31 July 2012

IP (Interactive Publications) 2012 Reading Tour of NZ with Sugu Pillay and Karen Zelas

IP (Interactive Publications) 2012 Reading Tour of Aotearoa/New Zealand

IP have just published two more collections by New Zealand poets: Flaubert's Drum by Sugu Pillay and Night's Glass Table by Karen Zelas - and, just as they did with Keith Westwater and myself last year, IP publisher and poet Dr David Reiter is touring the country with Karen and Sugu.

Here is the tour schedule:

Sugu Pillay, Karen Zelas, Dr David Reiter


Monday 27th August: Circadian Rhythm Café, 72 St Andrew Street. 8pm.


Tuesday 28th August. Timaru District Library. 12.30 pm.


Thursday 30th August. In Association with the Christchurch Writers Festival. 4.30pm The Little Dome, Hagley Park, Christchurch.


Sunday 2nd Sept. Poetry & Music at the Metro, Porirua. 4 pm.

Monday 3rd Sept. Wellington Central Library. 6.pm.


Tuesday 4th Sept. Poetry Live at theThirsty Dog, 469 Karangahape Rd, Auckland. 7.30pm


Wednesday 5th Sept. Tauranga Campus, Waikato University, Durham Street, 6 pm.

26 July 2012

An Interview With Jan Hutchison

Jan Hutchison was born in Petone and educated at Victoria University and the New Zealand Library School. She has worked in the Justice Department, spent time overseas, and been a librarian in Wellington, Dunedin and Nelson.

Jan lives in Christchurch with Hamish and says that poetry is a significant part of her life. She wrote constantly as a child and she returned to writing poetry after her own children left home. David Howard encouraged her and she joined the Poetry Collective where she appreciated meeting others with similar interests. She belongs to a poetry group which meets regularly and values its lively exchange of views.

She writes for Amnesty International and at present is improving her skills in Maori language.

Her poems are represented in many anthologies and publications and more recently in Snorkel and Quadrant (Australia). Steele Roberts published her three collections: The Long Sleep is Over, Days Among Trees, and The Happiness of Rain. Recently, she won first prize in The Takahe International Poetry Competition, 2011.

Tim adds: The title poem The Happiness of Rain was my Tuesday Poem this week.

Jan, why did you choose "The Happiness of Rain" as the title of your latest collection of poetry?

I chose the title The Happiness of Rain as I wanted one which connected with New Zealand landscape and, despite the precarious environment, would reveal joy in the present moment. I remembered, in particular, a day I spent at Stewart Island and many visits to bush on the hills of Wellington. 

How is the collection organised? Is there a unifying theme, or are there unifying themes, which run through it?

Much of the first part of the book is concerned with experiences in Canterbury, and in particular, visits to Darfield and Banks Peninsula. The second part of The Happiness of Rain includes poems which show the creativity of the human or animal spirit under adverse circumstances.

I don't write the poems in a systematic order but try to arrange a collection of poems - after I've finally completed them - in a way that allows them to engage with others on the page opposite or near by. Nor do I plan a particular poem.  I stop what I'm thinking and expecting and stay present for the poem as long as it takes.

My poetry is an expression of faith in the integrity of the senses and faith in the imagination.  I want my poems to be connected with the natural world, with myths and animals, dreams and erotic life. 

Do your three collections represent a continuum, or will readers familiar with your first two collections notice a different Jan Hutchison when they come to read The Happiness of Rain?

I think The Happiness of Rain differs from the earlier books but I’d prefer others made their own comments.

Do you write in forms other than poetry, or do you concentrate solely on poetry?

I write solely poetry.

This is probably a question you are getting sick of – so please feel free not to answer! – but what has been the effect of the last two years of earthquakes and disruption on both your own writing, and on the poetry community in Canterbury?

The earthquakes have had a major effect on me and everyone I know.

I have three poems on our September and February quakes in the first part of The Happiness of Rain. As well, I’ve included a found poem on the telephone book which was written a few years earlier and published in JAAM in 2007.

Which poets have been a strong influence on your own poetry?

Nearly all my reading, one way or another, influences my poetry. I think of stories collected by Grimm, and as well, many myths and legends. I like poems in translation. I admire Chinese poems from the T’ang Dynasty. I like work by Rilke, Anna Akhmatova, Mandelstam and Chekhov. I’m influenced by poets such as Stevens and Elizabeth Bishop. I often read W. S. Merwin.

Others whom I read and reread are John Clare, Hardy, the later Yeats, Edward Thomas, Charles Causley, Kathleen Jamie, Michael Longley, many contemporary Irish poets - the list never ends. Poets in New Zealand who spring to mind are Fiona Farrell, Michael Harlow, Cilla McQueen, Bill Manhire, Jim Norcliffe, Gregory O’Brien, C.K. Stead and Brian Turner.

Finally, and if you don't mind me asking, what are you working on at the moment?

I am working on another collection with the working title “Sand and River Time”.

Book availability details

The Happiness of Rain can be ordered from book shops or from Steele Roberts' web site: www.SteeleRoberts.co.nz

24 July 2012

Tuesday Poem: The Happiness Of Rain, by Jan Hutchison

This lanky child runs along the shore
cooling her feet in tidal pools.

Wherever she treads in spring
grasses are more tender.

On sultry days, she rides a pony
then with quick hand-slaps
divides its mane in two.

Sometimes she perches in forest
trees among pellucid ferns.

Their fronds are shining whorls
she tunes with her little finger
to any wayward wind.

Far down, the stream shimmers,
and the child sings a promise
to the weeks to come.

water   water
stars are winter’s flowers.

Credit Note: "The Happiness of Rain" is the title poem of Jan Hutchison's new collection, published by Steele Roberts. Watch out for my interview with Jan, which I'll be publishing here later this week.

The Tuesday Poem: You can check out the other Tuesday Poems for this week on the Tuesday Poem blog:- the hub poem at the centre of the page, and all the other poems to the left.

17 July 2012

Tuesday Poem: Touchdown, and some Cool News


The engine ceased and silence fell.
We had made it. Nine months,
nine months in a metal womb
drinking recycled urine
eating recycled crap
watching our dosimeters glow.

I earned my place as captain. Sure,
there was the PR angle: Venus flies to Mars!
Great for the ratings, all that sort of thing.
But a dream born in girlhood
honed through years of preparation
had fitted me to take command.

"We're down," I said, "we're clear and down."
Fifteen minutes later
they would be cheering the news in Houston
but for now we had the planet to ourselves.
I looked at my companions. Dazed, exhausted,
but a spring of joy flowed in every one.

A human was about to step on Mars.  The moment
I had dreamt about had come. I crawled into the airlock.
I waited till it cycled. I stepped outside
and felt the Martian sun.
The cold air chilled me. The red light was eerie.
The great deed of my life was done.

Credit note: "Touchdown" was first published in my second poetry collection, All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens (HeadworX, 2007 - contact me if you'd like a copy), and republished in Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand, ed Mark Pirie and Tim Jones (2009). In All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens, it forms part of the "Red Stone" sequence about the colonisation of Mars.

The Cool News: I've just heard from IP, the publishers of Voyagers, that the Frankfurt Book Fair has requested Voyagers for its upcoming Books on New Zealand exhibition at the Fair. After all the hoops that other authors have had to jump through to get their books on display at the Fair, I feel just the tiniest smidgeon of guilt about this - but mainly, I feel very pleased!

A little bird tells me that, since the Voyagers concept worked so well in New Zealand, it might be repeated in a neighbouring country ... watch this space!

The Tuesday Poem: You can check out the other Tuesday Poems for this week on the Tuesday Poem blog:- the hub poem at the centre of the page, and all the other poems to the left.

12 July 2012

Poetry Readings Coming Up In Palmerston North, Takaka And Nelson

Just before I get onto the news of forthcoming readings, I have had another book review published in Landfall Review Online:

Tim Jones reviews Hilary and David by Laura Solomon.

(I have a lot of trouble with links to Landfall Review Online, so if this link does not work, look for the review entitled "Friends on Facebook".)

Forthcoming Poetry Readings

August: Palmerston North

Keith Westwater and I read at the Ballroom Cafe in Wellington in June - our first joint reading since last year's book launch tour for Men Briefly Explained and Tongues of Ash - and next month we're heading to Palmerston North to read: Here are the details:

When: Wednesday 15 August, 6:00pm
WherePalmerston North Central Library, Palmerston North

Here's the writeup from the Eventfinder site:

Wellington poets Tim Jones and Keith Westwater read from their new collections.

Keith Westwater's new book 'Tongues of Ash' won Interactive Publishing's Best First Book Award. "There is a no-nonsense specificity about Keith's poems, a refusal to privilege the smooth over the roughnesses of human experience....the book begins with an annotated map of Wellington as a special insert - which has room for romantic and family love, weather, landscapes, rocks and history." - Jack Ross, poet and academic

Tim Jones's new book 'Men Briefly Explained' was described by writer Mary McCallum as: "Tim Jones' new collection holds men up to the light with poems that are intimate and playful, smart and satirical. He focuses on the rituals and carapaces of men and the relevance of that gender in the future. Men Briefly Explained is an engaging and provocative read."

I've read once before in Palmerston North, and enjoyed it very much - I'm looking forward to reading there again.

September: Takaka and Nelson

It's been many years since I have been to Nelson, and I have never been to Golden Bay, but I am planning to remedy both oversights in September. Though details are still to be confirmed, this is how things look at the moment:

Thurs 20 Sept, 7.30pm: Bay Lit Awards presentation ceremony, The Mussel Inn

Fri 21 Sept, 1pm: Reading at Takaka Memorial Library

Mon 24 Sept, 6 for 6.30pm: Reading at Nelson Live Poets, The Free House, 95 Collingwood Street

Watch this space for further details, Facebook and other events, etc. If you live in Palmerston North or the Top of the South, I hope we'll get the chance to meet at one of these events.

09 July 2012

IP Inside Track Consultations: Coming to NZ in August-September

News from Dr David Reiter of IP that he will be available for Inside Track Consultations for New Zealand authors during IP's next book tour of New Zealand from 27 August to 6 September. Here are the details:

Dr David Reiter, Publisher, IP (Interactive Publications) will be offering Inside Track Consultations (ITCs) to aspiring authors interested in publishing with IP. Regarded as Australia's most innovative independent publisher, IP has an expanding list of New Zealand authors, and publishes titles for adults and children in most genres in physical and digital editions. Your ITC can be for 30 minutes ($70) or an hour ($130), and he encourages you to send a sample of your work, plus a synopsis, in advance of the meeting. ITCs will be scheduled in concert with his tour of New Zealand from 27 Aug - 6 Sept, which will include stops in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland and Tauranga, to promote new work by Karen Zelas and Sugu Pillay, as well as his own. For further info, please send an Expression of Interest to him ASAP at reiter@ipoz.biz

03 July 2012

Tuesday Poem: Hub Cap'n

I'm the editor for the hub Tuesday Poem this week - check out what I've chosen as this week's Tuesday Poem on the Tuesday Poem blog, and remember to check out all the other Tuesday Poems in the sidebar on the left, too.