Tag Archives: David Eggleton

Poetry Shelf The Summer Season: Poets pick poems – David Eggleton picks Ian Wedde

 

Mahmoud Darwish

from ‘The Andalusian Epilogue’

 

Because it’s our last evening on this earth we extract our days

From their leafy camouflage and count the coasts we’ll encounter

And those we’ll leave. There. On this our last evening

There’s nothing left to farewell and no time for fanfares.

This is how everything’s governed. How our dreams are renewed,

Our visitors. Suddenly irony’s beyond us

Because the place is set up to accommodate nothing.

Here, on the last evening

We moisten our eyes with mountains encircled by clouds.

Conquest and reconquest

And an earlier time that relinquishes our door-keys to the present.

Come into our houses, conquerors, and drink our wine

To the music of our mouwachah. Because we are the night’s midnight.

And no courier-dawn gallops to us from the last call to prayer.

Our green tea is hot, drink it, our pistachios are fresh, eat them,

The beds are of green cedar wood, yield to sleep

After this long siege, sleep on the duvet of our dreams.

The sheets are spread, perfumes placed at the doors

And by the many mirrors.

Go in there so we can leave, finally. Soon enough we’ll seek out

The ways our history wraps around yours in distant regions.

And at the end we’ll ask: Was Andalusia there

Or over there? On the earth . . . or in the poem?

 

(after the French translation by Elias Sanbar of Darwish’s poem in Arabic)

 

©Ian Wedde The Lifeguard: Poems 2008 – 2013 Auckland University Press, 2013.

 

 

The poem I have chosen, ‘Mahmoud Darwish’, is taken from Ian Wedde’s collection The Lifeguard: Poems 2008 – 2013 (Auckland University Press, 2013). This is a book mostly made up of sequences of interlocking poems. One of the sequences is called ‘Three Elegies’, and consists of three poems, titled, respectively: ‘Harry Martens’, ‘Mahmoud Darwish’ and ‘Oum Kalsoum’. These are connected through the life and work of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941 – 2008). The elegy for Harry Martens remembers an exuberant traveller, linguist and poet, one Harry Martens, who translated Darwish, while the elegy for Oum Kalsoum celebrates a famous Egyptian singer and media star — acclaimed generally as the single most prominent Arab woman in twentieth-century history — who died in 1975. In this latter elegy, Wedde recalls hearing her in the early 1970s ‘singing Darwish in Cairo, /reprise after reprise’, a performance he watched at the time on a TV set in Amman, Jordan.

Of the central poem ‘Mahmoud Darwish’, it could be said rarely has a poem seemed more pertinent than this one right now, when, preening himself like an orange budgerigar, President Trump is obsessively chirping anti-Muslim, anti-Arab tweets on Twitter, intent on scapegoating and marginalising Arab citizens as the dangerous Other. Mahmoud Darwish (1941- 2008) was one of the most accomplished modern poets, not just of the Arab world, but internationally. Furthermore, he is one of the emblematic poets of loss of homeland and exile, of ‘destroyed identity’ — and the central literary figure in Palestinian culture.

The Israelis razed Darwish’s home village to the ground in 1948, when he was seven. He grew up in occupied Palestine. Emerging as a significant young writer in the 1960s, he was imprisoned for reciting his poems, harassed, banned, and eventually sent into exile by the Israeli authorities: a permanent refugee.

Ian Wedde, working with the Arabic scholar Fawwaz Tuqan, translated a number of Darwish’s poems into English in the early 1970s, and Carcanet Press in the UK published these as a Selected Poems in 1973. A copy of this slim volume in its now-faded yellow dust-jacket resides on my bookshelves.

‘Mahmoud Darwish’, however, is not a poem directly about the poet; instead it is a translation from an original poem by Darwish, filtered through a translation into French by Darwish’s friend and fellow Palestinian writer Elias Sanbar. One affinity between Darwish and Wedde is that they are both philosophical poets, ontological poets, concerned with exploring being-in-the-world through language. Another affinity is that they are both cosmopolitan poets, restlessly alert to contexts and cultural allusions. Many of the poems in The Lifeguard emphasise a kind of stream-of-consciousness effect, or are, in their reverie, even occasionally teasing reminiscent of Walter Benjamin on hashish.

‘Mahmoud Darwish’ picks up on the same phenomenological pressure, but then artfully opens out into a sort of liminal dream space. Its verbal music, at first acquaintance, seems to have an air of yearning, as it evokes what might be a mirage, an oasis, a sequestered courtyard. But gradually, reread, the poem becomes increasingly haunting, subtly plaintive, and the tone you might at first take for lassitude, world-weariness, melancholy, begins to resonate in a more complex way. Beneath the incantatory language and luscious imagery, the air of fatalistic resignation, is a smouldering anger and underlying bitterness.

Wedde has actually only selected the first of eleven poems in Darwish’s original ode sequence, titled by one translator ‘Eleven Stars Over Andalusia’, or as Wedde calls it ‘The Andalusian Epilogue’. All the poems in the original sequence are variants of classic Arabic verse forms, pushing and pulling and prescribed rhyme schemes and standard imagery.

Andalusia in southern Spain is a mythical homeland for the dispossessed Palestinians. It’s a region of medieval artistic accomplishments, where Muslims, Jews and Christians lived together in harmony for centuries until Muslim Spain — al-Andalus — was conquered by Christians from northern Spain in 1492. Darwish wrote this poem on the anniversary of the Fall in 1992, in part in response to Yassir Arafat’s peace negotiations with Israel at that time, which Darwish regarded — rightly, as it turned out — pessimistically. ‘Mahmoud Darwish’, then, is a poem about harsh realpolitik, only cast in sensual cadences; it’s a poem of disillusionment, affirming a lost cause. The tribal bard calls on his people’s collective memory to mark the ongoing occupation of the homeland and the intransigence of the conqueror — that conqueror’s policies of eradication, subjugation, apartheid  — in language reminiscent of the Song of Solomon.

 David Eggleton

 

 

David Eggleton lives in Dunedin, where he is a poet, writer, reviewer and editor. His first collection of poems was co-winner of the PEN New Zealand Best First Book of Poems Award in 1987. He was the Burns Fellow at Otago University in 1990. His most recent collection of poems, The Conch Trumpet, won the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Award for Poetry. He is the current Editor of Landfall, published by Otago University Press.

To celebrate Prime Minister’s Literary Award: a poem by David Eggleton

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Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry 2016: David Eggleton

To celebrate David Eggleton’s well-deserved honour, here is a poem from his award-winning book, The Conch Trumpet. Having just watched the second presidential debate, reading this lucid lament was a perfect antidote to my allergic reaction to stupidity.

David has gifted us a sumptuous and kinetic weave of lines across decades. He dares to challenge. He makes words sing. He lets us into an idiosyncratic and  warm absorption of the world about him, whether it is back country or city streets. Read one of his poems, and you get to see the world a little differently. Hear him read one of his poems and you are shuffling on your feet. His poetry is a banquet of constant return.

Congratulations David!

 

Clocks, Calendars, Nights, Days

 

Bitterness of bees dying out,

honeyless clouds, forest drought,

red, yellow, charcoal’s grain,

eyes smarting from a world on fire,

air thick with grit; cleave to it.

                                      by clocks, calendars, nights, days

 

Bog cotton frenzy of winter

dancing erasures over hills,

leaf litter corrected by snow;

fog quickly swallows the sea,

then starts in on the shore.

                                  by clocks, calendars, nights, days

 

Skerricks of twigs skim high,

flung far from grips of fists;

remember to dip your bucket

deep into the morning sun,

but don’t drown in apathy.

                                    by clocks, calendars, nights, days

 

Then down in earth’s mouth,

a slow song about the rain,

as you heave from the dark

to hear a thunderous beat

clocking on the old tin roof.

                                         by clocks, calendars, nights, days

 

By fast, slow, high, deep;

by sing, dance, laugh, sleep;

by climb, fall, jump, walk;

by chance, breath, cry, talk;

by clocks, calendars, nights, days.

                                    by clocks, calendars, nights, days

 

©  David Eggleton, The Conch Trumpet, Otago University Press, 2015

Congratulations: David Eggleton wins Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry

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The recipients of the Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement for 2016 have been announced today. Writers Atholl Anderson, Marilyn Duckworth and David Eggleton will each be awarded $60,000 in recognition of their outstanding contribution to New Zealand literature.

The three winners were agreed by the Arts Council of Creative New Zealand, based on public nominations and the recommendations of a selection panel. Atholl Anderson will be recognised for non-fiction, Marilyn Duckworth for fiction and David Eggleton for poetry.

Arts Council Chairman, Dr Dick Grant, says, “The Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement differ from other prizes in that they recognise a career and a significant body of acclaimed work, rather than a single work of literature. The contribution of nominees to the literary community over time is also taken into consideration.”

Dr Grant says, “I congratulate these wonderful authors on their selection for this prestigious award. It’s important that we honour New Zealand writers in this way, to recognise achievement at the highest level, but also to inspire young writers to envisage a writing career for themselves that will continue to build on this literary legacy into the future.”

The awards will be presented at a ceremony at Premier House in Wellington, on Wednesday 12 October.

The Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement were established in 2003. Every year, New Zealanders are invited to nominate their choice of a writer who has made a significant contribution to New Zealand literature in the genres of non-fiction, poetry and fiction. New Zealand writers are also able to nominate themselves for these awards.

Nominations are assessed by an expert literary panel and recommendations forwarded to the Arts Council of Creative New Zealand for approval.  This year’s selection panel was Jock Philips (Chair), Jill Rawnsley, John Huria, Morrin Rout and Murray Edmond.

A full list of previous recipients can be found on the Creative New Zealand website.

Creative New Zealand and Unity Books invite you to a free literary event

The recipients of the 2016 Prime Ministers Awards for Literary Achievement will read and discuss their work with broadcaster, Kathryn Ryan.

This is a free event at Unity Books, 57 Willis Street, Wellington on Thursday 13 October, 12-12.45 pm. All welcome.

Additional notes: author biographies

David Eggleton (Dunedin). David Eggleton has published eight collections of poetry, most recently The Conch Trumpet, which was the winner of the Ockham New Zealand Book Award for Poetry in 2016. He is well-known as a performance poet and as well as his poetry appearing in numerous anthologies over a long period of time, he has also been involved with many documentaries and recordings of New Zealand poetry. While continuing to produce his own poetry, Eggleton also gives back to the New Zealand poetry community by editing both Landfall magazine and Landfall Review Online. As one of his nominators commented, ‘he has, for over 30 years, made a vital contribution to the poetry community throughout New Zealand.  He is truly a bard, a bard with street credentials. He sings our nationhood.’

Marilyn Duckworth OBE (Wellington). Marilyn Duckworth has a long history of publishing fiction. She has published 16 novels, a novella, a collection of short stories, a collection of poetry and her autobiography. Duckworth has received numerous awards, fellowships and residencies over the course of her career including the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship to Menton, the Victoria University Writer-in-Residence, the Auckland University Writer-in Residence and, more recently, she has been the New Zealand Society of Authors President of Honour. Duckworth has also been active in the literary community as a mentor and support to many writers and she has been a Trustee on the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship Trust for many years.

Professor Atholl Anderson (Ngāi Tahu, Blenheim). Atholl Anderson CNZM, FRSNZ, FAHA, FSA is an outstanding writer, researcher and communicator who has carried out many years’ research throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans. He has directed numerous archaeological excavations, published prolifically, and been the recipient of many awards including the 2015 Humanities Aronui Medal from the Royal Society and the 2016 JD Stout Fellowship. He has made a significant contribution to tribal history in southern New Zealand, with books such as The Welcome of Strangers (1998) and Ngāi Tahu: A Migration History, edited with Te Maire Tau (2008). He is an Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University, Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Canterbury and Honorary Professor of Anthropology at the University of Otago. His publications include Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History, with Judith Binney and Aroha Harris, which won the Non-fiction award at the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. This book has also won several other awards over the past year.

David Eggleton on poetry for all with Kathryn Ryan

 

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David Eggleton on poetry for all

Unleashing the power of poetry, David Eggleton is the editor of the country’s leading literary magazine, Landfall and he says poetry affects people of all ages. It’s National Poetry Day on Friday, an annual celebration of the written and spoken word, with 100 events around the country engaging thousands of New Zealanders, young and old.

 

 

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Photo credit: F. J. Neuman

Poetry Shelf Postcard: Landfall 231

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We are well served by literary journals at the moment. Each delivers slightly different treats, biases, focuses but all offer high quality writing that resist any singular NZ model.

The latest Landfall (as you can see) has a stunning cover with its Peter Peryer photograph.

Inside: poetry (37 poets!), fiction, non-fiction, art and book reviews (including an excellent review of Anna Smaill’s The Chimes, one of my top fiction reads of the past year).

The poets range from the very familiar, whether young or old, to those new to me. And that is as it should be. David Eggleton is keeping the magazine fresh whilst giving vital space to our literary elders and maintaining a strong and welcome Pacific flavour.

 

A tasting plate of lines that got me (I seem to have been struck by mothers, fathers, surprising images, little twists):

 

from Brian Turner’s ‘Weekends’:

think of what a place could be

when it’s not what we possess

that counts most

but what we are possessed by

 

from CK Stead’s ‘One: Like a bird’ (for Kay):

You were beautiful, and I

sang, as I could in those days

all the way home—like a bird.

 

from Leilani Tamu’s ‘Researching Ali’i’:

I searched for you in boxes

the archivist muttered poison

 

from Rata Gordon’s ‘A Baby’:

I want to make a baby out of one peach and one prickle.

I want to use the kitchen sponge, sticky rice and a rubber band.

I want to use the coffee grinder.

 

from Siobhan Harvey’s ‘Spaceboy and the White Hole’:

he pictures matter barely visible, the light

of white holes as they transmit their secret

messages, sharp elegies, about letting go.

 

from Ruth Arnison’s ‘The Visit’:

Even from the road her house gave us the creeps.

Pale, communion wafer thin, and disapproving,

its severe windows three-quarter blinded.

 

from Heather McQuillan’s ‘In which I defend my father’s right to solitude’:

our father has a fine tooth way

of finding vulnerabilities

on the outward flanks

the wolf is always at his door

 

from Doc Drumheller’s ‘My Father’s Fingers’:

Days after my father died I felt a sense

of urgency to take care of his hot-house.

 

from Koenraad Kuiper’s ‘from Benedictine Sonnets’:

Mother always knitted particularly socks.

Knitting socks is a fine skill under the lamplight.

 

from Elizabeth Smither’s ‘Three “Willow” Pattern Bowls’:

My father thought I meant the plate

and wrapped one from the china cabinet

I carried it close to my heart

all the way back for a second reprimand.

 

from Bob Orr’s ‘Seven Haiku’:

I don’t care about

frogs

basho’s dead

 

from Will Leadbetter’s ‘Three Variations on “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams’:

Nothing depends upon

the green wheelbarrow

 

Great winter reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ika Issue 4 – a feast indeed

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With the latest issue, Ika is planting its feet firmly on the NZ writing landscape, as a journal to take notice of. Each issue tweaks the design a little. This one looks good. Poems luxuriate on the page. The art is honoured. The internal design is appealing to the eye.

Anne Kennedy, with her astute eye and ear, has assembled writing that matches the fresh appeal of the design. Like Sport, the journal acknowledges its links to its Creative Writing programme and allows established writers to rub shoulders with students. I applaud the celebration of Pacific writing. You will find art, poetry, fiction, an interview and nonfiction. A feast indeed.

Lovely launch at Auckland Central Library on Saturday with a fitting speech by Sue Orr, a handful of readings and  wow-factor song.

 

A taste of poetry:

Annaleese Jochems: She is a graduate of MIT and is now doing a Masters in writing at Victoria. Her poem is your entry into the book and it leaves you wanting more. Just what a new voice offers: surprising lines, audacity, elasticity.

I must go home for dinner,/ but I don’t want to go home/ where I play my unrequited/ love like a banjo

 

Poet and publisher Kiri Piahana-Wong has a suite of poems that I think are her best yet. How do you reproduce feeling in a poem in 2016? Kiri shows how: ‘A month later my chest/ still felt like a stone/ was inside it so I stayed/ there and I kept waiting’

 

Bill Manhire also has a suite of poems. The first poem, ‘We Work to be Winners’ got under my skin because I loved the surprising juxtapositions of one line alongside the next. It got me thinking about the origins of the poem. Sometimes if you know that, it changes the way you read the lines. In this case I began inventing origins as I waited in a festival queue. It felt like the poem had a fascinating backstory which could become a poem in its own right. It might be a found poem (but from where? that is what intrigues). It could be written from the point of view  of someone who writes a sentence in a diary each Thursday. Or the offbeat biography of a hippy from the 1970s. Get the journal and decide for yourself. First line: ‘I left the ashram running for my life.’

Craig Santos Perez: ‘Micronesians in Denial’ brings mouth-watering detail alongside history alongside political spikes. I also loved ‘Aunty of rainwater and Smoke’ – the title says it all. This is poetry song and poetry joy.

David Eggleton (winner of Poetry Category at NZ Book Awards last week) is hitting his poetry straps so to speak. You get two poems that are a linguistic explosion in the ear with musical chords sneaking in and rhythms pulling you along at breakneck speed. It is not just aural gold though because there is the visual weave that ignites all senses.

Awks: you winged Auk-thing, awkward, huddling;

you wraparound, myriad, amphibious,

stretchy try-hard, Polywoodish

juggernaut’ (from ‘Edgeland’)

 

I am flicking in and out of the journal waiting for a session at the festival and stumble upon these lines by Hera Lindsay Bird (she has a book out with VUP later this year!): ‘O Anna/ let us jettison the manky quilts/ of our foremothers’ Yep – it is a terrific poem.

 

Courtney Sina Meredith’s ‘of all the bricks we laid in our sleep’ stuck with me, haunted me as I drove home on Sunday with festival fatigue. this poem was like a haunting refrain. ‘and hear your soft waiata/ through the floorboards’

 

This stanza from Doug Poole‘s ‘The light I had hoped’ also got to me:

As a child I would lie awake listening to my grandmother slapping

clothes on her bedside chair, speaking aloud her thoughts of the day,

clicking rosary beads and whispering her prayers

 

This afternoon I fell upon  ‘Chasing Spirits’ by Kim M. Melhuish. A voice keeps asking ‘how’s this’ and the answers tumble like little poetry postcards perfectly formed:

two words

fishing for love

pink orchids

finger paint

the night ahead.

 

And then it was this delicious morsel from Vivienne Plumb from ‘Peach Tree’:

The cactus unfurls its one brilliant

blinding flower. Excuse me,

there is no poetic peach tree here.

 

AND I still have to read poems by these poets: Airini Beautrias, Bryan Walpert, Charlotte Steel, Elizabeth Morton, Gregory O’Brien, Makyla Curtis, Manisha Anjali, Ria Masae, Richard Von Sturmer, Sophie van Waardenberg.

I applaud everyone involved. This is a journal worth subscribing to.

 

Enquiries: ikajournal@gmail.com

submit at

 

 

 

 

Poetry winner, David Eggleton’s seven best things to make a poem memorable

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David Eggleton won the Ockham Book Award’s  Poetry category this year. Here are his Seven Things That Make A Poem Memorable. Gems.

1. The first thing is the poetic license, the dispensation, a poem grants allowing the poet to take liberties with language, with literary form, to yoke together like with unlike, the probable with the improbable, in a tiny space, and create a kind of explosion — sometimes thermonuclear, as in T.S.Eliot’s Modernism-defining 1922 poem ‘The Waste Land’. Virginia Woolf wrote shortly after this was published: ‘I sun myself upon the ravishing beauty of one of his lines, and reflect that I must make a dizzy and dangerous leap to the next. . .line.’

2. The second thing is the wonderfully mesmeric power of a poem’s metre, the entrancement of its heartbeat, its rhythm, its breathing, as these two lines from a Samuel Beckett poem indicate: ‘the churn of stale words in the heart again/ love love love thud of the old plunger. . .’ Allen Ginsberg shows another way the metre can memorably become stirring, march-like, uplifting, as well as amusingly sardonic, in his poem ‘Howl’: ‘buried alive in their innocent flannel suits on Madison Avenue amid/ blasts of leaden verse & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments of fashion/ & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising/ & the mustard gas of sinister intelligent editors. . .’

 

for the rest of the list on The Ockham Book Award site see here