Monthly Archives: July 2020

Poetry Shelf review – Craig Foltz’s Locals Only: An outsider’s insider perspective on Aotearoa

 

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Craig Foltz Locals Only: An outsider’s insider perspective on Aotearoa

Compound Press, 2020

 

 

 

 

You could think of Craig Foltz’s poetry collection Locals Only as a guidebook to place, unlike any other guidebook you have read, that takes sustenance in small and large pieces, in continuity and fragmentation. In steps and stones, and in stepping stones to here and elsewhere.

 

Each poem in this book responds to a specific area or regionally significant feature—filtered through the imagined lenses of the people who would be most familiar with it. Mountain passes, rocky outcrops & headlands. Pathways that have been drawn & erased by multiple civilisations. In other words, exactly those things that are unable to be located in the drivers atlas.

 

The title of each poem is broken in half, half at the start and half at the end, like a broken shell revealing its interior, like a broken journey – as though any movement through place will involve an accumulation of random engagements, never seamless, rich in fascination.

The poet of this collection is both traveller and self-proclaimed outsider. Craig moved here from the States over fifteen years ago, and this book has been slow in the making. No fleeting road trip. I also see the poet as philosopher. The travelling songbird. The cartographer. The cataloguer. The memoirist. The inventor.

How fitting – when we are living with new travel limits – to take a poetry road trip through Aotearoa, north to south, east to north, west to south, coastline to plains. On the left hand side the little map, on the right hand side the poem.

How fitting in these uncomfortable times to pick a place and go travelling.

Sometimes the poet’s sentences are discrete appearances, like the flash of bird out of the corner of one’s eye, like a jumpidity mind settling on this and that when you are away from home.

The silence of language is not necessarily lemony.

 

At other times there is a little flurry of bouncy links whether alliteration, assonance or theme:

 

The vocabulary love is the vocabulary of hardware

supplies. Cotter pins. Rub screws. Tube

cutters. Soft bamboo fencing. There is a pancake

house where one cannot order pancakes. Moreover,

there is spiritual degradation & forward momentum,

but no purchase with the ground. It rains,

 

from ‘Wave—’

 

Things are porous: the landscape as blotting paper, the sentence as sponge, the eye as fickle hoarder, the maps wide open.

Pronouns are equally mobile. I love the way ‘you’ is on the move, and I feel like I’m invited to step into the active pronoun, and getting imagining and contributing. Not just a passive back-seat passenger.

 

(…) One of the volcanoes has

the tendency to explode unexpectedly. Whenever it does

we walk down to the harbour & join the rest of the city in

celebration. What is one to do? The poem calls for

a cheerful input at that point, so we trudge along. The sieve

of my dreams has opened up again revealing itself in pink

salts & home recording studio devices. If there is one lasting

image this is it. Snapper patrol the shores while kowhai

are in bloom. Imagine yourself floating in the water alongside

the bloated corpses of your neighbours, jabbing their torsos

to see how much elasticity the tissue of their skin retains.

 

from ‘Sugar—’

 

I love the way reading this collection mimics travel. Many of the poems host a triptych of words: three words alliterating like a picnic spot in the poem (‘Tendon. Tender. Tendrils.’). This is staccato reading. I keep stalling to peer through the windows of a poem. I gather echoes and the jumpstart my own connections. I am in the Hokianga breathing in the salty air, the hefty dunes, the deep-set spirituality.

 

Italo Calvino’s groundbreaking Invisible Cities is anywhere and everywhere in its openness, but it is also specifically Venezia (not that we know that as we read). I mention this, because Anna Gurton-Wachter mentions Italo’s novel and its anywhereness in her endorsement of Locals Only. Craig manages both to open up specific places for us to claim for our own personal roadmaps and also to offer physical anchors that make place a definite point on the map.

Nikki-Lee Birdsey, Ellie Ga and Alison Glenny have also written striking endorsements for the collection. As Nikki-Lee says, Locals Only suggests ‘the act of expression is still an act of hope’. As with any travel, there is wonder, awe, reflection that is as much about language as it is about geography.

Questions arise. They always do on road trips. What does ‘outsider’ status preclude? Who becomes insider? Is travel weighted towards the imagined? Does the act of expression also signpost place as threatened, built on generational narratives as much as valleys and bush?

I am reminded of the dense-thicket poetry of Lisa Samuels that demands an equal if somewhat different series of travel routes.  Lyrical. Connection rich. Fractured. Complex. Self confessional. Self reserved. Visually potent. Language loving. Intellectually textured. Endlessly diverting as any good road trip ought to be. I am picturing diversion signs, because I pick up the collection and started reading, and am diverted off route, and find myself daydreaming.

 

 

Craig Foltz (US/NZ) is an artist and writer who has lived in Auckland for almost two decades. He has previously released two books on Ugly Duckling Presse.

His website is divided into parts of speech.

Compound Press page

Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Our Own Devices Poetry Night (Grace, Ken, Mohammed)

 

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Artist Bios:
Mohamed Hassan is an award-winning poet and journalist from Cairo and Auckland. He was the 2015 NZ National Poetry Slam Champion, and his upcoming collection NATIONAL ANTHEM will be released by Dead Bird Books in 2020.
Grace Iwashita-Taylor, breathing bloodlines of Samoa, England and Japan. An artist of upu/words led her to the world of theatre. Dedicated to carving, elevating and holding spaces for storytellers of Te Moana nui a Kiwa. Recipient of the CNZ Emerging Pacific Artist 2014 and the Auckland Mayoral Writers Grant 2016, Writer in residence at the University of Hawaii 2018, Co-Founder of the Rising Voices and the South Auckland Poets Collective and published collections Afakasi Speaks & Full Broken Bloom. Writer of MY OWN DARLING and Curator of UPU (Auckland Arts Festival 2020).
Ken Arkind is a writer, performer, and US National Poetry Slam Champion who has performed at festivals, universities, and venues across the world. He has appeared in the Huffington Post, RNZ, The Denver Post, NBA.com, and HBO. Ken is the author of the poetry collection ‘Coyotes’ (Penmanship Books 2014) and currently works as a Poet and Youth Development Worker for Action Education.
Artwork for the show was done by the talented

Michael Zhang

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Portion of all Door Sales go to Auckland Pride – Where it Matters Boosted Campaign.
NOTICE WITH REGARDS TO COVID-19 COMMUNITY SAFETY –
The performers and venue are committed to best practice when it comes to the safety of our community. Should there be a change in policy or levels, in regards to Covid-19, we will adjust accordingly. If you are feeling unwell, please consider the health and wellbeing of others before attending this event.

 

Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Solid Air Launch Aotearoa

 

 

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Solid Air Launch Aotearoa

Date: Friday 31 July 2020, 5:30pm to 8pm
Cost: Free event.
Contact details: events.natlib@dia.govt.nz
Part of thePūkanaseries

 

Experience a literary launch of some of Aotearoa’s most vibrant performance poets, who are all featured in the ground-breaking new spoken word anthology, ‘Solid Air – Australia & New Zealand Spoken Word’.

Experience a literary line-up

Celebrate the premiere NZ launch of the ground breaking ‘Solid Air: Australia & New Zealand Spoken Word’ anthology. You’re invited to experience a literary line-up launch of some of Aotearoa’s most vibrant poets and spoken word artists.

The event will be MC’d by Michaela Keeble and will feature Solid Air contributors:

  • Anahera Gildea
  • Ben Brown
  • Tayi Tibble
  • Jahra Wasasala
  • Te Kahu Rolleston
  • Jordan Hamel
  • Laniyuk Kuyinal
  • Laura Jean McKay
  • Hinemoana Baker
  • Tusiata Avia
  • Ariana Tikao

 

Poetry Shelf review of Solid Air

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf poets on their own poems: David Eggleton reads and responds to ‘Heraldry’

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Eggleton reads ‘Heraldry’ from Time of the Icebergs (Otago University Press 2011). This poetry performance video was recorded live by musician and film-maker Richard C. Wallis on July 10, 2020 in Waikouaiti, Otago.

 

 

A Note on ‘Heraldry’

In the 1940s, while living in New Zealand, the novelist wrote of yesterday’s newspapers flapping like hooked flounder in the gutters — as if alive, but grotesque and surreal. That’s one starting point  for this poem, the days when the heraldry of the printed newspaper brought messages and proclamations to the towns and farms. My poem “Heraldry’ is a kind of bricolage, assembling assorted emblems and badges of contemporary nationhood into patterns that might be hyperbolic headlines or vatic pronouncements.

In the 1960s, the North Shore poet Kendrick Smithyman characterised poetry as ‘ a way of saying’, meaning that poetry is stylised utterance, a tranced vocalising first and foremost. And so the herald, like a town crier, or street corner preacher, or any stand and deliver  blowhard really, has an aspect of the orating poet.

As the poet in this video, I take my authority from its chanted measure, its off-beat rhymes, its curious images. Voicing this poem, I am the hoarse whisperer of poetic observations caught in bright sunlight, an almost transparent medium, and fluttering like a drab moth in pursuit of some elusive scent. Like a no-budget imitation version of an urbane David Attenborough or a gesticulating David Bellamy, David Eggleton delivers his dramatic monologue to camera while advancing through a mock-wilderness of vegetation and trying not to slip down any conjured-up rabbit hole: ‘Not I, but some child born in a marvellous year will learn the trick of standing upright here.’

I am deep in the cactus and prowling down the side of a house in rural North Otago, all the while orating as if I have indeed found rich pickings in the discarded totems and tokens of Kiwiana, while distant bird song burbles its native wood-notes wild and a chainsaw revs up.

This poem appeared in my collection Time of the Icebergs (Otago University Press 2011), and has also featured as a Phantom Billstickers Poster Poem.

 

David Eggleton is a Dunedin-based writer, critic and poet. His most recent collection of poetry is Edgeland and Other Poems, with artwork by James Robinson, published by Otago University Press in 2018. He is the current Aotearoa New Zealand Poet Laureate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf video spot: Rebecca Hawkes’s ‘Perendale Princess’

 

 

 

Rebecca Hawke’s ‘Perendale Princess’

 

 

Rebecca Hawkes is a poet and painter. She’s from a high country farm near Methven and is now living in Wellington. Rebecca’s poems have appeared in various journals, including Starling, Sport, and Sweet Mammalian – and on her website. A collection of her writing was published in August 2019 in the revival issue of the AUP New Poets series, alongside the work of Carolyn DeCarlo and Sophie van Waardenberg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Simone Kaho’s ‘Crane Fly’

 

Crane Fly

 

I’ve been in the bathroom with a flying daddy-long-legs thing locked in a battle for its life.
I saw it on a shower floor tile when I was showering.
A leggy bug fossil, squashed flat by water.
I told myself it was dead but couldn’t resist checking and it grabbed the toothbrush handle I held over its body.
So, I flicked it out of the shower and told myself It’ll sort itself out.
I checked when I got out.
It was lying in a wing and leg jumble, glued together with an iridescent water drop.
Still alive though, because it grabbed at the toothbrush again.
So I lifted it up to the windowsill, and it staggered upright-ish.
I saw it only had one back leg on the right, jabbing down to steady itself.
Three legs in total. It should have six.
But its struggles made it seem saveable, so I ripped off a single toilet paper square and touched the wings lightly and quickly.
That sucked the wetness up, but they were stuck together along its back, like wet cellophane but infinitely more fragile.
It wiggled its abdomen and wing joints like it was trying to fly.
That made me sad, that it wanted to fly, and couldn’t, and didn’t know why.
So, I separated the wings by running closed tweezers between the veiny transparent panels, then gently letting them open.
Oil glistened in my fingerprint troughs, which were larger than the wing veins.
If you try this yourself – don’t grab and pull the wings with tweezers.
I never closed the tweezers on a wing – it was all very indirect and slow.
After a few passes, its wings sprung apart.
It buzzed them and flew haphazardly back into the shower.
Which was clearly not a safe space.
So I walked it onto some toilet paper and put it on top of the mirror cabinet to calm down.
Later, in the middle of the night, I checked, and it was gone.
I bet it’s flown into a spider web I thought and looked in a corner of the room.
Sure enough, there it was, hanging in a web.
I counted the legs to be sure. Two fronts, one back.
There was no spider in the web so I pulled it out and laid it on the window beside the toilet in a cobwebby pile.
My cat thought about eating it but didn’t.
Its legs were stuck together, so I got the tweezers again and separated each leg, pinching cob web strands and slowly pulling, aware the web may be stronger than the legs.
Each time I pulled, I thought This leg might snap.
It’s not like there were legs to spare.
We got lucky.
After several minutes of tweezing the legs got free and it could even lift them and they didn’t stick to the window ledge.
I set it on a piece of toilet paper outside the window – thinking – Hey man, the bathroom isn’t safe. Go die outside.
It was pretty cold outside.
After I did my business, I noticed the toilet paper had blown away.
So, I mouthed Goodbye and Goodluck.
But when I went to shut the window the dude was quivering there, on the window frame, standing the right way up on his front two legs, the back one propped under like a lopsided tripod.
I shut the window and left him there.
Maybe he wants to die and I’m getting in the way.
Maybe none of the ways he’s been dying has been fast enough.
There’s too much waiting to die in an awkward tangle, so he battles to live, to find a better, quicker way.
Or maybe this is just how life is for a flying-daddy-long-legs in the bathroom.
How could I know?
I know I felt great success each time he made it through.
He’s a tough little bugger, although unspeakably vulnerable, directionless, and with no clue how to stay safe.

 

Simone Kaho

 

Simone Kaho is a Tongan / Pākehā poet who writes discontinuous narratives in poetry. She has a Masters from Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters. Her first book, Lucky Punch, was published by Anahera Press in 2016, The second will hopefully arrive in 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Invitation to Jackson Nieuwland’s poetry book launch

 

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Invitation to Jackson Nieuwland’s poetry book launch hosted by Compound Press

 

Friday, August 7, 2020 at 6 PM – 7:30 PM   Unity Books Wellington
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🤯 You thought you knew who you were, and then you attended the book launch for I Am
A Human Being by Jackson Nieuwland… Suddenly, everything seemed possible.
👾 Join us for an evening of transformative poetry launching the debut collection of one
of Aotearoa’s most exciting emerging poets.
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Poetry Shelf noticeboard: The Kotahitanga Projects stand against racism

The Kotahitanga projects were uploaded last week and were launched in Kirikiriroa on Tuesday 14th.

 

Waikato artists are championing the fight for unity through works of art that speak powerful messages of hurt, sorrow, hope and strength. The creative works aim to spark crucial conversations against racism and fuel the narrative for kotahitanga

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Poetry Shelf poem: Paula Green’s ‘Twisted Citrus’

 

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Twisted Citrus

 

I have ordered a box of oranges

lovingly picked from the Gisborne trees

to juice with apples lemon and ginger

 

because my throat is spiked with nitpicking negativity

from politicians underplaying our collective successes

and overplaying our minor failures

 

because my heart is missing beats

at the thought of politicians opening borders

without defining safely

 

because my knees are weakened

by a woman claiming herself as the colour white

and that swamps don’t matter

 

because my head distrusts a leader

prepared to smash and grab

in order to gain power and get the country back

 

because I can’t sleep

because our safety might be under threat

because human decency is even more so

 

because

and so

 

I will unpack the box of oranges

and place in a glass bowl so their winter

goodness shines through

 

Paula Green