30 November 2016

Windy Wednesday Poem: The Wind Blows Back Biff Byford's Hair

I'm writing some music poems at the moment, and that, plus Wellington's windy weather (check out a typical Wellington November day in cartoon and video formats), inspired me to re-post this poem, first posted here in 2012. Wellington is a great city for hair metal, because you can cut costs by dispensing with the wind machine.

The Wind Blows Back Biff Byford's Hair

We stand in the face of the wind, of the wind machine
Our stylists ready with product and comb
We take up our stance and seize our guitars
In the face of the wind, of the wind machine.

We sing in the face of the war, of the war machine
Our stylists ready with product and comb
We watch the director and follow his cues
In the face of the war, of the war machine.

We laugh in the face of death, of the death machine
Our stylists ready with product and comb
We tease out highlights and re-shoot some takes
In the face of death, of the death machine.

We sneer in the face of hate, of the hate machine
Our stylists ready with product and comb
We shout out to fans who've stayed staunch and true
In the face of hate, of the hate machine.

In the face of hate, in the face of death
In the face of the war, in the face of the wind
We take up our stance and seize our guitars
Our stylists ready with product and comb.

Tim says: It will not have escaped your notice that Peter Rodney "Biff" Byford is the magnificently-maned lead singer of Saxon, one of the bands that came to prominence in the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, or NWOBHM as one should properly call it (Nu-wobbem).

Here's Biff's barnet getting a good workout in an otherwise rather dubious hair-metal cover of Christopher Cross's yacht-rock hit "Ride Like The Wind" from 1988: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NleLo2wwNYw

21 November 2016


The November issue of Flash Frontier has just come out, and as well as the selection of excellent small fictions on the theme of "Birds", there is as usual a packed Features section.

I play a part in the first two features: the first is my interview with Best Small Fictions series editor Tara L. Masih, and the second is Michelle Elvy's interview with me about my latest poetry collection, New Sea Land.

There's plenty more after those two, so please check out Flash Frontier's fiction and features!

15 November 2016

Nature Bats Last

The events of the last few days have been a salutary reminder that we are guests on this planet, and that Nature bats last. The massive earthquake in North Canterbury/Marlborough and its swarm of aftershocks - which, here in Wellington, we continue to feel - has caused equally massive damage.

But Nature's innings is well underway when it comes to climate change, as well. 2016 will be the hottest year on record - just as 2015 was, and 2014 before it. 16 of the 17 hottest years on record will have happened this century.

When it comes to earthquakes, we can prepare personally, seek to improve resilience, and respond afterwards as best we can. But when it comes to climate change, we still have a chance - maybe a slim chance, but a chance - to change the game for the better, as long as we act this decade.

Tragically, the election of Donald J. Trump has put the possibility of meaningful action at further risk - and while Trump is rowing back on some of his wildest election promises, he is still dead keen on sabotaging the Paris climate agreement. If Trump succeeds, and his agenda dominates climate policy for the rest of the decade, we may well get to the point where it's too late to do anything about climate change other than respond to what Nature throws at us - and there will come a point when we are no longer capable of doing that.

So it's up to us. Are we going to sit by while Trump, his cronies, and his agenda puts the planet's future at even greater risk, or are we going to act - wherever we are, however we can - to preserve a liveable future?

11 November 2016

The Presidency of Donald J. Trump: A Matter Of Life And Death

A narcissistic, megalomaniac, fascist bully has been elected as the 45th President of the United States. The consequences of that decision are likely to be extremely serious, not only for Americans but for the rest of the world.

Set aside for a moment the oppression that anyone who is not a Trump supporter, anyone who is not a white male, anyone who is different, is likely to suffer under Trump's presidency - and indeed, just as they did after Brexit in the UK, homophobic, misogynist and racist attacks have already surged in the US in the wake of Trump's election.

Set aside if you can the fact that this man with a hair-trigger temper and an overweening ego is just over two months away from getting his hands on America's nuclear launch codes.

And set aside his utter lack of anything resembling a moral code.

At a time when the world has been - far too slowly, far too cautiously - starting to make some progress towards dealing with the threat of runaway climate change, Trump plans to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement, open all the coal mines he can, mine and drill and dig and burn all the fossil fuels he and his cronies can lay their hands on. This comes when time is almost up to prevent rapid and severe climate change within the lifetime of people alive today.

This is the critical decade for action on climate change. We can't afford another four years, or worse, another eight, of inaction on climate change, or even worse, deliberate action to make things worse.

In my view, this makes it a moral duty to oppose Trump, his cronies, his policies, and his Presidency whenever and wherever possible. That burden falls most heavily on the millions of Americans who do not support him - but the rest of us need to do our part too.

On 17 November, a US warship is due to visit Auckland, and protests are planned. I encourage everyone who can do so, to send President-elect Trump a nonviolent but unambiguous message that the rest of the world wants no part of him.

More on the danger Trump poses to the planet: 
Donald Trump presidency a 'disaster for the planet', warn climate scientists.

08 November 2016

Stars, Sand, Shelved: An Australian In New York

Part of the Australian anthology collection at Poets House in New York City.
Photo used by kind permission of Alice Allan.
It's been a while since I mentioned The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry, the 2014 anthology published by IP that I co-edited with P. S. Cottier, but I enjoyed seeing that the anthology has taken its place in a collection of Australian poetry at Poets House in New York - and quite right too! (But could it be that this is an Australasian collection?)

Many thanks to Alice Allan for the photo and the heads-up: check out Alice's Poetry Says podcasts for some very interesting and thought-provoking conversations.

For more on The Stars Like Sand, see this great review in the Sydney Morning Herald, and check out my previous posts about The Stars Like Sand for more information and a couple of sample poems from the book.

01 November 2016

Tuesday Poem: Eastbourne, Friday evening, winter southerly, by Pete Carter

moored boats waggle and strain,
shags huddle on offshore rocks,
steamed-up cars pick around the debris -
driftwood, seaweed and shells coat the road

the 81 rolls up in every bay,
spitting out commuters
who scuttle like little blue penguins,
to their burrows, away from the sea
to light fires
and clutch that first glass of wine

the ferry rocks uncertainly against the wharf,
the disembarking chatter is
high-pitched after a two-beer crossing,
the Pavilion glows

Barry the butcher makes some late sales,
the library lights are out,
pre-teens have been pushed off their perch
by high-school hoodies who jostle and hunch,
sip beer and suck on cigarettes
try not to catch the eyes
of their parents’ friends

the RSA’s pokies are warming up and collecting,
pints are poured and drunk, poured and
drunk, stories re-invented,
a humourless runner in a beanie shuttles
up and down the rugby paddock

envoys are dispatched to pick up curries,
fish and chips, just one more bottle of wine,
milk for breakfast, food for the cat

dogs are walked one last time,
windows peered through,
hedges bounced

at the end of the road, nowhere to go,
boy racers warble and wheeze,
smoke tyres and rollies, share cans of V

at the terminus, buses turn with the tide
to return to the city, collecting pre-loaded youth
headed for bright lights and chemicals

bedroom lights are dimmed,
books read
fires burn out

Credit note: "Eastbourne, Friday evening, winter southerly" by Pete Carter is published in It's Your Dad (Mākaro Press, 2013) and is reproduced here by permission of the author and the publisher. Pete Carter blogs at http://petecarter.nz/.

Tim says: When I heard Pete Carter read his poetry on Poetry Day, I immediately decided that I liked his poetic voice a lot - and that voice is strongly present throughout It's Your Dad, and also his second collection of poetry, prose and photographs, Buddy's Brother.

You can hear Pete read the poem here: http://petecarter.nz/blog/eastbourne-friday-evening-a-reading/

I've visited the Wellington seaside suburb of Eastbourne a number of times - often with my Dad, to have lunch and visit Rona Gallery.  But I've never been there overnight, and I really like Pete Carter's evocation of the changes Eastbourne goes through over the course of an evening.

26 October 2016

One New Book And Three Old Books

One new book

The new book first: it was wonderful to see the turnout at Unity Books last week for the launch of Murdoch, which in case you're wondering isn't the warts-and-all biography of the odious Rupert Murdoch - it's the first collection of the editorial political cartoon of Sharon Murdoch, aka @domesticanimal, with an introduction and commentary by art historian Melinda Johnston.

In an era in which most of the media is making every effort to smother political commentary - especially political commentary critical of the current Government and of the state of the nation - it was lovely to see how many people attended - and how quickly the book sold out at the launch! I got to the counter only just in time to buy my copy, and I'm glad I did - it's excellent.

(Of course, many more copies are now on sale throughout the nation!)

You can listen to an excellent Radio New Zealand interview with Sharon Murdoch (19 mins).

Three old books

Publisher HeadworX is planning to release my first three books - short story collection Extreme Weather Events (2001) and poetry collections Boat People (2002) and All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens (2007) as ebooks. I'm really pleased that these books, long out of print, are to be re-released, and as the release date comes closer I'll say more about each book individually - but for now, here is a quick gallery of the original covers, with apologies for the image quality of the first two.

Extreme Weather Events (2001)
Boat People (2002)
All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens (2007)

18 October 2016

Tuesday Poem: No streets, or maps to find them, by P. S. Cottier

Rushing fish commute between rubble piles,
bearing pressure that would burst human lungs
like a careless child's lost balloon.
This is where they once worshipped,
their gods now drowned amongst them.
And that is where they traded coin,
king's faces fading with each tide.
Fans turned out for the athletes here,
just near a sunken arsenal of bows
and arrows tipped with wigs of weed.
Long since silenced, those who screamed
as Atlantis dived into the sea; the wealthy,
joined to the poor, momentarily, in an economy
of gasp, and a sudden run on oxygen.
Now an elegance of rays skims over columns,
quiet triangular shades, hovering like memory.
They kiss the split, empty skulls, housing eels,
and the heartless chests with ribs askew.

Credit note: "No streets, or maps to find them" is published in P. S. Cottier's new chapbook Quick bright things: poems of fantasy and myth (Ginnindera Press, 2016), available from the publisher.

Tim says: Quick bright things is really, really good - and as a bonus it has a great cover, as you'll see if you follow the links above! I was spoiled for choice when it came to choosing a poem to request permission to use as a Tuesday Poem, but "No streets, or maps to find them" particularly appealed to me both because of the skill of its construction - "an economy of gasp", "an elegance of rays" - and the subject matter.

I've always been partial to the Ubi sunt motif in literature - "Where are they now?":

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing? 
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing? 

- this from Tolkien's Lament for the Rohirrim, itself based (it appears to me) on the Anglo-Saxon poem "The Wanderer", which Harvey Molloy has translated in his recent collection Udon by the Remarkables.

The sea and time both have the ability to sweep away the wealthy and their coin, the athlete and their speed, the worshipper and their worship, with only memory and song to mark their passing. As the sea rises, we may increasingly come to feel that we are living in Atlantis, and that the floor is trembling.

11 October 2016

Notes From A Reading: Dunedin

Harvey Molloy and I were both in Dunedin for a Coal Action Network Aotearoa hui this past weekend, and we took the opportunity (with the very much appreciated help of Mākaro Press, Dunedin Public Libraries and University Book Shop Otago) to have a joint poetry reading, with Bruce from the University Bookshop selling our two latest collections:

Here are some photos from the launch, used here with the kind permission of photographer James Dignan.

Harvey Molloy at the lectern

"I was sure there was a poem in here somewhere!"

Using my inside voice

So how did the reading go? Very well. 12 noon on a Sunday is a weird time for a poetry reading, but it was the only time both of us were available that didn't clash with Dunedin Arts Festival events. So we were very pleased that around 20 people turned up, and that, after Harvey and I finished reading, we had an open mike session of amazing quality - Carolyn McCurdie, Sue Wootton, James Dignan and Linzy Forbes were the open mike readers.

The whole reading had a really nice feel to it: warm, open and inclusive. Plenty of books were bought and signed, and all in all, it was a great time. I hope to get down to Dunedin again - to read, and to visit all my lovely friends there - next year.

NEXT WEEK: I've been reading and enjoying P. S. Cottier's new chapbook Quick Bright Things: Poems of fantasy and myth, and I'll be posting a poem from that - I enjoyed the whole collection, but this one stood out to me.

06 October 2016

Dunedin, That's A Fact!

*See historical note below.

It's fact that Harvey Molloy and I will be holding a joint poetry reading at Dunedin Central Library at noon on Sunday - with an open mike! Come along, and bring a poem to read if you like!

Harvey Molloy and I are both going to be in Dunedin on 9 October, so we thought, why not hold a joint poetry reading? Our publisher Mākaro Press agreed, Dunedin Public Libraries agreed to host the event, and University Book Shop very kindly agreed to come and sell books - so it's on! Please share this event widely.

When: Sunday 9 October from 12 noon-1.30pm

Where: Dunedin Public Library, 230 Moray Place (Dunningham Room, 4th floor)


A former Dunedinite, Tim Jones maps both land and sea in his new collection, exploring our increasing intimacy with the sea due to climate change. And Wellingtonian Harvey Molloy's collection moves from the Lancashire moors of the poet's childhood to the eco-politics of New Zealand.

Come along to hear these two stimulating poets while they're in Dunedin for an environmental hui, and bring a poem of your own to read.

The University Bookshop has very kindly agreed to handle book sales at the event.

If you can't make it, please share this event with your Dunedin friends.

Facebook eventhttps://www.facebook.com/events/1848403445380889/

The books:

Historical note

If my memory can be relied on (scientific note: it can't), "Dunedin, That's A Fact!" was one of the slogans used by local promoters of the proposal to build an aluminium smelter at Aramoana to convince Dunedinites that the proposal was a fait accompli. Of course, the smelter never went ahead!

04 October 2016

An Interview With Antony Millen

Antony Millen is a Canadian living and writing in Taumarunui. Originally from Nova Scotia, he moved to New Zealand in 1997. In recent years, he has written three novels and seen short stories published in Landfall and Headland with another to appear in the December edition of Antipodes. He also won the 2014 Heartland short story competition, placed third in the 2015 NZSA Central Districts competition and spoke as a panellist at the 2016 Ruapehu Writers Festival.

Antony blogs regularly about New Zealand books and writers at antonymillen.com.

1) Antony, you publish your work independently. Is that a choice you always intended to make, and in practice, how has it worked out? Would you ever consider seeking to have your work published by a conventional publisher?

I always wanted to write a novel and sat on one idea for over ten years. As far as I was concerned, the night I completed the first draft was the night I accomplished my mission. But the draft begged the question, “what to do with it?” I did submit it to publishers. Random House New Zealand returned a very kind rejection letter.

My main purposes in publishing the book independently had little to do with confidence in the story and more to do with impatience. I could have submitted it to multiple publishers, each time waiting months for their verdict. Even it had been accepted, it would have taken over a year to see publication. I guess, after so long working on it, I was keen to see it in print sooner. I’m happy I did, as many of the experiences I’ve had as a writer since would have been delayed if not missed. Having said that, I did submit the draft of my third novel to publishers, but not many. I would be interested in working with a publisher for the experience of working through the process with one. Distribution is a pain, too, so if I thought someone could have help with that, I’d be keen as.

2) You teach New Zealand literature. What age range do you teach New Zealand literature to, and what kind of reactions do you get to that teaching? What types of New Zealand books work best with your students?

I completed my English Literature degree in Canada, so almost of all of the content I studied was Canadian, British or from the Classical world. Shifting to Taumarunui High School from a primary school six years ago has been a joy and complimented my own writing immensely, especially as I have had to immerse myself in New Zealand literature, both classic and modern. My colleagues have been a great help.

Of course, we study a lot of film as well, and our students aren’t reading as much as I would like. However, we’ve enjoyed work by Frank Sargeson, James K Baxter, Katherine Mansfield, Patricia Grace, Witi Ihimaera, Owen Marshall, Fleur Beale, Mandy Hager, and Graeme Lay.. More recently, I’ve introduced them to poets such as Nick Ascroft and Michael Jackson, short story writers like Tony Chapelle from Palmerston North, and snippets of novels by Jess Richards and Bianca Zander – writers I’ve met, reviewed and featured in blog posts. Tim Jones will get a look at some point. All great stuff.

3) And of course, you are also a reviewer. Do your reviews cover books of all sorts, or do you focus on certain types of books? What do you consider your job as a reviewer entails?

I’ll link this response to that recent infamous article in the NZ Listener, supposedly revealing that New Zealanders don’t like their own literature. In some of the Twitter and blog fall-out from that, the common complaint seems to be that not enough is being done to make people aware of what’s out there and how good it is. I see my role as a reviewer including that task: letting people know about some of the good stuff that’s out there.

I’m not an overly critical reviewer, but I try to feature books I genuinely have enjoyed reading, are topical, and that may need more publicity. So I’ve reviewed Anna Smaiil, Eleanor Catton, and Ted Dawe, but also lesser-known writers like Tui Allen and Nix Whittaker. I sometimes review books making the news or by people I know from Canada, but since I started blogging, my main focus has been on New Zealand literature, regardless of genre as long as it’s interesting to me.

4) You're based in Taumarunui. What's the writing scene like there?

I’m glad you asked! I feel it’s really blossomed in a new way in the time since I launched Redeeming Brother Murrihy. For years, there has been an active writing group in the area, facilitated by William Taylor until he passed away. The Taumarunui Historical Society, led by Ron Cooke, of ‘Roll Back the Years’ fame, publishes books about the area on a regular basis.

But now we have myself, along with Nix Whittaker, who works in my English department and writes sci-fi, steampunk romance novels; Stuart Campbell, who writes epic novels about ninja in Feudal Japan; and A.D. Thomas, who is an essayist and poet. Even our head of Social Sciences, Chris Brady, produced a memoir about his experiences living and teaching in London. ‘Iron sharpens iron’ is a good phrase – knowing others are doing it creates a little competition and collegiality. We’re all very independent, but we have our feet in the water. I think I may be mixing metaphors, but you get the point.

5) I grew up in Southland, and I have been back a couple of times for literary events, such as the Dan Davin Festival and its precursor. Taking a writing workshop at one of those events, I was struck by how deeply the writers - especially those writing for a New Zealand audience - felt an isolation and sense of disconnection from the "mainstream" of New Zealand literature. I know other South Island writers who feel this, too. Is this also an issue for writers in and around Taumarunui?

Absolutely. Sometimes it’s easy to take an attitude of ‘I don’t need to be connected’ and strike forward with an independent spirit characteristic of a place like the King Country and, I presume, like Southland. To each their own, but I like connecting and conversing with people who are doing the things I like doing and want to be doing more of. This doesn’t always mean meeting with a group for me. Social media is fun and can sometimes be enough. However, I did appreciate being involved in the Ruapehu Writers Festival last March and, as you know, attending some of the Off the Page sessions run by Thom Conroy and Massey University in Palmerston North.

There is isolation, but there can be ways around it – and I prefer to look at the isolation as an advantage, perhaps offering a vantage point varying from the mainstream, and speaking for those outside it. I don’t mean that to sound like I’m “championing the little guy” as it makes sense that some of the best writers should emerge from all over the place, not just the major centres. Tim Upperton recently pointed out on Facebook that, in his review of Hera Lindsay Bird in Metro magazine, he was acknowledged as a writer and poet from Wellington because, in his own (sarcastic) words, “To be a writer and poet in Palmerston North is impossible.” This is a nominee for the 2016 Ockham award for poetry talking – and, from my perspective, he’s not even from a small isolated place! But I think his comment applies universally to attitudes about where good writing comes from.

6) You're a blogger who is also active on social media. Are these promotional duties you have no choice but to do, or are they a joy to participate in, or a mixture? And how well do these connect you to the wider writing world?

The only duties I have as a blogger are those that I create for myself. However, sometimes I create obligations I resent having to complete. Resent is probably too strong a word, but this is one reason I’m not reviewing as many books at the moment and instead started the Weekend Name Drop series.

When I started the blog, I had no idea what I wanted to use it for. My first post was about an incident on a flight back from Sydney after seeing a Bruce Springsteen concert! Soon, I was reviewing books and writing about events or adventures I was involved in, including mountain biking trails in the Central North Island. These have connected me to the wider world and I enjoy checking the statistics for posts, I’ll admit that.

The Weekend Name Drop has been an interesting challenge, one that brings me weekly joy although there are times I wish I didn’t have to do it and wonder if it has taken the place of other writing at times during the year. I enjoy reconnecting with people who are doing creative things and deserve some wider recognition. I never wanted to write anything but novels, but now I’m blogging, writing short stories and poetry and even some essays lately.

7) You have a lot going on in your writing life. How do you balance that with the other lives you lead? Have you ever felt that writing was just too much on top of everything else?

Yes! In fact, as I write this, I am on the train to Palmerston North to meet up with my daughter. We are flying to Canada for a few weeks – the first time she’s been back since we moved here in 1997. It’s only my second time back. Other than the Weekend Name Drop and these interview questions, I’ve needed to put all writing aside to work and prepare for this journey. That was not difficult in hindsight, but I have been writing in some form almost daily for a long time now. Perhaps it is time for a break.

When I used to run, it read that runners fear missing a day because there is an omnipresent fear they’ll never start again. I think writers feel the same and, to be honest, I’m tired of writers boasting of all the daily pages they do. I can’t do it, really. I need to work and live and write when I have something to write about. I’ve even had to put aside my partially completed novel draft started during my Spinoff residency at the Surrey Hotel in Auckland last July. As I say, I’ve done it for a good reason and no longer worry that I won’t return to it. Just nobody tell Steve Braunias!

8) What, if anything, can you tell us about writing and writing-related projects you're working on at the moment?

The novel I started in July is a young adult novel, shorter than The Chain and less ambitious and complicated in terms of plot and settings. However, there is a depth in the relationships between the characters I am enjoying and challenged by. In short, it’s about three teenagers in a rural New Zealand town. One of them has taken off inexplicably, leaving her best friend confused and opening up an opportunity for the third to develop a new relationship. It also has rodeos, Canadian Mounties, girls beating up boys and a lighthouse.

I’ve been researching a much larger project for a couple of years now. It’s thematically related to my second book, Te Kauhanga, but with an eye to forming a trilogy of sorts. I’ve sketched out possible plans for a series for 8-10 year olds, and I am continually on the look-out for ideas for short stories and essays, particularly if they might lead to prize money or publication. Being honest.

27 September 2016

The Remarkables To The Sea: Harvey Molloy and Tim Jones Read Poetry In Dunedin On Sunday 9 October

Harvey Molloy and I are both going to be in Dunedin on 9 October, so we thought, why not hold a joint poetry reading? Our publisher Mākaro Press agreed, Dunedin Public Libraries agreed to host the event, and University Book Shop very kindly agreed to come and sell books - so it's on! Please share this event widely.

When: Sunday 9 October from 12 noon-1.30pm

Where: Dunedin Public Library, 230 Moray Place (Dunningham Room, 4th floor)


A former Dunedinite, Tim Jones maps both land and sea in his new collection, exploring our increasing intimacy with the sea due to climate change. And Wellingtonian Harvey Molloy's collection moves from the Lancashire moors of the poet's childhood to the eco-politics of New Zealand.

Come along to hear these two stimulating poets while they're in Dunedin for an environmental hui, and bring a poem of your own to read.

The University Bookshop has very kindly agreed to handle book sales at the event.

If you can't make it, please share this event with your Dunedin friends.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1848403445380889/

The books:

20 September 2016

Tuesday Poem: Fey Exchange, by Harvey Molloy - and news of a joint reading in Dunedin!

My Tuesday Poem this week is "Fey Exchange", by Harvey Molloy, from his wonderful collection Udon by the Remarkables - check the poem out below.

But wait, there's more: Harvey and I will be doing a joint reading in Dunedin on Sunday 9 October, from noon-1.30pm at the Dunningham Room, 4th Floor, Dunedin Public Library. I'll have more details next week, including the poster for the event, but for now you can join the Facebook event here:


Even if you can't make it, please share this event with your Dunedin and Otago friends!

Fey Exchange

A cornflower comb in her hair
and a beetle-wing nose stud
permitted by the deputy principal
for cultural reasons. 
We are not to eat her cakes
or listen to her singing.

Peer mentors warn the entrant bullies
not to be deceived by her stature
and to accept  full responsibility
for any provoked translations.
We are not to teach history
or animal husbandry.

Paper cranes build their nests
on the light above the whiteboard.
Her greatest delight is mathematics.
Her most perplexing question:
How can we live in just three-sided space?
All term we repeat the approved answer:

We know no different.
Until the Monday we find her gone
back to where the world’s light and shape are different,
where nouns are crowned
with capital letters, and consonants
wear diacritical vowels

like a dandy wears a tricorne hat,
and at the festival of braids
the homecomers in the harbour towers
light paper lanterns
the dusty grey velvet of moth wings,
and place them on the bay’s slow water

for the faces of those they remember
back in the steel canyons of fast time,
where the rectors embroider shadows
cast by unspeakable home truths,
and there’s a series of unfortunate errors
in the academy’s final examination.

Credit note: "Fey Exchange" was published in Udon by the Remarkables (Mākaro Press, 2015) and is reproduced here by kind permission of the publisher and the author.

Tim says: I think Udon by the Remarkables is a wonderful collection, and I am looking forward very much to reading with Harvey in Dunedin. I like the sly way this poem makes good on the pun in the title, while maintaining its mystery.

08 September 2016

Saving Christchurch's Notable Trees

Tim says: Christchurch has been through an awful lot since the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes. I don't think Christchurch residents should be deprived of their much-admired heritage of notable trees on top of all that. If you agree, please donate to help save those trees, as Rebekah Lynch outlines below.

Already convinced? Donate now: Give A Little: https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/saveheritagetrees

Saving Christchurch's Notable Trees – We Need Your Help

My name is Rebekah Lynch and I am part of a group of citizens who care about Christchurch's unique landscape character, which is defined by its legacy of urban trees. We really need your help to support the continued protection of some of Christchurch's most significant trees – 80% of which have been proposed for delisting from Council's register, which means they can be felled "as of right".

In particular, we need help to cover the expert and legal expenses that we have had no choice but to incur, in order to speak for the trees through the Court-style Plan hearings being fast-tracked under the emergency earthquake legislation.

Why We Need Your Help

What has made this process particularly difficult for ordinary people like ourselves is that we have had to go through not one but an unprecedented two hearings, which effectively doubled our costs. Our costs were further increased when Council reneged on a mediated agreement that would have seen 56% of the listed trees return to Council's register.

As you can imagine, the second hearing and Council's subsequent action presented an almost impossible hurdle for individual submitters and small Trusts to overcome in order to speak for a public good – and to have any hope of being heard in a Court-style process where outcomes are being determined by expert evidence and legal submission.

Here are some links to articles that chart the Christchurch tree situation and our campaign:
·      Christchurch Tree Owners Allowed to Oppose Protected Status – Again: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/81847639/Christchurch-tree-owners-allowed-to-oppose-protected-status-again
·      Christchurch Council Makes Another U-turn on Protected Trees: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/310639/chch-council-makes-another-u-turn-on-protected-trees

What We're Doing – And How You Can Help:

We are currently running a fundraising campaign under the umbrella of the Christchurch Civic Trust and donations can be made via:

Or directly to the Christchurch Civic Trust:

Electronically to: KiwiBank Account # 38 9003 0081396 00 (Please include your name and "Trees" as a reference); or

By cheque to: Christchurch Civic Trust, PO Box 1927, Christchurch 8140.

All donations are tax deductible and will be receipted. All funds will be used solely to meet the expert and legal costs of the tree campaign to date and to review the Hearing decisions once they are made.

Social Media and Spreading the Word

You can also help by:
  • linking directly to our Give A Little fundraiser on your own social media pages and/or your blog or website – simply cut and paste in the Give a Little link above; and also
  • encouraging others to do the same by also liking and sharing the link.

We would deeply appreciate our cause being shared with other individuals, organisations, groups, or businesses that you believe may care about the fate of Christchurch's Heritage and Notable trees. We believe this will assist us greatly.

Contacts and Further Information:

Please contact the following if you have further questions:

secretary@christchurchcivictrust.org.nz (Attention Lindsay Carswell)

Thank you for your time, your support, and your generosity for a cause that is so important to Christchurch's unique urban character and to its post-earthquake regeneration and recovery.

Yours sincerely,

Rebekah Lynch

06 September 2016

Going Upstairs: Two Reviews

What with focusing on the New Sea Land launch, I've neglected to post about a couple of reviews I've written of recent New Zealand fiction.

First of all, my review of Dad Art by Damien Wilkins appears in the August edition of Landfall Review Online. I said:

Dad Art is a short, easily read and quickly digested novel, set in a very recognisable contemporary Wellington.... Michael [the protagonist] may be approaching the age at which the best opportunity to catch up with one’s friends is at other friends’ funerals, but he still retains curiosity about the world and a desire to engage with it. I liked Michael, and because I liked Michael, I enjoyed Dad Art.

Next, my review of Mean: Short Stories by Michael Botur appeared on Beattie's Book Blog. I said:

The stories in Mean are gritty social realism, so I wasn’t sure how much the book would appeal to me. But social realism has gone urban since the days of Coal Flat, and that’s where Mean is located: the underbelly of New Zealand’s towns and cities. So it’s the realism of DJs and remixes, drugs and needles, shit and piss and cum.... Michael Botur knows the mean streets of the big city well, and he writes about them with wit, compassion and insight. That makes Mean a tough but rewarding read.


01 September 2016

Photo Post 2: Photos from the Wellington City Libraries readings on National Poetry Day

This week, it's all about photos. On Tuesday, it was more photos of the New Sea Land launch: today, here are a few photos from the Wellington Central Library readings on Poetry Day organised by Mākaro Press. You can find more photos from these events, including photos of the individual readers in action, on Facebook.

Auckland poet Jamie Trower and publisher Mary McCallum

An attentive audience

Enjoying what we're hearing

Stefanie Lash and Harvey Molloy in discussion in the foreground. In the background, Pete Carter watches my one-act play "Man vs. Beanie"

30 August 2016

Photo Post 1: More Photos from the New Sea Land Launch

My report on last Wednesday's launch of New Sea Land included a few photos from the launch - now, here are some more!

(All photos by Mary McCallum except for the first, which is by Rohan Molloy. Thank you both!)

How to buy New Sea Land

Copies of New Sea Land are currently available from the publisher, from Ekor Bookshop & Cafe (17b College St, Te Aro, Wellington), from Unity Books, and from your local independent bookseller. If your bookseller doesn't have them in stock, they can order the book for you. It helps the bookshop if you can give them the following details:

Title: New Sea Land
Author: Tim Jones
Publisher: Mākaro Press
ISBN: 978-0-9941299-6-3

The RRP is $25.

The launch crew: Harvey Molloy, me, Mary McCallum, Paul Stewart
Harvey launches, George listens in

Sue and Lindsay in the foreground, Niki and (I think) George from Ekor at the back left

A beautifully put together display of New Sea Lands - thanks, Niki and George!

One side of the audience...

... and another side of the audience

The height of elegance: Mark and Julia at the launch

Photographer (possibly a secret agent) lurks behind pile of interesting books to capture photo of launch

26 August 2016

Poetry Day Is Here! Check Out These Events

I'm planning to post some more photos from my book launch, but today is National Poetry Day, and that takes precedence! There are heaps of events on round the country. Here are three I'm involved in.

25 August 2016

New Sea Land Launched: Thanks to everyone who made the event a success!

My fourth poetry collection, New Sea Land, was launched last night at Ekor Bookshop & Cafe in Wellington. The launch went really well - lots of lovely people came, Harvey Molloy gave an amazing introductory speech that made me sound like George R. R. Martin crossed with Sylvia Plath (in other words, chirpy and fun-lovin'), and I spent the evening signing books, which is a gratifying thing for an author at a book launch.

Lovely people, lovely bookshop

Thanks to everyone who helped make this launch a great event - Helen Rickerby for recommending Ekor Bookshop to me in the first place,Niki Ward and George for running the event, Mary McCallum and Paul McCallum Stewart of Mākaro Press for accepting, designing and publishing the book, Harvey Molloy for launching it, Claire Beynon for the lovely cover images, William Carden-Horton for the interior images, and everyone who took part in the launch or sent apologies!

This is a cover version of "Possessed to Skate". I call it "Poised to Sign".

(Thanks also to Mary for the photos used in this post. You can find more of Mary's photos of the launch here: https://www.facebook.com/mary.mccallum.566/posts/10210587683551982)

There were a few people I barely got a chance to talk to at the launch - to all of you, thanks for attending, and I hope we'll catch up soon!

No rest for the wicked, though - well, a little rest, but then I'll be taking poems from "New Sea Land" for a spin at three events on National Poetry Day this Friday:

Copies of New Sea Land are currently available from the publisher, from Ekor Bookshop & Cafe (17b College St, Te Aro, Wellington), and from your local independent bookseller. If your bookseller doesn't have them in stock, they can order the book for you. It helps the bookshop if you can give them the following details:

Title: New Sea Land
Author: Tim Jones
Publisher: Mākaro Press
ISBN: 978-0-9941299-6-3

The RRP is $25.

Tim Jones, Mary McCallum and Paul Stewart. Poet was going for Byronic air of mystery - didn't quite achieve it.

23 August 2016

The New Sea Land Launch Is Tomorrow!

... and if you're in Wellington, you are most welcome to come along! Here are all the details:

You're warmly invited to the launch of my new poetry collection, "New Sea Land", published by Mākaro Press, at Te Aro's new bookshop, Ekor Bookshop and Cafe at 17b College St opposite Moore Wilson's (see map).

The launch is on Wednesday 24 August, starting at 6pm with the traditional drinks and nibbles. The formalities will start at 6.30pm, with the book to be launched by Harvey Molloy.

These are poems of the land, sea and shore - and of what happens when the sea rises up to claim the land. I hope you'll join me to celebrate the launch!

There is also a Facebook event for the launch - please join and share! Alternatively, please RSVP to senjmito@gmail.com

16 August 2016

Tuesday Poem: Memorial (for Jonathan Franzen)

for Jonathan Franzen

Arms outstretched, the novelist
stands amid the ruins of nature.

It’s a curated nature: his
cultivated rescue garden,

a scoop of hills and plains,
wind large among dead pines and dying needles.

He has gathered all the birds, these valiant
survivors of drought and storm

into one remaining protected preserve:
the last refuge of wildness, this circle of life

kept smoothly spinning by selfless human cogs,
volunteers who’ve let the world go to hell

in the service of saving a fragment. This
is their last best hope, their final stand.

But climate, the revenger’s tragedy of the commons,
cannot be bought off or set aside.

Their predator-proof fences, their best
intentions, have no effect on fire or air.

Lightning sparks a firestorm, trees
adding their carbon to the oversaturated sky.

Birds roast in the updrafts, volunteers
are crisped below. In the aftermath,

the novelist arrives, surveys
the ruins of the little world he’s made,

and stretches out his arms. Tiny skeletons
flutter to perch on his scarecrow bones.

Credit note: This poem is included in my new collection New Sea Land (Mākaro Press, 2016). It is previously unpublished.

Tim says: Why is this poem addressed to Jonathan Franzen? Because he wrote this article for The New Yorker in 2015:

The central thesis of this article, as I read it, is that because contemplating the likely effects of climate change is too depressing, and because taking action on it is too hard, it's better (or at least, it's better for Jonathan Franzen) to focus on try to save what he's most interested in - birds.

I'm a big fan of wildlife conservation and bird sanctuaries - on our offshore islands, on mainland islands, and maybe even nationwide at some point. But to imagine that birds can be exempted from the effects of climate change is short-sighted and self-defeating.

Fortunately, New Zealand groups such as Forest & Bird are well aware of the risk climate change poses to New Zealand's birds and forests. Jonathan Franzen's love of birds does him credit,and I'd love to see him place that in a wider context.

09 August 2016

National Poetry Day on 26 August: Events in the Hutt and Wellington

National Poetry Day is coming up on Friday 26 August - two days after my new collection New Sea land is launched.

There are events all round the country, including a whole bunch in the Hutt Valley and Wellington.

I'm due to take part in three events on the day, the first two organised by New Sea Land publisher Mākaro Press:

I'll have my new poetry collection New Sea Land available for sale at these events.


03 August 2016

You're Warmly Invited To The Launch of My New Poetry Collection "New Sea Land"

You're warmly invited to the launch of my new poetry collection, "New Sea Land", published by Mākaro Press, at Te Aro's new bookshop, Ekor Bookshop and Cafe at 17b College St opposite Moore Wilson's (see map).

The launch is on Wednesday 24 August, starting at 6pm with the traditional drinks and nibbles. The formalities will start at 6.30pm, with the book to be launched by Harvey Molloy.

These are poems of the land, sea and shore - and of what happens when the sea rises up to claim the land. I hope you'll join me to celebrate the launch!

There is also a Facebook event for the launch - please join and share! Alternatively, please RSVP to senjmito@gmail.com