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3 photos by Alison Jones

(The top I was wearing has the “worldwide web ” printed on it – a map of the world made of spider webs, with a spider hanging off.  & those things around my hat are little white plastic spiders.)

2nd pic is the Tuesday poets who were present: Mary  McCallum, Tim Jones & Helen Rickerby at the back, me and Keith Westwater at the front

Alice Spider launch - Alison Jones Tuesday Poets at Alice Spider launch - Alison Jones Alice Spider launch 2 - Alison Jones

and some photos by Matchbox:

Singapore Biennale on Orchard Road, Singapore.

Yayoi Kusama. Singapore Biennale. Image via Wikipedia


The second issue of the online journal of speculative poetry Eye to the Telescope, featuring Australian and New Zealand poets, is now live.  It’s been edited by Wellington writer Tim Jones and contains my poem ‘Yayoi Kusama Goes to Iceland’.

I’m in excellent company: other poets in the journal include Raewyn Alexander, Helen Rickerby, Stephen Oliver, Laurice Gilbert, David Reiter, Cy Matthews, Catherine Fitchett, Alicia Ponder and Joe Dolce (better known for the song ‘Shaddup You Face’).

Stranded in paradise

When we hit tarseal again
I feel like the island
had tipped up
to send us rolling down-
hill heading for home

but not even halfway
between the end of the earth and Kaitaia
we hear a noise
and a clunk, and a hiss 

We stop to check 

It’s flat 

Up ahead are houses
Cars rush past like flies
We trudge along the verge 

The sun has already melted the tar
my Paihia jandals already ruined 

Intimidated by the large white house
we try the neighbours
with the cars and the dogs
‘No landline,’ they say, ‘try the white house’ 

The white house peers down from its hill
the driveway is two lines
of white stones 

I let you go first 

They don’t ask us into the house
but bring the phone out
They tell us they once visitedWellington
like another country, this mythic south 

We phone the AA and return to our car
I am homesick
for the first time

In the hours we spend waiting
the sun climbs higher and hotter 

We sit in the car, there is nowhere else
each passing vehicle shakes us with jealousy

When the AA man comes
pulled from his family, pulled from Kaitaia
we pretend to not be embarrassed
that we can’t fix it ourselves

City folk, we can’t help it


“Stranded in Paradise” is from Helen Rickerby’s sequence of poems Heading North, published in handbound volumes by Otago publisher Kilmog Press.  It’s a beautiful book, inside and out.  The poems follow a couple travelling up the North Island to Cape Reinga and back – part road trip, part love story, with the presence of a bovine goddess in the background.  In this poem, I especially like the idea of the island tipping people up and rolling them home again.

Helen Rickerby is the author of two other collections of poetry: Abstract Internal Furniture (2001) and My Iron Spine (2008) (both with HeadworX).  She is also co-managing editor of JAAM literary magazine and runs Seraph Press, a boutique poetry publisher. Helen lives in Wellington, works as a web editor and blogs at Winged Ink.

Happy Poetry Day, everyone!  There are more poems at the Tuesday Poem hub.

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): 

‘Africa: Kabbo, Mantis and the Porcupine’s Daughter’ by Alistair Paterson (Puriri Press) – a long poem that explores humanity’s African origins.  Click here for a useful review by Terry Locke). 

Here’s an extract from ‘Africa’: 

They’re alive
            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. )   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’ 

“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” 

Both are great, but each paints a very different picture. 

 ‘Making Music’ by Patrick Cotter (Three Spires Press).  Quirky, fun in that dark way, full of angels. 

‘Nearest and Dearest’ by Mary Cresswell (Steele Roberts) – poems full of satire and humour. (I interviewed Mary on this blog). 

‘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) 



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December 2020

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