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Very excited to see that the AUP New Poets series is cranking up again. This is such a great poetry series and I’m delighted to be a part of it (I was in AUP New Poets 3, back in 2008). It’s a great way to get to know new voices and I’m so pleased Auckland University Press is relaunching it. There’s a New Poets 5 coming out later this year (with a fresh, new look) and a New Poets 6 in the making too! The wonderful Anna Jackson (who featured in AUP New Poets 1) is editing.

Carolyn de Carlo, one of the AUP New Poets 5 authors, has arranged a reading of past and present “New Poets” at Millers O’Brien gallery in Victoria St. in Wellington (1/85 Victoria St, upstairs, near the Lido) this Tuesday 18th June 2019 at 6:00pm. I’d love to see you there. Here are the deets from Food Court:

“Food Court is proud to present their latest event, an evening of readings by Auckland University Press writers who have been featured in the New Poets series, relaunching with Vol. 5 in August 2019. Consider this a sneak preview of what will be on offer in Vol. 5 and beyond, and a look back at some absolute bangers from over the years.

Current Lineup:
Carolyn DeCarlo
Sophie van Waardenberg
Rebecca Hawkes
Chris Tse
Janis Freegard
Anna Jackson
+ a few surprises!

There is a working lift at the gallery, but there will be limited seating available (8-10 chairs). Please arrive early if this applies to you, or let us know ahead of time, and we will do our best to accommodate all needs and circumstances!”

Here’s the list of AUP New Poets to date:

AUP New Poets 1: Raewyn Alexander, Anna Jackson, Sarah Quigley

(currently listed on Amazon for $149.50 for a used copy (!!!), so clearly a collector’s item)

AUP New Poets 2: Stu Bagby, Jane Gardner, Sonja Yelich

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AUP New Poets 3: Janis Freegard, Katherine Liddy, Reihana Robinson

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AUP New Poets 4: Harry Jones, Erin Scudder, Chris Tse

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AUP New Poets 5: Carolyn de Carlo, Sophie van Waardenberg and Rebecca Hawkes

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One of the first poems I ever had published was ‘When You’re Not Here’. It originally appeared in ‘Eat These Sweet Words: the New Zealand Anthology of Lesbian and Gay Poetry’ by Publishing Giant Press in 1999. Next, it appeared in my collection, ‘The Glass Rooster’ (AUP, 2015). Now, here’s a clip of me reading it on the Meow Gurrrls Youtube channel. Please feel free to like, share, subscribe to our channel. (Mask by Sally of Masquerade; bird claw earrings by Tomas Richards)

Welcome to the latest offering from the Meow Gurrls. We’re seeing in the new year with three short poems (two wonderful poems from Mary Macpherson Beach and Holes – and one from me – Forest Song) from the excellent anthology, Short Poems of New Zealand, edited by Jenny Bornholdt and published by Victoria University Press. Every home should have a copy.

I love to know the names of plants. When I was a little girl in South Shields (in the North-East of England), Grandad often took me out for walks and told me the names of the trees we passed. Nanna saved cards from the tea packets for me with illustrations of British birds, trees and butterflies. The collection is long gone but I remember it fondly.

Brooke-Bond-PG-Tips-Tea-Cards-Trees-in-Britain-49-50-3-Duplicates

I later went on to study botany at Auckland University and learnt many New Zealand plant names. Now, whenever I walk in the bush, there’s a chant going on in my head of  the plants I’m passing (okay, the few I can remember – I’m so rusty). This is where Forest Song came from.

When I was learning the names of plants, I often learnt an incorrect pronunciation of the beautiful Mäori names. In the course of the original publication (in The Glass Rooster by Auckland University Press) and subsequent reprint of the poem, I realised I’d been mispronouncing a couple of tree names for years because I hadn’t known there was a macron over one of the vowels (well done, editors). The rhythm of the poem that had originally been in my head changed as a result, but worked better. I’ve done my best to get the names right in the video, but no doubt there’s room for improvement.

I am lucky enough to live in a home surrounded by many of the species in the poem. Our garden is always singing.

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Short Poems of New Zealand

So I arrived back from a holiday in Hawai’i to find this wee beauty waiting – a collection of small (9 lines or fewer) New Zealand poems, edited by Jenny Bornholdt and published by Victoria University Press. A wide range of poets are represented, from the greats who are no longer with us, like Ursula Bethell and Hone Tuwhare, to newer poets like Sam Duckor-Jones. I’m still looking through, but it’s great to see so many old favourites in here (like Allen Curnow’s ‘Wild Iron’, James K Baxter’s ‘High Country Weather’,  Greg O’Brien’s ‘A Visiting Card’, Hinemoana Baker’s ‘Referee’ and Bill Manhire’s ‘My World War I Poem’) and meet many others I’m not so familiar with. As an object, too, it is a thing of beauty – hard-backed and featuring Greg O’Brien’s lovely illustrations. Thanks Jenny, and thanks VUP.

I’m delighted to have my poem ‘Forest Song’ (first published in ‘The Glass Rooster‘, AUP)  included in this anthology. As a lapsed botanist, I often find myself mentally reciting the names of the plants I see as I walk through native bush, greeting old friends. ‘Forest Song’ is a list of native New Zealand species in a (broadly) four-beats-to-the-line chant.

Hawai’i was terrific and a revelation in many ways. We were struck, for example by the many similarities between te reo Maori and the Hawaiian language (te one roa – the long beach – becoming ke one loa, for example). And some of the same species were there too, like akeake (Dodonaea viscosa) or in Hawai’i, ‘a’ali’i. There were common genera too, like Metrosideros – we have Metrosoderos excelsa (pōhutukawa) and M. robusta (rātā); Hawai’i has M. polymorpha, ‘ohi’a lehua, with a very similar flower.

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‘Ohi’a lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) on Kaua’i

We are less well supplied with green sea turtles (honu) here in Aotearoa, and for me, they were a highlight of the trip, especially on Kaua’i, where we spent most of our time, staying with our friends Chuck and Carolyn. We could see the turtles in the sea from our bedroom window and most days, we walked to the rocks a couple of minutes from where we were staying to watch them feeding in the waves and periodically waving a flipper or poking their head above the water. At another beach, we saw turtles basking while people swam and children played close by.

Green turtle (honu) on Kaua'i

Green turtle (honu) on Kaua’i

It was the perfect chill-out, wind-down, hanging-out-in-nature holiday after what has been a pretty intense and challenging year. I loved it and recommend it.

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Who are the Meow Gurrrls, I hear you cry?

The Meow Gurrrls are a group of Wellington & Kapiti Coast poets who have been meeting for some time now to share poetry, wine, food and fine company, sometimes at Meow cafe in Wellington.

So, what’s new?

The Meow Gurrrls are launching a YouTube channel, whereby you can access quality short poems delivered by a Meow poet on the device of your choice any time you goddamn please. New poems will be added over the weeks and months to come. You’ll love it.

This is cool. what can I do?

We would love you to subscribe to our channel, like and share our posts, and tell your friends.

Do the Meow Gurrrls really need all those rrr’s?

Why, yes we do.

Are there any actual cats?

Sure. Meet Polly. Don’t be fooled by those fluffy good looks. Hobbies include destroying door frames and random savage attacks on her staff.

Polly Oct18

But she looks so sweet. Anyhoo, where is this alleged YouTube channel involving the Meow Gurrrls of which you speak?

Here you go. Meow Gurrrls Youtube channel

And here’s me, with a love poem. Because, you know, poetry. The poem also appeared on the Wellington City Library blog on National Poetry Day 2018. http://www.wcl.govt.nz/blog/index.php…

 

How come your lipstick looks crooked?

Because our bathroom mirror looks like this:

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Would love to see you at the Thistle next Monday (3rd September 2018 at 6pm), if you can make it, where there will be readings from this little beauty from Canterbury University Press – an anthology of flash fiction (very short stories), prose poems and things in between. I have two pieces in there and am delighted to find myself in such fine company. I’ve been dipping in and out of my copy since it arrived and it’s full of gems. There are some interesting essays in there too – from Tim Jones and others, some of whom will be discussing the “small form” on the night. Congratulations to editors Michelle Elvy, Frankie McMillan and James Norcliffe, and all the contributors.

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Hope to see you there!wild words

LitCrawl 2016 with Sue Wooton & Maggie Rainey-Smith

With Sue Wootton (left) and Maggie Rainey-Smith (centre) at the 2016 LitCrawl after-party

While you’re waiting to find out the make-up of New Zealand’s 52nd parliament, here’s something to while away your time: planning which events to go to in this year’s LitCrawl. The Crawl itself is on the evening of Saturday 11th November and I’ll be in a session called ‘I’m Making a Sign’ with Marianne Elliot, Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, Rhydian Thomas and Rachel Stewart, at Pegasus Books in Cuba Mall. Here’s the full schedule. I have the usual problem of wanting to go to everything, which is not a bad problem to have.

Intrepid organisers Pirate and Queen, aka Claire Mabey and Andrew Laking, have outdone themselves this year with an exciting range of associated events, like the ever-popular ‘Women of Letters’ and various LitCrawl Extended sessions at the City Gallery, including a Flash Fiction workshop with Irish writer Jan Carson. Can’t wait!

 

LitCrawl Hashigo Zake

Getting ready to read with Gem Wilder, Emma Barnes and Chris Tse at LitCrawl 2016, Hashigo Zake.

On a dimly related note and while I think of it – I’ve had a number of short stories/ flash fiction pieces published online recently which can be found at these links:

Silas and Luke’ at Takahe

‘Spindrift’ at Flash Frontier

‘The Visit’ at Reflex Fiction

 

 

I’ll be reading a very short story at the pretty flash Thistle (3 Mulgrave St, Thorndon) and so will some other writerly Wellington folk. It happens on 22nd June 2017 aka National Flash Fiction Day – the shortest day for the shortest stories. Might see you there!

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Wordle: janisfreegard.com

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