Tag Archives: Mimicry

Poetry Shelf Friday talk spot: Celebrating poetry and communities at the NZ Booksellers Conference

Auckland

25.08.19

 

The dirty dishwater sky

I see a rainbow

the harbour gleaming white

the sparkling nighttime sky tower

a strange statue of Moses

an early morning cleaner

the crinkled-slept-in-sheets sky

 

a collective poem made up on the spot by NZ Booksellers

 

On Sunday I was a key-note presenter with poet Gemma Browne at the booksellers conference in Auckland. The conference theme was Creating Communities – which feels really important as both an adult and children’s author. I dedicated Wild Honey to four women: Elizabeth Caffin, my first publisher; bookseller Carole Beu who has done so much for women readers and writers through The Women’s Bookshop; Michele Leggott who has brought women’s poetry to light and has written dazzling poetry of her own; Tusiata Avia who has inspired young and older women as both a teacher and inspiring poet, and who is a dear friend.

Most of my time as a writer is private, secret, quiet, and I like it like that. It is the writing process that gives me the greatest joy as a poet – not winning prizes or being famous or getting picked for anthologies or festivals. These can all be lovely surprises that give your ego little boosts, and more importantly boost book sales, but nothing beats that moment when pen hits paper and the words start flowing and you think – Where did that come from? How did I write that?

Yet I also write in multiple communities and that is important to me. I have a number of publishing families for a start. Then there are the two communities I have created through my blogs – Poetry Box and Poetry Shelf – that are made up of diverse readers and writers. I wanted to create a go-to place for poetry because poetry was becoming less and less visible in the media. Books would be published and I wouldn’t know unless I spotted them in a bookshop or got a launch invite.

Even now it is very rare that Poetry Shelf will be included in a list of online sites, newsletters or links devoted to advancing our engagement with New Zealand books. Yet Poetry Shelf keeps poetry fans in touch with what is happening in our diverse book/writing communities, signalling the books that are released, events, opportunities. I am building up an archive of recordings, interviews, commentaries and reviews. What will happen to all this material when I can no longer care for it? It seems so fragile.

One part of me wants to switch off my computer and phone, and tuck up into a novel in the hammock – because some days I am just treading water and making no difference.

As an author I am also part of our community of booksellers and am more than happy to do events in bookshops, yes to help promote my books but also to promote NZ poetry through various initiatives. I want to start a Bookseller Spot on both my blogs where booksellers recommend a NZ book they have loved or any poetry book they have loved. Or record a poem from a NZ book they have loved. Please get in touch: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

I want to build and nurture a community of poets writing for children and make it easier for readers to find children’s poetry books. Is this possible? Do we want our children’s lives to be enriched by New Zealand poetry? It is the hardest thing – to get children’s poetry published,  reviewed and in prominent places in bookshops. Can we show that poetry – the liberating place of word play – is the most glorious tool for any child. The reluctant writer can juggle words in the air, the sophisticated writer can advance their skills, take up challenges, explore their engagement in a challenging world. Poetry makes a child feel warm inside and itch to read and write.

I want to build bridges and nourish sightlines between our distinctive, diverse and wide roaming poetry communities. Is this possible? Is it vital? Can we draw together in attentiveness across cities, regions, cultures, generations, styles, preoccupations, politics, poetics, voices? For example, I see Louise Wallace (The Starling) and Emma Neale (Landfall) trying to do this in diverse ways. I see Anne O’Brien working hard to do this with her team at AWF. And Claire Maby through Verb Wellington.

And there is nothing wrong with nourishing your own poetry family, your go-to community that supports and listens to and reads what you do. As VUP do with their breathtaking stable of poets, their elders and emerging voices. As do the grassroot presses, such as Seraph, Cold Hub and Compound Press. The small journals such Mimicry and Min-a-ret.

I turned up at the conference after three hours sleep (max!), a poached egg and a short black and had the loveliest conversation with Gem. We talked about poetry, Wild Honey and building communities. I felt invigorated to be in the same room as people who work so hard, imaginatively, passionately, inventively – to sell our books. These are booksellers but they are also most importantly readers.

We wrote a poem to break the ice – and now I have broken the ice I want to keep making poetry visible and making poetry connections. How do I do it? How do we do it?

If I were rich and bounding with energy I would visit every bookshop that invited me and get children and adults hooked on the joy and curiosities of poetry.

I would start up a children’s poetry press.

But I am not rich and I am not bounding with energy at the moment so I will keep thinking on my feet and inventing ways for my blogs to make connections, start conversations, and celebrate the way our book community is comprised of many communities. And keep telling myself that I am not alone. Poetry Shelf has done that!

PS At Mary Kisler‘s conference session dedicated to her fabulous book, Finding Frances Hodgkins, Nicola Legat and Sam Elworthy talked about the new initiative, Coalition for Books. Various organisations are coming together under the one umbrella to work for the collective good of authors, publishers, booksellers and festivals. And of course readers.

PPS After such an intense and wonderful month I am now back to sleeping. Thankfully. Wild Honey‘s arrival in the world had shocked me into a constant state of awakeness.

 

 

 

 

 

In the hammock: reading Mimicry IV

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Holly Hunter has edited the latest issue of Mimicry. She has drawn together an eclectic package of art and writing that will place your finger on the pulse of emerging (well mostly!) voices. The magazine is devoted to poetry, fiction, nonfiction, comedy, music, art, photography and design. It is slim but is abundant in reading currents.

You even get a mix tape at bandcamp to listen to as you read.

Often when I pick up a poetry journal I gravitate to the familiar poets whose work I already love – like a music hook. I will share my initial hooks with the rain thundering down outside. In this case Morgan Bach because I  haven’t read anything from her for awhile and I just loved her debut book, Some of Us Eat the Seeds. Her two poems here are honed out of cloud and snow and blood because they are light and airy and serious.

 

Looking for balance to the red interiors

in a calm sea of grasses, the dull love

of dust on a hillside, the caress of each

muscle as it contracts and expands

to pull me to a summit. That place

I would reuse to leave if I could,

but the hours have me by the ankles.

 

from ‘Terrific’

 

After hearing Emer Lyons read in Wellington last year, I jump to her poems in an instant. She is nimble on the page and in the ear, and tacks in fresh directions that retune me as poetry reader.

 

i talk too much at parties

every bee i see is dead or dying

people set fire to the sky

set the dogs howling

record themselves singing the same thing

on repeat

repeating

(and The Fish goes

A A X B B X

1 3 8 1 6 8)

 

from ‘strays’

 

Chris Tse’s latest book, HE’S SO MASC, is a sublime read. I love this book because it risks and it opens. The poem here is ultra witty but dead serious.

 

20. It’s the way we step out of a burning theatre as if nothing’s wrong.

21. As if the smoke in our eyes is a lover’s smile caught in sunlight.

22. An uncontrollable fire is perfectly fine, given the state of the world.

23. Then why do I feel so angry?

24. Are you angry?

25. I’m angry.

 

from ‘Why Hollywood won’t cast poets in films anymore’

 

Essa Ranapiri was a highlight for me at Wellington Readers and Writers week this year.  Their poem, ‘her*’, catches the way they make words ache and arc and slip between your ribs. You need to read the whole thing. To quote a glimpse is barely fair (two lines out of thirteen).

 

i left him wrapped in curtains

to stall the acid action of my stomach

 

from ‘her*’

 

I have only just discovered Rebecca Hawkes on The Starling. She is so good. The poem here is a linguistic explosion on the page: like an intricate and lush brocade that amasses shuddering detail and smatters expectation. You want to spend the weekend with this poem.  (I want to hear her read so will be posting an audio clip of a Starling poem soon)

 

I ask their name and they make an unpronounceable sound / like the

curdling clink of cooling obsidian / so I call them the ultimate war machine

 / they hurl rocks into my enemies and when they beat the earth with their

fists / I feel the world quake under me / this is how I know I have fallen in

love / but also onto the ground

 

from ‘Crush’

 

We are served well with fresh young literary journals at the moment (literary doesn’t seem to catch what they do). They keep you in touch with poets that continue growing on you but also take you into new zones of reading, with unfamiliar voices making themselves felt. Indelibly!  I have just read Sophie van Waardenberg’s three poems and they touch me, make me want to write with their viscosity and tang.

 

my girl becomes a calendar and I curl up inside her

my girl becomes a tongue twister and I curl up inside her

my girl lets the spring in through her hands

she puts her hands over my ears and I remember how it feels

 

from ‘schön’

 

Cheers to a well-stocked journal to keep you going through wet wintry days. I am saving the rest of the journal for the next wild weekend. First up Louise Wallace (author of much loved Bad Things), Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor (the winner of the Landfall Young Writers Competition 2018) and Rachel O’Neill (who was recently awarded a NZ Writers Guild Puni Taatuhi o Aotearoa Seed grant to develop her screenplay).

The pleasure of good writing journals is that keep you in touch with what you know and catapult you into the unfamiliar where you accumulate new must-reads. Mimicry does exactly that.

 

See Mimicry on Facebook

Enquiries: mimicryjournal@gmail.com

Poetry Shelf reviews Mimicry 3 – a cracking good mix

 

Mimicy 3 is edited by Carolyn DeCarlo and Jackson Nieuwland, is published by Holly Hunter and features a cracking good mix of poetry, prose and images.

Find Mimicry at Unity Auckland, Time Out, University Bookshop Auckland, Unity Wellington, Vic Books, Volume (Nelson), Scorpio Books (Christchurch) and University Bookshop Otago, or order online with dirt-cheap NZ postage.

I love the way you can’t pin the mix of voices, sometimes young, sometimes a tad older, sometimes familiar, sometimes not, sometimes widely published, sometimes just emerging, sometimes lyrical, sometimes not, into a singular style.

As usual I read my way through the poems before slipping elsewhere (bar the arresting red pages ‘Tear sheet – Red’).

 

I am simply going to give you a taste of the poetry static that this suite of poems generates by quoting you the first lines of the poems (you can track the prose and images yourself).

This is the kind of journal that just makes you want to write.

 

A very fine first-line sampler from Mimicry 3

 

Stacy Teague from ‘ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au / i am the river, the river is me’

you could love wide-open / against the natural framework  / of this forever

 

Ruby Mae Hinepunui Solly from ‘Custard’

When I was smaller than the family dog

 

Aimee Smith from  ‘This is where first-year friendships come to die’

Aro Valley is haunted by ghosts,

 

Holly Childs from ‘Closing websites’

She said I said, ‘I can’t store energy inside me, can’t retain it, so it makes sense I’

 

Rachel O’Neill from ‘The good bastard’

I hope Mother and Father buzz around me till Kingdom Come.

 

Chris Stewart from ‘fluff’

I used to lick damp fluff

 

Nina Powles from ‘Dialectal’

this dialect has no written form / only hands feeling for the sound / only wings

 

Nina Powles from ‘Yellow notebook fragments’

#5c85d2 | smoke blue made of melting clouds

 

Annelyse Gelman from ‘Excerpts from Heck Land, a series of centos culled from William Burroughs’s Naked Lunch [note it’s cut and paste]

I can feel the heat closing in And I luuuuuuuuve it !

 

Courtney Sina Meredith from ‘eye’

drove to your house            parked across the road        ‘m n town

 

Courtney Sina Meredith from ‘the night sky is an immigrant coming from somewhere unknown’

half the group went into the past

 

Joan Fleming from ‘The optimism of our generation’

Dear X. Ruin porn

 

Eleanor Rose King Merton from ‘narcissus’

on a beach which is the edge of another planet

 

Eleanor Rose King Merton from ‘this is also how ownership is indicated’

why not just welt me up and vacate the area with a pillar of salt in each of my corners

 

Helen Rickerby from ‘Time and I’

The thing is, I have problems with time. Time and I, we just

 

Maria McMillan from ‘Snow, the reflective properties of’

You grow up, the city you grew up in and left,

 

Briana Jamieson from ‘Light’

Sun seeped into the van

 

Amy Leigh Wicks from ‘Log no. 1’

There is no blanket of fog. I am running through the woods today. Last night,

 

Anna Jackson from ‘Surprising news about your hairstyle’

Is it possible to sail through the air out

 

Anna Jackson from ‘Hurricane lamp’

Erin invites me to supper (thank you) and the heat

 

Caroline Shepherd from ‘fog girl’s diary’

how to tell my mother that yes, I did say that I could that thing and

 

Caroline Shepherd from ‘love lies’

my friends all had grand ambitions of love filling

 

Freya Daly Sadgrove and Hera Lindsay Bird from ‘Big time talk show with Freya and Hera’

Life is like a sad bucket, old men

Mimicry 3 is open for submissions

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Video here

 

We’re hungry! Submissions are now open for issue three of Mimicry, guest-edited by Carolyn DeCarlo and Jackson Nieuwland of the zine ‘Food Court’.

Calling art, design, photography, music, poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Submit up to three pieces; for writing, 2000 words max per piece.

Email your submission to mimicryjournal@gmail.com with a personal bio of around 20 words.

Deadline 1 August 2017.

Video:
Starring Freya Daly Sadgrove
Song (edited from): Jalapeño by Hans Pucket
Video by Holly Hunter and Todd Atticus