Tag Archives: Charles Olsen

Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Peta-Maria Tunui and Charles Olsen’s collaborative te reo Māori poetry film, Noho Mai

Te reo Māori poetry film ‘Noho Mai’ has been nominated for the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in Berlin – 19 to 22 November 2020. It has been nominated as one of 34 films chosen from around 2,000 entries from more than 100 countries.

The Opening and Awards Ceremonies will be streamed live on Facebook, YouTube and the Haus für poesie website on 19 November at 8pm and 22 November at 8pm respectively (times in Berlin). The full programme will be available for four weeks for €7.99 (NZ$13) from 20 November via Vimeo-on-Demand. NOHO MAI is included in the programme ‘International Competition I: Precious Souvenirs’. The full programme is on Haus für poesie: ZEBRA Poetry Film Festval Programme 2020

During lockdown at the beginning of the year Charles Olsen ran a te reo Māori poetry film workshop online with young creatives in NZ. The collaborative film ‘Noho Mai’ which came out of the workshop, is one of 34 films selected from around 2000 entries for the competition section of the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in Berlin, 19-22 Nov.

The festival will be available on Vimeo-on-demand for four weeks. Here is the trailer:

As Peta-Maria Tunui, who wrote the poem and is one of the co-directors, says in the current world situation, ‘the poem has become our koha aroha to people all around the world who are longing for their home and are unable to return.’

Peta-Maria Tunui and Charles Olsen in a kōrero with Dale Husband on Radio Waatea about the film.

Still from Noho Mai


DIRECTORS Peta-Maria Tunui, Waitahi Aniwaniwa McGee, Shania Bailey-Edmonds, Jesse-Ana Harris, Lilián Pallares, Charles Olsen  POEM Peta-Maria Tunui  VOICE Shania Bailey-Edmonds  ACTORS Shania Bailey-Edmonds, Peta-Maria Tunui, Jesse-Ana Harris, Charles Olsen  EDITOR Charles Olsen  PRODUCER Antenablue  FIELD CAMERAS Waitahi Aniwaniwa McGee, Ikey Ihaka Tunui, Charles Olsen  AERIAL CAMERA Ash Robinson  TAONGA PUORO Salvador Brown  COLOMBIAN GAITA Charles Olsen  KARANGA Peta-Maria Tunui  SOUND MIX Charles Olsen  ENGLISH TRANSLATION Peta-Maria Tunui  FILMED IN Aotearoa–New Zealand: Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Waitaha, Te Tai Rāwhiti, and Spain: Madrid, Soria


ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival Programme 2020

Haus für poesie

Facebook @ZEBRAPoetryFilmFestival

Ó Bhéal Poetry Film Competition Shortlist 2020

Wairoa Māori Film Festival

VII Festival Cinemística, Spain

Love in the Time of Covid

Poetry Shelf audio spot: Charles Olsen reads ‘Inland’ – ‘Tierra adentro’






Charles Olsen reads ‘Inland’ – ‘Tierra adentro’ in Spanish – from his bilingual collection Antípodas published in Spain by Huerga & Fierro, 2016.



Charles Olsen moved to Spain drawn by his interest in Spanish artists such as Velázquez and Goya and to study flamenco guitar. Artist, filmmaker and poet, his paintings have been exhibited in the UK, France, New Zealand and Spain, and he has two bilingual collections of poetry published in Spain, Sr Citizen (Amargord, 2011) and Antípodas (Huerga & Fierro, 2016). His short film The dance of the brushes was awarded second prize in the I Flamenco Short Film Festival in Spain and his poetry films have been shown at international festivals and featured online in Moving Poems, Poetry Film Live and Atticus Review. In 2018 he was awarded the III Antonio Machado Poetry Residency in Segovia and Soria and he has received the XIII distinction Poetas de Otros Mundos.






Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Charles Olsen’s essay in Cordite responds to the Christchurch mosque attacks

On Being Sanguine: Two Years of Panic and a Response to Terror in Christchurch

Self-portrait by Charles Olsen in Wellington, NZ (1991)

One Sunday, when I was an art student in London, I got on my bicycle and left my parents’ vicarage in Surrey for my room in Murray Mews, going along the River Thames and through London’s parks: Bushy Park, Richmond Park, Hyde Park and Regents Park. I was stung by a bee or wasp somewhere around Shepperton which got my blood up and I raced towards the city, perhaps a little too fast for my own good; a reaction to adversity.

*I didn’t know how to respond to the Christchurch shooting. It was so out of the blue. By chance a few days after the attack happened to be the launch in Wellington of a collection of poems by migrant and refugee poets in New Zealand called More of Us from Landing Press. It includes my poem ‘When you least expect’, about a series of terrorist bombings near places I was staying in London, Cairo and Madrid. The most devastating for me was back in 2004 where I live in Madrid, about six months after I’d moved to Spain. A series of explosions on the local train network during the morning rush hour killed 193 people and injured around 2,000. I was on a train heading out of Atocha station as the backpacks containing the bombs were abandoned on packed trains heading towards Atocha. I must have heard one of the explosions in the distance lost in the noise of the train but it was only when I arrived at 8.00am at the company where I gave English classes and found my students huddled around the radio and online, searching for the news, that I learned what had occurred. They were surprised I’d managed to get to work. We didn’t have the class that day and I made my way into Torrejón de Ardoz and found where to catch a bus back into Madrid.

Charles Olsen, 1 May 2019


Read the whole piece here


‘”I didn’t know how to respond to the Christchurch shooting. It was so out of the blue. By chance a few days after the attack happened to be the launch in Wellington of a collection of poems by migrant and refugee poets in New Zealand called More of Us from Landing Press.”





New Zealander Charles Olsen awarded the III Poetry Award SxS Antonio Machado in Spain

Charles Olsen_photo by Lilián Pallares-14-7-2018.jpg


Warm congratulations from Poetry Shelf!
New Zealander Charles Olsen has been awarded the III Poetry Award SxS Antonio Machado, which takes the name of the Spanish writer who lived and worked in the cities of Segovia and Soria in Spain.

Organized by the town councils of Segovia and Soria the residency is open to poets resident in Europe of any nationality other than Spanish who have a basic knowledge of the Spanish language. The winner receives 3,000 euros and the town councils cover the poet’s travel costs to and from their cities.

The jury, presided over by Manuel Rico Rego and including Amalia Iglesias, María Isabel Gil, César Ibáñez and Andrés Martín has awarded the III Poetry Award SxS Antonio Machado to Charles Olsen for his proposal, which includes the first draft of a collection of between 30 and 40 poems in Spanish divided in two parts (Segovia and Soria) and a poetry project with the participation of residents of Segovia and Soria.

Charles will spend one month in each city following in the footsteps of the Spanish poet Antonio Machado, who first moved to the region of Castile in 1907 taking up the position of Professor of French at the Instituto General y Técnico of Soria, which now bears his name. He stayed until 1912, the year his young wife, Leonor Izquierdo, died and shortly after the publication of the first edition of Campos de Castilla.

2019 will be the centenary of the Antonio Machado’s arrival in Segovia where he stayed from 1919 until 1932 giving classes at the Instituto General y Técnico—now the IES Mariano Quintanilla—and actively participating in the creation and development of valuable democratic projects such as the Popular University, which will also celebrate its centenary in 2019 and has now become the San Quirce Royal Academy of History and Arts. A convinced pro-European and committed to peace and respect when both were becoming scarce in the world, Antonio Machado continues to be an important humanist and ethical figure, which only adds to the greatness of his literary oeuvre.

Charles himself has published two collections of poetry in Spain, Sr Citizen and Antípodas, and his poems are included in recent editions of Landfall, Poetry New Zealand Yearbook and Blackmail Press.

For New Zealand’s Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day in August he will be running the competition Given Words, now in its third year, and to celebrate receiving the award he will choose words from one of Antonio Machado’s poems with which participants must weave their own poem. The Given Words competition, open to all New Zealand citizens and residents of any age, will go live on 1 August and has prizes for Best Poem and Best Poem by Under-16s, donated by Massey University Press and Mākaro Press. The winning poems will also be translated into Spanish.





Final episode of Poem on a Madrid Terrace

‘It appears the cold weather has finally arrived in Madrid after an extended summer… Anna Borrie and I read ‘You’ by C.K. Stead in the final episode of ‘Poem on the Terrace – New Zealand Poets’, where we introduce kiwi poets to a Spanish-speaking audience.’

Charles Olsen

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Listen here

Poetry conversation on a Madrid rooftop – Carolyn McCurdie

Poem on the Terrace – Planting Cabbages de Carolyn McCurdie

‘Poem on the Terrace – poetas neozelandeses’. Una serie para dar a conocer la poesía de las antípodas de España. Los neozelandeses, Charles Olsen y Anna Borrie, recitan y comentan un poema en una agradable terraza de Madrid.

En este capítulo leen ‘Planting Cabbages’ de Carolyn McCurdie. Pueden leer más sobre la autora, y leer su poema en castellano, en Palabras Prestadas.

We present ‘Poem on the Terrace – New Zealand Poets’, where we introduce kiwi poets to a Spanish audience. Charles Olsen and Anna Borrie recite and discuss a poem on a relaxed Madrid roof terrace.

In this chapter they read ‘Planting Cabbages’ by Carolyn McCurdie. Find out more about the author at the Otago Writers Network.

Listen here.
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Good news: NZ poet, Charles Olsen, receives Spanish poetry award

CharlesOlsen-genoma-foto Lilián Pallares.jpg



New Zealand poet Charles Olsen receives the XIII Distinction POETAS DE OTROS MUNDOS (‘Poets From Other Worlds’) awarded by the Fondo Poético Internacional (‘International Poetry Fund’) in recognition of the high quality of his poetic oeuvre.

Son of an Anglican priest and an opera singer, Charles Olsen moved to England in 1981 and to Spain in 2003. He travelled to Spain because of his interest in the Spanish painters Velasquez and Goya, and to study flamenco guitar. He has published the poetry collections Sr. Citizen (Amargord, 2011), which includes a foreword by New Zealand poet Pat White, and Antípodas (Huerga & Fierro, 2016). His poems have been included in anthologies in Spain and Colombia as well as Blackmail Press (editions 28 and 39) and the latest NZ Poetry Yearbook 2017 (Massey University Press). Although he didn’t speak Spanish before moving to Spain now writes many of his poems in Spanish and has also translated many Spanish and New Zealand poets.

He has also taken his poetic vision into different areas such as the performance Agita Flamenco which premiered in the New Zealand pavilion of the Venice Biennale – a show including flamenco dance and piano – and his poetry films, which have been shown in festivals such as Liberated Words (Bristol), Sinestèsia (Barcelona), and ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival (Berlín). He collaborated with video-creations in the show Parpadeos, presented this year in the Netherlands Flamenco Biënnale.

For the last six years he has run the online poetry project Palabras Prestadas (Given Words) with the participation of poets from throughout the Spanish-speaking world and this year he is running a special edition of Given Words in English for the Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day which is open to all New Zealanders.

His partner, Colombian poet Lilián Pallares, with whom he runs the audiovisual producer antenablue – the observed word, has been awarded at the same time the XIV Distinction POETAS DE OTROS MUNDOS. In 2011 she was selected as one of the ten best young writers of Latin America by About.com, New York. Charles recently translated her book of short stories ‘Sleepwalking City‘ into English.

The awards will be presented by the Aragonese poet, Ángel Guinda, president of the Fondo Poético Internacional, on Sunday 9th July of the current year, in Madrid, Nakama Bookshop (Calle Pelayo 22), at 12:30 midday.

The previous distinctions have been awarded to the poets Theodoro Elssaca (Chile), Subhro Bandopadyay (India), Zhivka Baltadzhieva (Bulgaria), Mohsen Emadi (Iran), Ahmad Yamani (Egypt), Inés Ramón (Argentina), Rubén Grajeda Fuentes, ‘Leo Zelada’ (Peru), Nicanor Parra (Chile), Abdul Hadi Sadoun (Iraq), Mohamed Alfaqueeh (Libia), Soleh Wolpé (Iran) and Luljeta Lleshanaku (Albania).

My five words for the Spanish ‘Given Words’ project produced a tremendous poem by Juan M. Santiago León

I was invited by Charles Olsen to submit five words for the Palabras Prestadas (Given Words) project. My words: limón, miel, azul, caer y agrietar. I was surprised and delighted to read the winning poem. I adore it. I have posted it below with a translation by Charles. Wonderful!

For all the selected poems (in Spanish!) see here.

Charles Olsen on the project: ‘Tell me about the Palabras Prestadas project. Every two weeks a guest is invited to donate five words and participants send in their poems that must include the five words. A prize is awarded for the best poem of each edition and it is these poems that are brought together in this book. You can read more in this previous press release in The Big Idea. The project is currently coming to the end of its fourth year during which poets have been challenged to write with Samoan words given by Doug Poole and words donated in the annual football match between poets and novelists in Granada among others. This year the publishers Vaso Roto, Pre-Textos and Huerga & Fierro have joined with Cuadernos del Vigía in donating books from their poetry collections as prizes for the best poems. The project has also been featured in the national Spanish newspaper El País and on national Spanish television (RTVE) in NCI Noticias.’ For the rest of the article see here



All the given words

led me to one person, my grandmother.


a bloody war

bombs fall

the space under a staircase cracks

my great uncle is a baby

a neighbour is blown up.


A Cordovan torturer

sucks a lemon

while the face of the red turns blue

shots are heard in the street

a false alarm.


I’ve never liked honey

I hate things that look me in the eye

neither prawns nor snails

first time I got drunk

on sour beer.


She hung the curtains

in one of her flats to rent

although she didn’t invite us to eat

so as not to mess up the kitchen.


My mother sets her curlers

my youngest uncle writes simple poems

and tells me his new theory

to fix Spain and the world.


It’s 30 years since my grandfather died

and the word processor goes crazy.

The email opens windows without reason

and decides alone to send

an unfinished poem.

Today I’ve smashed a mobile against the floor

and without wanting, I’ve paid homage to my other drunk grandfather

to my cantankerous and bullied father

to the post-war which was messed up for the common people

to the women full of unwanted children

to the brutal priests

to the pitched battles between gangs of youth

to the doors with splintered wood from the blows…

Juan M. Santiago León

(Translated by Charles Olsen)

Aquella vez, todas las palabras pensadas
me llevaron a una sola persona, mi abuela.

una guerra cruenta
caen las bombas
se agrieta el hueco de una escalera
mi tío abuelo es un bebé
un vecino muere reventado.

Un torturador cordobés
sorbe un limón
mientras el rostro del rojo se pone azul
suenan tiros en la calle
es una falsa alarma.

Nunca me gustó la miel
detesto las cosas que me miran a los ojos
ni gambas ni caracoles
primera borrachera
con cerveza caducada.

Le colgaba las cortinas
en uno de sus pisos de alquiler
sin embargo, no nos invitaba a comer
por no manchar la cocina.

Mi madre le lía los rulos
mi tío el pequeño escribe poesía fácil
y me cuenta su nueva teoría
para arreglar España y el mundo.

Hace 30 años que falleció mi abuelo
y el procesador de textos se vuelve loco.
El correo electrónico abre ventanas sin ton ni son
y decide enviarse solo
un poema inacabado.

Hoy he estrellado un móvil contra el suelo
y sin quererlo, le he hecho un homenaje a mi otro abuelo borracho
a mi padre iracundo y maltratado
a la posguerra que fue muy jodida para el pueblo llano
a las mujeres llenas de hijos sin desearlos
a los curas partebocas
a las batallas campales entre bandas de chicos

a las puertas con la madera hundida por los puñetazos…

Juan M. Santiago León

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