Poetry


I’d never heard of Anis Mojgani before, yet when I was looking through the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival programme the title of his session grabbed me: Fiercely Hopeful. It reminded me of one of my favourite quotes:

And I said to myself: That’s true, hope needs to be like barbed wire to keep out despair, hope must be a minefield. (Yehuda Amichai)

It’s a quote that’s been banging about in the back of my mind since the earthquake. In post-quake Christchurch, hope has to be fierce.

Anis is a two-time US National Poetry Slam Champion and winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam. Promising, I thought, so I looked up one of Anis’s poems and read it through. It was one of his most acclaimed poems, Shake the Dust, and started with the line – this is for the fat girls. I was hooked. It’s a powerful, passionate poem written down; hearing it out loud was incredible.

This is for the two-year-olds who cannot be understood because they speak half-English and half-god. Shake the dust.

Anis had plenty of fans in the audience; fans whose excitement spilled over, fans who’d flown in from Auckland to see him, fans of all ages and genders. There were new fans who had first heard him read earlier in the festival and wanted more, old fans who had watched his poetry on YouTube over and over and wanted more. He performed Here I Am, This is how she makes me feel, Razi’s Lemon Tree, Galumph, My library has seventeen books, Shake the Dust and at the request of the audience, Come Closer.

He talked about Christchurch and the links between us and his home of New Orleans. Right now, from August 23rd to September 3rd, is the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina; Anis empathises with what Christchurch is going through in our own journey of survival and recovery. He mentioned a similar serendipitous note: his birthday is the 22nd of February,  a date carved in the history of our city. He spoke of the dark times that as humans we all go through, and how it always feels like we are the only ones to have ever felt this pain, how unlikely it seems that anyone else is suffering in the same way as we are suffering. He spoke of coming out the other end of the darkest times.

I am like you.
I too at times am filled with fear.
But like a hallway we must find the strength to walk through it.
Walk through this with me.
Walk through this with me.

(From ‘Come Closer’)

Anis loves words and it shows in his art. He is approachable, warm, magnetic, and at the signing table he asks your name like he genuinely wants to know you. He’s definitely an artist, and has a real skill for connecting with people. The book table completely sold out of his books.

After the session, still buzzing from the contagious passion of the audience and the vividness and generosity of his presence, I walked back through the city to the bus exchange and thought: this is a strange and difficult city we live in, but I am fiercely hopeful about our future here.

And questions are the only answers we need to know that we are alive as I am when I have the mind of a child
Asking, why is two plus three always equal to five?
Where do people go to when they die?
What made the beauty of the moon?
And the beauty of the sea?
Did that beauty make you?
Did that beauty make me?
Will that make me something?
Will I be something?
Am I something?

And the answer comes: already am, always was, and I still have time to be.

(From ‘Here I Am’)

If you’re interested in spoken-word or slam poetry check out:

WORD Christchurch

 

 

National Poetry Day is a one-day celebration of poetry run each year in conjunction with the New Zealand Post Book Awards. It takes place on Friday 22 August 2014. There are lots of things happening this year so get your poetry on.

National Poetry DayNational Poetry Day competition 2014

Write an original piece of poetry and drop it into your local library or enter online by emailling entries to competition@christchurchcitylibraries.com for a chance to win prizes.

Any style or topic, 200 word limit. You can enter as many poems as you like. The first prize will be book vouchers to the value of $100. There will also be a $50 book voucher for the runner up. Entries open Monday 28 July and close 5pm on National Poetry Day (22 August 2014). Winners will be announced Monday 8 September 2014.

See conditions.

More poetry competitions you can enter.

More Christchurch events

Information from Booksellers New Zealand.

Christchurch – Poetic Licence

When: Friday 15 August, 5.30pm -7.30pm 
Where: Sydenham Room, South Library, Christchurch
What: Following the success of last year, South Island Writers (SIWA) and Airing Cupboard Women Poets would like to once again invite you to polish your best poem and air it in public to get you warmed up for the 2014 National Poetry Day celebrations. An Open Mic, open to all fabulous emerging or published poets – SIWA and Airing Cupboard give you the licence! Bring your friends and family. Sign up at the door if you’re reading. Drinks and nibbles provided. See you there!  (Note: An official warm-up event, the week before National Poetry Day)
Entry details: Free entry. Sign in at the door if you’re reading

Christchurch – Poems4Peace 2014 Poetry Anthology: Christchurch Launch

When: Wednesday 20 August, 6:00–7:00pm.
Where: Room 3, Upper Riccarton Library, 71 Main South Rd, Sockburn, Christchurch
What: The year-long 2014 Poems4Peace programme provides a platform to make contemporary poetic voices heard and contribute to influencing a whole new generation of peace-makers in NZ and beyond. Earlier in 2014, Printable Reality and Splice, in association with New Zealand Poetry Society and Michael King Writers’ Centre ran a poetry competition as part of  the project. General public, local and international poets were invited to compose poetry expressing the concept of inner-peace and peace for our world. The results are collected together in the Poems4Peace 2014 Poetry Anthology, which will have its Christchurch Launch in the lead-up to National Poetry Day. Christchurch poets will read their poems and books will be available for sale. Everybody welcome!

Christchurch – Poetry for Lunch

When: Friday 22 August, 12:00pm -1:00pm
Where: Canterbury University Bookshop, University Drive, University of Canterbury, Christchurch
What: Join UBS for its traditional National Poetry Day celebration with readings from wonderful local poets Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, Roger Hickin, Frankie Macmillan, Ben Brown and James Norcliffe. Free coffee vouchers for the first 20 audience members.
Entry details: Free.

Poetry at WORD Christchurch

WORD ChristchurchWORD Christchurch Writers and Readers festival starts on 27 August, and it has a great lineup of poetry events including:

Twitter Poetry Night

Twitter Poetry Night will be teaming up with The Pantograph Punch and publishing a poetry mix-tape and then a favourite NZ-poem-themed Poetry Night on Sunday 24 August, at 8pm. It will be a ‘favourite NZ poem’ themed night. What you need to do is record yourself reading one of your favourite New Zealand poems, then send the recording to @PoetryNightNZ.

Find out more

Logo of National Poetry DayIt is well known that my high school English teachers almost killed poetry for me. However, I never quite gave up on it and I am always very happy when I stumble upon a new poem. These serendipitous discoveries usually occur when I’m reading a book or watching a film.

But National Poetry Day is coming up and I have decided that 2014 will be the year of my five poets challenge. This year I am going to seek out five poets that I didn’t ‘do’ in high school English and read them for the sheer pleasure of reading poetry.

Cover of Sam Hunt's KnucklebonesWhere should I begin? I love hearing Sam Hunt reading poetry, but I have read very few of his poems. I think he should go on my list.

I always wanted to read  Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I like the opening two lines: “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure dome decree”. I don’t think I read Coleridge in high school English. Maybe that should go on my list too.

Cover of The Darling NorthThey say you should never judge a book by its cover.  However I do like to cover of  The Darling North by Anne Kennedy. In 2013 she  won the New Zealand Post Book Poetry Award. I reserved a copy of her book and it has just arrived, so she is on my list.

When I was still living in Melbourne, I went through a Merlin and King Arthur fad. I read everything I could lay hand to and I bought a shabby second hand copy of Tennyson‘s Idylls of the King. Before I got around to reading it, my Arthurian fad passed and the book collected dust on the bookshelf. If I read Tennyson in school, I can’t have been paying much attention. There are 12 poems in The Idylls of the King, which is  based on Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur and the Mabinogion. I own both of these books. I could re-read these two books or I could read Tennyson. I think I’ll read Tennyson.

What about my fifth poet? One of my grandfathers liked the poem The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I haven’t read that particular poem, but we did ‘do’ Longfellow at school, so I guess I’ll have to leave him for later.

Edgar Allan Poe wrote short stories which I read in form two and form three English, however I have never read his poetry.  Jasper Fforde often referred to The Raven in his Thursday Next books, but I’m not sure I want to read a book of his poems.

World War I started 100 years ago and amid the death and destruction, there was some very emotional poetry written.  Though we didn’t ‘do’ the war poets in English, we did read them in 20th century Australian History.  If I chose a war poet, you might think I was cheating, so I’ll leave them on the shelf for you.

T0 find my final poet I’ll:

  1. Check the catalogue.
  2. Look up Poetry & Short Story Reference Center in the Source.
  3. Ask you.

So, dear reader, which poet do you recommend?

 

 

 

The New Zealand International Film Festival is coming to Christchurch in August and we recently chatted to the Festival Director, Bill Gosden about cinematic books that inspired him.

Book cover of The new biographical dictionary of filmBill said he was indebted to Dunedin Public Libraries where he had his unofficial film education while at high school. Titles that helped spur his interest in film included:

Take a look at our collection of movie related resources to get some inspiration for your future-film-festival-directing endeavours. If you are more interested in watching films than curating them however, there are a bunch of films in the Festival that have literary connections. We’ve got a list of them on our website, as well as a list of upcoming film and TV adaptations  and a huge list of books that have previously been filmed. Here are some of the highlights:

There are a lot more titles on our list. Let us know in the comments if we have missed any literary connections in this years Festival.

 

ArtemisArtemis is the Greek goddess of the hunt and the wilderness which makes her a fitting namesake for our latest electronic arrival: Gale Artemis: Literary Sources! Artemis lets you cross search all of Gale Cengage’s literary resources in one search. Through Artemis you can search all of these at once:

  • LitFinder: full text poems, short stories, essays, speeches, plays and novels. LitFinder offers the written works of more than 80,000 authors;
  • Literature Resource Center: full text articles, critical essays and reviews and overviews of frequently studied works;
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library: access to a subset of electronic reference books that cover literature.

It is sort of like doing a  Google search on literature but you get more relevant and authoritative results all with proper punctuation. It doesn’t matter if you are searching because you have an assignment, or if you are trying to remember the rest of that poem you can only recall snatches of – there is something for everyone.

I will leave you with a beauty of a quote about literature by the American author F. Scott Fitzgerald…

That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.

Sigh! You can access this resource from any library or from home through the Source using your library card number and password/PIN.

Some well-known people who have died recently

  • Cover of Best Poems on the UndergroundGerard Benson, 1931-2014
    Poet who brought Hardy and Milton, Auden and Yeats to the London Underground
  • Patsy Byrne, 1933-2014
    Actress with the RSC who later played the dim-witted Nursie in Blackadder
  • Felix Dennis, 1947-2014
    Hedonistic publisher behind Oz and The Week who dreamed of being a great poet but found his true forte was making money
  • James Douglas-Home, 1952-2014
    Racehorse trainer and writer who castigated the new Ascot racecourse as one of the ‘world’s worst dumps’
  • Cover of Night Night Spot!Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, 1933-2014
    Spanish-born conductor of German parentage who blended Teutonic precision with Iberian sensuality
  • Peter Matthiessen, 1927-2014
    Author, naturalist and reluctant CIA agent who gave up espionage to champion a different kind of wild life in his bestseller The snow leopard
  • Rik Mayall, 1958-2014
    Anarchic comedian who took on the British Establishment in The young ones, and The new statesman
  • Josephine Pullein-Thompson, 1924-2014
    Author whose pony club novels thrilled a generation of girls with the jolly adventures of the gymkhana set
  • Cover of Regal Records Live in New OrleansJimmy Scott, 1925-2014
    Jazz singer who was later in Twin Peaks
  • Horace Silver, 1928-2014
    Jazz pianist and composer behind Latin and hard-bop tunes that became post-war standards
  • Eli Wallach, 1915-2014
    Masterly and versatile actor of stage and screen who particularly delighted in playing villains
  • Bobby Womack, 1944-2014
    ‘Soul survivor’ of an astonishingly lurid lifestyle who fused passionate gospel and dulcet crooning

A Caxton MiscellanyThe Caxton Press was launched on 10 June 1935 by John Drew and poet/typographer Denis Glover to publish New Zealand literature. Leo Bensemann had a long and fruitful association as a designer and illustrator with Caxton. Most of the decade’s best writers were first published by the company. Caxton Press tells the story on its website:

THE CAXTON CLUB was a colourful group of students, writing enthusiasts and amateur printers which operated a small printing press in the basement of the University Clock Tower, Worcester Street, in the early 1930s. In 1935, renowned New Zealand literary figure Denis Glover, together with a partner, borrowed £100 for a new press and formed The Caxton Press. They set up in an old wooden shop at 129 Victoria St where they stayed for fifteen years.

In 2013, Central Library Peterborough hosted A Caxton Miscellany – a Christchurch Art Gallery exhibition (see our photos). And in a timely echo, The Art of the Dust Jacket –  another most excellent Christchurch Art Gallery exhibition at Central Library Peterborough – is running from 30 May to 14 July 2014). No doubt many titles are from the Caxton Press.

One of the gems of our digital collection are The Group Catalogues, 1927 — 1977 as printed by Caxton Press. You can see their exquisite work closeup.

More on the Caxton Press

Denis Glover, founder of Caxton Press, with Book Week display in Alexander Turnbull Library. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1963/3385/9A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23233944

Denis Glover, founder of Caxton Press, with Book Week display in Alexander Turnbull Library. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1963/3385/9A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23233944

 

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