28 November 2017

Big Book Bash this Saturday + Whitireia News Next Year

Big Book Bash

The Big Book Bash is a festival in Carterton this coming Saturday, 2 December, running from 11am-6pm, with a very full and varied programme.

Harvey Molloy and I will be running a workshop at the Carterton Community Courthouse:

1.30 – 2.30pm (Moves to foyer 1.50pm): Poems of Protest and the Environment, with Tim Jones and Harvey Molloy: Two activist poets and creative writing teachers read their poems and then lead a poetry workshop in the foyer. For 12+ years.
It should be fun!

Further Big Book Bash details are available...

On the web:

On Facebook:


Whitireia Creative Writing Programme has a new home!

I taught two "Writing Short Fiction" courses at Whitireia in 2016 and 2017, and all being well will be doing so in 2018 ... and the programme has a new home! Check out the details:

Creative writing is undergoing a transformation!

From 2018 the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme will be part of Te Auaha, Wellington’s new and visionary New Zealand Institute of Creativity. Writers will be able to work with visual artists, dancers, film makers, photographers, musicians and actors – over the next few years we’ll be developing a ground-breaking collaborative programme.

This is an exciting moment for us but it’s also very much business are usual—except in a purpose built arts campus. And we are still taking applications for our Diplomas in Creative Writing and our new degree, the Bachelor of Creativity (Writing) - you can find out how to apply here.

If you know of anyone who might be interested in pursuing their writing dreams,please be an advocate for our programme and referring them to us or the Whitireia or Te Auaha website 
www.whitireia.ac.nz or www.teauaha.com

01 November 2017

New poem: Pneumonia

About the last few months...

My father

After he fell, he crawled, his bed
an agonising hour away. Next morning,
he wanted nothing more than water.

The ambulance was quick and smooth,
but admission took forever. In ED, we watched
as the trolleys trundled slowly by.

Later, a ward, a bed of his own. Floor 5,
visiting hours, the path to his room
trodden into the base of my skull.

Two weeks of partial progress, then collapse.
Called to Hutt Hospital to watch him fade away.
He rallies, asks about the cricket;

I tell him, smile, hold his hand. He fades again.
“It isn’t looking good,” he says. I nod. The nurses
whisper, “Sleep somewhere close at hand.”

The call comes at 5am. By the time I’ve dressed
and driven over, it’s too late. Five minutes earlier,
he left his ninety-four years of life behind.

They leave me with his body and the gentle push
to clear the room, remove the corpse, pave the path
that starts with mortuary and ends in funeral.

An interlude

So much work. The funeral went well,
after that scare about the payment. The estate:
he chose wisely, bringing the professionals on board.

And his house. It seemed so bare, until we had
to empty it inside a month – that deadline
self-inflicted, an own goal worthy of the Phoenix.

So many journeys in his little car, brave tiny engine
conquering the motorway. Emptying Naenae,
filling Mt Victoria with clutter and memories.

Then me

As soon as we finished, pneumonia got me too,
grace note to a hard spring cold, breath short
and shallowing, heart racing to keep up.

Ambulance, hospital. Gentle and angry nurses,
kindness and rough treatment. A doctor who finally -
finally! – paid attention. Antibiotics prescribed

and a day later I’m discharged, back home
confused, dependent and weak, showing all
the self-control of a fretful baby.

Now perhaps I’m two or three. Emotions
flare and burn and dim. In the sunshine,
I take small steps, sit down, cry

at small and stranger things. A gradual
recovery, while outside, the world
points birds and insects at my ears,

suggests I could be getting on with things,
tests the limits of my energy, invites me to rejoin
the long descending trudge towards my end.