Yes! It’s a trio of poetry books from me – The Track is out with Seraph Press in July.
Yes! It’s a trio of poetry books from me – The Track is out with Seraph Press in July.
Two book covers posted today! One on Poetry Box for my new children’s collection and the cover of Wild Honey: Reading NZ Women’s Poetry here on Poetry Shelf. Plus I have my new adult poems The Track out in July – so four years of writing activity is arriving in a flurry. So exciting and nerve-wracking all in the same gulp.
Wild Honey is out in August with Massey University Press and we are planning various events to celebrate its arrival. Sarah Laing painted the amazing cover which stretches over onto the back – along with drawings for inside.
The cover features Fleur Adcock Alison Wong Elizabeth Smither Ursula Bethell Jessie Mackay Blanche Baughan Robin Hyde Selina Tusitala Marsh and Airini Beautrais with more poets on the back.
My birthday treat! Two book covers with a third in the wings.
The poem, ‘Snowglobe’, was published in Mimicry 5 and will appear in Jane’s first collection CRAVEN to be published by Victoria University Press in September 2019.
Jane Arthur was the recipient of the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize in 2018, judged by Eileen Myles. She has worked in the book industry for over fifteen years as a bookseller and editor, and has a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the IIML at Victoria University of Wellington. Born in New Plymouth, she lives in Wellington with her family. Her first poetry collection will be published in September 2019 by Victoria University Press.
the angels and stars and stones;
also, adjectival poets, preferably original.
There was an air of restlessness
an inability to subside, a state of being at attention,
at worst, at war with the immediately beating heart and breathing lung.
I looked then in the word-chambers, the packed warehouses by the sea,
the decently kept but always decaying places where nouns and their
representative images lay together on high shelves
among abbreviations and longlost quotations. I listened.
Water lapped at the crumbling walls; it was a place
for murder, piracy; salt hunger seeped between the shelves;
it was time to write. Now or never. The now unbearable,
the never a complete denial of memory:
I was not, I never have been.
Janet Frame from The Goose Bath: Poems, Vintage, 2006
published with kind permission from The Janet Frame Estate (note in The Goose Bath states that this appeared as a section in a long untitled sequence)
Notes from Elizabeth Morton:
Veni Vedi Veci is a T-shirt-perfect slogan, gloating in its victory of ancient history, and its facility with Latin grammar. As an undergraduate I likely sported such an item of casual alliteration. I may have stood at the fence of Albert Park, smoking a Wee Willem cigarillo, mispronouncing the words to passing first-years and telling a bastardised yarn about Julius Caesar. Janet Frame’s poem, ‘I Visited’ relates a quieter, more tentative conquest – that ends in brute self-nihilation – ‘I was not, I never have been’. This is no Caesar. Here is a concession that our words are things to be borrowed, not usurped. There is a sense of things in flux, things that spill through the gaps in your fingers – ‘decaying places’ and ‘crumbling walls’. There is no pillaging of intangibles. The world of words is a lending library with ‘word chambers’ and ‘high shelves’.
Frame’s poem is gently playful. Through it, I recognise this impossibility of ownership. Words are slippery; words alter to their context; words are shared but never spent. I have supermarket bags full of words – words for ‘angels and stars and stones’, earthly and metaphysical – words like ‘turophile’ and ‘oleaginous’ and ‘eosophobia’ and ‘absquatulate’. They can never be conquests. I visit them. Visito. And I try to shake the dust off the words that have been left for dead. Words are people too, you know – ‘with beating heart and breathing lung’. Frame’s poem captures an excitement, a vitality, and also an humility. Also, ‘salt hunger’ makes me shiver.
Auckland writer, Auckland writer, Elizabeth Morton, is published in New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, the UK, Canada and the USA. She was feature poet in the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017, and is included in Best Small Fictions 2016. Her first poetry collection, Wolf, was published with Mākaro Press in 2017. She is completing a MLitt at the University of Glasgow, usually in her pyjamas.
Janet Frame (1924-2004) published eleven novels, five story collections, a previous volume of poetry (The Pocket Mirror, 1967), a children’s book and a three-volume autobiography. She won numerous awards and honours, including New Zealand’s highest civil honour when she was made a Member of the Order of New Zealand in 1990. In 2003 she received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement and was named an Arts Foundation Icon Artist. Pamela Gordon, Denis Harold and Bill Manhire edited The Goose Bath, Janet’s posthumous collection of poems in 2006.
Murray Edmond, Back Before You Know, Compound Press, 2019
Jonas Bones, Jonas Bones esquire,
great hands held like tongs in the fire,
JONAS: Never did have no blasted luck,
every plan came unstuck—
Always up to his ears in muck
couldn’t make two ends meet.
So one last chance to call a stop
one last throw on a crumbling life,
on the King Country line he set up shop,
with one lone child and one sharp wife.
from ‘The Ballad of Jonas Bones’
Murray Edmond is a playwright, poet and fiction writer; he has worked as an editor, critic and dramaturge. Several of his poetry collections have been finalists in the New Zealand Book Awards: Letters and Paragraphs, Fool Moon and Shaggy Magpie Songs. He has worked extensively in theatre including twenty years with Indian Ink on the creation of all the company’s scripts.
Murray’s new collection comprises two long poems that play with other sources; with fable, allegory, history, theatre, poetics, the ballad form. The first poem, ‘The Ballad of Jonas Bones’ steps off from Robert Penn Warren’s ‘The Ballad of Billie Potts’ (1943), from Kentucky to the Waikato / King Country. Murray claims his version as a palimpsest or adaptation, leaving traces of the original version, ghost-like and haunting. We may find vestiges of place, the story that gets passed down the line from ear to mouth, the innkeepers who rob their well-off guests, a character’s return to origins, the cutting shards of history, the kaleidoscopic turns of humanity. I haven’t read Warren’s poem but I sense its eerie presence.
Murray’s fluctuating rhythm and rhymes are like shifting river currents, his poem a river poem carrying the debris of story, hand-me-down anecdote. There’s gold and there’s mud, there’s error and there’s incident, there’s greed and there’s survival. Dialogue gives it life as a theatre piece, staged to the point I invent the presence of audience and a live version runs through my head. I am watching as the past is made present and the future present is gestured at in the revised story along with the original skelton. A wider context is superimposed and hides in the seams: ‘frontier’ stories that mutate in the telling, the more significant misrepresentations that shaped our histories, the way individual stories are muffled within the dominant narratives.
Ah but alongside these fertile underground veins is the fact this is a cracking good story with its blinding twists and wounding heart. For some reason I kept thinking of Blanche Baughan’s affecting long ballad, ‘Shingle Short’.
The second poem, ‘The Fancier Pigeon’, is equally arresting with Murray characteristically playful. I am reading with a wry smile, every sense provoked, my reading momentum both fluid and addictive. We meet the fancier pigeon and the pigeon fancier (she with her hair aglint) when they meet perched on stools at a bar:
She had hair the colour of apricot
she smelt like a cake just taken
from the oven and her father played
drums in a band in the only night club
I am always reluctant to spoil the unfolding of a poem, long or short, in ways that ruin the reading experience, that spotlight the darkened nooks and crannies, the poem’s pauses or digressions. That dampens the joy of reading. But I will say when the two characters kiss a pigeon drops a ring at their feet – they decide they will each keep the ring for a week and then only met when they exchange the ring. Such an emblematic hook.
The poem feels cinematic (visually sharp, moody hued), theatrical (with both dialogue and action body gripping) and fable-like (overlaying universal themes of love, betrayal, mishap and destiny). The poem also feels cinematic with its smudged lighting as though we can’t quite be sure what happens between this scene and the next, with the cue to fable never far off, the characters, a quartet, shifting and sliding in and out of view.
and it was there
the girl had stopped her
as she walked
“Has he come asking for me”
of course he had so she said “No”
and as if she were granting wishes
“You wanna come out on the lake
with me in the canoe?”
and she had lead her down
among the bulrushes
What I love about the poem – beyond the supple language play and the sensual images, the addictive and offbeat characters, and the narrative tug – is the way the world adheres. As reader you can’t just stick to the poet’s diverting fable – because the real world intrudes, the hurt and broken world if you hold the bigger picture, and the miniature daily stories if you hold the way humanity is formed by individuals. Both things matter at the level of the humane.
The book’s punning title, like a cypher, a tease, is also a ‘dropped ring’. It is re-sited as the last line: ‘BACK AGAIN BEFORE YOU KNOW’. And I am looping back on the unknown and the achingly familiar, the beginning that is ending that is beginning and so on, the switch back roads and the clifftop vantage points, the downright miraculous and the daily mundane. Ah setting sail on this poetic loop, with its blurs and its epiphanies, is sheer bliss. Poetry bliss.
Compound Press author page
2019 NFFD ADULT SHORT LIST
Breadcrumbs by Tom Adams, Wellington
Moving To Town by Tim Saunders, Palmerston North
Not a Vegetarian by Elena de Roo, Auckland
Over the Fields from Ballyturin House, 1921 by Rose Collins, Canterbury
Separated from That Which Cannot Be Separated by Craig Foltz, Auckland
T Is For Tiger by Tim Saunders, Palmerston North
The Beautiful Thing by Anna Granger, Whanganui
The Boat People by Jeff Taylor, Hamilton
The Museum of Curiosities and Natural History by Heather McQuillan, Christchurch
The sound a horse makes when it comes to drink at night by Wanda Barker, Hamilton
The Visitors by Anna Granger, Whanganui
Washing-up by Leeanne O’Brien, Auckland
2019 NFFD YOUTH SHORT LIST
Art is Dead by Lily Deuchars, Hagley College, Christchurch
Cleaning Clouds by Zoe Congalton, Year 9, Havelock North High School, Hawkes Bay
Five rules for liking girls when you are young and prone to heartbreak by Cybella Maffitt, Year 13, St. Cuthbert’s College, Auckland
Funeral hymn for a lost toy by Cybella Maffitt, by Cybella Maffitt, Year 13, St. Cuthbert’s College, Auckland
Gummy Bears by Hannah Daniell, Year 11, Cashmere High School, Christchurch
I Hope the Others Sang by Derrin Smith, Year 11, Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery, Christchurch
Il faut laisser aller le monde comme il va by Cybella Maffitt, Year 13, St. Cuthbert’s College, Auckland
No Need by Hannah Daniell, Year 11, Cashmere High School, Christchurch
Noisy Silence by Maia Ingoe, Gisborne, Year 13, Gisborne Girls’ High School, Gisborne
Psycho Steve by Simon Brown, Victoria University, Wellington
Taking Shape by Alice Hoerara-Hunt, St Peter Paul School, Lower Hutt
The Last Voyage by Sarah-Kate Simons, Year 10, home school, Southbridge, Canterbury,
Youth by Phoebe Robertson, Whangarei Girls’ High, Whangarei
Winning stories will be announced June 22 at the NFFD events around the country (find an event near you, here!), and the winners will be listed on this page.