Tag Archives: Kiri Piahana-Wong

Ora Nui 3 – a symphonic treat of art and writing

 

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Ora Nui is a journal edited by Anton Blank devoted to Māori experimental literature;  writing that pushes the borders of identity as much if not more than it pushes the ‘how’ of writing. The latest issue draws upon issues of identity, nationhood and migration and includes a diversity voice.  Amy Leigh Wicks and Jan Kemp, for example, place European perspectives alongside those of Vaughan Rapatahana, Reihana Robinson, Robert Sullivan, Jacqueline Carter, Apirana Taylor and Marino Blank.

I think Ora Nui takes apart the whole notion of experimental and transforms it; I am thinking of writing that is testing something out, that might be tethered or prompted by experience, that doesn’t necessarily demolish stylistic traditions, and might have productive talks with them. Experimental writing is often aligned with the avantgarde, however this journal refreshes the experimental page. The journal promotes conversation that tests who and how we are and gives space for voices – some with traditions of marginalisation – to speak from the local and converse with the global. Anton Blank writes: This collection is a glorious celebration of diversity and change.

The cover showcases an image from from Lisa Reihana’s astonishing art installation, Pursuit of Venus (she has assured me we will get to see this again in New Zealand). I have propped the journal on a shelf so I can fall back into her mesmerising work. The image is the perfect gateway into writing that navigates questions of identity and belonging from multiple vantage points.

 

What I love about this journal though is the utter feast of voices and sumptuous artworks –  I cannot think of anything that has challenged, inspired or awed me in such diverse and distinctive ways. The poetry is symphonic in its reach and shifting keys. Here is a small sample of some of the poetry treats – I am till reading! I have just flicked to the back and got hooked on the lines of Robert Sullivan’s fruit poem, Reihana Robinson, Apirana Taylor, Briar Wood …. and then still sipping breakfast coffee, back to the dazzling currents of Reihana (especially ‘What is a nation?’).  I just bought a book of Reihana’s poetry – I am so hoping there is more in the pipeline.

 

Jacqueline Carter‘s  poetry often tenders a political edge. The poems included here underline her ability to get you rethinking things. These poems dig deep and resonate on so many levels.

 

‘The paepae

of the city’s children

 

is littered

with waewae tapu

 

people

who haven’t

 

been welcomed  on

 

people

in fact

 

who aren’t welcome at all’

 

from ‘Aotea Square’ (you just have to read the whole poem!!)

 

 

Rangi Faith pays homage to Janet Frame as he imagines the seat she sits in on a train; I have never read a portrait of Janet quite like this, and I love it.

 

‘When I was six years old

& running around the backyard

of our brick house in King Street,

a train steamed across the old airport

between us and the sea

carrying Janet Frame the poet.’

 

from ‘Janet Frame Passes through Saltwater Creek’

 

Rangi moves further south to pull Hone Tuwhare into a luminous rendering of place.

 

‘this place was always good for a waiata

to sing softly, or loudly if you preferred,

andto drum your tokotoko in time

to the incoming tide

on the earth’s Jurassic skin.’

 

from ‘To Hone at Kaka Point Seven Years On’

 

This is my first encounter with Teoti Jardine‘s poetry and I am struck by its clarity, its fluidity, its striking images.

 

.My Great Great Grandmother

wove her korowai with clouds.

and braided bull kelp lines

to hold the tide.’

 

from ‘Kuihi’

 

Kiri Piahana-Wong ‘s lyrical poetry holds the personal close, with both movement and stillness, little pockets of thought. I was drawn to her recounting Hinerangi’s broken heart and death.

 

‘On the day I died

it rained. Not just any rain,

but rain accompanied by

a sapping, brutal wind

from the southwest, the

kind that wrenches doors

from their hinges,

breaks down trees

and fences.’

 

from ‘On the day I died’

 

Two essays really struck a chord with me:

Dr. Carla Houkamau’s  ‘Māori identity and personal perspective’

Paula Morris’s ‘Of All Places: A Polemic on “International Book Prizes”‘

 

This is a substantial journal, a necessary journal, a must-read issue, and I have still so much left to savour. Bravo, Anton Blank for getting  this writing and this artmaking out where we can see it. I wish I could linger and share my engagement with every piece but must get back to writing my big book. I now have some new women to bring into my writing house. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Poets on Tour: Airini Beautrais and Maria McMillan take to the road, July 2017

Airini Beautrais and Maria McMillan have written up their poetry road trip. I am so hoping this becomes a thing – two poet friends on tour with new books.    

 

 

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both Victoria University Press, 2017

We’ve known each other since the early 2000s, and both of us have been writing poetry for even longer than that. Some common threads in our work include feminism, social justice, environmentalism, and an interest in the possibilities of form. Over a cup of tea one afternoon in Maria’s lounge we agreed that as we both had books coming out this year, we should go on tour. Maria had been working hard in non-poetry related paid gigs, Airini was battling some difficult personal circumstances, and some time on the road reading with other women poets seemed like just what the doctor (of creative writing) ordered.

Somehow the tour got planned amidst the mad mess of everyday life. Sarah Laing kindly agreed to let us use her drawings for promotional purposes. Airini made a DIY poster with the help of scissors, glue, wallpaper and blu-tack. The word went out. The car got packed.

 

On Friday 14 July Airini held a book launch for Flow: Whanganui River Poems, at the Whanganui regional museum. Maria was the main support act on the night, reading from her recently-released The Ski Flier (Airini had also read at Maria’s launch a month earlier). Jenny Bornholdt read a poem by Joanna Margaret Paul. Other local booklovers read some favourite Whanganui-linked poems. VUP publicist and talented novelist Kirsten McDougall gave a fantastic launch speech.

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Accidental ankh, Dannevirke

In the morning it was coffee, porridge and a quick trip to Whanganui’s famous SaveMart ‘The Mill’. Then onto the back roads of the Manawatu with a battered road atlas and smartphones which were largely ignored. We made it over the Pohangina Saddle, and lunched on launch leftovers in Dannevirke, where we discovered a church with a possibly accidental (we think maybe not) ankh – a perfect opportunity for posing with our books. On to Napier where it appeared we had entered a time warp. Airini’s dirty old Honda suddenly looked new alongside the vintage cars sweeping around the waterfront, driven by flappers and dapper gentlemen. The thought occurred to us that it was Deco weekend.

 

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Beattie and Forbes Booksellers with Marty and Emily

Beattie and Forbes Booksellers is a must-visit independent bookstore near the sea in Napier. They opened up on a Saturday evening so we could read, with Marty Smith and Emily Dobson. Old friends and new turned up, along with members of local poetry groups. It seems that anywhere you go in New Zealand, there’ll be a poetry group of some sort, and a reading will draw at least some of them out of the woodwork. A highlight of the evening was Emily reading a poem owing a debt to her young daughter, called ‘Thea’s ‘gina song,’ which ended ‘It’s a ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-BAGINA!’ Both Marty and Emily are accomplished poets and readers and it was a privilege to read alongside them.

 

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Maria at Waiomu Cafe

 

Sunday 16th we set off from Marty’s picturesque country house, on our big drive through to Thames. The roads had opened, but were still lined with snow.  We made it to our reading at Waiomu Beach Café with five minutes to spare. The café is in a beautiful spot and draws in regulars driving around the Coromandel coastal road. It’s run by Maria’s cousin Julie, who was an amazing host. Airini also met some extended family members at the reading. More FM were there, and interviewed us. We read in the outdoor courtyard, adjusting our volume according to the passing traffic. Over the road, a cop issued speeding tickets. A kereru landed in a tree alongside. We posed for more book photos under the pohutukawa, took Julie’s dog for a walk, and enjoyed the scenery.

 

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The Big House, Parnell with Tulia and Emma

Thames seems like the kind of place one could stay in forever, but on Monday morning we carried on to Auckland.  We parked the car and went to hear a reading at the Auckland Art Gallery with Steve Toussaint, Simone Kaho, Elizabeth Morton, Johanna Emeney and Michael Morrissey. Everyone read well, but a disgruntled audience member booed, hissed and heckled during question time at the end. Chair Siobhan Harvey did an excellent job of shouting him down. We looked at each other and wondered if this was how poetry readings always went in Auckland. But our reading that evening at the Big House in Parnell, with Simone Kaho and Tulia Thompson, was a very warm and homely affair. Many of the house’s 25 occupants joined us by the fire to listen and talk, and housemate Emma also read some of her poems with us.

 

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Airini at Poetry Live, Auckland

 

Tuesday night’s gig was Poetry Live, at the Thirsty Dog on K Road. Like the Big House, Poetry Live is an institution that’s been going for decades. We were lucky to be there for the farewell to regular MC Kiri Piahana-Wong. There was a great turnout and the venue and audience were friendly and welcoming. We read by turns in our guest poet slot, feeling like proper rockstars against the backdrop of a drum kit and stage lighting.

By Wednesday we were tired, and ready to head home. We stopped for tea and toasted sandwiches in the Pink Cadillac diner in Turangi. We parted ways at the Desert Road, after which Maria had some variable hitchhiking experiences, and Airini zig-zagged back and forth around the mountains navigating road closures. We’d had a great time and were looking forward to the second leg.

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Vic Books in Wellington with Pip and Freya

 

The next leg kicked off on Friday 28 July with a lunchtime reading at Vic Books. We were joined by superstars Pip Adam, reading from her brand spanking new The New Animals, and Freya Daly Sadgrove, whose poetry is performative and highly entertaining. Maria read her poem, inspired by Pip, ‘In which I attain unimaginable greatness,’ in which the narrator attains superhero powers, achieves amazing feats, and at the end declares ‘This is how I begin. This is my first day.’

 

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Palmerston North with Helen and Jo

Palmerston North City Library on Saturday evening was possibly the highlight of the tour. The library is a great place to read, hosting numerous literary events throughout the year. The big windows feature poems by local Leonel Alvarado, and pedestrians have a way of peering in through the letters, wondering what’s going on in there. We’d decided on a dress up theme of ‘80s trash with our fabulous co-readers Helen Lehndorf and Jo Aitchison, which got us some funny looks in New World, but definitely improved our performances. Helen’s hair was particularly spectacular. We had a small crowd but a great vibe. A kebab and whisky party kept us awake until the wee small hours.

 

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Maria at Hightide Cafe

Helen’s chickens laid us our breakfast, and we revived ourselves with bottomless pots of tea. Maria’s superpowers became evident when she managed to drive us safely to our last gig, Poets to the People at Hightide Café in Paraparaumu. The sun was setting over Kāpiti as we drank coffee and listened to the open mike. Again, this is an event that’s been running for years, and there’s a sense the regulars know and love one another. We went home to a beautiful roast cooked by Maria’s partner Joe. The tour was over, but the fight continues! We had some great conversations in the car over those two weeks, and some good catch-ups with family and friends along the way. There was a lot of fighting talk, a lot of laughter and also a few tears. A big part of the tour was affirming ourselves as poets, mothers and radical women, and by the end of it, our unimaginable greatness was hard to deny.

 

Airini Beautrais and Maria McMillan, September 2017

 

 

my conversation with Airini

my review of The Ski Flier

VUP page for Airini

VUP page for Maria

 

 

 

 

20/20 May Poets: A Phantom Billstickers Poetry Day celebration

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Alison Wong and Chris Tse

Apirana Taylor and Kiri Piahana Wong

Vincent O’Sullivan and Lynley Edmeades

Paula Green and Simone Kaho

Jenny Bornholdt and Ish Doney

 

This terrific project forms a little poetry reading house where you enter the rooms off the side and you don’t know what you will find. There is a vitality and a freshness as established and emerging poets and those in-between come together in poem conversations. Love it! (I am part of it but no idea how the poetry house would unfold)

 

 

A week of poems: Kiri Piahana-Wong’s ‘For Michelle’

 

 

For Michelle

 

You have receded against the far

horizon. It’s been three months

since you left, I can barely make

out the shape of the vessel you

sailed away on. I lie in my garden

and I grieve. Nothing seems to

thrive, not the flowers, not the

vegetable plants. Sometimes I

go to the shore and look out.

I think I can see you, surely

you are just there, surely

you haven’t left yet, it’s too

early, did no-one tell you?

I know now that’s what

happened. You forgot to

read the timetable, you didn’t

realise, Oh yes, the time to

catch this ship is years from now,

I have all the time in the world.

 

©Kiri Piahana-Wong

 

Be True to Yourself: Timeout Bookstore Poetry Reading

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Time Out Bookstore, Poetry Reading

Friday 12 August at 7pm.

The line-up includes:
Makyla Curtis
Steven Toussaint
Kiri Piahana-Wong
Selina Tusitala Marsh
Vaughan Rapatahana
Iain Britton

This is a BYO event. Come relax, have a drink and listen to some fantastic poetry!

Hope to see you there!

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 Live’s 35th Birthday Celebration

Tuesday 5th May 8pm, Thirsty Dog, Karangahape Road, Auckland

The Poetry Live team welcomes you to a special event: our 35th birthday. All through the month of May we will be holding special readings celebrating Poetry Live and this important milestone.

To kick things off on Tuesday 5th May we will have a mihi from MC Rachael; a short speech about Poetry Live from Judith McNeil; music by Otis Mace; poetry readings by former Poetry Live MCs Miriam Barr, Piet Nieuwland, and Christian Jensen; and a Poetry Live-themed open mic.

Guest musician: Otis Mace
Otis Mace is a Auckland based singer/songwriter/musician who performs crafty, irreverent, comic takes on life in Aotearoa. Love ballads, pop noir and surreal protest songs tangential to most mainstream music. A long-time supporter of the Poetry Live nights and wholehearted ranter ,reader and raconteur, come and see his seventh show as guest artist! Vivid stories introduce provocative and punchy pop gems. He has toured extensively and opened for diverse acts: Billy Bragg, The Violent Femmes, Screaming Blue Messiahs, D.O.A. Albums are on Powertool and Jayrem and Ode, and now OMM (Otis Mace Music).

Guest poets:

Miriam Barr
Miriam Barr first came to Poetry Live in 2001 as a 19 year-old who had never read her poems to anyone but a few friends and family members. She is now the current national coordinator of NZ’s National Poetry Day and her book Bullet Hole Riddle was published by Steele Roberts last year. Poetry Live has been her home away from home for over a decade. One night at Poetry Live in 2005 she met her husband, poet Daniel Larsen, and poet Shane Hollands, a meeting that would lead to the creation of performance poetry group The Literatti. For six years she served as an MC and saw Poetry Live through its last year at Grand Central in Ponsonby, the move to the Classic Studio on Queen St, a short stint at Te Karanga and the first years at the Thirsty Dog.

Piet Nieuwland
Piet Nieuwland started reading poetry in Kaikohe and made his first appearance at Poetry Live in 1984. He soon took on the role as MC and was included in the Globe Tapes. Since then he has read poetry in a wide variety of gatherings, meetings, hui, cafes, restaurants and bars throughout New Zealand and beyond, including Pecha kucha evenings. His poems have been published in Landfall, Live Lines, Mattoid, Takahe, Snafu, Take Flight, Tongue In Your Ear, Poetry NZ and in online journals including the Blue Note Review. He is currently involved in Poets Exposed readings in Whangarei and has just co-edited a chapbook compilation of Northland poetry titled Fast Fibres Poetry. Fast Fibres 2 is in preparation.

Christian Jensen
Christian is a former creative director of The Literatti, and was one of the organisers of the Metonymy Project, a collaborative project that sends a poet and a visual artist on a 6-week blind date, culminating in an exhibition. His work has been published in such places as Snorkel, The Hay(na)ku Anthology, Otoliths and the De-Formed Paper. His book, Zin Uru (Soapbox Press) was released in 2008. Christian was an MC at Poetry Live from 2006-2012.

Open Mic: This week we have a themed open mic. We welcome you to read poetry about Poetry Live. (General open mic will also run.) 5 min max as usual.

Koha entry

MC: Kiri