31 July 2018

Poem Of The Month: The Final Lap

Rimutaka Hill. Image credit: Michal Vitásek

Another of my poems has been published on the Talk Wellington blog, which specialises in covering transport and infrastructure issues around the Wellington region. This one describes a car journey I took through the Wairarapa on my way back to Wellington from being the guest reader at a Hawke's Bay Live Poetry Society meeting a few years ago:

The Final Lap

The Wairarapa strings moments on the tracks of afternoon,
accelerations, plains spreading southwards from Pūkaha,
where a solitary ferret stalks the wind.

This is the journey warned against by roadside signs,
long straights developing their own momentum,
desire for home outweighing caution,

eyelids drooping as the land’s horizons widen...

Read the rest of "The Final Lap" at Talk Wellington, or in my latest poetry collection, New Sea Land.

My previous poems on Talk Wellington:


But wait ... there's more!

What I've been reading

I've recently completed reading two fine poetry collections, No One Home by Keith Westwater and My Wide White Bed by Trish Harris. I hope to have more about  these collections for you soon, but in the meantime, I published Keith's poem Learning to ride as my "Poem of the month" in April.

Coming up

I'll be reading poems from New Sea Land, plus some newer poetry, at these upcoming poetry events:

Friday 24 August, 1-3.30pm: National Poetry Day event, Wellington Central Library. (I'll put up a separate post about this event - which features poets published by three local presses.)

Sunday 16 September, 4-6pm, Fringe Bar, 26-32 Allen St, Wellington: I'm the guest reader at the monthly Fringe Bar reading

Saturday 27 October and Sunday 28 October: East-West Poetry Fest, Palmerston North City Library.

28 June 2018

Poems of the Month - May and June: Two by Tim on Talk Wellington: "All That Summer" and "Dominion"

Talk Wellington: Kōrero Shaping Wellington was set up in 2017 to be a blog focusing on many aspects of life in the Wellington region, but with an emphasis on geography, climate change, urban design and transport. This year, their focus is on transport:

Region-wide, 2018 is a big year for transport.
So this year Talk Wellington is focussing on how transport is influencing people’s quality of life – from our streets, neighbourhoods, suburbs, to our towns and region.

One of the varieties of kōrero on the site is poetry, and Talk Wellington has been kind enough to carry a couple of my poems with a climate change and transport focus recently: "All That Summer" and "Dominion". You can read them both in full on the site, and then stay for all the other interesting comment Talk Wellington has to offer.

All That Summer

There’s a lot of great kōrero in Wellington about climate change, but what could happen if that talk doesn’t translate to action? This Friday poem is a portal into our city’s future.


How cars take our souls as well as our lives.

Credit note - and where you can find more poems on similar themes:

From Tim Jones’s latest poetry collection New Sea Land (Mākaro Press, 2016): https://makaropress.co.nz/submarine-books-2/new-sea-land-by-tim-jones/

28 April 2018

Poem of the Month: Learning to ride, by Keith Westwater

I attended the very successful launch of Keith Westwater's new book No One Home at Unity Books Wellington last Thursday night. No One Home is described on the front cover as "a boyhood memoir in letters and poems", and lest that and the front cover image appear to paint a picture of an idyllic youth, that's far from the case.

I'm just beginning to dip into this fascinating mixture of memoir, record of Army life and poetry collection, but here is one poem that caught my eye right away. I am looking forward to reading the rest of this collection, and then reviewing it!

Learning to ride

Not long after my complaints
about the long walk to school

how everyone had one
so why couldn’t I

you came home one night
with a two-wheeler bike –

a Monarch (boy’s, second-hand)
front handbrake, rear pedal –

no bell, chain-guard or gears.
You bought it, no doubt

off a ‘for sale’ ad in the local rag
painted it fire-engine red

showed me how to use the pump
oil the chain, crank and hubs

told me to level the pedals
before I stood on one

straddled the cross bar
sat on the black saddle seat

while you palmed my back
steadied the handle bars

said to push with my feet –
one then the other – coaxed me

to steer straight, keep upright
as we practised setting off.

When I came a cropper
skinned my arms or knees

you painted them orange
set me up for another go

until I was able to wobble solo
up and down life’s street.

If only that were so.

Credit: "Learning to ride" by Keith Westwater is reproduced by permission of the author and the publisher, Mākaro Press, from Keith's new book No One Home (Mākaro Press, 2018).

Tim says: Very like my own experiences of learning to ride a bike (in my case, in Otatara, south of Invercargill) - until the brutal end.

06 April 2018

Science Fiction At The Auckland Writers' Festival, 19-20 May: Neal Stephenson, Karen Joy Fowler, tribute to Ursula Le Guin

This looks like quite a weekend at the Auckland Writers' Festival for science fiction, fantasy (and literary fiction) fans: with Neal Stephenson, Karen Joy Fowler, and, even better, a tribute to Ursula Le Guin. Not sure I can be there, but I hope you can!

Auckland Writers' Festival link: http://www.writersfestival.co.nz/

Tickets available at ticketmaster.co.nz, 0800 111 999, or at TM Box Office: Earlybird $37.50, Standard (15 Mayonwards) $42; Students $20.00
New York Times bestselling author Neal Stephenson is renowned for works seething with big ideas, both innovative and complex in their genius, including Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Anathem, and his latest Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O co-written with Nicole Galland. Stephenson is also one of the world’s leading designers of augmented reality in his role as “Chief Futurist” at Magic Leap, a company that is transforming the way humans interact with story. David Larsen unpicks Stephenson’s boundless imagination and creativity.

Earlybird $20, Standard (15 May onwards) $25; Students $12.50; Concession Pass (multiple buy, shareable): $16/$17
Best-selling author Karen Joy Fowler is a maverick, with novels and short stories spanning science fiction, fantasy and literary fiction, including the Man Booker Prize finalist We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, The New York Times bestseller The Jane Austen Book Club, and the PEN/Faulkner fiction finalist Sister Noon. She is the co-founder of the James Tiptree Jr. Award – given to works which increase understanding of gender – and is the president of the Clarion Foundation which supports the teaching of sci-fi and fantasy writing. She speaks with Kate De Goldi. Supported by Platinum Patrons Pip Muir & Kit Toogood.
Earlybird $20, Standard (15 May onwards) $25; Students $12.50; Concession Pass (multiple buy, shareable): $16/$17
In memory of the extraordinary Ursula Le Guin, writers and fans Karen Joy Fowler and Elizabeth Knox join David Larsen to share stories of their first encounters with her work and explore the legacy of the writer David Mitchell describes as a “crafter of fierce, focused, fertile dreams”.

25 March 2018

Poem of the Month: "The Rabbit", by Peter Rawnsley, from his new collection "Light Cones"

His mother was the Wing Commander’s wife.
Had some ladies for high tea. She had brushed
and straightened him to be presentable. What
are you going to do when you grow up,
they asked between their sips from china cups.
The question and its demand for answer
to the high bench of grown-up is all that he remembers
of the conversation. When allowed, he escaped
from the drawing room, running, to a shed outside,
unlocked. Inside he found a dead rabbit,
meat to supplement the wartime ration. Shot
and hung up on a peg upon a wall. How the blood
glistens on the touchable fur! The craft
of the creature spread in death’s still life.
He must unpeg it and almost unaware,
such his absorption, fondle it taking up
the blood and stench to hand and face and clothes.
Unknown to himself, he holds the answer.
He enters the drawing room to show the wonder,
dangling the dead rabbit from his hand.
 A fuss, a dropped cup, cries of accident.
The bleak anger in his mother’s eyes.
The world’s perfect soirée lies in ruins.

Credit: "The Rabbit" by Peter Rawnsley is reproduced by permission of the author and the publisher, Mākaro Press, from Peter's new collection Light Cones (Mākaro Press, 2017).

Poet's note: Peter tells me: "This poem is autobiographical and truly happened as described, or at least as I remember about 75 years after the event! The locale, as I recall, is an air force base near Blenheim during WW2."

Tim says: As Cyclone Gita approached, its outermost rain bands already darkening the northern horizon,* I made the long and perilous journey to Plimmerton for the launch of Peter's new collection Light Cones. I wasn't sure about making the trip, but I'm very glad I did, because it was an excellent launch and this is a fine collection. Following my usual practice, I have been reading a few poems at the time, and of those I've read so far, "The Rabbit" is my very favourite. There are so many wonderful lines here, but what resonated with me most of all is that remembered sense from childhood of being arraigned at the high bench of grown-up expectation and judgement.

*Cyclone Gita actually took another two days to make landfall... it's a fair cop, guv.

20 February 2018

The 2018 National Flash Fiction Day Competition is open!

The 2018 National Flash Fiction Day 
competition is open!

This year, we introduce three categories for submissions: 

Adult (19+)
First Prize: $1000
Second Prize: $400
Third Prize: $100
Judges: Tracey Slaughter and Sue Wootton
Youth (18 and under)
First Prize: $200
Second Prize: $100
Third Prize: $50
Judges: Tim Jones and Patrick Pink

Te reo Māori Prize
Judge: Vaughan Rapatahana
Details at the NFFD site -- send your best 300-word stories by April 30!

Good luck to all!