Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Greg O’Connell Verse Universe

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Date and Time

Fri 27th Sep, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Location

Exchange Christchurch (XCHC)
376 Wilsons Rd, Waltham, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand

Event location map

Event description

Join one of Christchurch’s wittiest wizards of words for an unforgettable evening of poetry. Performing poems of love and loss, nature and nurture, startling imagery and brilliant satire, our eclectic versifier will explore the spectrum of tall tales, home truths, and what it means to be both a serious poet and to take nothing too seriously.

School Journal big kahuna, Greg O’Connell has cemented his place as one of Aotearoa’s most loved performance poets, who tonight entertains with sophisticated themes. Sublime and ridiculous, deep and frivolous, like a glass of fine rhyme his verse will transport you.

Venue    Exchange Christchurch – XCHC
Date      Friday 27 September
Time     7.00pm-8.30pm
Price     $20.00

 

 

See here

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Brian Turner – an unpublished poem and a new book

 

In the Middle of Nowhere

 

On a late winter morning when driving east towards Ranfurly

pale grey fog’s smothering most of the land from Wedderburn

to Naseby, Kyeburn, Kokonga, Waipiata, Hamilton’s, Patearoa

and beyond. And I’m thinking how often we’re told we live

in the middle of nowhere: that nowadays people everywhere

are categorised, seen as somewheres, anywheres, or nowheres,

and that, in particular, this place is empty, needs more people.

So it goes. In ‘Furl’ I shop at the corner Four Square, pluck

some cash from a money machine, buy a long black and two

thick egg and chive sandwiches at the E-Café, fill up with gas

at the garage and set off homewards. Then, when re-entering

the Ida Valley and emerging into sharp sunlight, and wondering,

yet again, whether what is ever present always feels burdened

by the past, everywhere one looks – north south east and west –

bulky hills and shining mountains glisten with heavy snow.

And, oddly perhaps, so-called nowhere’s nowhere to be found.

 

Brian Turner

 

Brian Turner was born in Dunedin in 1944. His debut collection Ladders of Rain (1978) won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize. He has published a number of collections including Just This which won the NZ Post Book Award for Poetry in 2010. He has received the Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry (2009) and was NZ Poet Laureate (2003-5).  He lives in Central Otago.

In April Victoria University Press published Brian’s Selected Poems, a hardback treasury of poetry that gains life from southern skies and soil, and so much more. When I am longing to retreat to the beauty of the south, I find refuge in one of Brian’s poems. The economy on the line, the exquisite images, the braided rhythms. Read a poem and your feet are in the current of a gleaming river, your eyes fixed on a purple gold horizon line.

 

Once in a while

you may come across a place

where everything

seems as close to perfection

as you will ever need.

from ‘Place’

 

Yet the joy of reading the Selected Poems is also in the diverse subject matter: the acerbic political bite when he considers a world under threat, the love poems, poems of his mother and his father, the elegies, the humour, the storms, the seasons. In ‘The mixing bowl’ the mother is kneading, she feeds her son cakes and scones, along with ‘a rough and tart / unstinting love’. The final stanzas catch my heart:

 

But I did not know

it would be so hard

to watch her grow,

enfeebled, toward oblivion,

her hands and face

yellow as floury

butter, her arms

white as gentled flour.

 

I love ‘In Ladbroke Grove’: a woman in a London cafe is surprised he is writer because she didn’t ‘know there were any in New Zealand.’ When she asked where New Zealand was ‘he refused to answer that because too many know anyway’. Ha!

I emailed Brain earlier in the year to see if had any new poems -and he said he had hundreds. ‘In the middle of nowhere’ is one of them – a Turner taste before you read the glorious Selected Poems. His poetry might carry you to the middle of nowhere (a fiction of course!) but his poems are rich in the sumptuous experience of somewhere. His poetry somewhere is vital, humane, illuminating. His Selected Poems is an essential volume for me and I want to keep quoting poems to you because they are so rewarding. Instead I  recommend you pack the book in your bag and take time out for a Turner retreat.

 

The dead do

sing in us, in

us and through

us, and to themselves

under their mounds of earth

swelling  in the sun, or in their

ashes that shine

as they depart on the wind.

from ‘After’ for Grahame

 

Victoria University Press page

 

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Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Winners of the 2019 WriteNow Dunedin Secondary Schools Poetry Competition

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Poems showcase rising stars of poetry
The winners of the 2019 WriteNow Dunedin Secondary Schools Poetry Competition have been chosen from a strong field of entries by judge Fiona Farrell, one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed and versatile writers.

Fiona was particularly impressed by Darcy Monteath (Year 10 Logan Park) who took out first prize in the Junior section for her poem ‘Overcoming grief in the form of birds’.

In her judge’s report Fiona said,

“This is an extraordinary poem, and far and away the best of all the poems, Junior and Senior, entered in this year’s competition.

The poet understands the power of metaphor, not just the birds but the landscapes they inhabit, beginning with the tarmac that is replaced suddenly round a corner by ‘everlasting fields’ and the kotuku with its ‘rounded shoulders’. The poem is a tangible realisation of the journey through grief to the moment where in a transcendent and utterly beautiful image, the poet faces ‘directly into the sun’ where bird that is also the father is ‘rising, singing’. The whole work is superbly structured and delivers real emotional weight.

A second poem submitted by Darcy was equally impressive. ‘Think White’ is superbly crafted. The poet shapes the work around that introductory ‘Think…’ then proceeds to elaborate on three words: ‘candescent’, ‘ailment’ and ‘gleam’. The result is a highly sophisticated work, by a writer blessed with an acute sensitivity to language and an artist’s eye. The three sections are drawn together to form a tantalisingly elusive narrative, through colour and form. This is a young poet to watch.”

First prize in the Senior section was awarded to Caitlin O’Brien (Year 11 Columba College) for her poem ‘Body bags on the beach’. Fiona said,

“The image of bags like ‘huhu grubs’ on the sand is arresting, and the sense of coming awake in the morning round a cold fire is perfectly timed, with that pause before the final word ‘conscious’. It takes a small moment in someone’s life and uses language and poetic form to make it very special.”

Second prize in the Senior section was awarded to Judah Nika (Year 11 Otago Boys) for ‘Life comes life goes’ and third prize to Abi Barton (Year 13 Logan Park) for ‘The Survival’.

Second prize in the Junior section was awarded to Ella McBride (Year 9 Queen’s) for ‘Candy floss skies’ and third prize to Jessie Avison (Year 9 Queen’s) for ‘Book Fish’.

Further details and all the winning poems visit here.

 

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Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Writers on Mondays Best NZ Poems 2018

 

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Best New Zealand Poems 2018.

Best New Zealand Poems is published annually by Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters. Get ready for Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day (on 23 August) by coming along to hear nine of the best read work selected for Best New Zealand Poems 2018—and be sure to visit the website to view the full selection.

Join 2018 editor Fiona Farrell as she introduces Nikki-Lee Birdsey, Jenny Bornholdt, Doc Drumheller, Sam Duckor-Jones, Bernadette Hall, Anna Jackson, Therese Lloyd, Mary McCallum, and Chris Tse.

Writers on Mondays is presented by the International Institute of Modern Letters and The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

These events are open to the public and free of charge.

 

 

Poetry Shelf review: Starling 8 Winter 2019

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Read the journal here

I have poetry interviews on the go, poetry reviews on the go, a leaning tower of poetry books to read (this morning it toppled), questions for me to answer for my new books, a study that needs sorting after four years of intense work ( it needs to be like the clean sheet before I begin again), a house that needs spring cleaning, a veggie garden that needs weeding, fruit trees that need planting, novels that call to be read, doodles that need doodling ….. and after being awake for hours with the marine forecast and Jeffrey Paparoa Holman’s pilot memoir on RNZ National all I feel like doing is making a lemon honey and ginger drink and reading the brand new Starling.

Starling is edited by Starling founder Louise Wallace and Francis Cooke and publishes the work of writers under 25 which is a very good thing. Starling always exposes me to new voices that I am dead keen to read more from.

This issues includes the work of 20 writers, an eye-opening interview with Brannavan Gnanalingam and the extra cool cover art of Jessica Thompson Carr. It is women rich, there is fire and cut and lyricism. I loved every piece of writing – no dull grey spots. Just an inspired and inspiring celebration of what young writers are doing

 

Here are a few tastes to get you linking.

Tate Fountain is a writer, actor and student in Auckland. Her tour-de -force poem ‘Dolores’ busts up form, ‘you’,  expectation and what good is poetry. It gently kicks you in the gut with ‘ashes in the back of a car’ and shakes your heart with ‘maybe craft is love and love is attention’. The pronouns are adrift as the lines stutter and break;  F Scott Fitzgerald makes an appearance, and Kandinsky. Sheez this poem electrifies. I am now on the hunt for Tate’s Letters; she describes it ‘perhaps [..] blasphemously as an extended chapbook’.

Nithya Narayanan is currently doing a conjoint degree (BA / LLB) at the University of Auckland. Her poem ‘Hiroshima’ held me in one long gasp as the mother / daughter relationship links the title to the final ‘bomb’ stanza. This is confession at its most radioactive (excuse the pun) with a rhythm that pulls and detail that hooks.

Rose Peoples is a student at Victoria University. Her poetry has appeared in Mimicry and Cordite. Her extraordinary poem ‘The Politics of Body Heat’ begins with a woman pegging washing on a line, then moves through cold and sexism, female syndromes and disappearances. You just must read it.

Think –
Have they forgotten the fear
of a cold hand on the back of the neck?
The dread of an icy whisper?
Remember this –
It is easy to disappear in the cold.

 

Morgan McLaughlin is an English lit graduate and describes herself as a fierce feminist. It shows in her poem ‘1-4’, four prose-poem pieces that subvert numerical order as clearly as they lay down a challenge to patriarchy. The writing is lucid, sharp as a blade and deliciously rhythmic.  I would love to hear this read aloud. I want to read more.

Meg Doughty recently completed an Honours degree in English at Victoria University of Wellington. She says she is a reactionary writer who is fascinated by the everyday mystic. Her poem is like two heavenly long inhalations that pick up all manner of things, herbs, birds, cats, fire, and I am caught up in the idea of poetry as breath (again, see today’s Herald!!). Then I reach the end of the poem and here is the poet breathing:

I stir
hover over the steam
and breathe in
I know how to live in this world

 

Mel Ansell is a Wellington poet whose brocade-like poem ‘Cook, Little Pot, Cook’ (I have used this term before) shimmers and sparks with surprise arrivals as I read. Ah poetry bliss where food and love and place and home rub close together.
Rebecca Hawkes is in the recently published AUP New Poets 5 with Sophie van Waardenberg and Carolyn DeCarlo. She has a cluster of poems here that show her dazzling word play, the way images and detail build so you are swimming through the poetic layers with a sense of exhilaration (it was like that when I heard her read at the launch). Her poetry is so on my radar at the moment.

I want to read more from Danica Soich.

Joy Tong is a Year 13 student at St Cuthbert’s College. ‘Tiny Love Poem‘ is pitch perfect.

Hebe Kearney is from Christchurch but is currently studying to complete her Honours in Classics at the University of Auckland. Her poem ‘Bukit Ibam, 1968’ is so divinely spare but opens up inside me, like an origami flower that unfolds family:

a story in a cage. dad,
you recount my grandmother
through the mosquito netting baking
tiny raised cakes.

 

Thanks Louise and Francis. This is a terrific issue. Now I need to head back to my long list of jobs to do before I head back down to Wellington for National Poetry Day.