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.