22 June 2016

It's National Flash Fiction Day! Find out what's on around Aotearoa

NFFD -  Wednesday, June 22 
Events around Aotearoa!

Auckland Event
Emceed by Rosetta Allan, with 2016 NFFD Judge Elizabeth Smither, past NFFD top winners Leanne Radojkovich, Trisha Hanifin and other special guest readers, plus short-listed stories, regional prizes and more!
enquiries to Eileen Merriman: emerriman81@gmail.com 

Christchurch event
Compered by Morrin Rout, with 2016 NFFD Judge James Norcliffe, plus NFFD past winner Frankie McMillan, Doc Drumheller, Zoe Meager and other esteemed guests. Readers, prizes, regional prizes and spot prizes, with an open mic at the end. 
enquiries: Brindi Joy emerriman81@gmail.com

Wellington Event
Special guests include NFFD past judge Mary McCallum, plus other award-winning writers Janis Freegard, Tim Jones, Pete Carter and more. Regional prizes, spot prizes and winning stories shared.
enquiries: Kate Mahony k.mahony@xtra.co.nz

Northland Event 

Sunday 26 June 1.30–3.30pmKings Theatre Creative 
Prize-winning flash
Come along and hear some winning flash fiction at a free event at the Kings Theatre Creative in Kawakawa onSunday 26 June.

The Northland winner of the National Flash Fiction Competition will be awarded a trophy and $50 and read their winning entry.

Sharing stories
The floor will then be opened to all writers to read their flash fiction.
This is your chance to read your flash fiction and enjoy stories by local writers. Bring your family and friends to share the vibes.

Starts at 2.30pm with a cup of tea and then 3-4pm for the prize-giving and readings.

Hone your flash writing skills by attending the one-hour workshop before the public event. This will start at 1.30pmand be led by experienced flash fiction writer and editor, Sian Williams. It costs $10. Places are limited so contactmargareta.cahill@gmail.com to register your interest. 

Details about all NFFD events can be found here
Flash news around the world can be found here

16 June 2016

Three Quick Wins

Let's have some good news:

First, I'm very happy to announce that my fourth poetry collection* will be published later this year by Mākaro Press. Stand by for more details over the next couple of months!

*Following Boat People, All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens and Men Briefly Explained. Copies of all three are available from me, and Men Briefly Explained is also available from Amazon and from the publisher.

Second, I'm also happy to say that Shortcuts: Track 1, the anthology of six novellas edited by Marie Hodgkinson that includes my novella Landfall, won "Best Collected Work" at this year's Sir Julius Vogel Awards - and The Ghost of Matter by Olivia Cade, one of the other novellas in the anthology, won Best Novella. Congratulations to Olivia, Marie, and Paper Road Press!

And third, I'm also happy to see that Saradha Koirala's new novel Lonesome When You Go is due to be published shortly by Mākaro Press. A few years back, I was in a writers' group with Saradha, and I heard some of the early drafts of this novel. It was good then, and I'm looking forward to reading the final version. You can help make sure it gets the print run it deserves by supporting the Lonesome When You Go PledgeMe page - it's a great change for you to preorder the book, or go for some of the bigger rewards!

07 June 2016

Tuesday Poem: Above Armageddon

Above Armageddon
From the mezzanine, Armageddon SF convention, Wellington, 2008

In my day
there was less money to be parted from.

Now this whole place
is a trading floor,

awash in cash, cleavage,
cosplay and testosterone.


Jesus, cross in hand,
blesses the sellers of Devil Dice.

Japanese Death in a long white wig
totes his scythe past stands of PS3s.

John Rhys Davies' booming voice
echoes from a distant room.


The reef fish of the market
swim before my eyes.

My son goes darting
among the channeled shoals.

Where will all this money
wash up, do you think, in the end?

Credit note: This poem appeared in my collection Men Briefly Explained (IP, 2011) and Kathleen Jones kindly published it as a Tuesday Poem on her blog in 2015.

Tim says: There were two science fiction conventions on in Wellington at Queen's Birthday Weekend. I took part in a poetry panel at the non-commercial one, Au Contraire, but the bigger of the two was Armageddon, which has been running for a good few years now. It's big and loud, and when I went there with my son in 2008, I couldn't cope, so sat up in the mezzanine writing the poem above.

In other news, I have finished my teaching commitments at Whitireia Polytech for the year - which should mean I have more time to post here.

10 May 2016

Tuesday Poem: Kraken - now in the 2016 Rhysling Anthology

My poem "Kraken", below, which won second prize in the Interstellar Award for Speculative Poetry 2015, has now been included in the Science Fiction Poetry Association's 2016 Rhysling Anthology of the best science fiction, fantasy and horror poetry published in 2015. It's a fine-looking book and it's lovely to be in the company of many fine poets, not least Christina Sng and P. S. Cottier. My copy has recently arrived in the mail, and I'm looking forwards to reading the anthology.


Millennia of sunlight passed the Kraken by.
He slept where he had fallen, each molecule
bound up in water ice, kept safe by permafrost
or the pressure of the deep. Kraken lay
unmoved beneath the waves, deep in his dreams
of fire and air, while the ice sat heavy on the poles
and the clever, clever apes, fizzing with language,
trudged northwards out of Africa.

Unperturbed slept Kraken as the glaciers withdrew.
Lapping at their tongues came the clever apes,
furred, speared, striding on. Wintering in caves,
they met and mated with their slow-tongued cousins,
gaining their immunities, their thicker skins.
Tinder sparked to flame in the wolf-howled night,
each tribe protected in its ring of fire,
but Kraken took no notice of such things.

Light disturbed Kraken’s millennial dreams,
sunlight no longer reflected by protective ice
but slanting down into the depths, unchecked,
warming the shallow seas, permafrost
proving to be less than permanent. In his sleep,
Kraken rolled over, farted, belched. Siberia trembled,
craters forming where none had been, methane
bursting skyward across the Arctic night.

The clever apes looked, and shrugged, and looked away.
They had bigger fish to fry: death, war,
their endless clawing at the Earth for fuel. Kraken
had been banished from their world. He was a relic of myth,
terror of the Greenland Sea, muse to Tennyson,
John Wyndham antagonist, large-boned
inhabitant of green-screened Greek epics,
set free to give Perseus something to kill.

The old Norse knew his nature well. Hafgufa
they named him, sea steam: and so he rose,
bubbling up beneath the circumpolar seas,
so much methane rising to warm the skies
that it roused him more, the loop reinforcing,
unstoppable, his coils releasing, sea floor gaping open,
undersea landslides lashing crowded coasts with waves,
the clever apes at last obliged to pay attention —

but too late. The Kraken is awake.
Flares light the Arctic night to write his name.
His is the fire that heats the deep, that scours the land
clean of everything that flies and walks and crawls —
the few survivors, vainly fleeing south,
hearing his voice forever louder at their backs.
The Kraken roars, and as he roars
soon every trace of clever ape is burned away.

This poem refers to “The Kraken Wakes” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1830).

Credit note: This poem was published for the first time on the Interstellar Awards website on 12 June 2015, and has subsequently been published in the 2016 Rhysling Anthology, edited by Charles Christian (Science Fiction Poetry Association, 2016).

03 May 2016

Tuesday Poem: Steady State, by Hugh Isdale

The machines took over.
We devised them
To do
Then we retreated
Into sterile pornography,
And disappeared.

They are very efficient.
They do not discuss guilt,
Or souls.
They have turned the planet
Into a garden
That grows
Very well.

Credit note: "Steady State" by Hugh Isdale is previously unpublished and is reproduced here by permission of the author. My thanks to Mark Pirie for bringing Hugh's work to my attention.

Tim says: As well as his own poetry, Mark Pirie continues to be a very active promoter and historian of poetry - not least in bringing both new and neglected poets to light. With Niel Wright and Dr Michael O'Leary, he founded the Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa, which publishes Poetry Notes, and is also the publisher of broadsheet - Issue 17 of which has just been published.

Hugh Isdale is a Christchurch poet whose work is featured in in Poetry Notes, Summer 2016 (Volume 6, Issue 4) . When Mark and I co-edited Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand in 2009, we made a valiant - and I hope largely availing - effort to consider work by every published NZ science fiction poet we could find as well as some then-unpublished ones, but we knew there must have been poets we missed - so it's good to be able to publish this thought-provoking poem by Hugh.

In less good news, it was sad to hear of the death of poet Ruth Gilbert (1917-2016). There's a fine obituary for Ruth on the PANZA site, which details her long and distinguished career as a poet:

Chief among her works is The Luthier sequence first published by Reed in 1966, a remarkable work detailing the musical appreciation in her family between the poet and her father, a maker of violins. The sequence shared the Jessie Mackay Memorial Prize for 1968 with James K Baxter. Three times Gilbert won the award.

Her other works such as her Lazarus sequence from Lazarus and Other Poems(1949) were widely acclaimed in New Zealand poetry circles. She also wrote poetry on her experiences in New York and Western Samoa.
The PANZA site has Ruth's full obituary.

28 March 2016

Going Off The Page In Palmerston North, 15-16 April

I'm going to be taking part in two speculative fiction events in Palmerston North in mid-April: a panel on the evening of Friday 15 April with writer Jessica Richards as one of Massey University's regular Off the Page series of events, - and then a two hour workshop on writing speculative fiction at Palmerston North Library the following morning. Details:

Panel: 6.30pm on, Friday 15 April, Palmerston North City Library:

6.30pm: Reception
7.00pm: Panel discussion
8.00pm: Book signing 

Workshop: 10am-12 noon, Saturday 16 April, Palmerston North City Library (Writers who don't normally write speculative fiction are welcome to attend!)

For more details, contact Palmerston North City Library: http://citylibrary.pncc.govt.nz/about-us/contact-us/

I've enjoyed my two previous trips to Palmerston North to take part in poetry readings - and I'm looking forwards to a return visit that takes advantage of a different side of my writing.