Tag Archives: Kay McKenzie Cooke

Poetry Shelf connections: two poems from Kay McKenzie Cooke

 

cricket during lockdown

 

The ragged monotone

of a cricket’s refrain

is childhood’s waist-high grass

and boredom. It is last chances,

 

eternity, the beige of neglected summer lawns.

Through an open window

I hear its shrill register

competing

with the sporadic wash

of reduced traffic noise

and my granddaughter’s tearful protests

against an afternoon nap.

 

This cricket’s front-leg click, rub, whirr,

is an irksome useless key

turning a music box

with a loose spring

that cannot be wound any tighter.

I find myself counting on it to be

 

today’s measure of time. Even when

everything turns, re-turns,

the cricket will keep

on. For now though, it is

my stop watch.

 

 

 

above the line

 

Above, a black-backed gull

grifts the high way

only gulls trawl,

a sky- valley current

that streams between

beach and harbour.

 

I look up, see its chest

feathers ironed white by light,

its black wings

rowing west

towards today’s catch:

 

fish entrails, road kill,

mud crab. I note

how it hauls its cargo

of intent, watch

until it disappears

behind the tips

of trees, envision

 

the movement, the trail

it leaves

behind, that caught

rude disturbance

of time’s dead air.

 

Kay McKenzie Cooke

 

 

Kay McKenzie Cooke is a Dunedin writer. The Cuba Press are publishing her fourth poetry collection which is scheduled for release in June 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kay McKenzie Cooke shares photos and comments on Dunedin’s farewell to poet, John Dickson

 

20293994_10211363283370214_8533850798113312235_n.jpg  20292864_10211363282450191_926639157787563302_n.jpg

At times last night’s memorial poetry reading for John Dickson felt like friends gathered in a room together, having a quiet drink and reminiscing about their friend Dixie.
Fitting somehow that it was held in the Crown Hotel. Is it because the beloved Crown is such a Dunedin venue – non-pretentious, down-home, verging on grungy, established, under-stated, historical, storied – as if all the people who have frequented, hosted, performed, chatted and imbibed there have left behind some invisible imprint of themselves?
At other times the night took on the air of a formal poetry reading befitting and honouring a much-revered poet.

 

20292969_10211363282330188_4281611238851633488_n.jpg  20375938_10211363282010180_7491810256740697715_n.jpg

Poet Richard Reeve opened proceedings by reading poems from John’s last book, Mister Hamilton.

 

20292838_10211363281050156_2961189889695682918_n-1.jpg

 

Jenny Powell read John’s famous Miles Davis poem; her delivery a tour de force and much appreciated by John Dickson aficionados present.
I read some of my own poems – poems about Dunedin and its streets and poets; poems which I hoped would reflect in some small way a poet I admired.

David Eggleton read two of his own poems, introducing his reading by saying he first met John thirty years ago and remembers, among other things, his gift as an entertaining raconteur of circular stories.
Richard spoke about how he got to know John in 1996 when he was a student and recalls their complex discussions about poetry, admitting that probably neither understood what the other was talking about. He also mentioned the value he placed on John and

Jenny’s friendship, and their visits to his Warrington home (which John dubbed as ‘bucolic’).
Richard also mentioned that in the 1980’s, John and Cilla McQueen ran poetry readings in Dunedin, which were attended by poets such as Hone Tuwhare and Bill Manhire.
John’s gift of friendship was mentioned many times – so much so that it became a feature of the night.

Max Lowery spoke about his friendship with John over many years and his regard for him both as a person (a friend, a flat-mate) and a poet. Towards the end of the evening, a quiet and reflective mood filled the room as Max talked about the photos of John that he had put up on the wall, and shared the memories that they evoked.

Alastair Reid also spoke of his close friendship with John, allowing someone like me, who didn’t know John well, insight into his individual take on life, his love of life, his curiosity about life and his love of learning, right to the end.

Alastair Galbraith also spoke about John’s dry humour, his laconic, unpretentious way of always just being himself. In particular, he spoke about John’s reading of his poetry. How amazingly deliberate and almost mesmerising it was. He recalled memories of recording

John reading his poetry and had the cds available for anyone wanting to buy them.
Richard read an excerpt from a twenty-eight page (yes, that’s right; twenty-eight page!) poem John had sent him as a response to a (much shorter) email Richard had sent him when the Irish poet Seamus Heaney died, thus treating those of us there to part of this poem’s dazzling, sweeping trains of thought.

Flatmates, poetry-reading mates, fellow poets, friends … all recalled John’s sense of humour and uniqueness.

Over and over, John Dickson’s warmth, regard, his gift of inclusion, of friendship, his intelligence and extraordinary complexity and depth as a poet, came through what people said and read.

Dixie will be greatly missed.

Kay Cooke, July 2017

 

20476088_10211363281890177_7940763199827956824_n.jpg  20294445_10211363281410165_5550758669763182706_n.jpg

20293078_10211363280570144_7161329800315891825_n.jpg20375909_10211363280410140_6383964667389936102_n.jpg