26 July 2016

Tuesday Poem: Spitsbergen, a poem from my new collection "New Sea Land"

As soon as winter lifts they come,
straggling up from Europe, blank-faced,
bearing the burdens of families, of the diseases
that chase them north from the burning lands
to those that are merely falling apart.

So many miles of ocean. So small the boats
that thread the lanes of iceberg and storm,
upsetting, overturning, sudden frozen death
in the heaving seas that freshwater melt
keeps no less frigid than before.

Faces greyed with suffering. Tiny bodies
clutched in shivered arms. Small treasures, euros,
tucked into boots and inner pockets. The smugglers
turning south to try their luck again. The shore
a frieze of shattered bodies, splintered wood.

They come north, and we do our best,
here in our slim green habitable fringe
between rising sea and dying ice.
We do our best, but we are overwhelmed,
and there is nowhere further north to go.

Credit note: "Spitsbergen" is previously unpublished. It will appear in my new poetry collection New Sea Land, published next month by Mākaro Press.

Tim says: Spitsbergen is the largest island of Svalbard, an island group administered by Norway in the High Arctic, well north of Iceland and Norway itself. About 3000 people live there, mainly in the capital, Longyearbyen. It's not a very green place at the moment, but with the High Arctic warming very rapidly at the moment, that could soon change.

20 July 2016

New Sea Land: New Poetry, Coming This August

I'm excited!

This is the cover of my new poetry collection, coming in August from Mākaro Press, RRP $25. Stay tuned for plenty more information, including details of the launch, how to buy the book, and lots more!

The cover image is by Claire Beynon - thanks, Claire! Check out Claire's website and the Honeycomb Project.

05 July 2016

Tuesday Poem: Messages, by Polina Kouzminova

Happiness is a big city.
Taxi cab rush, whisks of hair.
Polka dots of rain on the windows,
clearing under the heat wave of shimmering sun.
Street signs weave stories.
I’m more than my usual self – home abandoned
for a small heated teacup on a street I thought I knew,
felt comfortable living in it…art in museums
screams so loud with reproductions of nudes,
but this isn’t Paris, and the years are not the same.

There’s a bus full of people, and it’s heading my way.
Soon, I’ll be gone, having captured that bit of happiness -
from a stranger, some sight my eye followed,
an emotion getting larger and larger under the heat
of the day. But this is not a remedy. It never was.

All year from November until the next, – trying to weave stories
out of starts and exits, as if Alice in a modern wonderland;
that purple cocktail did the trick, for a bit –

forgotten waves
lay at rest, at peace, but not in silence.

Shells to my ears,
murmur of something, some message being scribbled at night
inside my head.
All through the day – unravelling, but never really discovering,
until my eyes turned to the Coast. I sort of stumbled, – I am…
I’m in you, whenever nature breathes fairy tales.

To watch the grass grow, feel the wave
tumbling and twisting, a sense of being together at once,
in that initial moment, – if just for a bit.

Credit note: "Messages" by Polina Kouzminova, is included in the "Poetry Gees" anthology edited by Mark Pirie and published in conjunction with the Poetry Gees Winter Reading on 17 July. It is reproduced here by the permission of the author and the publisher.

Tim says: I like the sense of dislocation, and relocation, in this poem. I've only just discovered Polina's poetry, but based on the little I have read so far, I am keen to read and hear more of her work.

Author bio: Born in Siberia and raised in New Zealand from the age of ten, Polina Kouzminova weaves the threads of both cultures into poetry. These are poems of snow and water, and just as water reflects, her poems echo not only each other, but also her own reflections on the lover who leaves, the family left behind and the universe that is waiting for her. Polina’s world shimmers with snowflakes, glaciers and condensation on glass, and there is always a sense of missing. She writes: ‘These are the reasons to leave late nights and fly back home’.

Polina's first collection an echo where you lie is published by and available from Mākaro Press.

28 June 2016

The Winter Readings Are Back!

I was going to do a blog post about British turkeys voting for Christmas (or, to put it in Marxist terms from a bygone era, false consciousness), but it's too discouraging - and negative. So I  shall blog about something good instead!

After a hiatus of several years, the HeadworX Winter Reading Series is back! Albeit in cut-down form, because this year it's a single reading:

You are invited to a poetry reading:

Winter Readings 2016 – Poetry Gees

This year’s Winter Readings celebrates the
return of Winter Readings itself, a popular event at
the City Gallery in Wellington 2003-2008. Each
event featured a tribute to an album or group.
This year’s readings form a tribute to the Bee Gees.

Sunday, 17 July 2016
Poets: MaryJane Thomson, Mark Pirie, Rob Hack,
Polina Kouzminova, Michael O’Leary and Jeanne
Bernhardt (Otago).

Venue: St Peter’s Hall, Beach Rd, Paekakariki.
Time: 2-4pm(see map)

Admission to the reading is by koha. Books for
sale from 2.00pm. No refreshments will be served.
The Main Street houses cafes and a bar close by,
for those who arrive early.

Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop (ESAW) will publish
an anthology of poems by the readers featured to
celebrate the event.

Winter Readings are presented by:

HeadworX Publishers

Paekakariki Community Trust

Poetry Archive Trust

Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop

I hope to run a poem from this booklet as a Tuesday Poem next week.

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.