Wednesday, 29 October 2008


The NZ Poetry Society is no longer meeting Creative New Zealand's "strategic priorities".

Creative New Zealand has turned down the NZPS's grant application for the 2009-2010 financial year. After being supported for many years by CNZ, the NZPS has been let loose to stand or fall on its own merits. With the recent decision by the Arts Editor of The Listener to stop publishing poetry (a decision that is now being revisited, thanks to the volume of responses to the decision), there seems to be a belief by the holders of the purse strings that poetry is somehow not a part of New Zealand culture that warrants public financial support. Given that writing is an equal opportunity art, requiring the minimum of materials and available to anyone, this seems a strange attitude. It's long been said that there's no money in poetry, though many of us work hard at it in spite of that prejudice. It seems CNZ is determined to prove it's true.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Ask a busy person...

Things are going crazy round here! The magazine should have gone to the printer 2 days ago, but I didn't have enough copy for 16 pages, and I was emailing people like mad to produce stuff at the last minute.Sending it off is today's job. I promised the printer I'd figure out how to use the Open Office database before this issue, for the mailing addresses, and I haven't been able to - my self-teaching skills have deserted me on that one - so the mailing list will have to go in Excel again. I've got extra people for dinner tonight, and we're all going to BATS to see Apollo 13, so I've got dough in the breadmaker for French rolls, and kidney beans boiling their butts off on the stove. I've got David Geary to introduce tomorrow night, so there's his introduction to research and write. I have to do it today, or tomorrow morning at the absolute latest, as I've got an Arts Partnership lunch to go tomorrow at 12.30, followed by free attendance at an NZSO rehearsal, followed by picking up the grandchildren from school while their mother does something I can't remember. And the Poetry Society meeting at night. There's an extra PoSoc meeting next month (the anthology launch is under control, thank goodness!) and I haven't advertised it yet. And I thought I was too busy to blog last week! lol.

Plus I hope to go and visit my Dad on Friday, as I haven't seen him for a couple of weeks, and driving to Waikanae at the weekends is not one of my favoured things to do. And the Air New Zealand Cup final is on Saturday night. Go Wellington Lions! We gave up our Stadium tickets when my income dropped to less than the dole, but curling up on the couch with a glass of my choice of wine (currently Jackman Ridge Muller-Thurgau), a bowl of bhuja mix and a pinapple lump (or 3) for each try scored is adequate and affordable compensation.

I went to to Karori library yesterday to change my books. The library (any library) is probably my favourite place in the entire world. In 2006 I went to the one in New York that holds and displays the toys that were the inspiration for AA Milne's characters, and that confirmed my feeling that libraries are almost all you need in life to be happy. Full of infinite possibilities, and quiet enough to absorb their intent.

The books I returned after a month were:
Apartment 255, Bunty Avieson. Awful awful awful. Promised much, delivered nothing. I abandoned it before I finished Chapter 1.
Another World, Pat Barker. I love her work. She's spare but absorbing, and this was an almost-ghost story, Nothing much happened, in that it was an interior rather than plot-driven story, but the characters all mattered.
The Stone Monkey, Jefferey Deaver. Currently my favourite author, and this was yet another masterly written thriller with sympathetic characters and a satisfyingly convoluted plot. Wally read it after me, and didn't get anything done last weekend .
Last Man Standing, David Baldacci. Another favourite author, and an even more convoluted plot. The characters a bit thinner, but nonetheless a gripping story that had me on the edge of my bed (when else would I read?) right to the end. I didn't get much done last weekend either.

So now I'm looking forward to a whole new set of books. I mainly source them from the Large Print section these days. It makes them easier to read in bed, though they tend to be hardback and a bit heavy to hang on to as I'm dropping off. Which I didn't do much of in that last batch (except the 1st one). I also check the trolley of returned books that haven't been shelved yet. It's a useful shortcut, and I got a couple from there too - Stephen Fry and Terry Jones. More about them next month.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Having a slow day - think I'll blog

I've been working my butt off for the last couple of weeks, and I haven't had much energy for working today, so I've essentially taken it off. I did some emails first, just so they don't overwhelm me, and then I spent time in the garden with my animals. We've recently moved the rabbit, Robbie, outside. He used to be in the living room, and pretty much had free run of the house, apart from being locked up at night. That was fine until he decided there were more interesting places to poo than in his litter box. Now he's on the lowest of our lawns (this being Wellington, our garden spaces are all at different heights).

The biggest risk to his being free-range, as our last bunnies were, is the neighbour's cat, Murphy, a giant of a boy who deliberately and with malice aforethought terrorises our tortoiseshell, Scarlett O'Hara. (I can't take credit for the honourable literary provenance of her name - she came from the Cats' Protection League already labelled.) But as it's the school holidays, and Murphy's away boarding somewhere, I'm taking advantage of his absence to get Robbie used to running around the lawn and bolting for his cage when startled. He's so far spent most of his free periods sniffing everything he touches (and in my garden there's a lot to touch) and generally exploring.

Athens, our black and white smoosh of a cat, loves playing chasing with Robbie, so they both got plenty of exercise. Scarlett, who proudly lives up to the reputation of the "naughty tortie" has recently been trying to play as well, but she's really not very good at it. She doesn't like to be touched, so when Robbie comes up and puts his nose against hers she takes offence and bats at him with a paw. He doesn't care - he hops away and finds something else to do.

Which should mean that he's at risk of being mauled by Murphy. However, the one time Robbie was running around when Murphy came inside, as he does, to steal food if I've forgotten to cover it up, Robbie wasted no time getting to know the new guy, and took off. So I think he'll be ok by the time Murphy gets back. He'll know his way around, and be able to hide in his house.

So there I am, out in the garden, pulling out onion weed and Japanese anemone (a noxious weed I was persuaded to allow to grow when it introduced itself because I was assured it was pretty when in flower, but which could easily take over the world long before climate change kills us all) and I've got two cats hurtling around, the duck and the chicken pottering about, and the rabbit coming over for a cuddle. I decided I can stand to continue working for next to nothing for a bit longer, because this life-style is basically awesome. Capital Coast Health might have paid (a lot) better, but clearly money isn't everything, and the Poetry Society is a lot more fun.

Speaking of which, we've found a new permanent home for our monthly meetings. Yippee! From February next year we'll be meeting in the upstairs function room of the Thistle Inn, in Mulgrave St, and better still it won't cost us anything. This is a huge load off, and means one less job I have to do every month, trying to find somewhere pleasant and cheap. And best of all, the refreshments are taken care of - something else I won't have to worry about. I'm very happy.

What I'm not so happy about is Jenny Bornholdt's latest offering, The Rocky Shore. Being JB shouldn't be an excuse for publishing poor work. I'm sure she worked very hard on it, but there is very little in it that's memorable, and I was most of the way through it before I had my familiar tingle of, "Aah, this is what Jenny's good at." And then it was over. I tried reading some of it aloud, a good alternative Harvey Molloy reminded me about last week, but it only made it worse. The occasional half rhyme (and at one stage she points them out, in case you've missed them) isn't really enough to hold together prosy couplets that have no discernible reason to be laid out on the page like that.

Maybe I'm getting old and cynical, but I don't want to read any poet blathering on about the poem while she's writing it, as though stream of consciousness can replace real thought. Or maybe I'm just being harsh because I was disappointed. The cover's the best thing about it - up to Sarah Maxey's usual standards. Shame about the poetry.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Life has an expiry date - what are you doing about it?

My latest motto. To remind me that the inclusion of my own poetry life in my daily work schedule is not self-indulgence, except in the most positive way.

I'm enjoying judging the online poetry competition is running. Not as many audio/visual entries as expected, given how popular YouTube is, but they've increased in Week 2, so perhaps word is getting out. Many thanks to Neil Furby for actively promoting it. I entered some poems in the first week (with permission from Clare, the organiser) to boost the numbers and to see how they were judged by my fellow judges, and they all made it through, which is encouraging. I'll disqualify myself and withdraw them from Round 3, but in the meantime, I'll be interested to see how the website visitors rate them.

I've been a busy little submitter - I've currently got poems with the Bravado competitition (9), the Wellington Sonnet Competition (2), the Takahe competition (6), Brand (a UK journal, 3) and I've sorted out a selection for Turbine as well, which I'll send off next week. Fingers crossed.

I plan to do some more writing over the weekend. My poetry group is meeting at my place next Wednesday and in my typical over-achieving way, I'm not satisfied with having written just one poem since the last meeting. Our theme is 'riposte', so I need something to [whatever the verb for riposte is] to. Sounds like a good reason to read (as if a reason is ever needed). I'll read something new, so that it's a fresh approach, and not something I've had too much time to think about previously. I do so enjoy a challenge.

Saw "WALL*E" last night - what an awesome movie! Disney does it again. I know I'm a sook, but even I was surprised that I cried at the end. I'm really good at suspending disbelief in animated movies! It was totally absorbing and I was really glad the family had the theatre almost to ourselves. We're very loud laughers and not at all self-conscious about enjoying ourselves, but it's still good not to have too many other people about to bother when we do it.

It was supposed to be a Mensa event, but no other Mensans came, which is not unusual. That's why I scheduled it for a time when my family was available to accompany me. It was Ursula's half-birthday, so our treat. My sister Bev came too. She arrived from England last Friday to look after Dad in Waikanae for a month, and is planning to come in to Wellington for all the Mensa events she can. She's not a member, but she's been to events before while in New Zealand and fits in very well.

Good to see that 597 New Zealanders have voted in the unofficial world vote for the US President (and Obama is winning). See top link, and pass it on.