my mouth can’t

[if I’m going to do it, I’m not going to do it wearing

[be always telling you shut the

[not the family I thought I

[happens when I lit the pine

[bauble just comes right apart in your hand

 

©Joan Fleming 2017

 

Joan was one of the highlights for me at the recent Poetry & the Essay conference at Victoria University. Her paper raised important questions on borrowing, acknowledging, taking risks, building conversations, processing different ways of doing and being, especially of being white woman alongside aborigine women. Having had a taste of the poems, I can’t wait for a book to emerge. And I just loved listening to her reading.

This poem, however, is a little – as Joan said – slightly prickly toast to Christmas.

Submissions open for next Sweet Mammalian

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SUBMISSIONS

Send us your writing, be it a roar, purr, or pip-squeak.

Sweet Mammalian aims for diversity and inclusiveness—we want all different kinds of poetry, from all different kinds of writers. In order to make this possible we need your submissions, so send us your thrilling writing!

Submit up to 5 poems of any length. Please send your work in a single word doc attachment to , and include a short bio note and the titles of your poems in the body of the email.

We are now accepting submissions for Issue Five. The submission deadline is 31 December 2017.

Issue Five will be published in the early months of 2018.

 

See here

 

 

 

 

 

The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems 2017 – Winner Announced

 

 

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International Writers’ Workshop (IWW) is delighted to announce that Janet Newman is the 2017 winner of The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems for her sequence, Tender. The $1000 prize was judged by respected Auckland poet Robert Sullivan.

Tender is a seven poem sequence about Janet’s father, Doug Newman (1919-2008). The poems show him as a farmer, a former WWII soldier, and in old age, revealing both his tough exterior and a covert tenderness. By tracing his life from her childhood to his death at 89 years, the sequence explores the ways in which war invades the lives of veterans and their children.

Ms Newman, a member of IWW since 2012 and a runner-up in The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems in 2014, was born in Levin and raised on a dairy farm at Koputaroa in Horowhenua. She completed a Certificate in Editorial and Publishing at Wellington Polytechnic and worked as a journalist in Lower Hutt, Christchurch and Perth in Western Australia before returning to Koputaroa where she now lives and runs the family farm. She has a Masters of Creative Writing from Massey University and is presently a PhD student at Massey. Her critical and creative thesis looks at New Zealand’s long history of environmentally oriented poetry, and includes a collection of original ecopoems.

Runner-up is Anne Hollier Ruddy of Orewa who began writing poetry in 2006 and has been a member of IWW since 2011. Her poems have appeared in various Australian and New Zealand anthologies, as well as Shotglass Journal, Cordite Poetry Review and Blackmail Press. Her sequence of poems, Ambushed by Gauguin, begins and ends with a reflection of the Mother and Child theme in art with other poems in the sequence exploring it personally in biographical terms.

Mr Sullivan said writing poetry is a journey of discovery and is timeless, whatever the style. He said when writing poetry to think, “Is there an accent on what really matters and not just the right word in the right place?” Of the winning and runner-up sequences he said the poets have submitted their inner hearts. The sequences were new and original, exuded honesty and ‘show, not tell’ while disclosing some aspects of the narrator’s character as well.

About the Prize

The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems has been made possible by a bequest from the Jocelyn Grattan Charitable Trust. It was a specific request of the late Jocelyn Grattan that her mother be recognised through an annual competition in recognition of her love for poetry and that the competition be for a sequence or cycle of poems with no limit on the length of the poems. It is one of two poetry competitions funded by the Trust, the other being the prestigious Kathleen Grattan Award run by the publishers of Landfall magazine.

Previous Winners

This is the 9th year the prize has been contested. Previous winners are:

2016: Michael Giacon for Argento in no man land

2015: Maris O’Rourke for Motherings

2014: Julie Ryan for On Visiting Old Ladies.

2013: Belinda Diepenheim for Bittercress and Flax.

2012: James Norcliffe for What do you call your male parent?

2011: Jillian Sullivan for how to live it

2010: Janet Charman for Mother won’t come to us, and Rosetta Allan for Capricious Memory.

2009: Alice Hooton for America.

Congratulations to the Ockham Book Award Poetry Longlisters

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Congratulations poets – this is a strong showing.

 

Here is my conversation with NZ Poet Laureate, Selina Tusitala Marsh.

My conversation with Airini Beautrais.

My conversation with Hannah Mettner.

My conversation with Elizabeth Smither.

My conversation with Sue Wootton.

Two poems and my response to Kate Camp’s collection

Two poems and my response to Briar Wood’s collection.

 

I haven’t yet read the other  collections – but I loved these enough to have showcased them on the blog. I would sing the praises of them anywhere.

 

The Poetry Award will be judged by poet, novelist and creative non-fiction writer Alison Wong; poet and deputy chief executive, Māori, at Manukau Institute of Technology Robert Sullivan; and Otago poet, publisher, editor and librettist Michael Harlow.

My commiserations to those who missed the list. This year has produced an extraordinary array of poetry books from main and boutique presses. And yes, very good books are missing (it’s like trying to squeeze your books in your holiday bag and the bag just won’t shut) so I am going to flag just a few.

The glorious books of Bill Manhire (there are two!), Michele Leggott and Nina Powles.  I would add Louise Wallace, Maria McMillan, James Brown, Caron Smeaton, Reuben Todd. .

 

Congratulations to those on the longlist.  A toast to you, to your publishers and booksellers and to those who spread its joy far and wide.

 

Rest of award results and details of poetry books here

 

 

Reuben Todd’s The Poet Creep replays an unstable world, a flickering heart, an excavating mind

 

 

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Reuben Todd, The Poet Creep, self published, 2017

 

I could eat you

with my bare feet.

 

Reuben Todd graduated from the Hagley Writers Institute and acknowledges the tutelage of Kerrin P. Sharpe and mentorship of Bernadette hall at the front of his new poetry collection, The Poet Creep. He works in multiple fields: writer, comic, director, actor and produces Christchurch’s live weekend sketch show, Skitch.

The poetry collection crept up on me slowly, and then picked up speed, like a wild wind gusting through my poetry-focused mind. Six distinctive sequences grasp the white space of the page and, using that as a key element, play with language to a point of  alluring freshness. Words hug the line,  dart above and below, congregate in prose-like flashes, are crossed out, repeat, splinter, break apart. The effect might induce poetry vertigo but instead I am pulled along a current of reading that replays an unstable world, a flickering heart, an excavating mind.

At times it feels like I have entered the realm of dystopian poetry where surreal channels bust the borders between the real, the longed for and the imagined.

‘IS?TANBUL’ is a surprising page turner – fidgety restless poetry – that responds to an unstable, immaterial world. Words repeat, letters float and drift or overlap (impossible to replicate on my staid blog).  In this sample note the ‘h’ and ‘f’ of ‘ashfelt are jammed tight as though intensifying the tension between heart and ruin:

 

earthworks

earthworks

earthworks

ashfelt

earthworks

trees

 

Sometimes a single line floats like a guest lyric:

 

Snow is falling like fat wet kisses

 

Blank pages reinforce the primacy of white space, the fresh start, the need to pause, the silent beat, the tacit sidestep, the unsayable, if not the unthinkable.

 

A sequence of B/W images, ‘UNCOUPLED V GNETTE’,  with ‘i’ missing, like a motif of self erasure, like a hiccup or pause, a bridge to the white space, pulls me to concrete details. Close-up images of architectural features form the book’s core. Interpreting this choice – the intricate, hard and designed surfaces of built things  – I feel the physical core absorbs the knotted movements, the virtual scenarios, the upended semantics, the tilted ground we stand on.

The final sequences, if not all the sequences, present autobiography that refracts and reflects stutters and sings. Then again, every word might be a downright lie. This is not important. The need to break and link, overlap and disintegrate, produces poetry that fires both heart and mind. Language is always on the move, and it is an exhilarating experience following it. I loved this collection.

Buda

calls

across

the

water

,

 

but

Pest

cannot

hear

.

 

Pest

calls

across

the

water

,

but

Buda

cannot

hear

.

 

from ‘Where we part.’

 

Reuben Todd web page