Tag Archives: Vaughan rapatahana

At Jacket 2: Vaughan Rapatahana talks to expatriate poets John Gallas, Blair Reeve and Orchid Tierney

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‘As I strive to spread out any potential ingrained clench as to what makes for Kiwi poetry, any Kiwi poetic, away from ‘mainstream’ clutches that demand ‘appropriate’ ways of writing, presenting and publishing a poem, in this commentary I take into consideration what three expatriate Kiwi (aka Aotearoa New Zealand) writers think/reflect about Kiwi poetry from afar.

All three are themselves poets of note and all three certainly widen the avenues away from the tarsealed main road of poetry in New Zealand, precisely because they are overseas: outside, looking back in from the perspective of physical distance and the concomitant cultural capital involved. After initially establishing their overseas locale and history there, I asked them all the same simple questions regarding Kiwi poetry, as follows.’

Full article here

 

 

 

 

 

At Jacket 2: Vaughan Rapatahana interviews Robert Sullivan and includes new poems

Vaughan Rapatahana’s interview here

 

What would you like to see more of in Aotearoa poetry from your point of view as a poet? In other words is there sufficient recognition, publishing scope, critical space given to poets who craft their work in ‘different’ ways?

I’d love to see new voices find publication from a wide range of styles and personal backgrounds so that we reflect our diverse community in terms of race, class, gender, sexuality, and beyond to be as inclusive as possible. Poets have never had greater access to media and to publishing than now, although our mainstream publishers no longer have deep pockets. It’s always a writer’s task to convince, or make curious, or satisfy, or entertain a readership, and it’s a lyric poet’s task to evoke the particulars of being and a sense of the flow state that created the feelings attached to being ‘somewhere’ at the time. A poem might be on the fridge next to a flat roster, or on the edge of a windswept cliff facing the ghosts of Kapiti Island. There are so many other kinds of poetry I wouldn’t know where to begin, except to encourage that too.

 

Paula: I am dead keen to see a new book of poetry – love the new ones.

 

 

 

Flash in Aotearoa: NFFD judges in conversation

 

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Still time to enter!

 

The 2018 National Flash Fiction Day competition runs through April 30.

Send your best 300-word story * Cash prizes

Three categories: Adult, Youth and a Te reo Māori Prize

 

‘Compressed forms tend to make poets of us all, because the fewer words you have to work with the more work you want each of those words to do. So yes, perhaps poets start with a bit of an advantage since they are already familiar with using distilled language and constrained form. But the ‘fiction’ aspect of flash demands a commitment to the idea of story: the passage of time, development of character, something that happens, a transformative moment. And whereas the basic building block of poetry is the line, in flash fiction it is usually the sentence. Which is a good place to suggest that Jac Jenkin’s ‘Settlement’ (2016) is a terrific example of the overlap between prose poetry and flash fiction. It’s carefully crafted with the line and the sentence in mind. It pops with concrete imagery (“one femur has a spiral crack; its neck has been gnawed by rodent teeth”), has rhythm, uses alliteration (“am I fleshed or flayed?”), and speaks as much from the white space between the words as from the words themselves.’ Sue Wootton

 

We are pleased to share insights from this year’s judges.

Sue Wootton and Tracey Slaughter (Adult judges)

Tim Jones and Patrick Pink (Youth judges)

Vaughan Rapatahana (Te reo Māori Prize judge)


 

NFFD 2018 in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Northland, Wellington

Meet the judges * share stories * celebrate the shortest form

Competition entry details here.

nationalflash.org

 

In Jacket 2 – Vaughan Rapatahana on Bending the Genre: Flash fiction/prose poetry in Aotearoa New Zealand

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Full article here

 

‘The creation of flash fiction/prose poetry is increasing exponentially in Aotearoa, New Zealand. It has always been around, but nowadays there are more exponents, more outlets, more coverage, more academic ‘acceptance’ of the form. It is a significant presence and — to me — a very valuable and viable method to further  w  i  d  e  n  the horizons of poetry and literature in this country. Which has always been the focus of these commentaries.

What is this form and why have I written flash fiction/prose poetry as a Siamese twin? Well, that is a good question. There is often no clear-cut distinction between prose poetry and flash or short fiction, most especially as — obviously — both are economical in terms of the number of words used, given that prose poems can sometimes extend well beyond the word limits defining flash fiction.

However, given the amorphousness here between such subgenres, flash fiction does attempt to tell a story, to at least set up a narrative with some characterization; to plot a plot if you will. This does not occlude storytelling via prose poetry, but the tendency of the latter is to also concentrate on not only the ‘traditional’ poetic tropes of imagery, yet also wordplay, unusual discourse, novelty of effect; to
s  t  r  e  t  c  h  poetry beyond the staid, into freedom from constraint. If in so doing, a prose poem seems to replicate a slice of flash fiction, it is a happy coincidence. This is a very simplistic overview, however, because the more I delve into the difference, the more I discern that there is no clear difference! ‘

Vaughan Rapatahana

 

Jacket 2: Vaughan Rapatahana on Hera Lindsay Bird, Simone Kaho and Mere Taito

 

from Vaughan Rapatahana at Jacket 2:

 

‘Kia ora. Talofa lava. Malo. Greetings, once more.

I am honoured and humbled to continue to commentate on poetry and poets in Aotearoa New Zealand, which swerve away from so-called ‘traditional’ ways to write a poem and concomitantly, away from traditional topoi.

In this commentary, I will extend from my final commentary post of March 2016, which was entitled ‘Coda 2,’ although that title is obviously a misnomer, as this country just keeps on producing poets of great ability, with serious credentials and a willingness to  s t  r  e  t  c  h  the paramaters of what a poem is, should be.

So, I am privileged to here introduce three further women writers — Hera Lindsay Bird, Simone Kaho and Mere Taito. All have recently had published new collections of poetry: the ‘new’ in this commentary title refers to this aspect — for all three have been writing poetry for some time. For me, they are intelligent, rather intensely tremendous talents.

I think that I will here replicate what I wrote in that ‘Coda 2’ piece, as the sentiments are exactly the same —

All three fit, if you will, the parameters I claimed would establish the future direction of an increasingly multicultural country. None of them could be classified as pākehā middle-class poets and all tend towards the experimental and/or performance and/or indigenous striates of poetry. Significantly and obviously, all three are women. Theirs is the future of poetry in the skinny country of Aotearoa — inevitably, for as I have stressed several times previously — the demographic of Aotearoa is rapidly and rather radically on the move into major diversity.’

Full article here

 

See my reviews:

Hera Lindsay Bird

Simone Kaho

Mere Taito and a poem

 

 

 

Vaughan Rapatahana’s Ternion: I love this generous embrace

 

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Ternion Vaughan Rapatahana (Liverpool: erbacce-press, 2017)

 

 

Vaughan Rapatahana travels and lives in three distinctive places:  Aotearoa, the Philipines and Hong Kong. His poetry reflects an impulse to travel because the linguistic movement, whether aural or visual, is paramount. Words dart, dash, stretch, stutter, link, break down, break apart. There is vertical uplift and downward slants. Such linguistic playfulness is not simply a matter of exercising the dimensions and possibilities of language; each poem travels with a movement of heart and mind.

 

There is the hiccup of letters and words in ‘my father’s death’, a poem that faces the hard-to-say in fits and starts. Physical detail anchors the experience:

 

only

the young oldest son

there to witness

his shrivelled size,

the estranged demise

-astray the slim single bed

 

The diverse subject matter embraces the movement of a global traveller, with several languages sharpening the line, hooking place and experience, opinion and identity. He rails against the weakness of English (‘railing against’). He rages against blinkered if not blind identity views: ‘why/ are  we/ mis interpreted/ all the time?’ (‘I carry a rage’).

The detail is pungent and thick on the line – especially when place is at the poem’s core:

 

hong kong, you old bastard;

your flabbergasted lips

basting the back alleys

in jisms of sputum,

disabling sophomore solons

garbled in yellow

under colourless sun.

 

from ‘hong kong town, 2015’

 

What I love about Vaughan’s poetry are the multiple jigs: the way death brushes against life, humour touches against sharp-as-axe political edges, confession corrupts reticence. Poetry is a way of cooking up a brew that resists boundaries, rules, decorum, models. I especially like the scene at the fence where poetry is the topic pf conversation:

 

‘Smells good,

you cookin’ up another one

of those bloody poems of your’s mate?;

offered my gap-toothed neighbour,

through the interrupted picket fence.

 

‘reckon,’ I said, stirring up

a bit of everything on the page,

so to speak.

 

from ‘boil up’

 

The neighbour hopes the poem hasn’t got any of ‘those clever-dick tricks’ when he wants ‘plenty of/ good old carrot & onion words’. I love this poem. On the one hand, Vaughan is responding to the age-old incomprehension at what a poet does, but it also gets right down to the guts of how he brews a poem. There are clever, tricky acrobatics on and off the line that signal intellectual engagements with the world, but there is also a Hone-Tuwhare-like cheek and an absorption of an everyday physical world. We might get ‘cacophonous condiments’ along with ‘a little watercress    on the side’ and a good stir of Te Reo.

Murray Edmond claims the collection as ‘a rich feast’ on the back cover and I agree. The poems spark in myriad directions that touch mind and heart, and I can think of few local examples that are so linguistically and creatively fluid.

 

Postscript: Vaughan’s must-read poem for Tusiata Avia and Fale Aitu / Spirit House resonated so deeply I felt like crying. A poem like this underlines the way we write within poetry communities, not in estranging isolation, but in arm-to-arm states of poetry and human connection. I love that. I love this generous embrace.

 

manuia Tusiata, manuia

this is the best body of poetry

 

I’ve hugged for years.

 

from ‘fa’afetai Tusiata’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vaughan Rapatahana challenges sexism in NZ Literature @pantographpunch

 

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As you can imagine this article hits home sharply, especially as I am writing a book on New Zealand women’s poetry. My book aims to open multiple pathways into what was, at one point, viewed as a foreign country: women’s poems.

We have come so far, especially in view of Pākehā women – unbearably less so if you are not white-skinned – but I still find examples of gender bias and blindness, alongside the dynamic, fertile and eclectic visibility of women writing, critiquing, publishing, winning, speaking out, showcasing, connecting.

Thanks Vaughan, Sarah Jane Barnett and Pantograph Punch for provoking us to think and rethink.

Read the piece here.

 

A taste:

In a searing and articulate essay, Vaughan Rapatahana takes Aotearoa New Zealand literature to task for locker room schoolgirl-grooming, women-baiting, and sexism that arises from a violent and suppressed masculinity. 


You, being a modern poet
Must write real he-man stuff
So you will take slabs of prose
And cuts it into chunks like this;
There need be no rhyme nor reason in it …
No top-notch New Zealand poet any longer
Writes ballads like Jessie Mackay
Or bird-songs like Eileen Duggan
Or lyricisms like Helena Henderson
Or tree-poems like Nellie Macleod …
And anyway they‘re only women

(‘Without Malice’ by Alien in O’Leary 179-180).

Introduction, an historical overview

Yes, I have read all the books, all the pertinent material pertaining. New Zealand has always been a sexist society, a patriarchal panoply of male power, controlling and suppressing female prowess – as so well exemplified in its literary structures. Sexism in literature is a reflection of a wider societal sexism whereby a deliberately constructed literary masculinity ruled up until the 1970s or at least the 80s. Historian Jock Phillips pronounced in 1987 that ‘the traditional male stereotype is now weakening in New Zealand’ (289), while academic Kai Jensen pronounced, ‘…the mid 1960s…was the end of a thirty-year sequence of growth, dominance and decline in what we may call “high masculinism”’ (107). While the latter admitted to some continued sexism in New Zealand Letters from male writers after this time, it was now, ‘a tenuous residual presence’ (157).