Friday, July 29, 2011
This is my current listening - a NZ band headed by novelist Damien Wilkins. I tend to exhaust CDs - play them over and over song by song until I've 'got' them. I am giving the song Iris DeMent a good run for its money - love those opening lines about making mistakes and making them all over again. It's a nice mix of anthem-to-live-by and demented (heh! heh!) gothic tale - but Damien himself sounds like James Taylor crossed with Neil Finn with perhaps a smidgin of Wayne Mason? More on The Close Readers here.
I'm also enjoying forays into two CDs 'mixed' for me by my friend David Cohen with one song for every year of my life. There are 50 songs! Including this one (love that it's a 'folk song' - it was written for a Pink Batts commercial) and the song at the bottom of the post which was my 'theme tune' in a version of 'The Inspector Calls' - I wore a dress so tight I could hardly breathe. Needless to say there are other such gems.
And I need all the music I can get because I am finally finishing off my children's novel. It is all down on paper - from beginning to end - with some last minute editing, then it goes to 'close readers'. What is it about this part of the process that makes me feel unhinged?
It's letting the thing out, after all the thinking and time and work. It's about being terrified that it's not what I think (hope) it is. Great how a song can cheer you up....
Thursday, July 28, 2011
My congrats to them all, but especially to Chris Bourke for his thoughtful book on NZ music history 'Blue Smoke' which scored a hat-trick: NZ Post Book of the Year, the General Non-Fiction Award and the People's Choice Award. And to modest, hard-working Southerner Laurence Fearnley who I've got to know because she's a Penguin author too (my one novel to her seven! you can see why I say 'hard-working') and who won the Best Fiction Award for The Hut Builder.
I stood backstage with Laurence in 2008 waiting for the Fiction winner to be announced. There were four of us finalists that year (controversially, people wanted five) but Charlotte Grimshaw was overseas and the fourth, Alice Tawhai, had sent a proxy as she likes to remain anonymous. Anyway, we were standing there nervously in the half-dark waiting for the result to be read out, and then Laurence's name was called. There was a muddly moment as we realised she was Fiction runner-up and I pushed her gently towards the stage. Then Charlotte Grimshaw was announced winner of the Fiction Prize, and then the Medal for Fiction and Poetry, if I remember rightly. She thanked everyone via video on a giant screen.
I bet Laurence is thrilled to bits to have it the other way round this year.
All the winners are here.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
to huge bleached rolls
over by the front fence
you size one up
grab the top, feet scrabbling
heave yourself onto
the bristling thistling rump
and high above the shorn grass
high above the hoarse dog
like fingers through your hair
feel the freshest air.
A little poem that sits in a file with many others waiting to be worked on, approved of, brought out to play. It's hard to see them at a distance these little grabs at life. I like this one for its images of size and the various transformations from small to large - little dandelions become huge rounds of hay, child becomes tall on the rounds of hay made from small dandelions. And I love the bristliness and the chutzpah.
Do check out more Tuesday Poems especially the one at the hub by the talented Ashleigh Young selected by Tim Upperton.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
In response to Jen Compton's poem posted yesterday, I had an email from my Mum. She hadn't noticed Jen's name and thought I'd written the poem. This is the email almost word for word including the title - with one or two deletions for flow - so it is, in effect, a 'found poem'.
I can't believe how perfect the language is! The 'w' sounds in the first stanza evoking the warmth of wool and the business of winding it on the 'bobbin', the repetition of 'carefully' and the tenderness in the handling of the wool as if it's a live thing. Then the penultimate lines and- it seems - the live thing is old, it will 'lose its wrinkles', and more: there are the connotations of the wool being 'forgiving' - in effect forgiving Jen for unpicking it.
And oh the pity that it doesn't fit as it is - the pity for the knitter and for the cardigan - and here are those 'i' sounds in the final line which sound to me like the smallness of 'pity' and also evoke 'knitting' - the word itself and the click of the needles.
Lovely! Thanks Mum. (Do read Jen's poem first to get the full effect of this one.)
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Just what I need to unravel and reknit for the poet's jumper.
And then my fingers know it for a triple and it is not Herdwick.
But still. I rethink my project, my brain goes click click click.
It is knit deliciously wrong side out with a cool curving basque.
The buttons are a wry comment on the high concept of 'cardigan'.
It's a piece of work. But it is so small, who could it possibly fit?
Not her it was knitted for, over slow ticking hours, it is pristine.
Fallen fresh from the needles of a woman who can really knit.
It would be a sin to undo her gift. It would be mortally wrong.
Wool remembers what it was and would resist such declension.
Such consummate sewing up of it, such a smooth, even tension,
If it is still hanging on the rack on Tuesday when I go back
I will buy it for eight bucks, salvage the buttons, and unpick.
posted here with permission from Jennifer Compton
I launched Tuesday Poet Jennifer Compton's This City at the Thistle Inn last night. The Palmerston North launch is tonight at Bruce McKenzie's bookshop at (I think) 6pm, and she's reading in Auckland on Poetry Day on Friday. What a book! Here's my launch speech below. Remember, after you've enjoyed Jen's poem, click on the Tuesday Poem quill in the sidebar for the TP post this week of three poems from the three NZ Book Award poetry finalists, and more more more poems posted by TP poets.
THIS CITY by Jennifer Compton (Otago University Press) – Launch 18/07/11
Monday, July 11, 2011
On the eve of the party,
she says, ‘To hell with it,
why wear this old thing?’
She fossicks until she finds
the photo of her perched
on the picnic blanket
in the wrap-around
dress. It was probably taken
after the three-legged race –
she’s grinning, and there’s
a kind of lightness you get
Now she props up
the photograph and sloughs
off her skin no trouble
at all – it is
then collapses like Glad wrap
into a small hard ball – and
she’s poised, ready to slip
inside the skin of ’77.
She fears it will be a tight fit,
tighter than the top
she wore to that party
when the boy crashed the motorbike,
and, concussed, gave her number
not his – oh, romance - to the bloke
in the ambulance.
Playlist: If I Can’t Have You,
You Sexy Thing, Pretty
Vacant, You’re the One that
I Want, Torn Between Two
Lovers (Feeling Like A Fool).
there’s no button, no hook, no eye,
no elastic, zip, velcro, belt
or safety pin, no seam or fold
or frayed end, no way to undo
or unpick the exuberant
Ah, looks like she’s set for another night in.
Mary McCallum 2011
Oh yes, it's one of those years I'm afraid (one of those weeks) - and I'm starting my celebrations with a poem right here.
Please (as a gift to me) flick through to the Tuesday Poem hub where the wonderful Aussie Chris Wallace-Crabbe is showcased, and then try at least one or two of the delights in the TP sidebar where there are so many wonderful Tuesday Poems every week. We can have a little dance over there together, share a drink ...
P.S. Tonight - Tuesday July 12 - Fiona Kidman (The Trouble with Fire) and Randell's writer in residence Peter Walker (The Couriers Tale) are reading at Millwood Gallery, Tinakori Road Thorndon 6-7 pm with a glass of wine. I'll be there.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
1. On a grim drenched day - the dog, me, my new LG phone all drenched - and I get home to find these high and dry and pretty in my letter box. They're from Helen Heath - a blog prize from her busy generous literary blog - all I had to do to enter was comment on the blog or her facebook page. I can't resist a lovely journal or a sharp pencil - and Lotta Jandotter's journal and Penguin pencils are lovely, both.
2. I'm reading Jennifer Compton's new collection This City (OUP) which won the Kathleen Grattan Prize. I'm launching it next Monday July 18 Thistle Inn Thorndon 6 pm.
3. Coming up THIS TUESDAY at 6 pm:
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
boulders in the flow,