Poetry Ōtautahi – National Poetry Day, Friday 26 August 2016

National Poetry Day is on this Friday 26 August. Poetry Day events in Canterbury are listed on the 2016 Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day website:

Events on National Poetry Day – Friday 26 August

National Poetry Day Celebration Readings 12.30pm at Scorpio Bookshop in Hereford Street. Winners of the Hagley Institute 2016 Poetry Day competition will be announced by judge James Norcliffe and there will be readings from Frankie McMillan, Bernadette Hall, Christina Starchurski, Teoti Jardine, Jeni Curtis, Marisa Cappetta, Rose Collins and the competition winners. Part of  WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival.

WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival has a strong programme of poetry including the following sessions on Poetry Day itself:

Poetry in the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre

More poetry events

Thursday 25 August

Speaking proud Thursday 25 August 6pm. Event to raise funds to continue the work of Q-topia, an organisation that supports LGBTQIA+ Youth in Canterbury.

New Regent Street Pop up Festival  Thursday 25 August, 6pm – this WORD Christchurch event includes Lady Poets at Shop Eight – a badass, subversive poetry show like no other! Lady Poets celebrates the voices and stories of women and genderqueer poets and performers. MC: Audrey Baldwin. and Catalyst at The Last Word Catalyst is a literary arts journal committed to experimental and non-traditional creative forms: song lyrics, script/screenplay excerpts, spoken word, rap, visual poetry, and more.

Saturday 27 August

Poetry events at WORD:

Hear my voice Christchurch performers Sophie Rea, Daisy Speaks and Tusiata Avia are current National Poetry Slam champ Mohamed Hassan, former US National Poetry Slam champ Ken Arkind, fast talking PI Selina Tusitala Marsh and internationally renowned Canadian storyteller and writer Ivan E. Coyote. MCed by Ciarán Fox

Poetry at Parklands – the Poet within
2pm. Parklands Library draws on “the poet within”, within the Christchurch City Libraries that is. That’s right, many of our librarians are writers too. Instead of dispensing poetry books on the day after National Poetry Day, four of our librarian-poets will be reading their own work. The poets are Damien Taylor, Rob Lees, Dylan Kemp and Andrew Bell.

Sunday 28 August

More WORD poetry events including:

Poetry spots in Christchurch

Poetry nā Hinemoana Baker

Poetry nā Hinemoana Baker. Victoria Street, Christchurch. Flickr 013-07-30

Go down to The Terraces and see the poetry on the banks by Apirana Taylor. Wander further afield and see Ōtākaro to Victoria nā Hinemoana Baker at a mini-park at 108 Victoria Street. There are also poems on power poles on Victoria Street: Whakapapa by Ariana Tikao, and Victoria Street by Ben Brown. There are always fab poems about the town thanks to Phantom Poetry posters as provided by Phantom Billstickers.

Poems in your pocket

Why not put some poetry in your pocket? Download this year’s poems from the National Poetry Day website including one by WORD Christchurch guest Tusiata Avia.

10

A WORD with Bill Manhire

Bill Manhire is one of New Zealand’s leading poets and writers. Bill is a mentor to New Zealand writers, founding the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University. He was New Zealand Poet Laureate for 1997-99 and is the driving force behind several anthologies of New Zealand poetry,

Bill Manhire. Image supplied.
Bill Manhire. Image supplied.

Bill will be appearing at two events for this week’s WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers FestivalThe Perfect Short Story and The Power of Poetry.

Selected Poems (2012) showcases Bill’s latest contribution to poetry, while his connection with the Antarctic’s fragile and brutal nature is revisited in the fascinating collective Dispatches from Continent Seven (2016).

CoverThe Stories of Bill Manhire brings together The Stories from The New Land : A Picture Book (1990), South Pacific (1994) and Songs of My Life (1996), the choose-your-own-adventure novella The Brain of Katherine Mansfield (1988), and one of my favourites the memoir Under the Influence (2003); a charming memoir of growing up in pubs in the South Island.

An incredibly versatile writer, Bill has also contributed to a wonderful work for children, The Curioseum: a collection of writers’ impressions of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, collaborated with artists, and has had his work put to music by Norman Meehan in Small Holes in the Silence.

Find more works by Bill Manhire in our collection.

Quick questions with Danyl Mclauchlan – WORD Christchurch

We are asking four quick questions of writers and thinkers coming to the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival on from 24 to 28 August.

Danyl Mclauchlan is a biologist who  has written two novels, Unspeakable Secrets of the Aro Valley and Mysterious Mysteries of the Aro Valley.

Danyl Mclauchlan Image supplied
Danyl Mclauchlan. Image supplied.

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

I have only been to Christchurch once before in my life, way back when I was a teenage backpacker, and all I remember is getting lost looking for my hostel and standing on a street called ‘Barbados’ in the pitch dark and pouring rain, so maybe I will try and recreate that moment from my youth.

What do you think about libraries?

I find them enormously relaxing. Something about being surrounded by all those books. If I’m having a bad day I will sometimes go into the library at my university and stand in the shelves and recompose. A surprising number of people have this response to literary places, like libraries and bookshops and as libraries transition into the digital space I think they need to be aware of the important role that huge rooms filled with physical books play in the emotional lives of the public.

What would be your “desert island book”?

CoverI used to think this would be Proust, but then I read the first volume and hated it. I liked Middlemarch a lot, but can’t imagine finding the time to read it again in a non-desert island scenario, so I’ll pick that.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

I have very soft earlobes. Softer than anyone else’s.

Danyl Mclauchlan appears at WORD at Tickled Fiction, Sun 28 Aug, 9.30am

More

Cover Cover

Poetry at Parklands: the Poet Within

2016 Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day 2016 hits New Zealand on Friday 26 August and the celebration unleashes the power of poetry all around our great nation with lots of events and poetry competitions.

Parklands Library draws on “the poet within”, within the Christchurch City Libraries that is. That’s right, many of our librarians are writers too. Instead of dispensing poetry books to customers, on Saturday 27 August 2016 at 2pm four of our librarian poets will be reading their own work.

Poetry

The poets:

Damien Taylor is a street poet who loves to retell his experiences from deprived small town aspirations to broken big smoke dreams. He likes to call himself Tīhore and wishes he was more Māori than he actually is.

Rob Lees is a born and bred Cantabrian and Goddess of the Knowledge Mountain, according to her husband. She says that her poetry is a reflection of her life experiences and is a way of keeping the voices in her head out!!

dYLAN kEMP is an artist of some renown. Not heaps, but some. He has published 3 books of poetry, all available from Christchurch City Libraries. He also paints, drums, dances like a wild man, and tickles his children.

Andrew M. Bell has published two books of poetry, Green Gecko Dreaming and Clawed Rains, and one book of short stories Aotearoa Sunrise (all available from Christchurch City Libraries). His work has been published and broadcast in Aotearoa, Australia, England, Israel and USA.
CoverCoverCover

Quick questions with Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh – WORD Christchurch

We are asking four quick questions of writers and thinkers coming to the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival on from 24 to 28 August.  First up, it’s Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh, award-winning Auckland-based Pacific poet and scholar.  She recently performed for the Queen as the 2016 Commonwealth Poet.

Service at Westminster Abbey in the presence of HM The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, together with TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Henry of Wales and HRH Prince Andrew.
Service at Westminster Abbey in the presence of HM The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, together with TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Henry of Wales and HRH Prince Andrew.  Image supplied.

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

I look forward to jogging around the city to see resilience in action and get my feet earthed long the Avon River! Also, catching up with Festival participants, soaking up the creative energies of others, writing in my hotel room, enjoying the air.

What do you think about libraries?

I love libraries (and librarians – especially school ones because they are my key contact people when I visit schools to perform and run workshops) and I especially love the relatively recent development of turning them into active, brimming social spaces (we’ve got a cafe in the Auckland City library) with noisy and quiet areas!

CoverWhat would be your “desert island book”?

No island is a desert, there were always people there before us! Plus, I read buffet-style with commonly 5 on the go, so, at the moment my 5 must have’s are Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now, Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour, Austin Kleon’s Black Out Writing journal, the latest Chimurenga journal (picked up in Cape Town – amaaazing!) and Cherie Barford’s most excellent poetry collection, Entangled Islands.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

I got caught in an arm bar during this morning’s MMA sparring session and am filled with thoughts of revenge!

Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh appears at WORD in the following events:
Power of Poetry, Fri 26 Aug, 5pm
Hear My Voice, Sat 27 Aug, 5.30pm
Spirit House/Unity, Sun 28 Aug, 2pm

More

Cover Cover

Introducing Toitoi – your chance to get published

We have just subscribed to a fantastic magazine that is for Kiwi kids and by Kiwi kids. Toitoi is a journal for young writers and artists that gives Kiwi kids the chance to submit their own writing and pieces of art to be included in the journal.  There are 100 pages of original stories, poetry and artwork in every issue.  Check out these examples from Issue 3 this year:

Issue 3 Spread1
Issue 3, Toitoi, spread 1. (Image supplied)
Issue 3 Spread2
Issue 3, Toitoi, spread 2. (Image supplied)
Issue 3 Spread3
Issue 3, Toitoi, spread 3. (Image supplied)

It looks really fantastic and who wouldn’t want to see their story, poem or artwork published in a magazine! You can brag to all your friends and your family will be super proud of you. It’s a quarterly journal so that means that there four chances throughout the year for you to submit your writing and art and see it published in the magazine.

Grab a copy of Toitoi from the library now and check out some of the amazing stories, poems and artworks that kids from all over the country have submitted.

Anyone aged 5-13 years can submit a piece to Toitoi. To submit a piece all you have to do is go to the Toitoi website, click on ‘Submit’ at the top of the page and email your submission to the editors. The next deadline is 8 July so you’ve still got a few weeks to get your submission in. What are you waiting for?

A literary Matariki

Matariki, Aotearoa New Zealand New Year has arrived with the return of the star grouping of the same name, what is widely known as The Pleiades, a star cluster within the constellation of Taurus.

In some Māori traditions Matariki forms a pou or post along with Tautoru (Orion’s belt) and Takurua (Sirius). This is the post of Hine-nui-te-pō, the goddess of death, and symbolically marks the death of the old year.

The Matariki cluster, for whatever reason, has fired the imagination for millennia, appearing in poetry and stories since time immemorial. All around the world there are many traditions, legends, and stories based on this cluster of stars.

Matariki in Māori songs and poetry

The stars of Matariki make an appearance in a number of Māori songs and mōteatea (a traditional form of chant or sung poetry), in the latter it is often in a lament or remembrance of a loved one.

Such as this lament by Mere Reweti Taingunguru of Te Whanau-a-Apanui for her husband Te Whatu-a-Rangahau which opens with the lines –

Cover of Ngā MōteateaTērā Matariki huihui ana mai. / Ka ngaro rā, ē, te whetū kukume ata.

(Behold the Pleiades are clustered above. / Lost, alas, is the star that hauls forth the dawn.)

Or this one by Mihi-ki-te-kapua –

Tirohia atu nei ngā whetū, / Me ko Matariki e ārau ana; / He hōmai tau i ngā mahara / E kohi nei, whakarerea atu / Nā te roimata ka hua riringi / Tāheke ware kai aku kamo.

(I gaze up at the stars, / And the Pleiades are gathered together / Which gives rise to many thoughts / That well up within, and freely / Do the tears pour forth / And flow shamelessly from mine eyes.)

Wow. That’s almost got me a bit teary myself.

Then there’s this lament for Ngati Mutunga chiefs Te Whao and Tu-poki

Cover of Ngā mōteatea the songsKa ripa ki waho rā, e Atutahi koa, / Te whetū tārake o te rangi, / Ka kopi te kukume, / Ka hahae Matariki ē, / Puanga, Tautoru, /Nāna i kukume koutou ki te mate, ē.

(Away out yonder is Atutahi, / The star that shines apart in the heavens. / The noose was pulled taut / At the rising of Matariki, / In the company of Puanga and Tautoru. / It was thus you were all hauled down in death, alas.)

The presence or rise of Matariki is also used to indicate the time of year as in this action song of Ngati Rangiwewehi –

Mō te Matariki, e totope nei te hukarere, / Ngā taritari o Matariki.

(In the winter time, heralded now by snowstorms,  / And this cold weather of Matariki.)

Or this lament for Te Umukohukohu –

Ka puta Matariki ka rere Whānui. / Ko te tohu tēnā o te tau e!

(Matariki re-appears, Whānui starts its flight. / Being the sign of the [new] year!)

More recent examples include the song “Te Aroha” by Tuini Ngawai, written in 1960 which has the lines –

Horohia e Matariki / ki te Whenua / Te māra-matanga mo te motu e / Kia tipu he puawai honore / Mo te pani, mō te rawakore e / Mo te rawakore e

(Spread your light oh Matariki / On to Mother Earth / As a guiding light for this land / May the seed become an honoured bloom / for the poor, for the needy. / For the needy.)

The Pleiades in poetry around the world

These same stars, though called by other names have been referenced multiple times in poetry in other cultures too. In the 20th century a Japanese literary magazine mainly focused on poetry, was called “Subaru”, the Japanese name for the Pleaides/Matariki cluster.

In 16th century France there was a group of poets who called themselves “La Pleiade”, naming themselves after an even earlier group of poets from 3rd century BC Alexandria, the Alexandrian Pleiad. Another french group of poets based in Toulouse in the 14th century and made up of seven men and seven women also used the name to describe themselves.

Sappho, the greek poetess, thought to have been born around 630 BC, made at least one reference to The Pleaides in her “Midnight poem” –

Tonight I’ve watched / the moon and then / the Pleiades / go down / The night is now / half gone; youth / goes; I am / in bed alone

Industrious astronomers have used this description of the relative positions of the moon and the stars – making a guess at the rough year and place to determine which time of year the poem was written in.

The Pleiades also turn up in the poem “On the Beach at Night” by Walt Whitman

And nigh at hand, only a very little above,
Swim the delicate sisters the Pleiades.

Cover of John Milton's Paradise lostThere’s also an appearance in Book 7 of John Milton’s Paradise Lost

His longitude through Heaven’s high road; the gray
Dawn, and the Pleiades, before him danced,

And in “Locksley Hall” by Lord Tennyson

Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro’ the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid.

There are also multiple references in the star cluster in the epic poetry of Homer, in The Iliad and The Odyssey.

Pleiades references in other literature

Cover of Ethan FromeOther literary associations include novels like Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome. Here Ethan describes the night sky to his cousin Mattie.

That’s Orion down yonder; the big fellow to the right is Aldebaran, and the bunch of little ones-like bees swarming-they’re the Pleiades…

In more recent times popular novelist Lucinda Riley has undertaken a series called The Seven Sisters with each book focusing on a different one of the seven sisters.

What’s your favourite mention of Matariki or the Pleiades in literature?

For more poetry about Matariki and the stars try –

Learn more about Matariki –

Frank Worsley – a local hero

It is just over a century since Frank Worsley, Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean reached a whaling station on remote South Georgia following a daring 16 day voyage to alert the world to the loss of Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition‘s ship Endurance. Because of this journey the rest of the crew – stranded on Elephant Island – were all saved.

Worsley was born in Akaroa in 1872 and the New Zealand Antarctic Society has republished an epic poem about him ‘Worsley Enchanted‘ written by New Zealand-born poet Douglas Stewart and illustrated by Myra Walton. The poem takes readers through his experiences on the Endurance Expedition – which has become legendary – and reflects on his relationship with the rest of the crew.

Frank Worsley. Smythe, P :Photographs of Frank Worsley. Ref: 1/2-182002-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22778293
Frank Worsley. Smythe, P :Photographs of Frank Worsley. Ref: 1/2-182002-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22778293

Find out more

Ben Brown – Matariki poetry workshop for teens at Shirley Library

Join poet Ben Brown for a young adult poetry writing workshop on Sunday 12 June from 1pm to 3pm at Shirley Library.

If you are aged between 12 and 15, come and join us for a Matariki themed workshop with Lyttelton poet, Ben Brown. You’ll be reflecting on memories and crafting those memories into poetry.

You can book at Shirley Library or ring 9417923 to reserve a spot.

All you need to bring is something to write on (it can be pen and paper, or a tablet/laptop – whatever suits best).

Ben Brown

More about Ben Brown

Ben writes children’s books, non-fiction and short stories for children and adults. Born in Motueka, he has been a tobacco farm labourer, tractor driver and market gardener. Since 1992, he has been a publisher and writer, collaborating with his wife, illustrator Helen Taylor. Many of Brown’s books have a strong New Zealand nature background.

Info from Ben Brown’s profile on the New Zealand Book Council website.

Things we LOVE about poet Anis Mojgani

Anis Mojgani is a songful sculptor of words. It was apt that on his return visit to Christchurch, the US slam poetry champion performed at both the Wunderbar in Lyttelton and the Christchurch Art Gallery – hosts to music and art – because when you witness Anis in full flight you can’t help but marvel how artful and performative he is. WORD Christchurch Literary Director Rachael King introduced him to Saturday night’s audience as someone who “engages your brain and heart and something intangible within you”. On Saturday, he certainly engaged a few librarians.

Here is our list of reasons why one should never miss out on seeing Anis in performance:

1. The way he moves

It is as if Anis embraces the whole world with his arms. Along with his voice, his gestures illustrate images in front of one’s eyes. His expressive hand gestures call you in and lift you up; they manage to point to the cosmos and vital organs all at once. His exceptional performance illuminates poems in a different light, so they reveal themselves in a new, unexpected context, different from the ones that surface up during a reading experience.

Anis Mojgani in performance
Anis Mojgani in performance at the Christchurch Art Gallery, a WORD Christchurch event. Flickr 2016-03-19-IMG_3205

2. The way he is in relationship – with you and the world. His empathy and inclusiveness.

The phrases and lines of his poetry honour who you and we all are as human beings. He draws you in to be in relationship – with him and with others (Come closer). He invites you to be empathetic and to see the good in others and yourself. He speaks of the human condition in a playful uplifting way. His poems resonate the excitement of being alive (Direct orders), but also battle with the enigma of it (For those who can still ride an airplane for the first time). His poetry honours the holiness in the ordinary and looks for ‘God’ in the everyday.

In particular, his well-regarded poem Shake the Dust is an ode to the unheard, the unnoticed, the unnamed, the unloved, the innocuous and the banal and even the inappropriate. He doesn’t discriminate. He bears witness to us all. He speaks for the bullied and bullies. He honours, validates and appreciates everyone.

During the performance, Anis revealed one of his favourite phrases these days – “10-4“ – which is his way of saying “Ok, I read you, I hear you, you are understood.” Having grown up in New Orleans, he has a genuine understanding of the process of grief, sorrow and healing we experienced here. His particular affinity to Christchurch is obvious, you feel “he gets it.” And when Anis tells us his name means “companion“ an “aha“ moment happens. Yes, he is a companion in our collective journey of experiencing and examining humanity. Indeed, we are all each other’s companions bearing witness to one another’s existence. In Here I am he answers our fears:

“Will I be something? Am I something? And the answer comes: you already are, always was, you still have time to be.”

3. He honours childhood and a child’s view of the world

Particularly striking is how many of his poems deliver an impressive and colourful tapestry of a childhood. Told from the eyes of a child, who has an incredible innate gift of poetic language, they draw from childhood memories and experiences such as climbing trees, playing on street or overhearing parents in another room. His poetry takes listeners back to their childhood and school days, and reveals a child’s open, innocent and exuberant experience of the world (Even if somebody pooped a poem it’s alright cuz somebody somewhere made it or Invincible) in which “small children speak half English and half God” and “peace comes with a popsicle” – instant resonance from both a child’s and a parental perspective.

4. We love how he oscillates

He manages to write about his own individual experience and a collective experience in one swoop. He says he speaks to the spectrum of love – and not-love. He conveys what it is to be at once both vulnerable and invincible. Ordinary human abilities to a child can seem like superpowers. Within a single poem, he swings listeners from amusement to sadness, from love to fear, from laughter to deep contemplation about the saddest and cruellest moments of human experience. And while performing, at times Anis seems to hardly stop to breathe when he recites his poetry, but can slow things right down and draw you in.

5. His vibe and presence. His warmth and wit. His generosity. His aroha.

Anis doesn’t talk to the audience as a crowd, he addresses each individual. Even though you find yourself sitting in a hall full of people, you have feeling that he is talking directly to you. His poems are “for you”, they are yours – it seems his generous outreach to the listener:

“I am cutting out parts of myself to give to you… make my words worth something more than just a poem, write make this more than just a night that sits heavy over every one of us …”

His poems seem to reach out, to hug and kiss you, inviting you to walk with him through ups and downs of life (Come closer).

Watching Anis perform is like being at the concert of one of your favourite bands. The anticipation of your favourite lines to come is electric! When they come, you find yourself grinning. You can feel that warm feeling of satisfaction spreading through your body and lifting you up above the crowd. It’s addictive. And then there are some lines that are totally new to you and come like marvellous gifts, falling from the sky. “Rock Out”, he insists in a prolonged invitation in his poem Direct orders. On the drive away from his show the temptation is too great to not blast the car radio and do just that – singing at the top of one’s voice.

For one librarian lucky enough to get a book at the signing afterwards – just before they sold out –  his inscription reads: “Keep your heart full of wonder”. It feels like quite the invitation indeed.

Anis Mojgani in performance

Our Flickr set of images of Anis

Listen into this

Shake the Dust

Come Closer

TedxAtlanta Talk

Anis was presented in association with the 2016 New Zealand Festival Writers Week and Golden Dawn Auckland.

Anis Mojgani’s performance was a taster for this year’s upcoming WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival being held from 25 to 28 August 2016.

More

feather room junkyard over the anvil

Masha and Kim