20 December 2015

"The Stars Like Sand" Highly Commended In ACT Writers' Centre Awards

The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry, the anthology I co-edited with Canberra poet P. S. Cottier, published in 2014, was thereby eligible for the ACT Writing and Publishing Awards - and, while it didn't win its category (Publishing Awards: Poetry Category), it did receive a Highly Commended and some nice words from the judges:

P S Cottier and her New Zealand co-editor Tim Jones have assembled an ebullient landmark anthology that attempts to embrace a very broad church indeed. An impressive matrix of 'big names' in Australian poetry allows plenty of space nevertheless for the minor poets, who contribute some of the best pieces in the diffuse speculative genre. The poems surprise and delight, lending the anthology a broad appeal.

Whether the speculative poetry category is "diffuse" is an interesting question, but it's great for The Stars Like Sand to get this recognition. Congratulations to John Stokes for his win in this category, to all the other winners and placegetters, and thanks to the ACT Writers Centre for the opportunity! Here are a couple of photos from the ceremony - the "Highly Commended" certificate, and Penelope with the certificate (thanks to Penelope Cottier for the photos).

16 December 2015

I'm Teaching Two "Writing Short Fiction" courses at Whitireia Polytechnic in the first term of 2016; End of a Tuesday Poem Era

I'm teaching Writing Short Fiction at Whitireia Polytechnic in 2016

Whitireia Polytechnic have asked me to teach two Writing Short Fiction courses (Short Fiction I and Short Fiction II) in the first term of 2016 - the first an introduction to writing short stories, and the second an introduction to various genres of short fiction.

These courses are part of the on-campus version of the Diploma in Creative Writing, and will be taught at their Wellington Campus in Dixon St. There are still places available in the Diploma, so if you or someone you know would like to take it, you can enrol online.

I'm looking forward to teaching these courses - I've already had some involvement with the Whitireia programme via mentoring and manuscript assessment, but teaching these two courses represents an exciting (if a little scary!) challenge.

Whitireia are also offering Screenwriting at Levels 6 and 7 for the first time in three years - places are available for that course as well.

End of an Era for the Tuesday Poem

After five years, the Tuesday Poem is coming to an end - though perhaps not the end. To mark the occasion, co-founders Mary McCallum and Claire Beynon have compiled a poem from the Tuesday Poets' poems, And I know now what I didn't know then. It's well worth reading!

The Tuesday Poem site will stay online, and many of the Tuesday Poets and former Tuesday Poets - plan to keep posting poems on their blogs - you should be able to keep on finding them in the left sidebar of the Tuesday Poem site.

07 December 2015

New anthology Shortcuts: Track 1, containing six fine novellas including my "Landfall", is now available

What's better than one SF/F novella? Six of 'em, collected together as Shortcuts: Track 1, edited by Marie Hodgkinson, from Paper Road Press: http://paperroadpress.co.nz/b…/shortcuts-track-1-collection/

I have just received my author copies of Shortcuts: Track 1 and it looks really good, with a great cover by KC Bailey:


  • "Landfall" by Tim Jones (more about "Landfall" here!)
  • "Bree's Dinosaur" by A C Buchanan
  • "The Last" by Grant Stone
  • "Mika", by Lee Murray and Piper Mejia
  • "Pocket Wife" by IK Paterson-Harkness
  • "The Ghost of Matter" by Octavia Cade

Now available in paperback and as an ebook on Amazon, and for order as a paperback through bookstores using the following details:

Title: SHORTCUTS: Track 1

Editor: Marie Hodgkinson

ISBN: 9780473336486

Distributor: Paul Greenberg, Greene Phoenix Marketing and PDL

04 December 2015

"The Stars Like Sand" Shortlisted for the ACT Writing and Publishing Awards

The Stars Like Sand, the anthology of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror poetry that I co-edited with Canberra poet P. S. Cottier, has been shortlisted for the ACT Writing and Publishing Awards. It's great to see the book get this further recognition! All the shortlist and award details are below - congratulations to all the shortlisted authors and publishers. The awards will be announced on Thursday 17 December.

From Capital Letters, blog of the ACT Writers' Centre:

Shortlisted Awards 2015 banner
We are excited to announce the 2015 ACT Writing and Publishing Awards shortlist. The announcement of the winners will take place at 6pm Thursday 17 December in the Main Hall at Gorman Arts Centre. More details about the event are here. If you wish to attend, please RSVP to admin@actwriters.org.au

This year, we are also pleased to welcome the Minister for the Arts, Joy Burch, who will be announcing the winners of the 2015 ACT Book of the Year Award and People's Choice. The shortlist for this award was released on 12 October 2015.

The shortlist is listed below:

ACT Writing and Publishing Awards

The Marjorie Graber-McInnis Short Story Award

  • Elizabeth Egan, 'Frozen Stiff'
  • Jennifer Hand, 'Now and Then'
  • C. H. Pearce, 'Torvald's Year'

The Michael Thwaites Poetry Award

  • Laurence Anderson, 'Winter evening on the Monaro'
  • Michelle Brock, 'Memorabilia'
  • Penny O'Hara, 'Ode to a Papermate Inkjoy 100'
  • Sarah Rice, 'Action (Bus Route 2)

The Anne Edgeworth Fellowship for Young People

  • Myles Gough
  • Louis Klee
  • Rachael Stevens
  • Sarina Talip

The Z4 Review Writing Award

There is no shortlist for this category; the winner of this award will be announced on Thursday 17 December.

01 December 2015

Issue 23 of Poetry Notes is now available

If you're a poet, reader or student of poetry, or interested in NZ literary history, the Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa and its Poetry Notes newsletter, edited by Mark Pirie, is well worth checking out.

Reposted from the PANZA website, here is news of the latest issue of Poetry Notes.

The 23rd issue of the newsletter from Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa is available now for download as a PDF. Inside  Spring 2015, volume 6, issue 3:

An interview with Patricia Prime; A history of JAAM literary magazine; National Poetry Day Poem: Carlaw Park by Francis Cloke; poetry by MaryJane Thomson; further comment on Geoffrey Pollett (1908-1937); further comment on John O’Connor (1949-2015); Paekakariki arts walk; C K Stead appointed NZ Poet Laureate; new publications by PANZA members: Lonely Earth by MaryJane Thomson; 12 Netball Poems by Mark Pirie; Livin’ ina Aucklan’ CD by Earl of Seacliff’s Lonely Hearts Club Band [Michael O’Leary and others]; Poetic Fish Hooks by Niel Wright; donate to PANZA through PayPal; recently received donations; about the Poetry Archive.

Take a look!

24 November 2015

I'm Taking Part In The People's Climate March On Saturday

It's no longer possible to march in Paris, but it is in Aotearoa this weekend. I'll be taking part in the Wellington edition of the People's Climate March, which starts from 1pm in Civic Square on Saturday 28 November. I encourage you to check out the closest event to you (note there are four pages of events) and take part.

09 November 2015

I'm Looking Forward To The NZ Poetry Conference This Weekend

I'm looking forward to the New Zealand Poetry Conference this coming weekend (13-15 November). After a successful conference in Hawkes Bay in 2013, this one is being held in Wellington.

I know I'm going to be involved in a couple of events: one is a reading session which I believe I'll be chairing, the other a panel of former judges of the NZ Poetry Society International Poetry Competition talking about how they approached the judging process - I'm looking forward to this both as a former judge and as a potential future entrant!

Check out the conference programme.

There will also be book launches at the Conference - one I'm particularly pleased about is Mākaro Press's launch of new poetry collections by Heidi North-Bailey - Possibility of flight - and Keith Westwater - Felt Intensity, to be launched by Dinah Hawken. You can join the Facebook event for this launch.

Heidi, Keith and I were all members of Dinah Hawken's 2003 "Writing the Landscape" course, which was by far the best and most enjoyable writing course I have taken part in, so I am looking forward both to catching up with them and to the launch itself.

27 October 2015

Tell Fonterra: No New Coal

Many people know that Fonterra, and the expansion of the New Zealand dairy industry, have led to massive environmental problems, not least the degradation of water quality and a big increase in agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

But what's less well known is that Fonterra burns coal to dry milk powder. Their use of coal has expanded 38% since 2008 and they are planning a further major expansion.

So, in partnership with Action Station, Coal Action Network Aotearoa has launched a campaign calling on Fonterra to commit to building no new coal boilers, and then to progressively phase out existing coal boilers. Please add your voice to the campaign by signing this open letter.

I support this campaign. The hypocrisy of Fonterra trading on New Zealand's "clean and green" image, while using the world's dirtiest fuel to power their operations, leaves a bad taste in my mouth - and it's really bad news for the climate. Next time you drink some Fonterra milk, mentally add the taste of coal dust.

14 October 2015

Crime Pays!

Tuesday Poet P. S. Cottier, with whom I co-edited The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry, has been having a very good year with poetry competition entries.

Her poem "Route 9" took third place in the Australian Catholic University Prize for Poetry, and now she has won first place in the New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing, judged by Les Murray, for her poem Criminals who are no longer criminals. To which I say: many congratulations!

One of the things I like most about Penelope's writing is the original and unusual slants and angles her poems take, and "Criminals who are no longer criminals" is a very good example of that. There's also a very interesting interview with Penelope about her poem which has excellent insights into the way she thinks about poetry.

And if all that has whetted your appetite for The Stars Like Sand, check it out at the publisher's site and on Amazon.

06 October 2015

Capricious Issue 1 Is Here

I am really happy to see the launch of Capricious, a new, New Zealand-based science fiction magazine. I've just subscribed for two years and am looking forward to reading Issue 1. Find out why you should subscribe below!

Issue 1 of Capricious, a new speculative fiction magazine edited by SpecFicNZ member A.C. Buchanan is now available for free download. The issue includes fiction by A.J. Fitzwater and Sean Monaghan, who are both New Zealand based, alongside work by Sabrina Amaya Hoke and Bogi Takács.

This issue takes you through fairy tales and to other worlds in none of the ways you’d expect. The authors challenge and interrogate genre boundaries, exploring themes of consent, communication, and obligation. Their work is filled with the senses of exploration, danger, and ultimate success that characterise so much of the best speculative fiction.

If you like what you see, and want to support a local publication, please consider subscribing. Subscriptions start at just US$8 for a year (4 issues). If you’re unable to subscribe, don’t worry – all stories and articles from future issues will be archived and freely available on the website from three months after publication.

Reviewing stories, recommending Capricious to friends, and submitting your work are other ways of supporting the publication which are much appreciated.

25 September 2015

I'm Reading Poetry At Wellington Public Library on Wednesday 30 September, 6pm

IP, who have published my recent poetry collection Men Briefly Explained and the two poetry anthologies I've co-edited, Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand (with Mark Pirie) and The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry (with P. S. Cottier), are touring Jeremy Robert's new poetry collection Cards on the Table around New Zealand.

There are three stops on the tour, and I'll be reading at the Wellington stop - next Wednesday, 6pm, at Wellington Central Library.

In Christchurch, Dr David Reiter of IP and Jeremy Roberts will be joined by Sugu Pillay and Karen Zelas, while in Auckland, the reading will take place at Poetry Live.

In Wellington, David and Jeremy will be joined by Wellington poets published by IP: Mark Pirie, Keith Westwater and myself.

The schedule is:

28 September: Poetry Live, Auckland, Thirsty Dog Café, 469 Karangahape Rd, 8:30pm. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1497595977226709/

30 September: Wellington Library, 65 Victoria Street, 6pm. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1633555860235889/

1 October: Lyttleton, Freemans Dining Room, 47 London Street, 7pm, with Sugu Pillay and Karen Zelas. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1495745650745935/

22 September 2015

Tuesday Poem: When You're Not Here, by Janis Freegard

When you're not here, I paint my nails and my lips black and
wear clothes you've never seen me in. I walk to the bar on the 
corner in high-heeled black boots and a fake leopard-skin coat
and drink tequila sunrises until it rains.

When you're not here, I go to bed in the middle of the afternoon
and read books about love. I listen to music I'm too old for,
smoke cigars and dye my hair Scandinavian blonde. I talk to
strange cats in strange streets.

When you're not here, I stay out all night playing pool with
women I don't know. I wear earrings that glow in the dark and
take taxis everywhere.  I climb to the top of a hill just to pretend
I'm somewhere else.

When you're not here, I watch old Bela Lugosi movies on video. 
I don't do the dishes for days.

When you're not here, I go to parties in a silver lurex miniskirt.
I carry a bottle of schnapps in my coat pocket and talk to men
whose boyfriends don't understand them. I play pinball for
hours at a stretch.

When you're not here, I sit in coffee shops reading Marie Claire
magazines and drinking mochaccinos. I tie a bright red scarf

around my wrist just because it feels good. I buy cooked chicken
from the supermarket and share it with the cat.

I move the furniture and paint the cupboards purple.
I plant lobelias outside my window.
I sing along to the Sex Pistols at 2 o'clock in the morning,
     bugger the neighbours.
I dance with queens and take speed with car converters.
I wait for you to come home.

Credit note: "When You're Not Here" is published in Janis Freegard's new poetry collection The Glass Rooster and is reproduced by permission of the author and of the publisher, Auckland University Press.

About Janis Freegard: Janis lives in Wellington, with an historian and a cat, and works in the public service. Her first full-length poetry collection, Kingdom Animalia: The Escapades of Linnaeus, was published by Auckland University Press in 2011. She is also the author of a chapbook, The Continuing Adventures of Alice Spider (Anomalous Press, 2013), and co-author of AUP New Poets 3 (AUP, 2008).

Janis's poetry has appeared in a wide range of journals and anthologies in New Zealand and overseas, including Essential New Zealand Poems: Facing the Empty Page (Random House, 2014), Best NZ Poems 2012 and Landfall. In 2014 she held the inaugural Ema Saikō Poetry Fellowship at New Pacific Studio in the Wairarapa.

She also writes fiction, is a past winner of the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award, and has just published her first novel, The Year of Falling (Mākaro Press, 2015). She blogs at http://janisfreegard.com.

More on The Year of Falling: As well as its print publication through Mākaro Press, The Year of Falling has just been published as an ebook by Rosa Mira Books, and you can read Rosa Mira Books' Q&A with Janis.

Tim says: I recently finished reading The Glass Rooster - and very much enjoyed it. "When You're Not Here", with its lovely mix of yearning and bristling independence, is one of my favourite poems in this excellent collection.

The Tuesday Poem: This week's Tuesday Poem is A Letter To Jim Harrison, by Lindsay Pope.

18 September 2015

Two New Plays By Renee Liang To Open In Wellington

Playwright and Tuesday Poet Renee Liang has two new plays opening in Wellington. I've been to several of Renee's plays and enjoyed them very much - I encourage you to go along to one or both!

The Quiet Room (24 September to 3 October, World Premiere!!, http://www.thequietroomplay.com/) is a drama exploring what happens when a teenager with cancer is given the power to determine her own fate. It's my first 'medical play' and is drawn from my real life interactions with patients. We have partnered with Canteen with their members involved in advising on authenticity, and tickets raise money for Canteen. You may be interested in the Gala night which is a dress-up night at the theatre with extras (wine, QnA etc) with most of the night's proceeds going to Canteen. Also Mary/Mākaro Press is launching a book on Sat 26th at BATS, 5.30: Cancer and all that other shit, by Lauren Wepa - come to the launch, then come to the play!! yay!!

Bubblelands (13-17 October, bubblelands.net) is completely different - a madhouse odd couple tragicomedy with two actors in crazy fish costumes. It explores what happens when a blue cod and a crayfish meet in the fish tank of a Chinese restaurant.

14 September 2015

IP Spring Poetry Season 2015: Wellington, 30 September, 6pm, Wellington Central Library

Presenting an evening of poetry readings hosted by Dr David Reiter of Interactive Publications (Brisbane) with Auckland poet Jeremy Roberts and featuring Wellington poets published by IP: Mark Pirie, Keith Westwater and Tim Jones.

You can join the Facebook event here: 

Watch out for events in other centres too - full schedule is:

28 September: Poetry Live, Auckland, Thirsty Dog Café, 469 Karangahape Rd, 8:30pm
30 September: Wellington Library, 65 Victoria Street, 6pm
1 October: Lyttleton, Freemans Dining Room, 47 London Street, 7pm, with Sugu Pillay and Karen Zelas.

11 September 2015

Preorder "Shortcuts: Track 1" And Win

This fantastic cover, by Christchurch artist K C Bailey, will appear on the paperback anthology Shortcuts: Track 1, from Paper Road Press, which collects the six novellas published this year in their Shortcuts series - including my novella Landfall.

If you pre-order this anthology, you're in with a chance to win - in fact, there are two chances, one for New Zealand entrants, and one for overseas entrants. And here's where to do it:


I think this is great news - both personally, as a number of people have asked me whether or when a print copy of "Landfall" will be available, and for New Zealand publishing as a whole - print isn't dead yet, folks! And I'm really looking forward to reading all the other novellas:

Mika Lee Murray and Piper Mejia
The Last Grant Stone
Bree’s Dinosaur AC Buchanan
Pocket Wife IK Paterson-Harkness
Landfall Tim Jones
The Ghost of Matter Octavia Cade

If you're just too dang-fired impatient to wait for this book, you can still purchase "Landfall" and the other novellas individually via the links above. You can currently buy it for $2.99 on the Kindle and $3.50 on the Kobo.

09 September 2015

Opposed To The Ban On Ted Dawe's "Into The River"? Here's What You Can Do.

I was going to post about some good book news this week, but I'm going to save that for a couple of days and post some bad book news instead.

Earlier this week, the President of the Film and Literature Board of Review, Don Mathieson QC, placed an interim restriction order on Ted Dawe's book "Into the River" which functions as a comprehensive book ban.

This YA novel, a book award winner in 2013, has been the subject of a lengthy battle over its classification and availability in New Zealand. Conservative lobby group Family First applied for the Interim Restriction Order when the previous R14 order was lifted by the Chief Censor. Don Mathieson, who himself has previously argued for an R18 rating on the book, was quick to agree with Family First.

You can read an FAQ about this decision on the Department of Internal Affairs and Office of Film and Literature Classification websites. The Legal Beagle blog of Public Address outlines the important distinction between these two bodies, as well as explaining the background to the interim order, and there's further analysis of the deficiencies of Dr Mathieson's decision on Pundit.

The Interim Restriction Order itself is available as a PDF. Here are some key points about that order from the Department of Internal Affairs FAQ:

What does this mean?

This means that no one in New Zealand can distribute, or exhibit, the book.

How long will the order be in place?

Until the Board makes a further decision. The Board is scheduled to meet in October.

What penalties do people face?

If the order is breached, individuals face a fine of $3,000 and companies of $10,000.

What is the relevant law?

The Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993. Section 49 deals with restriction orders.

If I have a copy, am I breaking the law?

No. But you cannot lawfully sell or distribute the book to any other person, or exhibit it.

Can I download an e-text version or buy one from overseas?

Internal Affairs suggests that anyone proposing to do this obtain legal advice, or wait for clarification of the status of the book.

I find these provisions appalling. For the period this order is in force, giving a copy of this book to a friend, or putting it on a library or bookstore shelf, is a criminal offence punishable by a severe fine. Understandably, the societies representing New Zealand booksellers, libraries and authors are very concerned by this move.

As for author Ted Dawe, a teacher in his 60s who is Head of Studies at Taylors College for international students in Auckland ... well, he expresses his feelings about this better than anyone else could.

So if you believe as I do that the head of a Government-appointed authority shouldn't have the right to arbitrarily criminalise the sale, loan, display and potentially import of a widely-praised and award-winning book by a New Zealand author - or even a book which has won none of those accolades - what can you do about it?

Take Action This Thursday

Silent readings of Into The River are being held at lunchtime in Dunedin and Wellington. Come along and show your support. Bring a copy of Into the River if you have one. I don't yet, but if someone hands me one, I'm going to take it.

If you know of actions in other centres, please add them in the comments.

Buy The Book

Another thing you can do is to buy the book (if you can still find it online) and thereby support the author - but be aware that, as per the DIA FAQ above, the legal status of doing so is dubious.

Does Don Mathieson, QC have the right to his personal moral views? Absolutely. Does or should he have the right to impose those personal moral views on the rest of the population by the arbitrary and unwarranted exercise of state power? I don't believe so.

31 August 2015

Rugby League Poems: Carlaw Park and The Rapture In Reserve Grade

Growing up in Southland and Otago, I was a weirdo because I preferred soccer (football) and cricket to rugby. Rugby League was the code that dare not speak its name, but when I did see occasional footage, it was usually from the mudbath that was Carlaw Park, the then home of rugby league in Aotearoa.

For National Poetry Day on Friday, Mark Pirie posted a poem about, and entitled, "Carlaw Park", by Francis Cloke. You can read Carlaw Park on the Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa (PANZA) website.

PANZA is a valuable historical resource on New Zealand poets and poetry that, in my view, doesn't receive the attention it deserves. I encourage you to check out the site and read the PANZA newsletter - the latest issue has an in-depth obituary of Canterbury poet John O'Connor.

In contrast to rugby union, which has received plenty of attention from New Zealand poets and anthologists, not least Mark Pirie himself, and cricket likewise, I don't know of much New Zealand poetry about rugby league. (If you know of rugby league poets and poems, please mention them in the comments!)

But I do know this one, because it was included in my first collection, Boat People:

The Rapture in Reserve Grade

Fifth tackle, and they’re kicking
when the last trump sounds.
The chosen players rise
but fail to catch the ball
as it spirals sinfully to ground.

It’s six a side in heaven,
seven left behind. No tackler,
no first marker. The halfback,
that cocky little rooster,
grabs the ball and scoots away.

No fullback, either. He's
showing a clean pair of heels
diving beneath the crossbar
and taking the conversion
as the first drops of blood touch the crowd.

25 August 2015

6 Facts About My New Novella "Landfall" (#5 Will Shock You!*)

*If you are very easily shocked.

1. It wasn't always called "Landfall".

My novella "Landfall" started life as a longish short story called "Pilot", which was told entirely from the perspective of Nasimul Rahman, the Bangladeshi climate refugee who is one of the two main characters in the novella. "Pilot" was Nasimul's nickname. But I could never get the story to work as I hoped until I introduced the second major character, Donna, the somewhat accidental member of the Shore Patrol. Their intersecting narratives now drive the story.

2. Why Bangladesh?

Bangladesh is one of the countries most at risk from sea-level rise. In 2007, 46% of the Bangladeshi population lived within 10 meters of the average sea level.

3. Sea level rise in my story has been speeded up from what is currently expected.

For story reasons, "Landfall" is set in a world in which sea levels rise over the next few decades faster than is predicted by the IPCC, which is predicting (to greatly simplify a complex matter) sea level rise of up to a metre by 2100, depending on the extent of greenhouse gas emission reductions embarked on in the coming years.

However, the IPPC's sea level rise predictions depend on modelling which, when projected backwards, has generally given sea level rise estimates lower than actual observed sea level rise. My story imagines a very high end scenario, with catastrophic ice sheet collapses - which are by no means out of the question - leading to rapid sea level rise.

4. I thought the treatment of refugees in "Landfall" was far-fetched when I wrote the story. Sadly, it's all too realistic.

In "Landfall", a future New Zealand Government meets boatloads of refugees with torpedoes and machine-gun fire. Even last year, while finishing the novella, I thought that was more far-fetched than my sea level rise scenario. Sadly, this year's scenes from Europe - and from Australia - have convinced me it is an increasingly likely scenario.

5. "Landfall" is shockingly cheap!

You can currently buy it for $2.99 on the Kindle and $3.50 on the Kobo! Don't allow the after-effects of shock to keep you from clicking on one of those links!

6. "Landfall" is one of six novellas which together form Paper Road Press's "Shortcuts - Track One" series.

Find out about all the novellas in the series - and experience more thrilling shocks at how reasonably priced they are, too - on the Paper Road Press website.

21 August 2015

One night. One life. One decision.

That's the great new tagline Paper Road Press has come up with for my novella Landfall - and I love it - both very true to the story and very stylish:

One night. One life. One decision. ' LANDFALL Kindle Kobo

So, if you haven't picked up a copy of Landfall yet, get one now to find out what that decision is!

17 August 2015

National Poetry Day, Friday 28 August - Updated Info: Lower Hutt, Wairarapa, Wellington, Kapiti, and Nationwide!

Janis Freegard Added To Lower Hutt Poetry Day Event

As I posted last week, I'm going to be reading at the National Poetry Day event in Lower Hutt on Friday 28 August. In addition to the excellent lineup of poets previously reported, Janis Freegard has now been added to the lineup. I have recently started reading Janis' latest collection The Glass Rooster and am enjoying it very much.

With Janis' addition, here is the full lineup of poets plus other details:

Where: St Marks Complex, 58 Woburn Road, Lower Hutt: opposite the Lower Hutt Library

When: Friday 28 August, 7.30 - 9.30pm.

Admission: Free. Open to all ages. Sign up for the open mic on the night.

We live in a land of hills, river and sea. We experience wild changes in our weather and our remoteness affects who we are as a people in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Much of our literature and poetry reflects our unique landscape.

Come and hear writers reading their landscape poetry and reflecting on what this means for them.

Featuring Anne Powell - Kerry Hines - Keith Westwater - Tim Jones - Keith Johnson - Adrienne Jansen - Kerry Popplewell - Harvey Molloy - Janis Freegard

Followed by Open Mic - Everyone is welcome.

Facebook eventhttps://www.facebook.com/events/667972266672138/

Contact: Viv Ball for further information: viviennemayball@gmail.com, ph 027435-8543, 5895-868

Wairarapa Poetry Day Events

There's a very full slate of National Poetry Day events in the Wairarapa - you can check them out of their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/When-Poetry-Comes-To-Town/419249578281643

One in particular I've been asked to share is Selfie Poems:

Selfie Poems: In the Wairarapa, National Poetry Day starts at the midnight hour. From 00:01am, or thereabouts, take a photo of yourself and post it on the When Poetry Comes to Town Facebook Page with a poem of your choosing. Enjoy the poetry all day long, for one day only. Who knows where the words might come from? Wairarapa Word, the community organisation coordinating the 24-hour event “When Poetry Comes to Town”, welcomes poems from everyone in the web.

Wellington, Kapiti Coast, and everywhere!

There are also poetry events in Wellington - featuring Helen Rickerby and many other fine poets - the Kapiti Coast, and all around the country. Check out the full list of events here:


11 August 2015

National Poetry Day, Friday 28 August: Poets of Place: Landscape Poetry - with Open Mic - in Lower Hutt

National Poetry Day is on Friday 28 August this year. There are events all around the country, and I'll be taking part in one in Lower Hutt. There is an excellent lineup of poets plus an open mike - I hope you can make it along, if not to the Lower Hutt event then to one of the many other events. Here are the Lower Hutt event details:

Poems of Place: Landscape Poetry and Open Mic

Where: St Marks Complex, 58 Woburn Road, Lower Hutt: opposite the Lower Hutt Library

When: Friday 28 August, 7.30 - 9.30pm.

Admission: Free. Open to all ages. Sign up for the open mic on the night.

We live in a land of hills, river and sea. We experience wild changes in our weather and our remoteness affects who we are as a people in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Much of our literature and poetry reflects our unique landscape.

Come and hear writers reading their landscape poetry and reflecting on what this means for them.

Featuring Anne Powell - Kerry Hines - Keith Westwater - Tim Jones - Keith Johnson - Adrienne Jansen - Kerry Popplewell - Harvey Molloy

Followed by Open Mic - Everyone is welcome.

Contact: Viv Ball for further information: viviennemayball@gmail.com, ph 027435-8543, 5895-868

06 August 2015

My New Novella Landfall Now Available For Both Kindle And Kobo

My new novella Landfall is now available for both the Kindle and the Kobo - and you can now also read an extract on the Paper Road Press website.

Here's an extract from the extract:

Wife gone, son lost to cholera back in the camps before he had lived out his first year, Nasimul shivered and heaved up his food and crawled into a nest of damp clothing night after night, and somehow survived. The ship drove forward. The temperature warmed fractionally. The sky flamed red at dawn and dusk: ash and smoke from Australia, someone said. Perhaps the whole continent was burning.

And then, on another night of storm and cloud, the New Zealand Navy came, destroyers surging over the eastern horizon. There was no point in running, and nowhere to run. The Jamalpur-2 wallowed in the waves and waited for the end, while the people aboard made for the last slender hope, the lifeboats.

You can find out whether Nasimul Rahman makes it ashore - and what happens next - in Landfall.

And don't forget to check out the full Shortcuts series of novellas.

03 August 2015

Landfall ... in Unknown Seas

When I announced the publication of my new new novella Landfall by Paper Road Press, I also announced a competition: everyone who correctly named the famous New Zealand poem it's titled after went in the draw to win a copy. Out of the entries, almost all correct, I've now picked the winner, and it's Benjamin Dodds. Congratulations, Benjamin!

Simply by sailing in a new direction
You could enlarge the world.

Landfall in Unknown Seas is a poem by Allen Curnow set to music by Douglas Lilburn. Curnow was commissioned by the Department of Internal Affairs to write a poem to mark the tercentenary (13 December 1942) of Abel Tasman’s arrival in New Zealand. The resulting poem is an icon of mid-twentieth-century Pakeha nationalist literature, expressing the growing sense of separation from the "Mother Country" - a movement with which, in music, the composer Douglas Lilburn was also identified.

This is also the poem from which the literary magazine Landfall takes its name.

In 2015, those "sailing in a new direction" to escape poverty and the effects of climate change find the world shrinking away from them. My novella takes place in a near-future New Zealand in which refugee boats are met by Navy torpedoes and any who survive must run a desperate gauntlet to make it safely ashore. When political parties that have traditionally welcomed immigrants find it politically expedient to change their tune, the seeds of such a Landfall are all too easy to see.

01 August 2015

Win A Copy Of My New Novella "Landfall"

I'm very happy to say that my novella Landfall has been published today by Paper Road Press as the fifth in their Shortcuts series of novellas, and is now available from Amazon for $2.99. It's had its first review, too, by Lee Murray, and I think it sums up the story very nicely:

In Landfall, by Tim Jones, a survivor reaches the far flung shores of New Zealand, where xenophobia is the order of the day. A commentary on racial tension and the impacts of socialisation, this novella hit home for me in the light of current anti-Chinese rhetoric regarding foreign investment in New Zealand property. History, it seems, likes to repeat itself, and this dystopian future cuts close to the bone. With his typical raw and poetic prose, and a highly topical theme, this is a must-read for all New Zealanders.

Landfall is available in .mobi format for the Kindle and will also be available for the Kobo.

How to win a copy of Landfall

By commenting on this blog post, or by responding on my Twitter or Facebook accounts, tell me the answer to this question:

Which famous New Zealand poem does the title of Landfall refer to?

I'll select the winning entry on Monday 3 August from those received and will ask the winner for their email address so their copy can be delivered. All correct entries will be considered.

I'm very happy with Landfall - I hope you'll like it too!

26 July 2015

In Praise of Dwarf Planets: Pluto, Charon and Ceres

I don't often spend time in the High Court, but when I do, it's good to have some uplifting thoughts to entertain me. This week, many of those thoughts have provided by three dwarf planets: Pluto and Charon (the two of whom can be argued to form a binary dwarf planet system), and Ceres, the largest dwarf planet in the Asteroid Belt.

The New Horizons mission to the Kuiper Belt, which has just visited Pluto and Charon, and the Dawn mission to the Asteroid Belt, which visited Vesta before heading to Ceres, are sending back fascinating images and science results. There are squillions of these about, but here are a few of my favourites:

Kind of Ceres to leave the porch light on to welcome the Dawn orbiter.

Earth has a water cycle. Titan has a methane cycle. Does Pluto have a nitrogen cycle?

Is that dark patch on Charon caused by deposition from Pluto?

Clearly the next step in Pluto's campaign to be reinstated to the ranks of full planets is for Australia to be declared a planet.

15 July 2015

Don't Go There, Labour. Even Though You Already Went There.

Is foreign ownership of land and property in New Zealand a legitimate subject for political disagreement and policy debate? Personally, I believe it is - for many years, I've been concerned by how easily foreign owners can take up large tracts of New Zealand land, whether it's been Shania Twain near Queenstown or James Cameron in the Wairarapa.

But when the Labour Party chose to frame that issue by attacking house purchasers on the basis that they had Chinese-sounding names, rather than framing the issue in terms of foreign investment, regardless of country of origin or how Chinese an investor's name sounds, they crossed a line they may come to regret.

New Zealand politicians of both the Right and Left have a long and inglorious history of scapegoating people of Chinese descent living in New Zealand for political gain. If you doubt that, I encourage you to read White Ghosts, Yellow Peril - China and New Zealand 1790-1950 by Stevan Eldred-Grigg with Zeng Dazheng, which lays out many such examples and their consequences for the Chinese community of the time. The recent blog post Year of the (Scape)goat by "Kiwiese" reinforces the point.

Given the endorsement of Phil Twyford's initial anti-Chinese framing of the issue by Labour leader Andrew Little, it's clear that this is a strategy Labour has deliberately decided to employ, not one it has stumbled into by mistake. Ever since Andrew Little took over as Labour Party leader, there have been signs that Labour has concluded it needs to move to the right to recapture lost votes and lost voting blocks - and this anti-Chinese rhetoric may well be an attempt to capture back voters lost to New Zealand First.

Labour may have been goaded into this approach by its analysis of the recent UK election. There, Labour lost votes in a broad swathe of seats from the south to the North-East of England to UKIP, who sell hard-right policies dressed up in the mantle of white working-class cultural chauvinism and resentment of immigrants. While UKIP only took one seat itself, it did take enough votes off Labour to cost Labour many seats in this region. Perhaps New Zealand Labour has taken a look at this and decided to out-UKIP any other party which might try to claim this political territory.

But Labour could have drawn a very different lesson from the UK general election. In Scotland, the SNP, a party which although not especially socialist campaigned on a strong anti-austerity platform, swept a time-serving Scottish Labour Party from power and claimed 56 out of 59 Scottish seats at Westminster. Maybe, instead of trying on the clothes of Winston Peters or UKIP leader Nigel Farage, NZ Labour should take its inspiration from Westminster's youngest MP, the SNP's Mhairi Black:

Will Labour gain popular support by scapegoating people with Chinese surnames? Very possibly. It's a tactic that has led to short-term political success in New Zealand before. Should they continue doing so? Absolutely not, in my view. And that's not just because it is morally wrong: it is also driving committed activists away from Labour.

I know of a number of Labour activists, the people who knock on doors and answer phones and run meetings and deliver leaflets, who have quit Labour over this and related issues, and I suspect many of the activists who remain are far from happy about Labour's new direction. National isn't so dependent on activists to win elections, because they can call on lots of corporate donations. Labour doesn't have access to that kind of money, so it relies a lot more on activists' hard work to win elections. Lose too many of them, and Labour's joy at its march to the political centre may turn to ashes in its mouth come the next election.

In conclusion, I suggest the New Zealand Labour Party sticks to developing a narrative about how a Labour-led Government will benefit New Zealand as a whole, and leaves the overt racism to others.

13 July 2015

NZ Pacific Studio - Ema Saiko Poetry Fellowship - 31 July deadline

My friend and fellow poet Madeleine Slavick got in touch to let writers know about this excellent short-term poetry residency. Speaking as someone for whom long-term residencies haven't been feasible to apply for due to family and work commitments, I think short-term residencies are an excellent idea - and this one is located in a lovely part of the country!

The residency discussed below has a 31 July deadline, but even if that doesn't suit you, check out the www.artistresidency.org.nz website for other opportunities.

Madeleine, who is the Community Program Manager for New Zealand Pacific Studio, says:

We offer a three-week poetry fellowship, and perhaps you or people you know might like to apply? Here is the link: http://www.artistresidency.org.nz/blog/623222

We offer other funded fellowships throughout the year as well as self-funded residencies (at $300/week). Browse our website sometime and see if it may be of interest.

We are located two houses north of Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, which resident writers/artists have free access to during their stay.

Please share with colleagues -- the Studio is open to writers, visual artists and all creative practitioners.

07 July 2015

Tuesday Poem: Shostakovich in America

1959, November. The plumed De Soto
hammers on, freshman driver
burning up the plains.

Freedom! The Kappa Gamma Beta boys
can never catch him now. They're back east
in the studio, where Ormandy

shrugs and starts recording.
Dmitri has better things to do. This is
his jazz age, his lost weekend.

An upstate college, denuded branches
scrawled across the moon. He nestles
in a co-ed's bed. Dreams

drag him back to the Kremlin:
always the bottle of Georgian wine,
always the black telephone.

Dawn is coffee, hesitant smiles,
the wordless bond of night
knotting itself into language.

She is summer, America, forgetting.
"You were flailing your arms,"
she says. "Conducting."

He kisses, disentangles, turns the key.
His car roars over the siloed plains,
eastwards into the morning.

Credit note: "Shostakovich in America" was originally published in Issue 11 of Bravado magazine, and was subsequently included in my 2011 poetry collection Men Briefly Explained.

Dmitri Shostakovich did visit the USA in 1959, and did record with Eugene Ormandy. The rest is imagined.

Tim says: I posted this poem once before, in 2010 - around the time the Tuesday Poem began. I'm posting it here again because I have recently finished reading Sarah Quigley's novel The Conductor, which is set during World War 2, and covers the composition and Leningrad premiere of Shostakovich's Seventh ("Leningrad") symphony. While I'm not as sure that the novel "manages to light up something of the Russian soul" as the Observer reviewer, I do think it's a fine portrayal of what it takes to create under adverse - in this case, among the most adverse - of circumstances - and if you are at all interested in music, or creative work of any kind, I encourage you to read it.

01 July 2015

Travelling The Paper Road

Paper Road Press's first Shortcuts series of novellas, "Strange Fiction of Aotearoa New Zealand", features six novellas, one being released per month. Here's the sequence:

Mika Lee Murray and Piper Mejia
The Last Grant Stone
Bree’s Dinosaur AC Buchanan
Pocket Wife IK Paterson-Harkness
Landfall Tim Jones
The Ghost of Matter Octavia Cade

My novella "Landfall" is fifth in the series, and is due to be released in August. You can find links to buy each published ebook on Kindle or Kobo in the descriptions, and they are also available on Nook, iBooks and a few other places. Don't miss out!

16 June 2015

Tuesday Poem: Kraken, plus entry details of the Interstellar Award for Speculative Flash Fiction

TL;DR version for flash fiction writers: head on over to https://interstellaraward.wordpress.com/interstellar-award-for-speculative-flash-fiction/ for details of the competition.

I'm very pleased to say that my poem "Kraken", reproduced below, won second prize in the Interstellar Award for Speculative Poetry, the results of which were announced on Friday. You can read the excellent winning poem, by Kevin Gillam, and the judge's comments on the Interstellar Award results page. Congratulations to Kevin and to all the Highly Commended and Commended poets!

(Incidentally, Kevin is one of the poets whose work is represented in The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry, which Highly Commended poet P. S. Cottier and I edited.),


Millennia of sunlight passed the Kraken by.
He slept where he had fallen, each molecule
bound up in water ice, kept safe by permafrost
or the pressure of the deep. Kraken lay
unmoved beneath the waves, deep in his dreams
of fire and air, while the ice sat heavy on the poles
and the clever, clever apes, fizzing with language,
trudged northwards out of Africa.

Unperturbed slept Kraken as the glaciers withdrew.
Lapping at their tongues came the clever apes,
furred, speared, striding on. Wintering in caves,
they met and mated with their slow-tongued cousins,
gaining their immunities, their thicker skins.
Tinder sparked to flame in the wolf-howled night,
each tribe protected in its ring of fire,
but Kraken took no notice of such things.

Light disturbed Kraken’s millennial dreams,
sunlight no longer reflected by protective ice
but slanting down into the depths, unchecked,
warming the shallow seas, permafrost
proving to be less than permanent. In his sleep,
Kraken rolled over, farted, belched. Siberia trembled,
craters forming where none had been, methane
bursting skyward across the Arctic night.

The clever apes looked, and shrugged, and looked away.
They had bigger fish to fry: death, war,
their endless clawing at the Earth for fuel. Kraken
had been banished from their world. He was a relic of myth,
terror of the Greenland Sea, muse to Tennyson,
John Wyndham antagonist, large-boned
inhabitant of green-screened Greek epics,
set free to give Perseus something to kill.

The old Norse knew his nature well. Hafgufa
they named him, sea steam: and so he rose,
bubbling up beneath the circumpolar seas,
so much methane rising to warm the skies
that it roused him more, the loop reinforcing,
unstoppable, his coils releasing, sea floor gaping open,
undersea landslides lashing crowded coasts with waves,
the clever apes at last obliged to pay attention —

but too late. The Kraken is awake.
Flares light the Arctic night to write his name.
His is the fire that heats the deep, that scours the land
clean of everything that flies and walks and crawls —
the few survivors, vainly fleeing south,
hearing his voice forever louder at their backs.
The Kraken roars, and as he roars
soon every trace of clever ape is burned away.

This poem refers to “The Kraken Wakes” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1830).

Credit note: This poem was published for the first time on the Interstellar Awards website on 12 June 2015.

Tim says: Competition judge Joanne Mills makes some very kind & perceptive point about "Kraken" in her Judge's Report, so I suggest you check those out. I'll just add that, while I still have hope that the apocalyptic scenario of this poem can be avoided if the right steps are taken - and in particular, if fossil fuel use is swiftly reduced - it is nevertheless the case that the destabilising effect of climate change on Arctic methane deposits is cause for major concern - whether one takes a mainstream climate scientist or very worried indeed perspective.

The Tuesday Poem: The Tuesday Poem this week is "Grave secrets" by Helen Bascand, selected by Andrew Bell: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.co.nz/…/grave-secrets-by-helen-… - a fine tribute to this stalwart of the Canterbury poetry community, who died in April

The Interstellar Award for Speculative Flash Fiction

This competition has a generous word limit, for flash fiction, of 1200 words. Entries open on 1 July and close on 1 October, and the prizes are also generous: $500, $150 and $50. Head over to the Interstellar Award site for all the entry details.