Tag Archives: Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor

Poetry Shelf connections: Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor’s ‘There are many moments where 2 metres might have saved us.’

 

There are many moments where 2 metres might have saved us.

 

At dusk

the gnats turn gold

and ghost the grass.

 

I hear

their winged humming like

an electric miasma.

 

I walk through the swarm with my chin up and

my breath caught

warm in my throat.

 

I wear them

around my shoulders like

a shawl made of shiver and teeth.

 

I pull them close

and hope

the men hear them and know

to keep away.

 

Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor

 

 

Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor was awarded the 2018 Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Essay Prize, and was the co-winner of the 2017 Monash Prize for Emerging Writers. Her work has appeared in a number of literary journals, including Starling, Mayhem, Poetry New Zealand, Landfall, Mimicry, and Min-a-rets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf archives: Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor celebrates Olivia Macassey’s ‘Outhwaite Park’

 

Outhwaite Park         

 

 

and three cheers for the old neighbourhood

clawing its way through the dirt and the

new

houses that squat where the vacant lots reflected us

 

and three shadows

for the people we used to be, for

rice and dope and chilli olives, three shadows

for your silhouette, with its cigarette, for the sound

of a swing at midnight

the sound of a swing when the swinger is crying

 

three sighs for the stubborn authenticity of a face

harsh with streetlights

the horrors of a clarinet

devastating revelations

and for the lies, for the unmoved trees

which made it all seem underwater

for the melancholy see-saws and the warm air, for her dress

in the crooked oblong of doorway, her crooked dress

in the yellow of the door

the stumbling between houses, clutching salads and lovers

the bodies passed out on our floors

 

three tears

for the pale orange poppies

that bloom where you kissed me

bloom where you kissed me

 

and three tears

for the people we used to fuck

for backbones scraped on the washing machine

for the strangers who slept outside your bedroom door

and the schoolgirls and drag queens playing table tennis

and the cockroaches breeding in the microwave;

 

and the four am trains and six am buses,

mint icecreams, roofs of carparks, moulting hedgehogs

lit by the phonebox, the grass overrun by wirewoves

and rotting cardboard, my summer clothes, my love —

 

and tunnels we crept through at dawn, birds which sang blind in the dark

the refrigerator with its empty hum, before we borrowed credibility,

we had the insane faces of barbie dolls, the overpainted walls

and exploding demolition fires

we had stones in our shoes and delinquents in our ceilings

catching our prayers before they got to the sky,

and that bridge most of us

never jumped from, we were saving it for a rainy day,

 

yeah three tears for the old neighbourhood

clawing its way through the dirt

and the park

that I see and can never return to

that stage on which all our memories were undone,

 

and I am again in the wood chips at midnight

with my neck pressed against the silence of your mouth

and I am again on the swing at dawn

watching the policeman make his way across the grass

 

Olivia Macassey

appeared in New New Zealand Poets in Performance, ed. Jack Ross and Jan Kemp (Auckland: AUP, 2008)

 

 

Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor:

I first heard this poem in Tracey Slaughter’s creative writing class, and I still remember the shiver down my spine. There were those neighbourhoods like mine right there in the lecture hall and this voice that talked a bit like how I talked: yeah. It was one of those poems that you read at the exact right moment, and it was the first that I printed out and carried with me.
It’s beautiful and sort of pining, but all the same gritted and stubborn. It’s got this sort of nostalgia, but with claws. The parties, but also the grubby silences after them, the confetti and the roaches and the cardboard rotting lonely in the corner. The impossibility of going back, but also the impossibility of wholly forgetting: ‘The park that I see and can never return to’. It was the first time I remember seeing repetition in a poem and really loving it. The first poem I read out loud again and again. That rhythm, that imagery, those final lines. The white space after them. Those echoes in the half-dark. I come back to this poem often.

 

 

Olivia Macassey‘s work has appeared in Takahē, Rabbit, Poetry New Zealand, Otoliths, Ngā Kupu Waikato, Landfall and elsewhere. Her books are The Burnt Hotel and Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.

Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor was awarded the 2018 Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Essay Competition, and the 2017 Monash Prize for Emerging Writers. Her poem ‘Instructions’ was named by The Spinoff as the best poem of 2018, and she took up The Spinoff Review of Books Writer-in-Residence Award at the start of 2019. Her work has appeared in Starling, Mayhem, Brief, Poetry New Zealand, Landfall, Turbine, Mimicry, Min-a-rets, Sweet Mammalian, Sport and Verge. She writes thanks to the tireless support of some of the best people on this great watery rock.

Some highlights in the 70th anniversary edition of Landfall

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Landfall 233 edited by David Eggleton

 

Last Sunday I was feeling travel worn, flat, depleted, sick and I could not settle on anything. The kind of day where you pick this up and put it down. You pick that and then this and then that and then this. And then find yourself back at the start again. It was only when I opened the new Landfall I found my self settling back and reading.

The 70th Birthday issue is terrific. It includes testimonies from Chris Price and Iain Sharp (both candid on the difficulties of editing a key literary journal), Philip Temple (on the controversial dismissal of Robin Dudding and efforts to revive the flagging enterprise) and Peter Simpson on Charles Brasch and Landfall. Simpson quotes Brasch musing on when to quit editing. He decided he must stop at 15 years – although it stretched to 20. He concluded:

‘I shall have nothing to live for, nothing I badly want to do, nothing I am forced to do in order to live …’

 

Sometimes I like to read a journal from first page to last page in order to follow the contours and harmonies of editing. This time it was pick n’ mix poetry. As I read I jotted down:

vibrant fresh vital diverse essential reading unfamiliar voices much-loved voices direct indirect

 

Adore the Art Portfolios by Chris Corson-Scott and Heather Straka.

 

Two prose pieces caught me eye first. Both surprising and stick like biddibids.

‘Last-ditch Daisies’ Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor

‘It’s All I Had’ Joanna Cho

 

Then the poetry:

 

‘Four Transformations on a theme of Philip’ by Anne Kennedy is like a return to her brother (1951 – 1973). Every time I pick the book up it falls open here and I read it again. The short lines shift patterns on the pages like little twitches of contemplation, memory, bright retrieved detail with indents, parentheses, fluency.

 

Catch me in the garden

and put me in a jar

 

the air where I was

in the palm of your hand

 

 

‘Morning Song’ by Emma Neale builds a loving grandfather portrait that weds sharp detail with war undertones spiky within a family’s daily life. It is sumptuous writing with things hiding off the edges.

 

Gramps stole eggs, green seeds of song, from their nests

to show us wonder; hairline cracks ran

our sooks’ hearts as we watched the robbed mothers fly home.

 

 

‘Mr Anderson, You Heartbreaker’ by Helen Rickerby teases and bites into Hans Christian Anderson and his depiction or wooing of women and harnesses Helen’s adult eyes on the Little Mermaid.

 

And really, if she’d just held onto her tongue

she could have sung him to her

reeled him in, drunk him down

one prince, on the rocks, coming up

 

 

‘Storm’ by Amanda Hunt is a glorious lyrical snapshot that slows down the pace of contemplation to the point each detail is under an enviable spotlight. ( I am reminded of how Janet Frame wanted to slow down the pace of her poems)

 

a butterfly flutter

of moth-soft feathers

glancing across my shoulder

 

‘Fear of Feathers’ by Michael Gould delivers a surprising passage through the lines to the final enticement ‘life is good.’

 

Some sounds of birds (unseen but heard)

may confound those with no sense of the absurd

 

‘Personal Space’ by Johanna Emeney refreshes the domestic poem beautifully and needs to be read in its completeness to catch the humour, the pathos, the politics, the poetry, the feeling. I am including the last stanza.

 

She should clear a space

beneath the sudden worry of crowded floors,

the scatter of feet; the shock of doors,

run downstairs and shut herself in

the last room at the bottom,

then spin, arms open,

to see just how wide

she has forgotten.

 

 

‘Inflammable’ by Anna Jackson is a poem that catches the dark and light of life and living beneath the flicker of candle light. It reminds me of the way a particular moment, against all the millions lost and faded, that is luminous on return.

 

The world was flammable we knew it was.

 

‘Art Is Weak’ by Nick Ascroft is smart and sharp and hooks you from the first line.

 

Conceptual art is not so empty sleeved

and brained.

 

‘The Bee Elle’ by Lynley Edmeades curls and coils deliciously around a physical view and subterranean ideas.

 

Everyone is hooked up

to various elsewheres

as if our bodies don’t matter.

 

‘How a New Zealand Sunrise is Different from Other Sunrises’ by Erik Kennedy is like a landscape poem standing on its head and is thus invigorating to read (I am a landscape poem fan for all kinds of reasons).

 

Pinks and yellows collude to orange the hillside,

but they trick you into thinking the hills are proper orange

on their own, like an oyster catcher’s lurid bill