Monthly Archives: November 2018

Maitreyabandhu in conversation with Jenny Bornholdt and Bill Manhire

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Maitreyabandhu, from the London Buddhist Centre, will be in conversation with Jenny Bornholdt and Bill Manhire about their life and work, New Zealand and the purpose of poetry.

City Gallery Wellington, Te Ngākau Civic Square
Tuesday 18 December, 6pm-7.30pm

All welcome. Donation entry to help cover venue costs.

Books will be for sale courtesy of Vic Books.

A poem from Leonard Lambert’s new collection: Winter Waves

 

The Dolphin Badge

 

In a carton in a corner of a drawer

I came across a badge, sky-blue, the size of a coin:

for proficiency in the pool,

the Dolphin Badge, the dream of years, the grail . . .

 

And so, or so it seems to me,

the odd dishonour of discarded things, their sad dismay,

is maybe telling us life is too fast

for the right living of it;

and maybe too in some scrambled dawn

the notion might come

of a press of tiny judgements,

some essential fabric torn.

 

©Leonard Lambert from Winter Waves (Cold Hub Press, 2018)

 

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Leonard Lambert is a long-established NZ poet with a publication history stretching from A Washday Romance (John McIndoe, 1980) to Somewhere in August: Selected Poems 1969-2016 (Steele Roberts, 2016). He is represented in Essential NZ Poems (2003 and 2014), Swings & Roundabouts (2008), and Poems from the Pantry (2017). Between poems he paints beautiful and mysterious works which he exhibits regularly in Hastings and in his home town of Napier.

 

Reading ‘brief 56’

 

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After all manner of ‘changes, transformations, alterations, mutations, re-orderings, transfigurations, conversions, variations, reorganisations, evolutions, metamorphoses, modifications and reconstructions’ Brief has re-emerged.

Olivia Macassey remains editor and  the issue is dedicated to Jill Chan, poet and writer (1973 – 2018).

This is a journal where writers play with what words on the page do but not to the point they are denied heart, art or musical impact. The reading effects are multiple. Take essa may ranapiri – with their spiky yet lyrical movements from body to more body (desirable?) to falling lark to unsated tabby.

In Brief‘s pages words are inclined to go bold, stretch out or drift and float on the white space of reading. Loren Thomas’s ‘Wrists’ ( I have not read her before!) offers friendship links, bracelets and then pulls that into question with the white-space hiccups in the middle.

Then again you might delight in John Downie’s poetry sequence; it’s built along a time line in stanzas hugging the left-hand margin and a strong sense of narrative. It may be autobiography or invention but I look forward to the forthcoming book with accompanying images it is taken from: The Only Time: an autobiography in twelve pictures.

The mark of a good journal is that it keeps you moving through diverse and distinctive fascinations. I move from the single breath piece by Carin Smeaton (‘what to do with them all’) that I just want to hear read aloud to the agile wit of Nick Ascroft’s ‘Bring Me a Pie’ (just love this couplet: ‘pull itself through the spitty drizzle,/ the rice pudding of town’).

I delight in the tropical heat of Lisa Samuels where words block out the immediate world because it is just you and the poem and you want to set up residence. I am thinking tropical because her writing shimmers in ways that are both intensely real and satisfyingly unreal.

Then again there is the audacious imagination of Chris Stewart’s ‘My father is an elephant’ that reads like a strange and wonderful children’s story written for adults:

 

I have a grey memory

of my father the elephant.

His ears brushed the dust

on my mother, but I never

heard his trumpet fountain

any water when her skin was dry.

 

I checked his bio and he won The Margaret Mahy Prize at the Hagley Writers’ Institute in Christchurch. I can see why. His poems have appeared in multiple journals but it is clearly now time for a collection!

I have barely scratched the surface because my fascinations include writing by Iain Britton, John Adams, Vaughan Rapatahana, Jack Ross, Erik Kennedy, Bronwyn Lloyd.  I am super conscious that the issue is so varied in direction and intent that a reader will find quite different points to linger over with heart and intellect on diverse settings.

I am a fan of literary journals because at their best they reacquaint  me with old favourites, introduce new voices, make me hungry for more and most importantly, make me want to write. brief 56 is no exception.

 

Dust to Dust

 

Five hundred years from now,

we’ll, of course, be dead.

Perhaps archaeologists

will unearth our bodies

and miss our minds.

How they will dare to think.

What will they find of us ?

What does the heart leave behind

that is not buried,

that is not saved?

 

Jill Chan

 

 

 

 

 

Brief 56 page

John Dwnie’s poem and colour reproductions

 

2019 Peter Porter Poetry Prize now open for entries

Australian Book Review welcomes entries in the fifteenth Peter Porter Poetry Prize. The Porter Prize, which is worth a total of AU$8,500, is open until 3 December 2018.

The Porter Prize is one of Australia’s most lucrative and respected awards for poetry. It honours the life and work of the great Australian poet Peter Porter (1929–2010), an honoured contributor to ABR for many years. All poets writing in English are eligible to enter.

First Prize: AU$5,000 and Arthur Boyd’s etching and aquatint The lady and the unicorn, 1975
Second Prize: AU$2,000
Three other shortlisted poets: AU$500 each

Judges: Judith Bishop, John Hawke, Paul Kane.

Entries close at midnight 3 December 2018

Entries must be an original single-authored poem of not more than 75 lines written in English. Poems must not have been previously published or on offer to other prizes or publications for the duration of the Porter Prize. The five shortlisted poems will be published in the March 2019 issue and the winner will be announced at a ceremony later that month.

Click here for more information about past winners and to read their poems.

More details here

 

 

 

Monday Poem: Steven Toussaint’s ‘The Neoplatonist Theatre’

 

THE NEOPLATONIST THEATRE

 

 

In the neoplatonist theatre

audience exists, a couple

 

of victims of the new

conscription, waiving

 

all their outrage,

waiting in the cockpit.

 

One’s a former gallery

serf, feeding frozen

 

grapes to animals

not born to work

 

their mandibles that way.

One expresses gently

 

the gland whence prayers

discharge, a man

 

who sits and glares

at his companion, lost

 

in the foreignness

and novelty of names

 

his gland would praise

but can’t forgive.

 

Some overeager, out-

of-tune apologist

 

announces tea

and biscuits in the vestibule.

 

Neither budge, rooted

in middlebrow certainty

 

that a single righteous

and timely volume

 

of samizdat applause, lodged

like a socket wrench

 

in the uptake, would stay

the launch of a still

 

more secretive

and stylized soliloquy.

 

©Steven Toussaint

 

Steven Toussaint was born in Chicago in 1986. His books include Fiddlehead (Compound Press, 2014) and The Bellfounder (The Cultural Society, 2015). He lives with his wife, the writer Eleanor Catton, in Auckland.

5 readings from VUP’s Short Poems of New Zealand

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Short Poems of New Zealand, edited by Jenny Bornholdt, Victoria University Press, 2018

 

 

 

Angela Andrews reads ‘Grandparents’

 

 

 

Tusiata Avia reads  ‘Waiting for my  brother’

 

 

 

Lynley Edmeades reads ‘The Order of Things’

 

 

 

Brian Turner reads ‘Sky’

 

 

 

 

Albert Wendt reads ‘Night’

 

 

 

VUP page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poet Alice Miller is the winner of the Landfall Essay Competition 2018

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Alice Miller, a New Zealand writer based in Germany, is the winner of the Landfall Essay Competition 2018.

Her winning entry ‘The Great Ending’ impressed with “its teeming yet elegantly controlled catalogue of international and national, Pākehā and Māori historical events”, says competition judge and Landfall editor Emma Neale.

Alice Miller says her essay began to write itself about five years ago, when she was working on another project about the home front.

“It is indebted to the National Library’s amazing Papers Past archive, which I quietly believe is one of the best things on the internet.”

The judge’s report noted her essay stood out for the lyricism of the prose, which “glided from moments of understated comedy to those of stark horror”.

“The essay uses the catalogue and a lyrical style to evoke complexity and simultaneity — it achieves both lament and a kind of guarded eulogy. It lifts its focus to the retreating horizon of history, pulling it closer in the way it colours the telling with plangent grace,” says Emma Neale.

Second prize winner was Susan Wardell’s ‘Shining Through the Skull’ and third place was awarded to Sam Keenan’s ‘Bad Girls’.

There were two highly commended essays: ‘Aquae Populus’ by Toby Buck and ‘That’s Not a Māori Name: Penelope Fitzgerald’s Aotearoan adventure’, by Derek Schulz.

A further five essayists were commended: Bryan Walpert (‘One Eye Open’), Justine Whitfield (‘The Klimt Bubbles’), Kirsteen Ure (‘Puriri Moth’), Jocelyn Prasad (‘Uncut Cloth’) and Nadine Hura (‘A Thing of the Heart’).

Alice Miller wins $3000 and a year’s subscription to Landfall.

The winning entries will be published in Landfall 236, available later this month. Landfall is published by Otago University Press.

Around 90 anonymous entries were received in this year’s competition, an increase of around a third on the 2017 competition.

For more information about the Landfall Essay Prize and past winners, go here

Alice Miller’s new poetry collection, Nowhere Nearer, is published by Auckland University Press and Liverpool University Press.

See my interview with Alice here