Author Archives: Paula Green

Given Words poetry competition for National Poetry Day 2017 – the winners

 

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Given Words is delighted to announce the winners of the ‘Given Words’ poetry competition for National Poetry Day 2017.

The winner of Best Poem is Elizabeth Brooke-Carr for her poem All this and the winner of the Under-16 category is Hannah Earl for her poem A Magical Visit.

They will receive a copy of the New Zealand Poetry Yearbook 2017, courtesy of Massey University Press, and Lonesome When You Go by Saradha Koirala, courtesy of Mākaro Press, respectively, and their poems have been translated into Spanish and published on Palabras Prestadas. They will also be included in the forthcoming collection ‘Palabras Prestadas 6’ to be published in Spain.

In the run up to the competition we asked Kiwis to send us words via video and from these we chose the five words: exhilarated, static, finish, kaitiakitanga and biscuitchip. You can see the video of the five words here. All New Zealanders and NZ residents then had until National Poetry Day 25 August to write a poem that included these five words. The competition was judged by New Zealand poet and artist, Charles Olsen, who commented on the entries:

“I have enjoyed many of the images created such as a couple (I assume) who ‘huddled into curiosity’ as they contemplated a find on the beach; the sea – Hinemoana – ‘daggered with a cracked splinter of ice’ bringing a different take on climate change as does another poem pointing out ‘this earth is not our mother/fond and ever-forgetting’; the topical reflection on the elections with ‘media static posing as fact’; a reflection on life and death as ‘paua eyes weep tears of rain’. Kaitiakitanga was not an easy word to fit into a poem and I liked the originality of ‘the kaitiakitanga of your days… slips from you’, in The Finishing Time, and the delightful ‘kitchen floor act’ in Our Dog Pleads for Food. The poem All this stood out for me because it tells a simple story full of wonderful details. A conversation with a gull on a windswept beach introduces the concept of kaitiakitanga and we move on towards a second conversation and unanswered questions…

“I was also impressed by the creativity of our younger poets and was particularly drawn to the opening imagery of Songbird where the unexpected phrasing has something of the otherworldliness of birdsong. In the end I have settled on A Magical Visit with its vivid imaginary world – the way poetry can open thought spaces – and the particularly creative way the five words have all found a place within the story.”

We invite you to read the winning poems along with the other poems received.

 

 

 

National Library poetry event – Six o’clock: Poets under the influence

  • Date: Thursday, 19 October, 2017
  • Time: 5.30pm light refreshments for 6pm start
  • Cost: Free
  • Location: Te Ahumairangi (ground floor), National Library, corner Molesworth and Aitken Streets
  • Contact Details: For more information, email events.natlib@dia.govt.nz

A bevy of poets mark 50 years since the end of six o’clock closing

Iain Sharp presents Gregory O’Brien, Freya Daly Sadgrove, Bill Manhire, Jenny Bornholdt, Lindsay Rabbitt, and more.

The end of the ‘6 o’clock swill’ was a defining moment in New Zealand’s social history, one which changed the way we drank and socialised. New Zealanders’ unique and often fraught relationship with drink has been both a stimulus and an inspiration for some of the country’s great poets from Denis Glover to Apirana Taylor.

To mark 50 years since the end of ‘the swill’ the National Library is bringing together some of the country’s best poets, and poetry, both new and old, featuring ‘the drink’.

The event will comprise some special related Alexander Turnbull Library collection items, music from the collection of the National Library and films from Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision.

Refreshments available with tastings and craft beer and cider.

VUP Launch – Hard Frost: Structures of Feeling in New Zealand Literature 1908–1945 by John Newton

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Victoria University Press invite you to the launch of
Hard Frost: Structures of Feeling in New Zealand Literature 1908–1945
by John Newton

on Wednesday 11 October, 5.45pm–7.15pm
at the Stout Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington,
12 Waiteata Road, Kelburn, Wellington.

Refreshments will be served.
Hard Frost will be available for purchase courtesy of Vic Books. PB, $40.

The launch for Hard Frost will be preceded by a seminar given by John: “‘All the history which did not happen’: Allen Curnow’s critical nationalism”. The seminar commences at 4.10pm at the Stout Centre. You are welcome to attend both the seminar and launch.

Finalists for the Ronald Hugh Morrieson Writing Awards

Energy, action and quirky plots as finalists announced

The wait is over! Finalists for the Ronald Hugh Morrieson Writing Awards, Taranaki’s premiere literary competition, have been announced.

The bumper 237 entries have kept this year’s judges busy since the competition closed in August.

There are five categories in the Awards; The Secondary School Poetry and Short Story categories, the Open section Poetry and Short Story categories and the Secondary School Research Article category.

Research Article judge, Matt Rilkoff, says this year’s entries demonstrate how many fascinating people live among us.

“It is a courageous thing to allow someone into your trust to tell such a personal story as that of your life. Just as it is a daunting responsibility for the writer to attempt to sum up a lifetime of experience and character in a handful of words,” he says. “You all deserve a round of applause.”

Short Story judge, Rachel Stedman, says there was a lot of energy, and in general, action seemed to be central to many entrant’s plots.

“I was really impressed at how the high school entrants managed to write from such diverse perspectives, and I really enjoyed the quirky plots of some of the school entries,” she says. “In the open section, I enjoyed the vernacular used – very rural kiwi, very RHM!”

Poetry judge, Apirana Taylor, congratulated every entrant.

“Poetry reaches beyond the mere bread and butter of our existence. It casts the poignant light of insight onto the human condition. It seeks to and raises our consciousness,” he says.

The Awards ceremony is being held at the TSB Hub in Hawera on 25 October from 7pm. All are welcome to attend to find out the winners and listen to a performance by Apirana Taylor, this year’s Poetry judge.

Secondary School finalists (all categories)
Denzal Adlam – Patea Area School
Hope Baker – St Mary’s Diocesan School
Nell Brown – Sacred Heart Girls’ College
Niall Clancy – Hawera High School
Maddison Cossey – Hawera High School
Puaawai Meihana Eiffe – Opunake High School
Sasha Finer – Hawera High School
Ashley Harrop – Opunake High School
Courtney Hatcher – St Mary’s Diocesan
Noah Hunt – Hawera High School
Megan Jackson – St Mary’s Diocesan School
Stevee-Jai Kelly – Opunake High School
Myah Kemsley – New Plymouth Girls’ High
Heather Phillips – Hawera High School
Yani Remoto – Hawera High School
Georgia Sparks – Hawera High School

Open Finalists (all categories)
Elizabeth Bridgeman – New Plymouth
Nell Brown – Sacred Heart Girls’ College
Emma Collins – Stratford
Maria Cunningham – Hawera
Anya Darling – Sacred Heart Girls’ College
Bruce Finer – Hawera
Stuart Greenhill – Stratford
Pip Harrison – Hawera
Janet Hunt – Inglewood

The Awards, sponsored by the Lysaght Watt Trust, honour the work of one of New Zealand’s most preeminent authors, Ronald Hugh Morrieson (1922 – 1972). Morrieson wrote four novels: a coming of age tale The Scarecrow (1963), Came a Hot Friday (1964), Predicament (published in 1975) and his only contemporary novel Pallet on the Floor (1976). All have been adapted for the cinema, the only New Zealand writer to have acquired this achievement. Two short stories were published posthumously, in 1974; ‘Cross My Heart’ and ‘Cut My Throat and The Chimney’.

Louise Wallace’s Bad Things – There is a freshness and a daring at work here

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Bad Things, Louise Wallace, Victoria University Press, 2017

Some poetry collections depend upon a thread of similarity; connective subject matter, recurring motifs, a cohesion of form, tone and voice. Other collections resemble mosaics made of infinitely varied pieces that come together in surprising and satisfying ways. Louise Wallace’s new book, Bad Taste, exemplifies the latter. Turn the page and you have no idea what to expect – yet everything fits in the same animated package. There is a freshness and a daring at work here, because the poetry seems beholden only to its own choreography. I love that. I can’t think of another book quite like it. The cover, with the little patch of flame in the dark, and the boat waiting with its strange mix of birds, is the perfect entry into the poems.

Sometimes the poems relate little stories; condensed in prose paragraphs or strung with slashes to read in a single outbreath. Certain poems stop you in your tracks when you get to the last line and then tip you off the tracks of reading. ‘The hunt’ begins with a woman needing silence, yet it’s impossible to find when her voice rings out ‘like bells in the library’. She needs ‘to go church to pray’, but the poem does the twist and tilt and the ending becomes uneasy:

 

and without the silence she can’t pray / and if she doesn’t pray she will starve

 

Images also keep you on your reading toes: they might be strange, brightly-lit, smudged. There is, for example, a depiction of terrible things, ‘bad things’, that might fill a head:

 

They grow there—

a forest of tiny umbrellas.

They flourish—

a crown of terrible heads.

 

from ‘Bad things’

 

Or the sight and sound of a woman in a dump shop; ‘I’m amazed, she says’ over and over (‘Trash Palace’).

Or the sight and sound of a woman packing her husband and various assorted characters, including ‘the owner of the local chip shop’, into a row boat:

 

though it was extremely cramped

and they rowed

out to the open ocean

and sat quiet

and waited.

 

from ‘The body began to balance itself’

 

One poem may be densely packed and prose-like, while the next might offer short snappy lines that extend a poetic spine down the page:

 

resting shoulder

touching elbow

 

fingers to forehead

hand to cheek

 

from ‘Arrivals’

 

Strange poems, that may be hyper-real or surreal, hook with the element of surprise crouching somewhere:

 

7. You cannot take off the backpack.

8. You cannot just take off either.

9. You try to escape your own skin.

 

from ‘Right of return’

 

Sometimes it is a matter of taking three or four things (a man in a bus, the downhill, the light and the safety) and seeing what happens:

 

the light bounces

off the hill blindingly

bright and he’s saying

to himself

safety first

safety first

and he’s right, and all

through the bus

there is light.

 

from ‘Safety first’

 

Politics hue the mosaic pieces and slip in different directions, whether gender or ecological. Famous people glint the surface because their very presence is out-of-the-ordinary in the day-to-day ordinariness of what goes on. I especially like Meryl Streep, (but you also get Robert Redford and Reese Witherspoon): ‘Meryl Streep went nuts at me in the breakfast room, because I’d taken her table by mistake.’ I also like the arrival of Reeese, in ‘There are lots of ladies who have survived the desert’. The protagonist is walking in the desert, parched and desperate, when she hears wailing: ‘Reese Witherspoon emerges from behind a shrub, holding a plastic bowl full of oats and water.’ She cannot get her primus to work. Again Louise delivers the twist and tilt at the end of the poem, as though a shadow voice whispers to us to find perspective when we read of her neighbour: ‘Janet’s husband came home drunk one night and smashed a chair across her back.’

 

To understand the ability of the collection to travel and arc and shuffle, you need to juxtapose the offbeat with the achingly real. ‘Helping my father remember’ is the white hot searing heart of the collection. Communication is impaired: ‘Except something’s/ gone wrong with the wiring/ and he didn’t teach me/ how to fix it.’ The poem delivers such an emotional hit because of the way it lays little details alongside each other; the fact that the daughter is most like her father and his mother, and that sound might reactivate memory or that she is following him ‘through/ tall grasses, as high/ as my head.’  This time the ending is not a strange tilt but a poignant dive deeper below the poem’s surface:

 

We’re heading

to the river.

You find Nana,

and I’ll find you.

We won’t be lost

if we’re together.

 

If Louise’s new collection pulls you into a mosaic of dream, confession, anecdote or troublesome issues, it does so with a deft and darting accumulation of line. The overall effect works upon your ear, eye, heart and mind. There is stillness and movement, gaps and prickling images. I couldn’t ask for more – it’s a terrific read.

 

Louise Wallace is a poet and the founder and editor of The Starling, a literary journal for young NZ writers. She has published two previous collections: Since June (2009) and Enough(2013) . She was the 2015 Robert Burns Literary Fellow at Otago University.

 

Victoria University page

‘Reminders for December’ plus author note posted on Poetry Shelf

Louise in conversation with Pip Adam on Bad Things at Better Off Read

The Starling an online literary journal for young NZ writers