19 April 2017

Takahē 89 Is Out And I'm Guest Poet

In late 2016, then-poetry editor Joanna Preston of takahē magazine asked me to be a guest poet for a forthcoming issue, and now that issue has been published! I really like the cover:

While I haven't seen the issue yet, I'm expecting the following poems of mine will appear in it:
  • Messiaen among the Dinosaurs
  • Composer
  • The Leningrad Symphonies
  • The Home of Country Music
  • Early Summer Music
  • The Hired Hand
They are all on a common theme (with variations), and as might be apparent from many of the titles, that theme is music. My musical tastes run from Schoenberg to Stormzy, but as I haven't a shred of musical talent, I'm much better suited to writing about music than making it. My first three collections all feature poems about music and musicians, but I took a break from that theme for my latest collection New Sea Land.

I was delighted to be asked to be the guest poet for takahē, and especially pleased that "The Hired Hand" was among the poems they accepted, as it's the longest poem I've written (84 lines) and my most sustained attempt at narrative poetry. Below, as a teaser for the issue, is the first stanza of "The Hired Hand". Subscribe to takahē to see the full poem and all the other fine work in this issue.

The Hired Hand [first of six stanzas]


The news breaks along the Oregon Trail, their van
panting up I-84 in the thin continental air,

coverage intermittent, Suzie snoring
last night’s last three drinks away.

Whether to call, or text, or let things
simmer for a while. Whether to bang her head

against the dashboard. Whether to look at the road
instead of synching and resynching her phone.

Boise: gas, toilet, then McDonalds. Suzie mumbling
like a broken boxer, mountain light stinging her eyes.

Then as coffee takes hold: “An album and a reunion tour?
And they didn’t call you about it? Again?”

“They might have kind of called,” she says.
Suzie calls her a fool and takes her hand.

Read the rest in takahē 89!

06 April 2017

My First Three Books Are Now Available To Buy As Ebooks, Thanks To HeadworX

Tim Jones – Extreme Weather Events Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

Tim Jones – Boat People Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

Tim Jones – All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

My first three books were all published by Wellington publisher HeadworX:

Extreme Weather Events (short story collection, 2001)
Boat People (poetry collection, 2002)
All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens (poetry collection, 2007)

Other than a few copies of each that I produce with a flourish* to put on the sales table when I do readings, these books have been long out of print. But I'm pleased to say that, through the tireless work of HeadworX publisher Mark Pirie, these books and a number of other have now been made available as ebooks in epub format, and you can buy them at Lulu.com.

(Epub format won't work on an Amazon Kindle without version conversion, but it will work on most other ebook readers, laptops and tablets.)
You can buy these books, plus cricket anthology A Tingling Catch, edited by Mark Pirie, which contains my poem "Swing":

Mark Pirie – ‘A Tingling Catch’: A Century of New Zealand Cricket Poems 1864-2009 Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

For a full list of the books by HeadworX authors available on Lulu/com, visit the HeadworX shop.

Books by the following authors - including hardbacks, paperbacks and ebooks - are currently available:

Alistair Te Ariki Campbell
Alistair Te Ariki Campbell and Meg Campbell
Tony Chad
Andrew Fagan
Michael O'Leary
Alistair Paterson
Mark Pirie
Vivienne Plumb
Jenny Powell
Helen Rickerby
Harry Ricketts

MaryJane Thomson
F W N Wright

That's quite a list, and shows what a great contribution HeadworX has made to publishing New Zealand poetry and fiction.

With all but one of my published books now available in at least one format, this seems like a good time to run through them all, from oldest to newest - so over the next few months I'll put up a series of posts that take you all the way from Boat People (2001) to New Sea Land (2016).

*for a given value of flourish.

04 April 2017

Here Is Where We Wash Up: "New Sea Land" reviewed by Kay McKenzie Cooke in Landfall Review Online

My latest poetry collection New Sea Land has got some good reviews already, but I'm particularly happy about the excellent review by Kay McKenzie Cooke that has just appeared in Landfall Review Online.

Kay reviews both my collection and another fine collection from Mākaro Press, I am Minerva by Karen Zelas, which I recently read, and recommend.

Talking about New Sea Land, Kay says lots of nice things, but I especially appreciated this comment:

This is a passionate, sincere collection of poems on a concerning subject, but nonetheless peppered with playful aspects, twists and turns. Jones has lightened the load of concern and care that the subject of ecological disaster engenders, with welcomed measures of humour and well-constructed, imagined worlds, both past and future.

It's great to get such a good review which engages with both the content of the collection and the intention behind it - all the more so when the review is by a poet and author I greatly admire. Thanks, Kay!

How to get a copy of New Sea Land

New Sea Land is available in selected booksellers nationwide (the link is to a directory of booksellers).

If the book isn't in stock at your local bookseller, you should be able to order it using this information - especially the ISBN:

ISBN 978-0-9941299-6-3
Publisher: Mākaro Press
Paperback, 150x190mm, 74pp poetry collection
RRP $25

and overseas readers can also order the book from Mākaro Press.

24 March 2017

Aotearoa Reads Podcast / Vote for Helen Lowe in the Gemmell Legend Awards

The New Zealand Book Council were kind enough to ask me to take part in their Aotearoa Reads podcast series, and the podcast I took part in, the second in the series, went up this week. Check out both Aotearoa Reads podcasts - I think you'll find them interesting:


During that second podcast, I mention that there are many highly successful New Zealand authors who are mentioned less often in the literary conversation here than they should be, because their work is published overseas. One such author is Helen Lowe, whose novel Daughter of Blood has been longlisted for a Gemmell Legend Award for Fantasy alongside authors such as Guy Gavriel Kay, Brandon Sanderson, and N. K. Jemison.

If you'd like to support Helen, here's how to vote for Daughter of Blood to make the shortlist. Voting closes Friday 31 March:

1. Go to http://www.gemmellawards.com/award-voting-2017/

2. See the heading “Vote for your favorite Legend award nominee (2017 longlist)” 

3. Scroll down the list of titles until you reach “Daughter of Blood by Helen Lowe”

4. Click in the circle to the left of the title.

5. Go the bottom of the Legend Award list of titles and click “Vote.”

And it's done!

14 March 2017

Tuesday Poem: Passport

Not all the poems I wrote for my latest collection New Sea Land made the cut - some because they were't quite good enough, some because they didn't fit the theme. "Passport" is one of the latter (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!), but relevant nevertheless.


Need to travel, passport —
(expired, but still potent)
not where I was sure it was,
a rectangular light-blue absence.

Frantic search, piles
of ancient documents disturbed,
dead boxes exhumed
dust sneezing the room

house turned upside down
passport stubbornly unfound
any record of citizenship
vanished, my birth certificate —

from another country’s system,
in another country’s name —

trapped in a cul-de-sac,
and the clock ticking.

Two tentative phone calls
solitary queuing downtown,
new forms, new photos
and it’s sorted in time

the new dark-blue rectangle
clutched to my heart,
a stateless life in departure lounges
now the least of my fears

but I wonder:

what if I couldn’t
sort it with a phone call
what if
I was running from, not running to
what if
the guns were coming, and the boats were leaving
what if
I had no choice
would I do
wouldn’t I do
to get away?

01 March 2017

The 2017 National Flash Fiction Day Competition Is Open!

The 2017 NFFD competition is open!

Submit February 15 – April 30
Send your best 300-word story
Cash prizes 
Two categories

Adult (19+)
First Prize: $1000
Second Prize: $400
Third Prize: $100
Judges: Michael Harlow and Emma Neale

Youth (18 and under)
First Prize: $200
Second Prize: $100
Third Prize: $50
Judges: Fleur Beale and Heather McQuillan

Winners will be announced June 22 at the NFFD celebrations, and all winners are invited to attend and share their stories.

Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Northland Wellington

Competition entry details here.

14 February 2017

Tuesday Poem: How We Walked Back The Bad News

The report was detailed, unambiguous
And powerful. That was their first mistake.
The second was its clear alignment with the views
Of certain interests, who had been banging on
About this issue for far too long. We were tired
Of listening to their whining. It’s not the sort of thing
A go-ahead country wants or needs. It’s
Negativity, and our polling has shown New Zealanders
Have had enough of that. The All Blacks
Are winning, while across the nation
Dairy herds continue to grow. Rebounding sales of trucks
And utes are all the proof needed to show
That we are on the right path.

Paul Henry and Mike Hosking were our first line
Of defence, manufacturing contempt,
Their intellectual attainments formidable, their scorn
Something only the most practised of politicians
Could be expected to withstand. The report’s authors
Were like lambs to the slaughter, their clothes, their manner
Betraying deep discomfort. And it was soon established
That the authors were academics, a potent critique
In itself. Henry attacked the way the authors dressed. Hosking
Went after the source of their funding. The report’s message
Was lost in the shemozzle. In the morning papers, the
Prime Minister’s photo opportunity with Beauden Barrett
Took pride of place, while on the business pages the report
Came under sustained attack. NBR even suggested
That a sulphurous whiff of economic treason
Might hang over the whole affair.

The report had been discredited without its findings
Ever being discussed. At their respective institutions,
The authors were called in by deputy vice-chancellors
For a quiet word. The importance of academic
Reputation was repeatedly stressed. Funding,
It was implied, could rapidly be redirected
To research efforts more in tune with the nation’s
Wants and needs. Science communication
Was plainly something that should be best be left
To communicators rather than scientists.

A storm in a teacup, a seven days’ wonder
That failed to last even one news cycle. No surprise
That around the Cabinet table there was a general air
Of self-congratulation. The public of New Zealand
As polls and focus groups repeatedly reveal
Do not want to hear bad news, and as the guardians
Of the public mood, let there be no doubt that we,
No matter how great the temptation, no matter
How pressing the need, will not waver in our resolve
To provide ever-more-elaborate circuses
Well after we’ve scoffed the last of the bread.

Tim says: Most of the poems in my latest collection, New Sea Land, were written in 2015 and early 2016. While working on those poems, though, I did take the occasional detour: I wrote some poems about music, a number of which will be appearing in a forthcoming issue of takahē, and I wrote some political and satirical poems that were a bit outside scope for New Sea Land.

"How We Walked Back The Bad News" is one of those poems. It's dedicated to all the scientists who bravely stand up for the truth of what the data tell them against the spin, mismanagement and ridicule of bureaucrats, University senior management, and politicians.