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Thirty-one years ago today, Neil Roberts blew himself up outside the Wanganui Computer Centre. He left graffiti nearby that said: ‘We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity’ – a quote from the revolutionary Junta Tuitiva of La Paz, which fought against the Spanish for the freedom of Bolivia in 1809. Neil was a friend of mine and this is something I wrote after he died.
Poet Airini Beautrais has also been writing about her responses to Neil’s actions recently. Part of her long poem can be read on the Tuesday poem site and in the latest JAAM.
And still more on Neil – artist Ann Shelton has an outdoor art exhibition in Taranaki at the moment, “doublethink”, where she has recreated Neil’s graffiti using sparklers. You can see her photographs as a series of billboards in Midhirst, on the way between Stratford, where Neil was living, and Whanganui. Peter and I went to see it a few weeks ago. The pictures Peter took are below but you should also check out Ann Shelton’s website for the real deal.
More about Neil & the Wanganui Computer Centre:
This is a poem I wrote in order to illustrate what a story and poem collaboration might look like, for the Northwrite 2013 collaboration competition (closing 15 November 2013). The poem was written in response to a piece of flash fiction by Katharine Derrick, called Inside Out, that was first published in Flash Frontier.
Katharine’s story and more on the process and the competition can be found here: NorthWrite 2013 Example of a story and poem collaboration.
The Model by Janis Freegard
waiting for his arrival
I shake out my hair, undress
I am nowhere
I watch him
through the open window
striding to my door
you come to me, I’d said
I don’t know
what he thinks he saw
he stretches his canvas
sets his paints
on my bedside table
I have nothing to say
he doesn’t see me
the image he renders
I am above all this
gone with the crows
out towards open sea
hoping I can save someone
Last year, the Goethe-Institut New Zealand (in association with the New Zealand Listener and the International Institute of Modern Letters) ran a short story competition to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Brothers Grimm’s book of fairy tales. Competition entrants were invited to write a modern-day Grimm fairytale with a New Zealand flavour, beginning with the words “Once upon a time . . .”
There were over 300 entries which the Goethe Institut has been publishing on a blog – one story per day. They are keen for feedback to help them identify the 12 most popular fairytales that will be included a print publication at the end of the year. With this in mind, they have introduced a 5 star system to enable readers to rank the stories.
The blog is here and the story I entered (The Kind Fisherwoman and the King of the Fish) is here. It was a fun idea for a competition and I’ve really been enjoying the many and varied stories. I heartily recommend having a browse – and don’t forget to have your say!
Here are some of Peter’s photos from the Alice Spider launch on 6 September. More launch photos to come!
and here’s one Mary Macpherson took.
Peter Clayworth, Ann-Marie Houng Lee & Redmer Yska with Robin Hyde
It was great day in Whanganui on Saturday (17th August, the day after National Poetry Day). The Sarjeant (which supported the event) was closed for earthquake checks but Element cafe kindly stepped in – very cool venue in an old bank building. Dr Mary Paul and Redmer Yska gave us some fascinating insights into Robin Hyde/Iris Wilkinson’s life and writing (including Redmer’s reading of her poem ‘The White Chair’), I read a few of her poems and a few of my own, and the legendary Glen Colquhoun rounded out the afternoon with a lively performance of poems dedicated to Iris. Despite all the shakiness of the day before, there was an impressive turnout of around 80 lovely people, some of whom had travelled from Palmerston North and Wellington to be there.
The event was the brain-child of Whanganui-based writer Ann-Marie Houng Lee who did a fantastic job of organising the event. She told me it was sparked by the Tuesday poem I posted (If you have linen women) a couple of months back. Worth checking out if you haven’t read it before.
PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE FOR WHANGANUI EVENT. THE SARJEANT GALLERY IS CLOSED BECAUSE OF THE EARTHQUAKES SO ELEMENTS CAFE, 26 VICTORIA ST, HAVE KINDLY AGREED TO HOST.
I have a couple of readings coming up that I’m very excited about. The first is at the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui, part of a celebration of Robin Hyde‘s work, in association with National Poetry Day (although it will actually be the day after National Poetry Day).
Weds 21st August 8pm
Circadian Rhythm cafe
inside that special separate world
for half a precious hour
we are not lawyers, marketers or policy analysts
not husbands, mothers or discarded lovers
we are Wellington coffee drinkers
on our first of the day
focusing carefully on the task at hand
a leisurely stirring
the spreading of butter on muffin
warmth and froth
and chocolate hearts on our saucers
I wrote this poem quite a while ago and it was later commended in the Whitireia ‘Eat Your Words’ cafe poetry competition in 2010. It was inspired by a cafe I used to go to with Peter every morning before we started work, when I was working in Manners St. The cafe was Sardine and is no longer there. They did great muffins and great coffees, played good music and were always friendly. Wellington is a city that runs on coffee – hats off to all those lovely baristas.
For other Tuesday poems, visit the Tuesday poem hub.
I’m editor of the main Tuesday poem hub this week and have chosen an unititled, unfinished Robin Hyde poem that begins “If you have linen women”. You can read it and find the links to other Tuesday poems here.
Well, the Alice Spider book from Anomalous Press is fast becoming a reality. You may have met Alice before, but this will be the most Alice there’s ever been in one place. This is how she will look:
The stunning artwork on the cover is by Kristen Necessary.
There is one last hurdle. The lovely people at Anomalous Press are making six chapbooks altogether (small collections of poetry, of up to 40 pages) as a labour of love and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the funds together for printing. They need $US5,000. If you would like to support them – and receive books, postcards and other goodies in return (this is a pre-order type deal rather than a charity drive) – here’s where you can pledge the amount you would like to pledge and a description of what you will receive. Yes, I’ve already put my money where my mouth is, and huge thanks to everyone else who is supporting the campaign.
The Kickstarter link shows all the chapbooks being published and they look great!