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On the international front recently, we’ve had Clive James refusing to take part in the “sad little contest” for Oxford poetry professor and female Saudi poet Hissa Hilal coming third in the Arab world’s largest poetry competition, the ”Million’s Poet contest“. Her success was notable because she was the first woman to reach the finals (since the annual competition started in 2006) and because her poetry spoke out against extreme religious laws that discriminate against women. Well done Hissa Hilal! She took home $800,000 for her prize. Perhaps TVNZ would like to follow suit - surely it’s time for “NZ Poetry Idol”?
While Auckland is getting ready to enjoy their writers & readers festival, coming events in Wellington include:
Jenny Bornholdt at Massey’s Writers Read Series 2010
Thursday 13 May, 6pm
Theatrette (10A02) Museum Building, Massey University, Buckle Street; Entrance D, (access Theatrette from East side of Building).
Jenny Bornholdt (current writer in residence at Victoria University) will be reading and discussing her creative work, followed by Q & A and refreshments. All welcome, entry is free. Poet Bryan Walpert will chair.
PLEASE RSVP to S.Caris@massey.ac.nz by Tuesday 11 May.
Sunday 16 May, 4pm-6pm
Ballroom Cafe, junction of Adelaide Rd and Riddiford St (upstairs, next to the 4 Square)
Guest poets: Gerald Melling & Geoff Cochrane, with music from Terry Shore.
NZ Poetry Society May meeting
Monday 17 May, 7.30pm
The Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave St
Open mic to start, followed by guest poet: Pat White (Wairarapa), current Writer-in-Residence, Randell Cottage. Entry: $5 (NZPS members $3).
I’ve read a lot of poetry over 2009. Here are some of the books that have made their way into my collection and enriched my year (in no particular order):
Here’s an extract from ‘Africa’:
our ancestors are alive
they live through us & yet
there’s a sense in which
what’s happened seems
never to have happened
in which thinking about it
what’s gone, what’s over
is like looking at a church
examining it (the church)
from a distance, admiring
the lift & luft of the spire…”
‘The Rocky Shore’ by Jenny Bornholdt (Victoria University Press) – long autobiographical poems, which sparked an interesting discussion about what constitutes poetry between Iain Sharp (writing in Landfall) and Joanna Preston (on her blog). Personally, I take a pretty liberal view regarding what is and isn’t poetry. (I wrote about this last year. http://janisfreegard.wordpress.com/2008/11/30/poem-is-a-poem-is-a-poem/ ) I’m more interested in whether it’s writing that I enjoy (and I always enjoy Jenny Bornholdt’s).
‘Moose Beetle Swallow’ by Estonian surrealist poet Andres Ehin (Southword Editions) – beautifully translated by Irish poet Patrick Cotter (see Patrick Cotter’s website). There’s a review here from Penniless Press. One thing I found very interesting about this collection was how the translations differ from other translations of the same poems. Consider this opening extract of ‘To be a Dog Apartment’ http://elm.einst.ee/issue/17/poetry-andres-ehin/
“to be a dog-apartment with three barking rooms
with a snout-bathroom
where one tap dribbles cold
and the other hot slobber”
and Patrick Cotter’s version:
“Imagine an apartment made of dog
three rooms of bark, a bathroom of snout
the cold tap dribbles, the hot tap slobbers”
‘My Iron Spine’ by Helen Rickerby (Headworx). Includes very entertaining poems about Katherine Mansfield, Joan of Arc, Emily Dickinson and other famous women.
‘through windows’ by Susana Lei’ataua (Steele Roberts). I saw Susana perform this as a one-woman show at Bats a few years ago. It’s based on her time in New York and has the sounds of the subway running through it:
“I am a train
tearing through neighbourhoods
this and that
this and that
this and that
side of the state line.”
(to be continued…and apologies for the spacing – I just can’t get it to work)