25 November 2014

Tuesday Poem: "Oysters anyone?" by Robin Fry



The purposeful oystercatcher
bustles about between tides 
probes the wet sand

no one has ever seen it catch an oyster.

The sociable oystercatcher
seldom alone
hurries along the littorals


no time to waste.

It doesn’t suffer from cold feet or
wince as it walks, as I do, barefoot
among the stones & shells

where it raises its chicks ... kleep ... kleep ...

It’s no stick in the mud
this Petone fellow is a ‘variable’

not to be confused with

the ‘pied’ oystercatcher, its cousin.

It comes complete
with waterproof coat
red legs & beak

this haematopodida with a loud squeak ... kleep, kleep ...

The oystercatcher keeps
a secret for the breeding season
when ‘a trilling, bubbling song is heard’ –


the love song of the wading bird. 

Credit note: "Oysters anyone?" was published in Robin Fry's poetry collection The Love Song Of The Wading Bird (Submarine, an imprint of Mākaro Press, 2014), and is reproduced here by permission of the author and publisher. The Love Song Of The Wading Bird is available from Mākaro Press.

Tim says: I went to the launch of Robin's latest collection at Artspace Gallery in Petone - a very enjoyable evening, and I loved hearing Robin reading her poems. This is my favourite from the collection - a busy, lively poem to match the busy, lively bird as it goes about its lawful occasions on the Petone foreshore.

The Tuesday Poem: This week, Airini Beautrais takes us back 32 years to Whanganui and the death of Neil Roberts.

19 November 2014

Annual Report: What I've Had Published in 2014 And Where You Can Find It


"Strange time for an Annual Report", you say? Maybe so, but I'm not expecting any more work to be published between now and the end of the year, so I thought it was a good time to do a quick summary of what I've had published this year - and where you can get our sticky hands on it. (All of my work comes with a non-stick cover just for you.)*

Books

This is the big one! The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry is an anthology of Australian speculative poetry (you guessed that, right?) - science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, surrealism - co-edited by P.S. Cottier and I and available in so many formats you'll scarcely notice the lack of a T-shirt edition. 

The Stars Like Sand includes poetry from the 19th century to the present, and the poets involved include such well-known names as Dorothy Porter, Samuel Wagan Watson, Les Murray, Judith Beveridge, Diane Fahey, John Tranter, Peter Minter, Jan Owen, and many, many more.


Don't let the grass grow under your feet on your way to buy this book - walk smartly off the grass, and then it will be able to grow more freely.

Short Stories

Building the Tree - it's Christmas time in a near-future Antarctica, but what happens when the kids want a Christmas tree?Available in The Best Of Twisty Christmas Tales.

Tracks - you'd better keep away from the train tracks if the guy in the kiosk catches your eye. Available in Disquiet.

My Occupation - what's there to do for an army officer stationed in Gore other than get yourself blown up by the locals whose land you're occupying? Available in Disquiet

The Prime Ministers - after he loses a General Election, the Labour Prime Minister is banished to the night house while the National Prime Minister moves into the day house. Till there's a knock at the door... Available in JAAM 32.

The Big Baby - how would you feel if you were trapped in a cage at Te Papa with kids pulling your levers all day? Available in Lost in the Museum.

Poems

None! Nada, zilch, OK this one on my blog. But true to form, the less of something I've had published recently, the more of it I'm now writing, so poems (which will fit either into two collections distinguished by their thematic unity, or one collection with a great deal of dynamic tension) are what I'm working on at the moment.

In Which I Totally Cheat And Include Stories Published in Late 2013

Protein - In a drowning future, fresh protein is the most precious resource there is. Available in Fresh Fear: Contemporary Horror.

Rescuing the Airmen - He fell from the sky. She took refuge in the sea. And there's a war on. Available in Regeneration.


* Disclaimer: No it doesn't.

12 November 2014

You'll Always Find Me Out To Launch



Well, many of my weeks are pretty vacant, but this one does have two launches of works that contain my stories.

The Best Of Twisty Christmas Tales

On Thursday, The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales, edited by Peter Friend, Eileen Mueller and A. J. Ponder, will be launched at the Children's Bookshop in Kilbirnie. There's an impressive lineup of authors in this book, which is illustrated by Geoff Popham:



Authors:  Shelley Chappell, Michelle Child, William Cook, Debbie Cowens, Joy Cowley, Denise Cush, Marion Day, Simon Fogarty, Dave Freer, Peter Friend, Jan Goldie, David Hill, Tim Jones, Charlotte Kieft, Lyn McConchie, Eileen Mueller, Jeena Murphy, Lee Murray, Robyn P, Murray, Lorraine Orman, A.J. Ponder, D.M. Potter, Dan Rabarts, Darian Smith, Kerrie Anne Spicer, Anne Wilkins, Sophie Yorkston.

My story in this anthology is my first-ever published children's story - this most definitely showed in the first draft, but thanks to the editors and their very helpful suggestions regarding what does and doesn't work in writing for children, I hope it doesn't show in the final version!

UPDATE: The Best Of Twisty Christmas Tales is now available from Amazon.com.


JAAM 32




Then, on Saturday 15 November, as part of Wellington LitCrawl, the 2014 issue of JAAM Magazine, JAAM 32, will be launched in Wellington (and also in Dunedin by guest editor Sue Wootton). The issue includes my story "The Prime Ministers" (What's that you say? Too soon?), and I'll be reading from it at the launch. It will be like election night all over again ... no, wait, I promise it will be much, much better!

28 October 2014

Tuesday Poem: Hoovering Up The Dollars Leonard Cohen Leaves Behind


My voice is my calling card and I leave it everywhere
A basso non-profundo croaked through nicotine-stained air
My doctor is persistent but his pockets are well lined
I’m hoovering up the dollars Leonard Cohen leaves behind

My band are all anonymous and play in charcoal suits
With autumn-years arrangements built on mandolin and lute
The critics are persistent but I don’t pay them any mind
I’m hoovering up the dollars Leonard Cohen leaves behind

My after-concert entourage is two doctors and a nurse
At my age adding groupies could only make things worse
My ex-wives are persistent but they’re reassured to find
I’m hoovering up the dollars Leonard Cohen leaves behind.


Tim says: I went to Leonard Cohen's most recent concert in Wellington, and, though I yield to none in my appreciation of the master's songwriting, I found the gig itself a dull affair, impeccably played but lifeless. Neil Young wigging out on his electric guitar for two hours while people around me wonder when he's going to get round to playing the acoustic hits is much more my cup of tea when it comes to ageing musicians and their performances.

Leonard was reverently received, however, which led me to wonder ... do I have time for a late-in-life career change? I'm working on songs called "First We Take The Bronx" and "Tower of Rap" as we speak.

The Tuesday Poem: I've enjoyed my three months' stint as "sub-editor" of the hub Tuesday Poem, which I conclude this week. Check out Helen Rickerby's selection for this week, and all the other Tuesday Poems.

13 October 2014

Disquiet: A New Anthology With Two Of My Stories


I have just received my author copy of Disquiet (currently available from Amazon as a paperback, with an ebook coming soon), a new anthology of, as the cover says,

unsettling fiction and poetry to curl your eyebrows from Antipodean authors

It's edited by Tracie McBride and John Irvine, and authors featured include Alicia Ponder, Eileen Mueller, Peter Friend, Lee Pletzers, and others whose work I'm looking forward to discovering.

My two stories have a foot on both sides of the Tasman: the titular "Tracks" are those of the Melbourne tram system, while "My Occupation" is of the military kind - and it's set in Southland. I'll leave you to discover more for yourself...


02 October 2014

Are You Included In The NZ Book Council's Writer Files? If Not, You Can Apply Now

The New Zealand Book Council maintains a set of Writer Files that give generous space to each writer listed, covering their career to date and published books. I'm happy to say that I'm one of the writers included - I've been in since the mid-2000s, after my first two books were published.

Following the publication of the The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry, I asked the Book Council to update my page - which they promptly and efficiently did. Along the way, I discovered that there is now a formal selection process for inclusion in the Writer Files, and that if you're a writer who has had at least one book-length project published (print or digital) and not already included, you have until 28 November to apply for inclusion:


We are continually improving our Writers Files to maintain their breadth, diversity and accuracy. If you are interested in applying for a Writers File, please read the criteria below.

The addition of authors to the Writers Files is at the discretion of the Book Council’s Website Editorial Panel. In order to best manage our limited writing and editing resources, this selection panel considers authors for a new intake once a year, in December, and up to ten new authors are added.

Key dates for 2014
  • November 28: Applications close
  • December 09: Website Editorial Panel meet to consider applications
  • December 19: Applicants notified of Panel decision
The minimum criterion for inclusion is that a writer has published at least one book-length publication (print or digital) or, in the case of dramatists and scriptwriters, critically acclaimed performances or productions. Factors that the Panel will consider are:

  • the critical response to published work/s
  • how the author's inclusion in the Writers Files will contribute to the overall diversity of the Writers Files
  • literary profile
  • breadth of readership and/or volume of sales.
Exceptions to this intake process will be made if an author is participating in an event programme managed by the Book Council, such as Words on Wheels, the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards festival, or Writers in Schools. For more information about becoming part of Writers in Schools, click here.

We also require writers who are profiled in our Writers Files to keep us updated (within reason) about new work, reviews or awards that might be relevant to their Writers File.


Download an application form here.



Having a Writers' Files entry is a bit like having a better-formatted Wikipedia page with nice people standing by to update it for you (as long as you don't ask for updates more than a couple of times per year), so if you are an author with at least one published book, I think it's worth applying.

25 September 2014

Coming Up At Wairarapa Word: October-December 2014

Madeleine Slavick & co do a great job running the monthly Wairarapa Word. Check out what's coming up during the remainder of 2014 and get to one or more of these events if you can!


5 OCTOBER – Stories of our Landscape – with Gaye Sutton & Joseph Potangaroa at the Tarragon Cafe, Carterton. Suitable for all ages. KOHA.
Joseph Potangaroa works to preserve stories and knowledge about our landscape and history – his book on the life cycle of the tūna/eel, for instance, is an important resource. Joe is currently writing eight books of children’s stories set in the Wairarapa on flora, fauna, and the landscape. His presentation of the bilingual stories has been assisted by Gaye Sutton, a Carterton resident who has been telling stories ever since her two beautiful children were born. In her work as a storyteller, she has travelled from Norway to Northland and places in between. Along the way, she has published short stories, a chapbook of poems, and has written a novel which she hopes may be published.  Joe has lived all but five months of his 43 years around Masterton and is a kaituhituhi of the Ngāti Hamua hapū of Rangitāne o Wairarapa – Kaituhituhi are trained to understand and then share knowledge on relationships between people and with the rest of the world. Join us for an afternoon of spiritual and historical stories that surround us here in the Wairarapa. Suitable for all ages. (This event supported by Carterton District Creative Communities Scheme.)

2 NOVEMBER – Rhondda Greig – at Almo’s Books, Carterton. KOHA.
Rhondda Greig’s books include Eavesdropping with Angels (poetry), the picture books Matarawa House and Matarawa Cats (a New Zealand classic), and Noa’s Calf, a monochrome picture book without words. She is currently working on a new book of poems tentatively titled Chew the Bright Hysteria.  For this session of Wairarapa Word, she will read a selection of her work, and discuss how text and image inform her creative life. A painter, installation artist, poet, children’s book writer, book designer, costume designer, and more, Greig studied at the Auckland School of Architecture before committing herself to a career as a practicing artist. She has held many solo exhibitions across New Zealand and abroad, with permanent installations at the Carterton Events Centre, Masterton Town Hall, and at St Paul’s Cathedral in Wellington, among other locations. She lives in Matarawa. (This event supported by Carterton District Creative Communities Scheme.)

7 DECEMBER – Glenn Colquhoun - at King St. Live, Masterton. KOHA.
Glenn Colquhoun is a medical practitioner and author. His acclaimed books The Art of Walking Upright(poems) and Jumping Ship (essay) are both about Te Tii, a community in the Bay of Islands. Playing God discusses illness and health, from the point of view of the patient and doctor - the book has gone Platinum, with over 10,000 copies sold. He often writes about the extended family. How We Fell – A Love Story is written to his ex-wife about their ten-year relationship, An Explanation of Poetry to My Father is an exploration of why the son of a builder writes poems, and the children’s books Uncle Glenn and Me features a nephew while Uncle Glenn and Me Too a niece. He lives on the Kapiti Coast. (This event supported by Masterton District Creative Communities Scheme.)