Monthly Archives: May 2018

  Call for submissions – Ngā Kupu Waikato: An anthology of Waikato poetry.

                                

 

                         Ngā Kupu Waikato: An anthology of Waikato poetry.

 

Submission closing date is 31 August, 2018.

 

Open to anyone who has lived in the Waikato region for at least one year.

 

No more than five poems, please. Preferably NOT previously published, although this is not hard and fast. However, if previously published, do note where & when, please.

Can be on any kaupapa and in any style – just as long as they are not too long, eh! However, poems pertaining to some aspect of the Waikato rohe or region, will be looked at most favourably.

Ki te reo Māori rāua ko te reo Ingarihi hoki – In the Māori language and the English language also.

 

Please submit to ngakupuwaikato@gmail.com

As attachments in ONE WORD DOCUMENT. Please also include a one-sentence outline of your ties to Waikato – past or present.

Poems will initially be longlisted, and then a panel of Waikato-based poets will select the poems to be included in this anthology.

Tēnā koe.

Vaughan Rapatahana

Editor

 

THANK YOU to Hamilton City CNZ Creative Communities Scheme for the generous funding available.

 

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Caselberg International Poetry Prize opens June 1st

Now Open: International Poetry Prize

 

Entries are now open for the Caselberg International Poetry Prize, judged by David Eggleton. The winning poem will be published in the Spring edition of Landfall, and the winning poet will receive a $500 Prize and a week long stay at the beautiful Caselberg House out on the Otago Peninsula.

 

Information for Entrants

The competition opens 1st June and closes on 31st July. Entries are judged blind. First Prize is $500 (plus one-week stay at the Caselberg house at Broad Bay, Dunedin). Second Prize is $250; and there are up to 5 Highly-Commended awards (no monetary prizes).

The first- and second-placed poems will be published in the Spring issue of Landfall, and all winning and highly-commended entries will appear on the Caselberg Trust web-site (copyright remaining with the authors).

Entry fee: $20 for up to four poems from any one entrant. Payment may be made to any branch of the ANZ National Bank to the credit of the Caselberg Trust, a/c no. 06-0901-0353698-00, giving your name as the payer reference; or by cheque made out to ‘Caselberg Trust’, or in cash.

Note – entry fees must be paid prior to submitting your entry, and where payments are not received, poems will not be submitted for judging

  • Poems must be the original work of the entrant, previously unpublished, and not submitted elsewhere.
  • Poems must be no more than 40 lines in length.
  • Entries must be typewritten, and each poem should be laid out on a separate page (or separate word document if attached via email) and any style or subject will be considered.
  • The poet’s name must not appear on the typescript.

Entries may be submitted by e-mail to poetry@caselbergtrust.org or post to:

Caselberg Poetry Prize
PO Box 71
Portobello
Dunedin 9014
NZ

Along with your entries, whether by e-mail or as hard copy, please provide your name and postal address and phone number, and your e-mail address (for receipt of your entry fee when this is received). If you have no e-mail address, and you want receipt of entry please send a stamped addressed envelope.

 

No entries received after 31st July 2016 will be considered.

Winners only will be notified of their success. A copy of the Judge’s report will be posted on the Caselberg Trust website , and as always, the Judge’s decisions will be final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

David Eggleton lives in Otepoti/Dunedin, where he is a poet, writer, reviewer and editor. His first collection of poems was co-winner of the PEN New Zealand Best First Book of Poems Award in 1987. In 2015 he received the Janet Frame Literary Trust Award for Poetry. His collection of poems, The Conch Trumpet, won the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Award for Poetry. Also in 2016, he received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry. A new collection, Edgeland and other poems, is being published by Otago University Press in July 2018.

Click here to read about last year’s winning poem.

 

Monday Poem: Louise Wallace’s ‘How to leave the small town you were born in’

 

 

How to leave the small town you were born in

 

First you must demonstrate your ability to count your age on an abacus or use a telephone with a rotary dial. Acquire your badge in either synchronised running or raking leaves in an apron. From then on speak only in morse code. Should you become trapped inside a cactus or a fleur-de-lis, you must draw the Air New Zealand logo from memory to be freed. Should you have forgotten your wool cap or clip-together cutlery set, you will return to the small town you were born in. In your darkest hours shout I will do my best! and recite prayers old and new. The mere thought of the small town you were born in will become repellent, like kissing your cousin or spooning out jellied meats from a tin. When you make it to the outside you may write back home to tell younger siblings of your great odyssey – how you swore allegiance to god and country, and demonstrated great physical and mental skill.

 

©Louise Wallace

 

Louise Wallace now lives in Dunedin and is the author of three collections of poetry, the most recent being Bad Things (Victoria University Press, 2017). In 2015 she was the Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago. She is the founder and editor of Starling, an online journal publishing the work of New Zealand writers under 25 years of age.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emily Temple at Lit Hub asks: What is the right poetry collection for you?

This is a great list! It reminds me that this year I want to share overseas poetry collections I have loved with you. If you are like me you want poetry to take you in myriad directions with myriad effects and not settle down in a particular club. Lists like this keep you on your reading toes.

Check Emily’s list out here

 

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2 excellent poetry interviews @RNZ: Kim and Harry, Jesse and Jane

 

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Good to see poetry getting attention on Radio NZ. These two interviews, both warm and scintillating, are really worth listening to, especially on a cold rainy Sunday.

 

Jesse Mulligan and Jane Arthur talk about winning the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize 2018, writing poetry and founding a literary website for children. Jane blew my socks with her speech and poems at the award event at AWF – I posted both a few days ago.

 

 

Kim Hill and Harry Ricketts talk about his new book Winter Eyes – a book I think is his best yet. Harry and I are in the midst of a slowly unfolding email conversation that I will post soon.

 

 

Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf in conversation with Helen Heath

 

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Photo Credit: Victoria Birkinshaw

 

Helen Heath’s debut collection, Graft, won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book for Poetry Award. It was also shortlisted for the Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize (the first poetry or fiction shortlisted). Helen has a PhD in Creative Writing from Victoria University of Wellington’s IIML. Her new collection, Are Friends Electric, is a poetic smorgasbord that offers diverse and satisfying engagements. To celebrate the new book, Helen and I embarked on an unfolding email conversation.

 

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The large electric that is you

is like the help that is you and

the mouth and the associated

kiss. The source is kind, simply

loved. Turning, my bird, turning

to view a scratched course.

 

from ‘Greg and the bird’

 

 

A slowly unfolding email  conversation

 

Paula:  The first poem, ‘Reproach’, starts with the word ‘you’. It is like an open invitation to enter the book. The next word jump cuts to ‘poet’ and from there to a reading hunger:

 

You. Poet. You’re hungry to be read

 

It is the best opening, the most audacious opening, to a book I have read in ages. Then as the poem curves and folds you end up at the footnote and the origins of the poem’s found text. I am reminded of the unreliability of language to represent reality. Tell me about the challenges you lay in the opening line and your experiences with Plato’s Phaedrus.

 

Helen: Thank you, I’m so glad you think so. The opening line is a response to the feeling of despondency I sometimes get when writing: ‘What’s the point?! Who even reads this?! This will all get lost and forgotten in time!!’ There is a famous passage in Plato’s dialogue Phaedrus where Plato recounts Socrates rejecting the invention of writing, believing it will strip our ability to remember and thereby an essential part of our humanity. Of course, the irony is that we know this because Plato wrote it down. Writing was an early technology and a similar argument is often put forward against various kinds of modern technology, such as smartphones or the internet, claiming they harm the development of memory or social skills.

Nicholas Carr wrote a now famous article in The Atlantic in 2008: ‘Is Google Making Us Stupid? What the Internet is doing to our brains’, which he developed into his book The Shallows. Giovanni Tiso wrote a thoughtful response to it on his blog. Technology can’t be separated from culture, it’s a cultural artifact, like language. “We shape our tools and, thereafter, our tools shape us.” — John Culkin (1967). This all circles back to the anxieties of the opening line and, as you rightly point out, the unreliability of language to represent reality. The poem attempts to wrap up anxieties surrounding the fallibility of language and writing with central themes of the collection.

 

Paula: Fascinating. The act of writing is itself a way of remembering and negotiating what is hard, elusive, necessary, puzzling. The list could go on! There are a number of found poems in the collection that stage you as first reader then writer. What attracts you to them?

Helen: It became impossible to separate the research from the writing in this collection. This book can almost be seen as a journal of reading and cultural responses. I was writing my way through some big ideas, trying to come to some kind of personal understanding. ‘Thought in motion’ is a phrase that comes to mind.

The other aspect of the found poems is the concept of literary and cultural intertextuality and how that can be seen as an analogue translation of hypertext and the internet as form. I am interested in poems that weave connected and reoccurring themes and ideas through their collections. In this book the poems reference other texts, popular culture, and each other, and (I hope) build up the reader’s understanding of the collection’s thesis incrementally.

 

Paula:

 

I am a woman and

this is a bridge,

despite our vast differences

we are very much in love.

One of the most difficult

parts of being in love

with a public object

is that he and I can never

 

be truly intimate.

 

from ‘The objects of her desire’

 

Movement can be such a strength in a poem. A poem as ideas in motion is in such contrast to personal poetry. Yet what I love in your poems is the shifting voice, the conversational tones. Do the found poems also stage forms of ventriloquism?

Helen:  Yes, definitely. I went to a Masterclass with Kei Miller when he visited Wellington in 2014, many of his poems are based on research and I asked him what techniques he used to keep his poetry from getting bogged down in facts and getting stale. He said he tries to focus on voice in his work. I started experimenting with persona poems and found this shape-shifting quite addictive.

I see myself working in a feminist tradition ­­­– the use of persona and alternative memories plays an important role in feminist revisionist mythology. In addition, a modern, post-positivist, scientific approach acknowledges the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of removing the personal from narratives of knowledge; it acknowledges the importance of multiple voices and experiences. I wanted to reflect that in my work.

 

Paula:

 

(..) The city is constantly

under construction, so many empty spaces,

so many car parks, you can get lost

in your home town without familiar landmarks.

My google glass app returns the lost buildings

but they jiggle on my hand-held screen.

 

from ‘Run rabbit’

  

I also see a common thread of seeing, strolling, collecting, as though this is poet as bricoleur, as though the book is a cabinet of curious things? How does that resonate with you?

Helen:  Yes, I think that is a good description, especially of the first half of the collection. Although, I hope this ‘cabinet of curiosities’ builds into a narrative for the whole book.

 

Paula:

I ask if you would like a body.

You say, ‘No I’m beyond bodies now,

I’m ready to be fluid, spilling out all over.

I’m ready to spread myself so thin that I’m

a membrane over the world.’ I’m not ready.

I take off my socks and shoes and walk

over a patch of grass very slowly.

 

from ‘Spilling out all over’

 

You move into poems that link grief with the effect of technology upon our bodies. Again there is a carousel of voices that may or may not be invented or borrowed but they make you feel something. What was driving you as you wrote these poems?

Helen:  My brother-in-law was dying of cancer while I wrote the collection and that had a profound impact on my work. I was watching my sister and her children go through this devastating loss while I was researching new technologies. The voices aren’t their voices directly, they are invented, but they are deeply influenced by this experience.

 

Paula: That’s interesting. The way writing can absorb things so it is there hiding in the ink. Were you bringing yourself in close as you wrote or keeping at a little more distance?

 Helen:  The first half of the collection is probably more curious and observational. The second half, while still observed (yet invented) is definitely more personal to me. The collection attempts to zoom in from observer to participant as you read through it.

Paula:  Yes I got that shift. And in a way the second half reflects and refracts back on the first. Did you need a particular place to write the poems?

Helen: I guess it was a particular headspace rather than a physical space. I was deeply immersed in the research and the writing, it was all consuming. Physically, I wrote wherever I could: at home, at varsity, on retreat, on the train, in bed…

Paula: The book is so complex, and satisfies so many layers for the reader, what did it do for you as writer?

 Helen: Haha, it completely did my head in!

 

Paula: Were there any poetry books you read as you were writing this that tilted things for you? Or simply filled you were awe or admiration?

Helen: I was reading everything I could of Jo Shapcott, Jorie Graham and Deryn Rees-Jones. Jo Shapcott doesn’t write about technology but she is what I would describe as a science poet who creates poems as thought experiments and deeply considers embodiment. I stumbled across Fleur Adcock’s 1971 speculative poem ‘Gas’ for the first time while writing this book, I found it disturbing and exciting. Similarly I was thrilled by Welsh poet Deryn Rees-Jones’ book length poem Quiver (2004) – a speculative murder mystery involving a clone – it’s fantastic.

 

Paula: Is there a poem that particularly works for you?

Helen:  I’m going to cheat and name three for different reasons. The poem that is the most personal is ‘A rise of starlings’, which is for my sister. I feel my heart crack open when I read it. ‘The Anthropocene’ is a poem, or lyric essay, which I think works because of the way it circles around a subject, attempting and failing to nail it neatly. Finally, I kind of love ‘Greg and the bird’ because it is the whole book scrambled then distilled into one poem that is meaningful and meaningless at the same time.

Paula: Yes, and all three are quite different.  Perhaps the connective tissue is what I might call a humane fluency.  ‘A rise of starlings’, for example, is mesmerising – both still yet full of movement. It is a poem that catches in your throat as you read.

 

Orion loosens his belt

in our own night sky. You

have drawn new maps

across the darkness, through

wild celestial fields, tracing

messages to me in particles

of dust and light.

 

from ‘A rise of starlings’

 

This was such a pleasure Helen, talking poetry, thank you.

 

Victoria University Press page

Helen Heath website

New Zealand Book Council author page

 

 

 

 

In the hammock: Reading Landfall 235

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Landfall 235 launches Emma Neale as the new editor. The cover aptly features ‘The House Party’; Kathryn Madill’s monoprint is strange and seductive with sunken black space and textured skin. It is like a poem that tempts and then holds you in an intricate grip. There is a Madill sequence inside that is equally sumptuous, surprising, lyrical.

This is an addictive issue – think of it as a musical composition that carries you through diverse and distinctive reading effects across an arc from first poem to final story. I do hope more Pasifika, Māori and Asian poets send in submissions for the next issue to increase the diversity of voice.

The two visual sequences (by Madill and photogapher Russ Flatt) are stunning. Flatt’s photographs reconstruct memories from the ‘subconscious grief’ and experience of growing up gay in Auckland in 1970s and 1980s. Wow. This is the power of art to take you some place that transcends ideas and feeling but that is ideas and feeling.

Landfall 235 also includes the winner of the Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Competition,  Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor, fiction (including a keenly observed piece by Airini Beautrais) and reviews. It welcomes established elders such as Elizabeth Smither and Bernadette Hall and barely published authors such as Sarah Scott and James Tremlett.

 

 

Here are a few poetry highlights:

Tracey Slaughter has turned from her dark, edgy must-read fiction to poetry. She was recently shortlisted for the 2018 Peter Porter Poetry Prize and I can see why. Her poem, ‘the mine wife’, with short-line fluidity, fictional momentum building, spiky detail, gritty feeling, is all about voice. A vulnerable, risking, space clearing, ‘self’ admitting voice:

 

the hand is a useless

surface for showing

the love it takes

to clear a path. Under

layers you wait for me to sift

your face from its mask.

 

from ‘the mine wife’

 

Lynley Edmeades‘ list poem, ‘The Age of Reason’, kicks off from Jean Paul Sartre’s title to move from ‘longing’ to ‘baby’, scooping up Simone de Beauvoir on the way, and all the staccato thoughts that propel a micro portrait: because why because how because who. I adore this!

 

Because fear of death

Because a dog might do

Because antidepressants

Because déjà vu

Because the trees

Because the population

Because plastic

 

from ‘The Age of Reason’

 

‘A Love Letter to My Mother: A work in progress’ by Wen-Juenn Lee is layered and probing and direct. I am wanting to read the whole work:

 

She takes astronomy classes at night.

I do not ask her why she stargazes

what she looks for              in the oily darkness

we go to a poetry reading on migrant women

I do not tell her

I remember her crying on the plane

 

from ‘A Love Letter to My Mother: A work in progress’

 

Nick Ascroft’s playful word shenanigans in ‘A Writer Wrongs’ are a delicious shift in key as rhyme binds  writer, hater and waiter:

 

So my fish is pallid.

So there’s a little pebble in my freekeh salad.

Is it necessary a balladeer batters

out a ballad?

 

from ‘A Writer Wrongs’

 

I haven’t encountered Rachel Connor‘s poetry before. She is a medievalist and a  postgraduate student in Otago University’s Department of English. I want to read more of her poetry! Her poem, ‘Home’, captivates with its quirky tropes and agile pivots upon ‘swan’:

 

A swan like a carved radish kickstarts its way across the water.

It should be easier

to temper my words and make iron gates of them,

to remember the names picked out in gold

that echo a memorial garden.

 

from ‘Home’

 

Tim Vosper offers my favourite ending in ‘The False Way to the Real’

 

When it comes time to kill the lamp

the leaf will turn into a shade.

 

from ‘The False Way to the Real’

 

I am fan of Sugar Magnolia Wilson’s poetry and have fingers crossed she gets a book out soon. ‘Betty as a Boy’ is lush with detail and movement:

 

And you, outside the upmarket  grocer’s, camouflaged top, khaki pants

slashed with a silk of red, a backpack strung with things that clink,

disappearing into your androgyny— the inverse of a newly minted drag queen,

appearing like a flaming comet, burning to be noticed.

 

from ‘Betty as a Boy’

 

Here is another unfamiliar poet I want to see a collection from. Susan Wardell’s poem pulsates with glorious surprising life. I will quote a piece but I urge you to read the whole thing: place rich, lithely troped, visually sparking, enigmatic, humane.  I am drawn to the voice, to the word hunger, to the portrait built.

 

They say

when meaning is gone, all that is left

is the grain

of the voice.

 

Well, hers sweeps the room like salt-flecked taffeta.

 

from ‘Grain of her Voice’

 

Writing journals, literary journals open up new avenues of reading and engagement. Landfall 235 is no exception. I have not finished, I have not yet read the reviews and all the fiction, but congratulations Emma Neale, you have taken the literary torch from David Eggleton, and the boost he gave, and turned your astute editorial eye to our advantage. I have new poets I am keen to track  down. I have seen familiar poets with fresh eyes. Kind of like a poetry house party in my head.

 

Landfall page

You can also go to the Landfall Exhibition if you live in Dunedin. Opening is Thursday May 25 at 5.30 pm.

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