Tag Archives: NZ poet

New Voices, Emerging Poets Results 2016

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Michelle and Iva, winning emerging poets

This event, steered by Siobhan Harvey, has become an annual event in Auckland on National Poetry Day. Check out the winning poems by following the link. Both terrific!

 

 

The 2016 Divine Muses XIII : evening of poetry was this year MC’d by Linda Tyler, Director of the Centre for Art Studies at The University of Auckland. The University’s Gus Fisher Gallery with its beautiful stainglass dome provided the wonderful venue for the readings.

Linda Tyler welcomed and invited this year’s stellar line up of poets to read from a selection of their own poems. Vivienne Plumb, current writer in residence at the Michael King centre in Devonport, read first; followed by Riemke Ensing, Maris O’Rourke, Siobhan Harvey, Jenny Bornholdt, and Gregory O’Brien.

At the close of readings the winners of the 2016 NEW VOICES – Emerging Poets Competition were announced by judge Vana Manasiadi. Michelle Chote and Iva Vemic then read their winning poems. Unity Books of High Street kindly donated the book prizes for this year’s winners.

The last event of the evening was the launch of two new letterpress broadsheets. Limited Poetry Broadsheets were introduced last year by the organisers to help raise funds to support New Voices. The two new broadsheets were printed by Wellington letterpress printer Brendan O’Brien of Fernbank Studio. They featured poems by Gregory O’Brien and Jenny Bornholdt. Click here for further details

The winner is  Michelle Chote and runner up is Iva Vemic.

 

 

New Voices, Emerging Poets Judge’s Report, 2016 (Vana Manasiadis)

I loved reading the entries for this year’s competition; it was an honour and a privilege to be entrusted with voices that took me to places as diverse as K road, Jerusalem, Santiago, Pike river, Prague and Kakamatua; and allow me presence during conversations with New Zealand poet elders, Denis Glover, Lauris Edmond; and American, Marge Piercy, Susan Howe. In all the poems I read, there was a magic and transport, and for me that is always the most important thing. I looked forward to reading the entries while I was still in Crete trying to find the threads myself, the connections in my case between words in different languages. And I thought about the words ‘language’ and ‘translation’ a lot – and certainly poetry contains a multiplicity of languages: of image, of sound, of turn, of contact. So when I finally got my hands on the entries, I looked for these different languages and their relationships to each other; and ultimately, to the translations. How was lonliness, love, loss being translated, sculpted and crafted and being offered to me, the reader, as something transformed? Water was a recurrring theme in this year’s entries, as was journey, and moving relationships with the dead and the living. So, fluidity, and arrival. I read the entries many times until I arrived myself at the shortlisted ten which succeeded particularly well in translating ideas of arrival, journey, surprise; and which showed deft use of the many languages of poetry. And I especially congratulate these poets tonight.

Highly Commended: I chose three highly commended poems this year, and the first of these is ‘Poppa’s Boat’, by Christel Jeffs, for the moving way themes of loss (of a beloved person, of childhood) and love, are evoked via turn and meticulous crafting. All five senses are alerted in this poem to memorable effect, the voice is authentic and assured, and it tells a story of presence, absence, presence in absence that is relateable, and felt true.

The second highly commended is ‘Home Thoughts, after Denis Glover’s poem’, by Annabel Wilson, a poem that insisted itself upon me. There’s a quiet confidence in the poem, a humility and ability to step back and let the images do the talking, that impressed me. The sustained image of the line drew me in and kept replenishing itself, and the implied dialogue with the poem’s inspiration, Glover’s ‘Home Thoughts’ pointed to the something bigger in poetry, to the community of voices.

The third highly commended is ‘Shoe Pads’, by Linda Lew, which was both delicate and dynamic in its treatment of the grandmother protagonist. The camera here pans wide and close in turns, as enormous historic events are checked by the grandmother’s quiet acts of love and shielding. I walked alongside her as she walked through decades of change, from Beijing to New Zealand. Always direct, never sentimental, she was kind and sturdy company.

Finalist: The second place goes to ‘A poem a day’, by Iva Vemich which, with its pace, choric repetitions, and surprising leaps of imagination made for memorable reading. I read this poem as a poem-essay, a poem that asks a question and shows its workings – in this case, ‘will poetry rescue’ (the poet, the community going about its daily business)? The responses – wry and perhaps a little ironic, but in a good way – were unexpected and evocative, and I was thrilled by many of the line breaks, and stream of consciousness connections.

Winner of the 2016 New Voices Competition:  The winning entry tonight is ‘A colonised woman speaks’ by Michelle Chote. This was one of the first poems I read, and it absolutely refused to slip away quietly. It kept calling with its layers of polemicism and consonant crash. In this poem, expression is not the means to an ends, but the thing itself – the syllables and the hollows a body allows us. So tongue, air, taste and belly establish the organic imagery, embody fury and revolt in lines like ‘dash dipthongs at the drop of a beret’. Listen for the ending which is a perfect coming together of sense and sound. Having read the poem aloud several times in an effort to absorb the sound effects, I’m particularly excited to hear this powerful poem read tonight in this beautiful space, as the winner of this year’s competition.

Vana Manasiadis

Going West Festival programme now out

 

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This is the first festival with new programme directors.  The programme offers the usual eclectic mix of conversations in a great setting with good food. A family festival, in a way.

There are a few poetry highlights but gone are the little poetry interludes breaking up the sessions. I miss that.

 

Emma Neale is the Curnow Reader.

Albert Wendt is giving the keynote address.

Serie Barford and Gregory Kan are in a session with Robert Sullivan.

On Saturday night there is the poetry slam with judges yet to be announced.

 

I am chairing a session with Sue Orr and Helen Margaret Waaka: ‘In Small Places …’

 

A few things I don’t want to miss:

Emma Neale: What happens when trauma transforms our children? Emma Neale offers up a lyrical exploration of parenthood that is both funny and disarmingly frank. She’ll discuss her new novel with writer Siobhan Harvey.

Damien Wilkins and Sue Orr in conversation on writing, teaching and Damien’s Dad Art, a vibrant novel about the capacity for surprise and renewal.

Barbara Brookes shares the story behind her ground-breaking A History of New Zealand Women with Judith Pringle, looking at the shaping of New Zealand through a female lens.

Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd joins lifelong music fan John Campbell to share his memories of the label’s early days and the spirit of adventure and independence that took its sound to the world.

 

Full programme here.

Kirsten McDougall kickstarts a great new interview series

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This is a great start to Kirsten McDougall’s new interview series on what people do. Kirsten begins with a terrific interview with Ashleigh Young (VUP editor).

‘My job at VUP is the first job I’ve felt I can be my true self, whatever that is, on the whole. It took a while to get used to. The time I have to put on the armour is at book launches and other literary events. If I am giving a speech I always wear so much armour you can practically hear me clanking about.’

I know this feeling! I sometimes feel I need a clone to go out and do the public stuff as though the real me, the hermit, is happiest off the beaten track out west.

 

A very small sample:

Interviewer

Does your job have title?

Ashleigh Young

Yes, I am an Editor at Victoria University Press (VUP). It feels nice to have a title. For half of the year I am also a Tutor in Science Writing, but that’s a whole other can of worms so I’m going to focus on my main day-to-day job.

Interviewer

Can you describe the things you do in your job?

Ashleigh Young

I work with a lot of writers to help them get their books ready to go out in the world. I edit books of poetry, short story collections, some nonfiction (mostly the memoir sort of nonfiction), and the odd novel. I’ve just finished editing Danyl McLauchlan’s second novel, Mysterious Mysteries of the Aro Valley, which was one of the most fun novels I’ve ever edited.

Alongside the editing I try to be supportive and encouraging, especially for first-time authors who are still getting their heads around the whole process. I like editing to be a conversation, a process of suggestion and refinement, rather than me tearing bits off someone’s work and scolding them for using too many adverbs or semicolons or whatever.

I typeset the books and sometimes help find a cover image or commission one from an illustrator. I write a few back-cover blurbs. I have a bit of a fixation with a good blurb. A well-done blurb is such a thing of beauty. My journey in blurbs is really only just beginning.

For the complete interview see here

Poetry Shelf review: Holly Painter’s Excerpts from a Natural History – This book is a tonic for me as a reader

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Excerpts from a Natural History Holly Painter  Titus Books  2015

 

This book is a tonic for me as a reader and a boost in the blood for poetry. I adore it.

John Newton’s endorsement on the back is perfect: ‘Holly Painter is a trickster poet, you never know where she is going next. Sometimes she wants to lick your ear. Over the page she might chew your ear off.’

The launch pad for the collection: ‘When the British natural philosophers of the 17th century founded modern natural history, they proposed finding a poet to compile a poetic account of everything that existed in nature, very broadly defined. Four hundred years later, the work is ongoing, made modern and rigorous with rules and style-guides, managers and research-poets.’

The notion of a research-poet sidetracked me into other poet roles that have existed or might exist: speculative-poet, domestic-poet, Sunday-poet, global-village-poet, experience-poet, travel-poet, theory-poet, heart-poet.

The collection is made up of the submissions of a researcher-poet but made infinitely more interesting by the tracked comments of her supervisor and the myriad ideas and relations that proliferate.

The poet-researcher is set assignments that demand inventories and lists of things that include the natural world (regenerating starfish, the kakapo) but veer wildly into a material world (buttons for sale, ‘Tubular Bells’) and curious things between (flower motifs for teenage courtship).

The supervisor demands the voice of reason, clarity, facts, comprehensive lists, specificity, neutrality and rebuffs anecdotes, adverbs, poetic licence, personal confession.

Sometimes the submissions are laugh out loud as in the light of the recovery work of ‘Tubular Bells’ or the counting of buttons (how long did it take?).

The tracking comments form editorial advice but also trace the relationship between supervisor and researcher-poet(this label keeps slipping in my hands!). The reaction of the supervisor to relations beyond editorial choices is explicit in the tracked comments; the reaction of the latter is buried in the poetry submissions. Love hijacks the cool calculation of inventories. The very guts of ‘natural history’ and what that might embody is reinvented.

Holly employs a range of styles, tones, rhymes, layouts, silences, musicalities as though the heart cannot be penned (excuse the pun!) within a style-guide. The collection is dexterous on its tip toes as it gets you thinking about categories and categorisations, hierarchies and dichotomies, and the way love cannot resist (avoid) anecdote, confession, adverbs.

The book is beautiful. The paper gorgeous to the hand, while the cover’s marigolds almost fill the room with a nostalgic scent.

I highly recommend this book.

Holly is an MFA graduate from the University of Canterbury. Her poetry has been included in Sport, Landfall, the NZ Listener and JAAM. She lives in Singapore with her wife and son.

Titus Books here

Holly Painter’s web site

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Friday Poem: Sarah Jane Barnett’s ‘Blue Heart’: The poem enacts the mystery of writing a poem

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Photo Credit: Matt Bialostocki

 

Blue Heart

Full size model of a Blue Whale heart, Te Papa Museum

The boy enters the whale heart. He finds his way.

His hands slide down the peachy aorta, his body

swallowed into the central chamber. My face pushes

after him because it’s just fibre and glass, and he’s

my first child, on his knees, his back to me. His hands

perform their work of play along a smooth ridge of cartilage

like a cardiac surgeon. Interpretations of the ‘whale’ fall

into three categories: The whale is real and my son

lives in her heart. Or the whale is the dream

I have for my son. Or the whale is an allegory

that should not be taken to heart. Some things take time

to understand. Last time we visited my grandmother

I knew she would die before I saw her again.

She’d been having regular blood transfusions—

pulsing circles of bright red tubing—which helped

for a few weeks before another fall, after which she’d rest

one cheek on the carpet. My son sat on her lap and she played

at biting his fingers, her grey dentures clacking together,

and he squealed and pointed, and then pointed to the fireplace,

and then pointed to the window where a dried floral arrangement had sat

for twenty years. Everything was there for him.

She took his pointing finger between the soft pads of her lips.

How do you enter the biggest heart? Do you say

that it weighs up to fifteen hundred pounds? The largest heart

is like a compacted Volvo! Maybe you must imagine it beating

inside you? Maybe you find it one quiet morning,

your son asleep, his cheeks flaring the colour of summer plums.

 

Author’s bio: Sarah Jane Barnett is a writer, tutor, and book reviewer who lives in Wellington. Her first collection of poems, A Man Runs into a Woman, was published by Hue & Cry Press in 2012, and was a finalist in the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards. Her work has appeared in various publications including Sport, Landfall, Best New Zealand Poems, and Southerly. Sarah has a PhD in creative writing from Massey University in the field of ecopoetics. She blogs at: theredroom.org.

Author’s note: ‘I wrote this poem as part of my PhD thesis which, in part, looked at the different ways poets write about the nonhuman world. While writing my thesis I had my son and my grandmother died. Both of these events felt huge and brittle and surreal. Both were difficult to write about. One afternoon I took my son, Sam, to Te Papa and he played for ages in their scale model of a blue whale heart. It made me think about the way poets often resort to using the natural world as a metaphor when trying to describe love, grief, or the sublime. That’s when I wrote this poem.’

Paula’s note: The opening line of Sarah’s poem, so exquisitely simple stalled me with myriad, potential directions: fable, fairytale, the slippery slopes of surrealism, metaphor and real-life anecdote (as the epigraph in fact signals). This heavenly poem celebrates the child — the mother-son relationship is clasped in its tender embrace. Poignantly, the life of the son is countered by the death of the grandmother, not as a set of scales but as a largeness of love and loss that finds its potency in the smallest of detail. The poem enacts the mystery of writing a poem — the way stream-of-consciousness or random thoughts that accumulate like stepping stones can drive the poet’s pen and make magic out of metonymy and juxtaposition. The son points out the luminous detail so that place becomes vibrant and beloved. The life blood of this poem is heart: the whale’s heart, the son’s heart, the grandmother’s heart. But more than than anything, it is the internal love heart that renders the grace,  economy,  attentiveness,  poetic craft, the words that shine out, the story that unfolds and the images that startle (‘cheeks flaring the colour of summer plums’) in maternal ink. This is why I love poetry.

Sweet Mammalian is a new literary journal edited by 3 Wellington poets. The journal was created out of a wish to see more good, new writing out in the world. The editors of Sweet Mammalian aim to provide a fresh space for poetry that comes out of the complex, the absurd, the warm-blooded. They aim to provide a space for all kinds of writing. The inaugural issue of Sweet Mammalian is launched today, Friday 10 October, with a launch party and reading in Wellington.

The link to Sarah’s poem in the inaugural issue is here.

Sam Sampson’s Halcyon Ghosts: Breathless and breathtaking

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Photo Credit: Harvey Benge

Sam Sampson, Halcyon Ghosts, Auckland University Press, 2014

Sam Sampson’s new poetry collection, Halcyon Ghosts, brings together ‘thirteen shapes of knowing.’ It comprises thirteen poems that form various shapes or stamps upon the page. You can trace a bloodline to concrete poetry where the visual mark is as much a protagonist as the poem’s internal movement. You witness debts to the legacy of language poetry and you absorb the lyrical score. These poems are crafted by a poet who is part musician, part philosopher, part documentary filmmaker, part family archivist.

At times the physical detail is luminous — as though capturing the landscape, the living breathing world momentarily (‘white melodious throat’ ‘riparian light/ blinking on a dark field’ ‘ceramic wind chimes/ charred grape seeds’). Or snatches of action and activity whether strange or unsettling (‘picadored green people tethered to years’ ‘ghost moths generate night skermishes’). Words can be snapped in half across line breaks. These are poems caught in half-light, in fragmented sideways glances (‘to seize shadows I grab them by the sleeve’). Words zigzag across the page in discrete phrasing. Making authorial imprints. Stammering and staccato, as though this poet is out of breath, holding back, puffing out poems in little linguistic clouds.

In ‘The Kid,’ it is as though you can hear the click and stutter of Chaplin’s reels as the shifting frames catch light and dark (‘listen in-/tently to that blind/ mazy course/ running wild’). Colons are separated out to prolong the resting spots, the moment of pause (‘a mil    :       ‘). They act as little hinges, pivots in a collection where juxtaposition is a fertile device (‘Circles the expanse       expands dirt’ ‘pin-pricks of the world … name-sakes’). Such pairings provoke an oscillation of mind and eye, a semantic quiver, a visual twitch.

I loved the sequence, ‘Halcyon Ghosts,’ where the poem’s shapes imitate so perfectly the photographs of birds in flight upon the preceding pages. Here the words take pleasure in the measured steps of lift and fall.  These are poems of return, with the flight path etched in your mind ready to accept the swift wing beat of the bird. Glorious.

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Elsewhere a horizon line imprinted on the page breaks a poem in two as though refracting and reflecting. Yes, the poems are visual gifts for the eye, but what instils a deeper imprint is the intellectual and lyrical movement. The language is eclectic and difficult, yet there is heart here. Life. Experience. Contemplation. Surreal twitches. Sam has refreshed the life and expectations of concrete poetry, he has a bloodline back to Language Poetry but has stepped out of its limitations and has composed a symphony in parts where words are substitutes for the musical notes of melody. Breathless and breathtaking.

Thanks to Auckland University Press I have a copy of this book to someone who likes or comments on this post (NZ addresses only).

http://www.samsampson.co.nz/

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