Tag Archives: Morgan Bach

Turbine 14: New writing from emerging and established writers and the latest graduates of Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML

Turbine 14 highlights new and established literary talent

New writing from emerging and established writers and the latest graduates of Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) is featured in the 2014 edition of literary journal, Turbine.

9 December 2014
The annual online journal offers a sampler of work by 2014 Master’s students, alongside poetry and fiction extracts from internationally regarded writers such as Maike Wetzel from Germany, Lesley Wheeler from the United States, and award-winning Kiwi poets Lynn Jenner and Marty Smith.
Victoria University chaplain John Dennison contributes poems from a collection to be co-published in 2015 by Auckland University Press and Carcanet in the United Kingdom.
The 2014 Victoria University/Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence Hinemoana Baker talks to Fulbright scholar and poet Max Chapnick about her current project, whether her writing has an implicit or explicit political awareness, the joys of late-night writing, and the similarities between writing and looking after a dog.
Recordings by five poets bring their poems off the page, including work by the 2013 Biggs Family Prize in Poetry winner, Morgan Bach, whose first collection will be published by Victoria University Press in 2015.
Re-imaginings of Greek myth sit alongside geological analyses of Kapiti-coast soil types; a family recipe book provides a basis for an exploration into the Portuguese psyche; toilet humour, shipwrecks and Robert Redford mix with work on Fiji, Samoa and Pacific waves.
For more on Turbine go here.
Turbine 14 here.
Poets on offer include Emma Neale, Anna Jackson, Johanna Emeney, Lynn Davidson, Marisa Cappetta, Lee Posna, Helen Heath, Cliff Fell, Kerrin P Sharpe, Louise Wallace, Marty Smith and Chris Tse. Then as many again that are new discoveries for me. Looks like a great issue.

Poem Friday: Morgan Bach’s ‘In Pictures’ There is an electric current that strikes you as you read

Morgan Bach

This Friday a previously unpublished poem from Morgan Bach.

 

In Pictures

The first time my father died, I was four.

A group of them emerged from their getaway train

into a grand room, in my head the walls are papered ornately

and the lights are chandeliers, and somebody shoots him.

Money flies around the room and he falls to his knees.

We see his face register the situation

before he falls flat on it.

 

The next time I am eight

and my father is in the tropics.

It’s World War Two, and his face is wet and dirty.

They have been walking through the jungle, when a Japanese soldier

shoots him just like the last guy did — right in the chest

and he falls to his knees, and then down.

 

When I am ten he dies peacefully in his sleep,

an old man who has had a long and busy life, inventing.

 

I can’t recall what got him when I was twelve,

but I do remember that he put a meat-hook through a man’s throat

before he was taken out.

It could have been a shot in the back.

 

When I am twenty-two he is set upon by flying beasts,

and takes refuge in a ruin.

But when the creatures come, tall, with skin

like freshly healed burns, their old cat teeth,

the pinkish one that leads them spears my father

through the gut. In this lingering death scene

I look around at the faces in the cinema

and am tempted to spoil the illusion.

 

When I am twenty-five he is consumed

by possessed ink.

 

When I am twenty-six he plays a game of politics,

watches the blood sports of the ancients

and on his fifth appearance has his throat cut.

 

When I am twenty–seven a friend tells me

my father was buried alive last night. This death I missed.

She says he begged, near the end.

 

When I am twenty-eight I get back from lunch

and my workmates say did you feel that?

I call my sister, and luck connects us.

Her voice shakes, she’s driving to get her boys.

She tries to sound calm when she says no,

we haven’t heard from him, I can’t get through

and asks me to try. Dad’s phone rings

through to voicemail. Which means it’s ringing.

I send a message – we’re not to overload the lines.

There is nothing, and nothing to do.

 

I sit at my desk and I hit refresh

on the photos of crumbling buildings coming through.

I’m looking for the Arts Centre, the theatre

in the bottom of the old stone building.

Why aren’t they showing it?

Is it good they aren’t showing it?

I check my email, and see the little green light

next to his name – online.

It’s green,

green,

green,

green,

orange.

 

Three and a half hours pass.

I do not think of all the times I’ve seen him die,

of his entrances and exits.

I count the minutes,

having no one to beg,

hitting refresh.

 

And then my sister sends a message

that simply says

he just walked in the door.

©Morgan Bach.doc

 

Morgan lives on Wellington’s south coast, and in 2013 she undertook the MA in Creative Writing at the IIML. She was the recipient of the Biggs Family Prize in Poetry, co-editor of Turbine 2013, and has work published or forthcoming in Sport, Landfall, and Hue & Cry.

Author’s note: This poem is about as factual and autobiographical a poem as it gets (my father, John Bach, is an actor). It was born out of a conversation I had in which I found myself saying ‘Oh I’ve seen my father die tons of times…’ and my realisation that this was an uncommon experience. Recounting this uncommon and strange element of my growing up led me to a point where real life interjected with an experience far too many of us have had in recent years. But, like it so often does in the movies (although, not for my father’s characters – as I’ve illustrated) this story turned out to have a happy, lucky ending.

Note from Paula: When I first read this glorious poem I had no idea of its genesis (as is the case when you read most poems), but what struck me as I read, was the way we carry numerous deaths with us (our own, our loved ones). Little pocket narratives that catch us by surprise and haunt or unsettle us. Morgan writes an assured line, where the narrating voice, with its steady rhythm, builds a mysterious momentum. Surprising. It becomes a list poem in its structure— each paternal death linked to a particular age, and death becomes a way of framing the narrator’s arc from child to young woman. What I loved, beyond the tantalising enigma, is the way at twenty-eight, the poem shifts gear. There is an electric current that strikes you as you read, as you realise the threat of death has moved from cinematic frame or theatrical stage to the threat of death in real life. The earthquake moment that now resonates so profoundly for so many. The simple lines (particularly ‘There is nothing, nothing to do’) catch you—and the way ‘his exits and entrances’ lead you back to the start. Morgan’s poem demonstrates so beautifully the way narrative drive becomes increasingly potent when matched with poetic economy and perfect line breaks. The end result, a poem that rewards at the level of language and then hooks at the level of emotional engagement—you enter the prolonged panic as if there, and then welcome the relief.