Monthly Archives: March 2019

Poetry Shelf audio: Marty Smith reads ‘Hat’

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Marty Smith reads ‘Hat’ from Horse with a Hat, Victoria University Press, 2014

 

 

 

‘This is the kind of territory they were all locked together in. Here are the hills, and this is how they went to work.Left to right: Garth Smith (Dad) on Misty; Fiona Allpass on Poo: Marty Smith on Blackie: Bill Champion on Tiny: Chrissy Champion on Pet, and Paul Smith on Trixie.’ Marty on the photograph
Marty has given up teaching and administering literary events to work full time on writing a non-fiction book about what it takes to work in the racing industry and how and why people do. Her research involves regularly watching morning track work at the Hastings racecourse and betting at the TAB.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf noticeboard: A letter from Verb Wellington

Exciting news for Wellington and beyond! A truck load of cool initiatives.

 

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Welcome to Verb Wellington

Kia ora! We have some exciting news … LitCrawl Wellington is evolving. As a LitCrawl follower we are thrilled to let you know that LitCrawl Wellington is now part of a larger structure that we have lovingly named, Verb Wellington. You can read more about it below and also on our Verb Blog on the website.

Verb Wellington is:
Verb Festival: An annual writers festival featuring the famous LitCrawl. The dates are 6 – 10 November 2019 with the LitCrawl on 9 November.

Verb Events: We are presenting international writers throughout the year and have a number of great experiences coming up, including Helen Zaltzman (The Allusionist podcast), John Boyne (Irish novelist of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) and UK performance poet Luke Wright. For details and tickets see Verb Events here.

Verb Residencies: we are supporting Aotearoa writers with residency experiences to encourage and nurture their work. Read more about those here.

Verb Collaborations: we are excited to be partnering with other organisations to deliver literary events. Read more about those here.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO LITCRAWL, THEN?
Don’t worry – LitCrawl is still here! It’s all set for Saturday 9 November and is now part of Verb Festival which runs between 6 – 10 November and is made by the same people that create LitCrawl. We celebrate Aotearoa talent with international guests and we can’t wait to launch the programme in September.

Thank you for following us and supporting LitCrawl over the past five years. We are very excited about the future with Verb Wellington set to bring you memorable experiences with writers, conversations and ideas, in Wellingtonian places that you love.

Aroha nui,

The Verb Wellington team.

 

Website here

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf Classic Poem: Kate Camp picks Lauris Edmond’s ‘Camping’

 

Camping

 

Do you remember how we woke

to the first bird in that awkward pine

behind the ablution block, and leaned

across the knotted ground to lift

the canvas as though it was

the wall of the world

and ourselves at the heart of it

lying together

with the fresh grass against our faces

and the early air sweet beyond all telling –

 

do you sometimes look still

into that startled darkness

and hear the bird,

as I do?

 

When we drove away I looked back always

to the flattened yellow grass

to see the exact map of our imagining

our built universe

for a week

and saw that it was just earth

and faced the natural sky.

 

We took with us the dark pine

and the blackbird

and dew beside our foreheads

as we woke

 

and now we live apart

and I don’t know where they are.

 

 

Lauris Edmond  (from New & Selected Poems, Oxford University Press, 1991)

Posted with kind permission from the Lauris Edmond Estate.

 

 

From Kate Camp: It feels a bit odd that this is such a favourite poem of mine, because of the pun with my name. But the image of the flattened grass hit me with such power when I first read it, and does every time I revisit it. There is so much to love about the poem – its sensuality, its unashamed romanticism, and of course (being Lauris Edmond) its absolutely killer ending.

I remember Lauris saying to me once that she felt a poem should end like the shutting of a car door, from which I took a sense of satisfying and substantial closure, a rightness. I didn’t know Lauris well but she had a way of talking, and of reading her poems, as if she was slightly surprised by each individual word. I hear that cadence when I read the poem.

But of course the best thing about this poem is the ablution block. It’s such an ugly, unlikely thing to find in a poem, both the thing itself and the awkward “no one has ever said it” tone of the phrase. You know this is a found piece of language off some battered sign of the camp ground, and that lends the whole poem a down home, unpretentious feeling, that lets her get away with the romantic flourish of the “early air sweet beyond all telling.”

The other thing I love about this poem is how, like one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, it’s really a kind of sly testimony to the power of poetry – and of this particular poet – to capture and immortalise. It ends “I don’t know where they are” but of course we do know where they are, the bird and the pine and the dew are here in this poem. Wherever the poem’s protagonists and landscapes are, however lost to time and mortality, the poet has saved them here.

I think that’s why for me this melancholy poem is one that leaves me with a sense of exhilaration, even triumphalism – because when the car door of the poem closes, I sense the power of the poet in the driver’s seat.

 

 

Kate Camp is a Wellington-born essayist and poet, with six collections of poetry published by Victoria University Press. She has also written essays and memoir. Unfamiliar Legends of the Stars won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book of Poetry Award (1999), and The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls won the New Zealand Post Book Award for Poetry (2011). Snow White’s Coffin was shortlisted for the award in 2013, and The internet of things was longlisted in 2018. She has received the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writer’s Residency (2011) and the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship (2017). Her essay ‘I wet my pants’ was a finalist in the Landfall essay competition in 2018.

 

Lauris Edmond wrote poetry, novels, short stories, stage plays, autobiography and edited several books, including ARD Fairburn letters. She published over fifteen volumes of poetry, including several anthologies, and a CD, The Poems of Lauris Edmond, was released in 2000. Her debut collection, In Middle Air, written in her early fifties, won the PEN NZ Best First Book of the Year (1975) while Selected Poems won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (1985). She received numerous awards including the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship (1981), an OBE for Services to Poetry and Literature (1986), an Honorary DLitt from Massey University (1988). Edmond was a founder of New Zealand Books. The Lauris Edmond Memorial Award was established in her name. Her daughter, Frances Edmond, and poet, Sue Fitchett, published, Night Burns with a White Fire: The Essential Lauris Edmond, a selection of her poems in 2017.