03 October 2018

Poem of the Month - October: "Into our room", by Trish Harris

Into our room
clanking and rattling
spinning and whirling
sliding and wheeling
come trolleys
       and patients.

Hospitals run
on wheels.

Credit note: This untitled poem by Trish Harris is reproduced by permission of the author from her collection My wide white bed (Landing Press, 2017). For more information and to buy copies of My wide white bed, go to https://landingpress.wordpress.com/upcoming-titles/my-wide-white-bed/ . Books are available from the website and all good bookstores for $22.

Tim says: I would have enjoyed and been moved by the poems in My wide white bed at any time, but it was an especially poignant reading experience for me this year after both my father and I had stints in hospital during 2017 - his, unfortunately, terminal.

My Dad spent the last two weeks of his life in Hutt Hospital, which is the same hospital that provides the closely observed backdrop of Trish's poems. So I can say from personal experience that what Trish Harris describes in this poem, and the confusing mixture of the personal and the impersonal one experiences as a hospital patient or even as a the visitor of a hospital patient, rings very true to life.

19 September 2018

Book Review: Keith Westwater, "No One Home"

Keith Westwater, No One Home (Mākaro Press, Wellington, 2018), RRP $25.00

Reviewed by Tim Jones

"No One Home" is exactly what it says on the cover: "a boyhood memoir in letters and poems". But though this blurb is correct, the book is so much more. It's both a moving story of a childhood marred by cruelty and neglect and a very interesting and effective formal experiment in how to construct a memoir through a variety of poetic forms.

To me, a word is worth a thousand pictures. When it comes to a new book of poetry, I tend to take a quick look at the cover, think "that looks nice", and head straight for the bio, the intro, and the poems. But this time round, I paid attention to the form of the book first. Between the boyhood photo on the front cover and the title poem reproduced on the back, there are reproductions of hand-written letters between family members, newspaper clippings, hand-drawn maps and diagrams, family photos, official letters, poems, prose poems, haibun, short non-fiction narratives - and more.

The great thing is that it all fits together so well to tell a story of a young boy's upbringing and effective abandonment in the wastelands of mid-20th-century New Zealand. That narrative ends with the young boy's entry into the Army, and is followed by a brief coda of poems looking back. Keith Westwater's two previous collections are as focused outwards as inwards, but do tell a lot of the story that followed his entry into - and in many ways, rescue by - Army life.

Even better, the words live up to the concept. Such a variety of forms could cause the book to spiral out of control, but the author does a well-controlled job of marrying the words to the form, and conveying the pain of separation and loss, the cruelty of neglect, and the despair of hopes abruptly dashed. "Learning to ride", with its crushing final line, is a fine example of how Keith Westwater conveys this:

... 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.

It's hard to convey the full flavour of this book in an extract: it deserves to be read in full, and I recommend that you do so.

11 September 2018

On Sunday 16 September, hear Tim Jones perform poetry about climate change, his father, himself, and the sea

My father and I disagreed about climate change. But not in the way you might expect...

I'm the guest poet at September's "Poetry at the Fringe" on Sunday September 16, 4-6pm, at the Fringe Bar, 26-32 Allen St, Wellington. The event kicks off with an open mike, then Chris Prosser plays, and then I'll be performing.

In my performance, I'm planning to interleave poems from my latest collection New Sea Land, plus other poems both old and new, to tell a story about climate change, my father, myself, and the sea.

I'd love to see you there - and, whether or not you can make it, please share this event with your networks and your Wellington friends.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/287263775421060/

04 September 2018

Rise for Climate on 8 September + Poem of the Month: Standstill

I've been asked to speak and a read a poem at Rise for Climate Wellington this coming Saturday, 8 September. That means the poem needs to be relevant and short! Here's the poem I plan to read:


We fight the sea to a standstill, accept the tide’s
offer of negotiations.

Asymmetrical warfare: our fixed positions,
the sea changing its demands twice a day,

but at last we agree: blue lines, green lines,
and in between the contestable beach.

We return to our constituencies
bearing pieces of paper:

ours waving bravely in the airport wind,
the sea’s dissolving even as it speaks.

And what I plan to say is that, on climate change, we're not even at a standstill - we're going backwards. But there is still time to change that, if we act soon, and if we act decisively.

I hope you can make it to the Wellington event, or one in your region.

Rise for Climate, Saturday 8 September

Mark your calendar - on Saturday 8 September find a Rise for Climate event in a city or town near you (or create one!).

Real climate leadership rises from below. It means power in the hands of people not corporations. It means economic opportunity for workers and justice and dignity for frontline communities that are the hardest hit by the impacts of the fossil fuel industry and a warming world.

This September, cities, states, businesses and civil society from around the world are gathering in California for the Global Climate Action Summit.  Local leaders are now leading the fight against greenhouse gases as governments drag their feet. We need to achieve: a fast, fair and just transition to 100% renewable energy; an immediate end to new fossil fuel projects; reforestation for carbon absorption; and an end to unsustainable land and water use.

Before the Summit, 350.org are planning thousands of rallies in cities and towns around the world to demand our local leaders take effective climate action and Rise for Climate!

We are at a crossroads. By acting together, we can end the era of fossil fuels and save the climate we all depend on.

What’s happening in Aotearoa?

You are warmly invited to the 350 events in the main centres.

Not near a major city? Why not set up your own event?!  350 Aotearoa can give you heaps of support & helpful resources
– contact Claudia Palmer claudia@350.org.nz

Check the 350 Aotearoa Facebook page for the most up-to-date info in all centres.  Links go to their Facebook events.
  • Auckland 350 is calling on Auckland Museum not to take dirty money from the coal industry. Rally Sat 8 Sept, 10:30am. Auckland Museum A. The Auckland Domain, Parnell, Auckland
  • Wellington 350 is calling on the City Council not to hire out council–owned conference facilities to the Petroleum Summit. Rally Sat 8 Sept 2:00pm. Civic Square, 101 Wakefield St, Wellington
  • Nelson 350 is launching a new 350 fossil free action group for Nelson. Rally Sat 8 Sept 12:00pm  Church Steps, 45 Selwyn Place, Nelson
  • Christchurch 350 has 2 events, on Friday and Saturday:
    1) Spotlighting Local Climate Leadership – Transitional Cathedral, Friday 7 Sept, 7pm – schools, churches, unions etc
    2) Trees for Climate – rally at Victoria Square, Sat 8 Sept, 1-3pm – seedlings, speakers, music….
  • Dunedin 350 is getting together to celebrate their successes to date and plan the future. Meet Sat 8 Sept at 1pm at the Octagon, Dunedin.
Enjoy!  The antidote to despair is taking action together and there are many ways to do this.

27 August 2018

Bonsai Wellington Launch, Monday 3 September + Poetry at the Fringe, Sunday 16 September

Two more events for you - I hope you can make it to one or both!

Bonsai Wellington launch - Monday 3 September

Monday 3 September, 6.00pm, The Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave St, Thorndon, Wellington.

I have a prose poem and an essay in Bonsai: Best Small Stories from Aotearoa New Zealand, a long-anticipated New Zealand anthology of small fictions (short-short stories) and prose poems - and there are plenty of other Wellington authors represented, too. Come along and hear readings from the book and discussions of the topics raised in the essay.

Wellington launch Facebook event.

Other events in the Bonsai launch tour:

Christchurch, Sunday 2 September - Facebook event page
Auckland, Thursday 6 September - Facebook event page
Whangarei, Wednesday 12 September - Facebook event page

Poetry at the Fringe - Sunday 16 September

I'm the guest poet at September's "Poetry at the Fringe" on Sunday 16 September at the Fringe Bar (26-32 Allen St, Wellington) . The event kicks off with an open mike, then Chris Prosser plays, and then I'll be reading a mix of poems from New Sea Land plus new and previously published poems.

Even if you have heard me read from New Sea Land before, I'm planning to interleave these poems with others to tell a story about my father, myself, climate change, and the sea. It's a format I'm hoping to take on tour in 2019 - this is your chance to help shape it!

I hope to see you there.

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.