Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday Poem - Taking Liberties On Birthdays


for Jeanette Winterson and Janet Frame

                We have in common red hair, an appetite for oranges, a habit 
                of making characters out of computers, cast-iron baths and cats.

                Tonight, I will presume friendship and arrange a birthday dinner.

                Janet and I will come to you, Jeanette. A Northern Hemisphere dinner 
                under the eye of a lunar eclipse feels - what word will I choose - tantalizing
                Overdue? Appropriate? Besides, it's time we visited Verde's, your green 
                food shop at Spitalfield's Market. It's difficult to resist your restoration tales, 
                spitting baths of lime plaster, Jack the Ripper's blood-stained cobbles,
                a dead fruit-seller trading on your initials, JW.

                You're emphatic. Life's too short to eat badlySo zealous are you, 
                you took pestle and mortar, ground the fragments of an ancient leaning house
                to dust. You added metal, brace and spice, created a flash new food shop 
                whose lungs now fill with the scents of French saffron and fugitive
                Indian cardamom. You believe in soup and slow cookers, take time 
                to transform the letters of your name into endless varieties of tajine.

                Janet and I will bring produce from our own farmers' market. Under cover 
                at Dunedin's railway station, I will choose blue cod, whitebait, globe artichokes
                and Evansdale cheese. She will insist on tamarillos, feijoas and passionfruit, 
                luscious accompaniments for the coffee banana cake she'll bake; no need
                for the recipe she sent to friends in letters in the mid-1970s.

                Together, as the earth shutters the moon, we will fire the old coal range 
                in Brushfield Street, create a simple meal of complex parts. We will speak
                of our affection for lighthouses, how we might seem tame and yet are feral 
                creatures, at home amongst kelp, barnacles, flying fish, salt.

                You will find our whitebait fritters irresistible, Jeanette. Your conversion 
                to blue cod with mashed kumara and fresh crushed ginger will be immediate 
                and long-lasting.

                     CB - 2007


Janet Frame was born in Dunedin on 28 August 1924; Jeanette Winterson in Manchester on 27 August 1959. We share a birthday week. In 2007, Upfront - a Dunedin-based women's poetry collective - arranged a poetry event to celebrate what would have been Janet's 83rd birthday. Taking liberties on birthdays is one of the poems I read that evening. 

Tuesday 28 August 2007 also happened to be the date of a total lunar eclipse whose every phase was visible to us here in New Zealand. Total eclipses of the moon are remarkable, slow-moving spectacles; the deep, three-dimensional reality of our universe comes alive in a graceful celestial ballet as the moon swings unhurriedly through Earth's shadow.

Jeanette Winterson in front of her Spitalfield's Market shop, London

      University Book Shop's display of Janet Frame's latest collection Gorse Is Not People

Over on the TP hub this week, our editor is Australian poet P. S. Cottier with Piecemeal by Sarah Rice, described by Penelope as ". . . one of the most intellectually energetic people I have met.  Stand by her and the ideas swarm out like bees, but multi-coloured bees without stings. . . "

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesday Poem - Instructions For Making A Poem by Dadaist Tristan Tzara


Take a newspaper.

Take a pair of scissors.

Choose an article as long as you are planning to make your poem.

Cut out the article.

Then cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them in a bag.

Shake it gently.

Then take out the scraps one after the other in the order in which they left the bag.

Copy conscientiously.

The poem will be like you.

And here you are a writer, infinitely original and endowed with a sensibility that is charming though beyond the understanding of the vulgar.

Tristan Tzara - 1920

Okay Tristan, here goes. . . 

                            Yesterday’s wind featured the same face 
                            like the good feathers for all starlings
                            their waterfront not wrong coming.

                            Birds learn where they sit
                            facing the wind in the column 
                            resting not which way from it. 

                            All the exceptions live there.
                            No bird of Harwood could reason 
                            like Lynne.
                            Blow on the way so they can tell 
                            when from which. Live always 
                            as a lot, says Nelson

                            CB 2012


th21 630 mars curiosity

Mars science rover Curiosity performed a daredevil descent through pink Martian skies late on Sunday to clinch an historic landing inside an ancient crater, ready to search for signs the Red Planet may once have harbored key ingredients for life.

                            Rover may pink late 
                            on search for ancient Sunday 
                            skies. Key ingredients to clinch 
                            daredevil science. Have ready 
                            Curiosity through descent 
                            a landing inside the life to signs 
                            harbored on Martian Planet. 
                            Mars once performed Red 
                            for an historic crater.

                            CB 2102

For more Tuesday Poems, please click on the quill. 

After a mix-up re; this week's posting TP curator Mary McCallum came up with a cracker --- Wellington poet Bill Manhire reading his poem Hotel Emergencies  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday Poem - Not An Elephant & Remembering Janet Frame by Martha Morseth

                         NOT AN ELEPHANT*

                         There's a hippopotamus in the room
                         more awkward than an elephant.
                         It scans the perimeters, paws the carpet;
                         the eyes narrow, threaten. Conversation
                         in low-backed cushioned chairs
                         slides sideways, stumbles
                         hides those nutrients delectable to the beast.
                         Disappointed, the quadruped moves on.
                         The room relaxes; a giraffe appears
                         lithe, with liquid eyes.
                         There is laughter; drinks are served;
                         focus becomes oblique.
                         Watered well, talk is careless
                         doesn't notice the grass grow higher
                         a crocodile
                         climb out of the river.

                         Martha Morseth

* Not an Elephant was first published in The Listener in March 2012

Hippopotamus in the room (love the title!) was published by Steele Roberts Ltd and is Martha Morseth's second collection of poems. Martha and I have been in the same writing group in Dunedin for about a decade and a half and I was really sorry to be away from home at the time she launched her Hippopotamus. I am neither a funny nor witty nor wry person - attributes Martha has in abundance. She has a way of approaching serious, uncomfortable subjects from a wholly original vantage point, combining clarity and insight with acerbic humour and compassion. She can be sharp-tongued without showing the faintest hint of malice or unkindness.   

Martha was born in the United States and immigrated to Dunedin in 1972. She taught high school English until 1999. Her poems and stories have been published in literary and popular magazines and anthologies. The first collection of her poems, Staying Inside the Lines, was released in 2002. Together with four other poets - Kay Mackenzie-Cooke, Jenny Powell, Sue Wootton and Claire Beynon - Martha founded the Dunedin open mic series, Upfront---spotlighting women poets. She has written three books for teenagers, published by Pearson: two short story collections --- Yeah! and EDGE/a cut of unreal; and a book of one-act plays --- Let’s Hear it for the Winner! Three of her one-act plays were produced for Otago University’s 2003 Gay Pride week, and a full-length play, The Trials and Tribulations of Emily, based on New Zealand’s first woman doctor, was produced in 2007. Two of her stories have been on Radio New Zealand. 

Trevor Reeves wrote of Martha's first collection Staying Inside the Lines --- "Martha is at her best when juxtaposing things with one another; events, tastes, activities, smells - a potpourri of words and images that are refreshing and delightful, yet bristling with the occasional menace. . . "

and of Hippopotamus in the room, Elizabeth Smither has this to say --- ". . . Parallel worlds, one cool and one wild. I love the way you toggle between silence and sound/conversation and doubt/plainness and density/control and sudden rushes of action and feeling. . . "


August is NZ poet Janet Frame's birthday month.  Gorse is Not People (Penguin) will be launched in Dunedin this coming Wednesday, 15 August from 6.00PM in the University Book Shop. "This brand new collection of 28 short stories by Janet Frame spans the length of her career and contains some of the best she wrote. None of these stories has been published in a collection before and more than half are being published for the first time." RSVP - ubs@unibooks.co.nz

Martha's poem Remembering Janet Frame concludes with what I think might be my favourite stand-alone line in Hippopotamus in the room. It says as much about Martha as it does about Janet.

                         REMEMBERING JANET FRAME

                            28 August 2007

                         I haven't far to walk 
                         to imagine you still living on Evans Street
                         passing near Frame Street on your way
                         to the Botanical Garden for the Sunday afternoon
                         brass band concert, then wandering 
                         to the aviary to talk to the kea
                         the one you wrote about 
                         the one that learned to walk upside down. 

                         The tui in my garden are not so clever
                         but manage to stand on their heads
                         when they siphon nectar from the kowhai blossoms.

                         There's a lunar eclipse tonight, on your birthday.
                         How like you to unsettle us all so quietly. 
                         Martha Morseth


This week's Tuesday Poem editor is Janis Freegard. Janis has posted For Patrick Rosal Who Wore A Dress & Said, from Aracelis Girmay's collection Kingdom Animalia (BOA Editions, Ltd.).

Click on the quill!

Friday, August 10, 2012

NEVER AGAIN - Hiroshima 6 August 1945/Friday 10 August 2012

As I wrote to dear friends Melissa and Marylinn this morning - this is difficult material. I would, however, like to share the work I've been immersed in recently. It is 67 years since the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki - events too terrible to fathom and too terrible not to revisit. . . To quote the plea of survivors - Never again

Yesterday I came across an excellent article that thoughtfully rephrases our common perspective. . . 
"Throughout the world, Hiroshima symbolizes the horror of its destruction more than the heroism that enabled its rebirth. But both the horror and the heroism convey messages of hope: the horror, because of the restraint it has imposed on governments, and the heroism, because of what Hiroshima has made of itself today.
There is still in all our minds, of course, the memory of the rubble-strewn surface of the earth as it was in mid-August 1945. I recall vividly the little springs of water bubbling out of the ground, all that remained of the homes that once stood there. But for me the stronger image now is the courage I encountered in the midst of despair, the willingness to think of a distant future that would be brighter and richer than the militarist past. It is this second memory that suggests the stronger theme as we enter the 21st century: the emergence of Hiroshima as an authoritative voice in a discourse exploring new conceptions of human possibilities in a world beyond the Cold War and its bristling military alliances.
What are to be the wellsprings of that discourse? First, that the citizens of Hiroshima need not be seen as merely victims or a static part of history. Second, that the nature of war itself is changing, and therefore the structure of the peace that avoids it must also change. Third, that new actors have joined states and alliances as principal players. And finally, that a new understanding of peace needs to draw on observation of trends toward war and proposals of ways to address them. . . "
           Continue reading this article here.


The University of Otago's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies is hosting two Hibukashas (pronounced He-BAK-sha) - survivors from Hiroshima. Michimasa Hirata and Shigeko Niimoto Sasamori will be in Dunedin today and tomorrow. Prof. Kevin Clements has created two commemorative events in their honour. For those of you who live in Dunedin, please support either or both of these gatherings? Here is a flier with details re; times and places. . . 

An exhibition has been arranged to accompany the lecture and comprises reproductions of nine artworks made by survivors, three pieces of mine and a sculptural work by Stephen Mulqueen. Stephen's long-term studio practice has included the transformation of bullet cases into peace poppies. For the purposes of this anniversary he has mounted a number of these in the shape of the symbol on the flag representing the Hiroshima prefecture. (I will post photographs of his work tomorrow - he'll be hanging it this morning.)

The paintings done by survivors are heart-breaking. . . 

Carrying Her Dead Child On Her Back (detail) - Reproduction of a painting by survivor Kazuno Mae

as are their words, written and spoken ---

I printed these texts onto acid-free paper (the same paper I've used in the past for my many boats) and created three new flotillas; the first incorporating text, the second plain black (in response to a survivor's mention of 'black rain') and a third flotilla of very tiny (+/- an inch and 1/3 in length), pure white boats. 

I will create a mandala out of the tiniest white boats and 'lay' them as a wreath beside this painting -

Corpses Piled Like Lumber - Reproduction of a painting by survivor, Kiyomi Kono

Deep Silence for Hiroshima (detail) - paper boat installation CB 2012 

Deep Silence (detail - in process)

Flag for Hiroshima prefecture

Alone. All One - Pencil & Oil on paper CB 2012

Love & peace, dear Friends


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Tuesday Poem - Each Piece Falls by CB

                  EACH PIECE FALLS  

                      The clock in the cul-de-sac marks the hour. 

                      We have wandered wide, allowed for poetry 

                      of a different kind; cadence and kerfuffle, 

                      the heart's rising above a familiar chaos 

                      of subjects. On the late afternoon wall, 

                      paintings in the making, canvas acrobats 

                      hanging on our every wordBare feet yield 

                      to black water. Beyond the frame, life is 

                      a risky business. Jack-in-the-box. 

                      Angel. Thief.  Some days a blackbird 

                      at ease with the rhyme and chime 

                      of every unknown thing. Like the signs 

                      written in dust after vultures have flown 

                      or the bones a shaman rolls, clues clatter 

                      and scatter; each piece falls to earth 

                      and order, takes its place 

                      in the heart's vast chamber.

                      CB 2012

This week's Tuesday Poem editor is Eileen MoellerShe has chosen Jane Springer's What We Call Frog Hunting. 

"This is the last 2 a.m. song fit for poling a johnboat through the swam
so we may glide, quiet enough, to catch frogs with our hands. 

It’s the year Robertlee can’t afford a suit to take me to prom. 

Our flashlights tell the difference between alligators & sunken logs adrift in the dark. . . "