National Poetry Day celebration at New Brighton Library

It was a day later than the official National Poetry Day on Friday 24th August, but we figured the Saturday would free the poets up for other engagements and bring in the biggest audience with the added attraction of the weekly New Brighton market.

The poets joked on arrival that they might be reading to each other if no one showed up, but, between myself and the good people at the Digital Library Web Team, we had drummed up as much free Facebook publicity as we could and it paid off.

An audience of twenty-one showed up to enjoy the poetry of Jeni Curtis, David Gregory, Heather McQuillan and Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, all distinguished poets locally, nationally and internationally.

The event was free, but, if it had been a paying event, it would have been sold-out. To paraphrase the late Frank Zappa, we proved that “poetry is not dead, it just smells funny”.

David and audience

David Gregory reading to an appreciative audience at New Brighton Library.

Heather and audience #2

Heather McQuillan reading.

Jeni and audience

Jeni Curtis reading.

Jeffrey and audience

Jeffrey Paparoa Holman reading.

There was lots of engagement after the reading between the poets and the members of the audience which was wonderful. New Brighton Library wishes to thank the four poets who gave so generously of their time.

Buy their books, or you can borrow them from Christchurch Libraries.

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Find works in our collection by:

National Poetry Day Picks

Despite the beauty of timeless poetry, there is nothing quite as likely to get blood boiling and teeth gnashing, as a conversation about favourite poets. There is a Daumier lithograph called ‘A Literary discussion in the second balcony’ depicting a group of men brawling in an opera box upon such a ‘discussion’. However, National Poetry Day on Friday 24 August, is calling for a good ‘literary brawl’, and below is a list of my ten favourite poetry volumes to add to the furore.

The Poems of Tennyson

If you are wanting to dapple in sheer sunlit perfection, you couldn’t do any better than read a volume of poetry by Alfred Lord Tennyson. From ‘The Lady of Shalott’ to ‘Idylls of the King’, each poem in this collection is word perfect, cementing Tennyson’s reputation as perhaps the most-loved poet of the Victorian era

CoverEugene Onegin

If you can’t see yourself getting though a daunting looking volume of poetry in its entirety, why not try this beautiful novel in verse by ‘Russia’s Shakespeare’, Alexander Pushkin. Through exquisite prose, Pushkin relates the timeless love story between Eugene Onegin, a world weary dandy, and Tatayana a diffident but passionate young woman. This fine translation manages to capture both the rhythm and beauty of Pushkin’s novel in verse, making it a sheer joy to read.

CoverW.B. Yeats

You would be hard pressed to find a list of greatest poets that doesn’t include W.B. Yeats. Reading this wonderful collection of his work, it isn’t hard to see why. A prolific poet who is dearly loved for his moving poems about Ireland, as well as his perceptive meditations on life and death, Yeats is certainly justified in being regarded as one of the most important poets of the twentieth century.

CoverSelected Poems

This selection of Byron’s works includes the beautiful Hebrew melodies and the complete text of lengthier works such as Childe Harolde, an enduring classic. Mad, bad and gloriously dangerous to know, who could not love this selection of his works (and, lets face it, the mad, bad man himself).

Collected

This beautiful selection of Auden’s works includes such loved poems as ‘Funeral Blues’ and ‘In Praise of Limestone’ (who knew limestone could so inspire readers, such is the power of Auden). This selection showcases the amazing diversity of Auden’s writing and its incredible beauty. Mention must be made here of Tom Hiddlestone’s beautiful recital of ‘As I walked One Evening’. If you do nothing else this National Poetry Day, please listen to this and you will be inspired to read this volume of Auden in its entirety.

CoverThe Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is one of the most beloved, and influential poets of the nineteenth century. Little of Dickinson’s vast work are known to have been published during her lifetime, due to their astonishing originality, but this collection brings together 1775 of her poems, doing justice to a truly unique and insightful  American voice.

Rubāʻīyāt of Omar Khayyam

Perhaps the most celebrated meditation on the brevity of life, this 101 verse narrative known as the ‘The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam’ is filled with perception, wit, and beauty. Over two hundred years old, this narrative pieced together from Khayyam’s quatrains by Edward Fitzgerald, caused a storm upon its publication for the sheer distinctiveness of its voice. Today it remains an accessible yet incredibly profound mediation on human existence.

CoverThe Complete Poems of Emily Jane Brontë

You may know the Brontes better for their incredible contributions to English literature in the form of novels (i.e ‘Wuthering Heights, ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’) but Bronte fans would be truly missing out if they were to pass up on their poetry. This volume contains the complete works of Emily Bronte’s poetry, and it is every bit as accomplished as her only published novel, Wuthering Heights.

CoverChristina Rossetti

Popular for her effervescent ballads, and incisive poems on love, Christina Rossetti is a poet who seems to become more and more celebrated as time moves on. This beautiful collection contains her complete works including perhaps her most famous poem, ‘Goblin Market’, some terrifying childrens verses, beautiful sonnets, and romantic verses.

Selected Poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love Elizabeth Barret Browning – let me count the ways… This would actually take far too long so I will just say that this volume of her selected poetry will say it all. Including her much loved ‘Sonnets from The Portuguese’, this beautiful volume of her poetry perfectly showcases the perfection of her work, with every line a sheer pleasure to read.

CoverThe Complete Nonsense and Other Verse

Okay, I did say ten picks, but including a light, humorous poet, who doesn’t write with brooding intensity but rather of gentleman and ladies from various parts of the country, did seem too brave a step for me. Edward Lear is my ‘additional’ pick, a fun and fantastical poet whose writing is always sheer fun and joyous to read.

Agree or disagree, there really is a poet out there for everyone. If you have never been convinced of this fact before and have always thought that poetry is strictly for the somewhat soppy, over sentimental birds, please think again. There are poems for literally every taste and every situation-death, war, love, childhood, loss, grief, the list goes on, and with all good poems, the words live on, capturing human emotions in a way that no other art form quite can.

If reading poetry is not your thing and you are more of a listener, there are some great poetry events on at WORD Christchurch Festival 2018 to help celebrate National Poetry Day. These include a lunchtime reading with celebrated NZ poet and winner of Te Mata Poet Laureate (2002), Elizabeth Smither, as well as the 2018 Christchurch Poetry Slam. You can also see Ray’s super helpful blog detailing many other poetry workshops and events in Christchurch.

Celebrating National Poetry Day at New Brighton Library – Saturday 25 August, 2pm to 3pm

New Brighton Library is excited to be hosting four distinguished Christchurch poets who will present a reading to celebrate National Poetry Day.

Although officially National Poetry Day is Friday 24 August, we decided that we would capture a bigger audience for the reading by holding it on the day after, Saturday 25 August. The weekend market brings people into New Brighton in great numbers and hopefully some of the shoppers are also poetry lovers or, at least, poetry curious. Many Mums and Dads are also free from the constraints of work and may want to introduce their children to the power of poetry when it leaps off the page and springs from the mouths of the poets themselves. Many people believe that poetry is at its most effective when delivered orally and consumed aurally. And the poets promise to be family-friendly.

So New Brighton Library invites you to cast aside your preconceptions and any prejudices against poetry that your high school English teacher may have unwittingly cultivated and let these four wonderful poets show you that poetry can be exciting, funny, moving and thought-provoking.

The reading takes place at 2pm on Saturday 25 August and the poets are:

Jeni Curtis
Jeni Curtis. Image supplied.

Jeni Curtis is a Christchurch writer who has had short stories and poetry published in various publications including takahē, NZPS anthologies 2014 to 2017, JAAM, Atlanta Review, The London Grip, and the Poetry NZ Yearbook. In 2016 she received a mentorship from the New Zealand Society of Authors. She is secretary of the Canterbury Poets Collective, and chair of the takahē trust. She is also co-editor of poetry for takahē, and editor of the Christchurch Dickens Fellowship magazine Dickens Down Under.

David Gregory
David Gregory. Image supplied.

David Gregory has had three books published in New Zealand, Always Arriving and Frame of Mind, both by Sudden Valley Press and Push by Black Doris Press. His poetry has appeared in a goodly number of publications and anthologies and he has performed his work here and in the UK. He has been involved with the promotion of poetry with for over 20 years. He is also an editor for Sudden Valley Press which has produced over 32 high quality poetry books.

Heather McQuillan
Heather McQuillan. Image supplied.

Heather McQuillan is Director at The School for Young Writers. She loves writing in many forms from poetry to short fiction to novels and plays. She has a Master of Creative Writing. Some of her work will appear in the upcoming Bonsai: Best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand which will be launched at the WORD Christchurch Festival.

Jeffery Paparoa Holman
Jeffery Paparoa Holman. Image supplied.

Jeffrey Paparoa Holman writes poetry, memoir and history. His most recent works are Blood Ties: New and Selected Poems 1963-2016 (Canterbury University Press, 2017) and Dylan Junkie, his Bob Dylan fanboy poems (Makaro Press, 2017).

If you fancy a foretaste of the treats to come, some of their books can be found in the Christchurch City Libraries:

Push by David GregoryMind over Matter by Heather McQuillanNest of Lies by Heather McquillanDylan Junkie by Jeffrey Paparoa HolmanFly Boy by JPHShaken Down 6.3 by JPHAs Big as a FatherThe Lost Pilot

Find works in our collection by:

Read Ray’s post on National Poetry Day, including NZ poets at WORD Christchurch Festival – Wednesday 29 August to Sunday 2 September.

National Poetry Day – Friday 24 August 2018

Aotearoa has been celebrating National Poetry Day on the last Friday in August for over 20 years now! This year it’s on Friday 24 August, and across the country, you can engage in all kinds of events, workshops and competitions. There’s even people marking the occasion with poetry readings in as far flung places as Edinburgh and Berlin.

Closer to home, Ōtautahi has some really cool events you can check out, whether you’re into attending a writing workshop, seeing poetry performed, or entering a competition. If you’re into the competition side of things, make sure you map out submission dates in your calendar now – there’s lots going on with lots of different due dates, but if you leave it till the week of Poetry Day, you might be too late!

Late in the evening, there’s a fiery and feisty evening of poetry planned at the Space Academy, on St Asaph Street – ‘We Are The Persistence’ features Tusiata Avia, Ray Shipley, Alice Andersen, Rebecca Nash and Isla Martin.

If you’re looking for events that are a little more interactive, you could check out the Great Wall of Poetry – a giant display of a diverse range of local poetry – at University Bookshop, Ilam Campus. You can go along and read the work on the wall, and you can also submit your own poems.

UBS is also hosting a poetry workshop with local legend Kerrin P. Sharpe (whose new book, ‘Louder’, is being released at the end of the month). The hour-long workshop, from 12.30-1.30pm, will be full of writing exercises and feedback, with an opportunity for the work you create to be published in UBS’s inaugural National Poetry Day online collection!

Warm-up and wrap-up events happening before and after National Poetry Day

If you’re school age (year 5 to 13) you might like to check out the Young Writers Poetry Pentathlon on Thursday 23 August – a game show crossed with a writing class! Sounds wild.

And the day after National Poetry Day, the fine folk at Hagley Writers Institute are hosting two Saturday daytime workshops so you can take all the inspiration from the previous day and turn it into a poetic masterpiece.

Christchurch City Libraries are of course getting in on the poetry action with a daytime, all-ages, free event on Saturday 25 August at lovely New Brighton Library from 2pm-3pm, featuring readings from four local poets: Jeni Curtis, Heather McQuillan, David Gregory, and Jeffrey Paparoa Holman.

Explore the full list of events across New Zealand.

COMPETITIONS

Nationally, there are some great and creative poetry competitions to get your teeth sunk into.

My favourite ones include:

National Poetry Day is an opportunity for lovers of poetry to spend the day writing, listening, and getting inspired; but it’s also a day of discovery and new ideas for folks who may have found poetry a bit hard to engage with previously. New Zealand has so many wonderful poets from diverse and wonderful backgrounds, and if you take the time this National Poetry Day to encounter something new, you won’t regret it!

New Zealand poetry at WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Find works in our collection by these New Zealand poets appearing at the WORD Christchurch Festival from Wednesday 28 August to Sunday 2 September:

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See more poetry events at WORD Christchurch.

Ray
Upper Riccarton

No coward soul…

I am the only being whose doom
No tongue would ask, no eye would mourn;
I never caused a thought of gloom,
A smile of joy, since I was born.

Oh Emily Brontë – how wrong you are! I don’t know if this poem of yours is autobiographical or not, but you really have caused many smiles of joy and thoughts of gloom, and all sorts of other feelings, since you were born 200 years ago on 30 July 1818 in West Yorkshire.

image_proxyThink how many people have swooned over Heathcliff – surely the ultimate Byronic hero – and been captivated by the passion and strangeness of Wuthering Heights, Emily’s only published novel. It is in many ways a brutal and nasty book, considered shocking when it was first published in 1847, but has stood the test of time to be considered one of the greatest novels in the English language.

Emily is also known for her intense, intellectual poetry, although reading ‘I am the only being whose doom‘ has made feel a tad bit gloomy. In her isolated, seemingly lonely life, did she really feel that she had to keep her emotions under control because they were corrupting her? Or has she created a narrator to explore her thoughts around emotions and the need to be loved? We’ll never know, for Emily Brontë is so very elusive, perhaps the most mysterious of her incredible family.

She is also a canvas on which other authors have speculated – both about her life and about some of the gaps in Wuthering Heights.

I don’t really know how comfortable Emily would be with all this continued attention, but I hope she knows that she’s appreciated the world over. We’ll certainly be remembering her on her birthday and her wonderful way with words. I’ll leave you with this quote I love from Chapter 9 of Wuthering Heights:

I’ve dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas: they’ve gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

Do you have any favourite Emily Brontë poems or quotes or Heathcliffs?

Find out more

A Matariki poem: Ururangi – Seventh born

Ururangi – Seventh Born

E Ururangi – Seventh born,
yonder in the heavens,
cloaked within your stardust korowai,
we see you, I see you…
amid your celestial whānau Matariki,
Ururangi, I entreat, throw off your cloak and shine brightly,
herald in the gentle winds,
so as we may rest and celebrate good fortune,
E Ururangi – Seventh born,
yonder in the heavens.

An original poem about Matariki that references one of the stars of the cluster, Ururangi – the star of the wind. The kaupapa (focus) for Matariki 2018 is sustainable natural resources of Matariki – Tupu-ā-nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi and Ururangi. These whetū (stars) are connected to food that is grown in the earth, food that comes from the sky, and the wind. It is essential for us to look after our Earth, and its natural resources, so that it can continue to sustain us.

Celebrating World Poetry Day – Wednesday 21 March 2018

It’s World Poetry Day today! As an occasional poet myself, I’m a bit embarrassed to say I didn’t know there was a World Poetry Day until earlier this week. Turns out the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization are behind it, declaring in 1999 that March 21st would be a day to celebrate poetry globally each year.

What’s so good about poetry though? For lots of people, poetry doesn’t really play a part in their lives – at the most, perhaps when people think of poetry they think of a stuffy 3rd form classroom, being lectured about World War One rhyming couplets and Shakespearean sonnets.

Poetry in the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre
Poetry in the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre. Central Library Manchester, Christchurch. Friday 22 August 2014. Flickr 2014-08-22-IMG_1608

But, as the UN says: “Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings…” which is a pretty comforting idea. At its most simple, I guess they’re saying that whatever background and culture and language you come from, poetry provides a way of explaining thoughts and feelings and ideas that maybe just don’t make as much sense in other formats. What would the Hogwarts Sorting Hat be without its introductory poem? The Oompa Loompas without their songs? And on a more serious note, those soldiers writing in the trenches certainly thought they could express their experiences more powerfully through poems; and the poems that come out of revolutions and wars and times of upheaval can give us insight into the humanity of a situation that a simple news report cannot. For most cultures around the world, storytelling, poetry, and spoken word are the key ways histories have been recorded and traditions have survived.

Phantom Poetry on High Street
Phantom Poetry on High Street. Flickr CCL-2012-07-IMG_5335

There’s plenty of opportunity to explore some poetry this World Poetry Day – a short walk around the city will get you face to face with a poem on a bollard or a wall with thanks to Phantom Billstickers poetry posters; a quick YouTube search and you’ll find plenty of slam and performance poetry (Button Poetry is a great place to start); and of course the library has plenty of poetry to get your hands on – why not start with Kate Tempest (UK); Rupi Kaur (Canada); or Selina Tusitala Marsh?

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Or you could check out some live poetry! It’s happening all year round in Ōtautahi, with Catalyst, Faultline Poetry Collective, and Mad Poets Society all hosting regular events. There’s also a New Zealand National Poetry Day, celebrated this year on Friday 24th August where events and competitions are run all over the country.

It’s pretty clear that poetry is still strong, still living and breathing in communities all around the world – including right here!

Ray

Harry Giles: Doer of Things (WORD Christchurch event, Tues 13 March 7.30pm at Space Academy)

I must admit to some trepidation about reporting on a Poetry Reading. How does one describe a Poetry Reading to those that weren’t there? Even one by a flamboyant Scottish poet who has travelled halfway across the world.

Harry Josephine Giles originally came from the Orkney Islands but they did not elaborate from which island other than to tell us that their island had 700 people and six churches of various denominations. Obviously, a small island northeast of Scotland was never going to contain nor satisfy a restless, creative spirit like Harry’s so they headed for the big city and now reside in Edinburgh.

I vacillated on whether I should take notes, but I thought that would be a buzz kill when I was trying to listen and enjoy the poetry in the moment.

Harry started off reading some poems in English and then went on to read some in Scots. If you want to see what Scots poetry looks like, check out Whit tae write nou?

I profess ignorance and I have no excuse since I am descended from Scots, but I was unaware that three languages were spoken in Scotland as Harry enlightened us. I knew they spoke English (the language of their colonisers) and Scots Gaelic (related to the other Celtic dialects of Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany), but I hadn’t considered Scots as a separate language. I’d thought of it as a variation of English. But Harry put us straight, explaining that Scots has those Norse origins that English shares.

Harry kindly read their Scots versions of poems then followed with the English translation, so to speak.

Although tired after their whirlwind tour of Aotearoa (nine gigs in seven days in New Plymouth and Wellington), Harry gave an energetic performance. It was easy to see that Harry works in the performance and theatre arenas because they enlivened their poetry with modulations of their voice and gestures. Harry has a beguiling shyness that peeps out from time to time.

Harry read a small series of poems in which they had engendered their fears and anxieties through the persona of a female military drone. You can hear some of the sequence on Soundcloud.

Harry was introduced by Ray Shipley who is a Christchurch-based poet, comedian, youth worker and founder of the Faultline Poetry Collective. Ray made an able MC and general crowd-exciter, but Harry had the audience engaged from their first poem and many of us were sad to bid Harry farewell after only an hour and a half.

More Harry Giles

Harry Giles: Doer of Things (WORD Christchurch event, Tues 13 March 7.30pm)

I have to confess that I had never heard of Harry Giles before this assignment, but I was intrigued and curious.

Forward Prizes 2016

Harry Giles: Doer of things – WORD Christchurch event

Tuesday 13 March, Space Academy, 371 St Asaph Street.
Buy tickets $20 waged, $15 unwaged (service fees apply)
Presented by LitCrawl Wellington, Harry Giles appears with the support of the British Council in partnership with Writers’ Centre Norwich, UK as part of the International Literature Showcase.

According to the bio on Harry Giles’ website:

Harry Josephine Giles is from Orkney, Scotland, and is a writer and performer. They have lived on four islands, each larger than the last. They trained in Theatre Directing (MA with Merit, East 15 Acting School, 2010) and Sustainable Development (MA 1st Class, University of St Andrews, 2009) and their work generally happens in the crunchy places where performance and politics get muddled up.

You can go to Harry’s fulsome website if you wish to delve more deeply into their work but, as a precursor to the event, I will give you an overview.

I like Harry’s “mission statement” (my quotation marks): “My work is about what it feels like to live under capitalism, and how to survive and resist in a violent world.” I think many of us realise that capitalism is a flawed, if not failing, system for human beings. If Kylie Jenner can wipe $US1.3 billion off the share market value of the social media app, Snapchat, just by tweeting that she doesn’t use it any more, then clearly capitalism is ridiculous. If CEOs of major global corporations can earn many hundreds of times more than their workers, then clearly capitalism is amoral. And evidence of the violent tendencies of the human animal are widespread.

Harry is a very busy artist. They are all over many different media for conveying their art; poetry, video, installation and the internet being some of the ways Harry explores ideas and makes art.

Our catalogue doesn’t contain any of Harry’s work at present, but they have written this interesting piece about stone-hearted people called The Stoneheart Problem and you can watch and listen to Harry Giles read from their debut poetry collection,  Tonguit  Filmed at the Scottish Poetry Library, Harry reads Poem in which nouns, verbs and adjectives have been replaced by entries from the Wikipedia page List of Fantasy Worlds. 

So I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing how Harry Giles critiques life in the modern world and reporting back to you, gentle reader.

读《茱萸的孩子:余光中传》,忆乡愁诗人余光中 “Nostalgia poet” Yu Guangzhong

每逢佳节倍思亲。在春节探亲访友之际,海外的华人都以各种方式表达对故土和亲人的思恋。朗诵余光中的《乡愁》往往成为人们表达这一情感的一种方式。台湾著名诗人、文学评论家、教育家、翻译家余光中先生以脍炙人口的《乡愁》赢得了“乡愁诗人”的称号。 然而,他对华人社会的贡献远远超出了这一称号冠以他的殊荣。在他的一生中, 余光中先生发表了多部诗集散文翻译作品。每首诗文都得益于他在一定时代背景下真实的情感和体悟。所以,他的作品能牵动亿万华人的心。傅孟丽的《茱萸的孩子:余光中传》是走进这位大师的世界,理解他的诗文的最好导读。

《茱萸的孩子:余光中传》的中文简写本完成于2007年。余光中先生于2017年病逝。因此,这本书记录了余光中先生一生的重大事件,算得上是一本较完整的传记。在书中,作者将余光中先生的一生分成五个阶段,包括大陆时期、台北时期、赴美时期、香港时期和高雄时期。以此为主线,作者也侧写了余光中先生的家庭、亲情、爱情、友情、师生情和个人性格,以达到“横看成岭侧成峰”的效果。

尽管该书各章节之间的连贯性似乎不太明显,作者严谨的写作态度值得称颂。每一事件的资料都来源于详细访谈,经过多方核实。作者很巧妙地避免了写传记时易走的两个误区。既没有将该传记写成“供词”以暴露不必要暴露的隐私;也没有将其写成“颂词”而一味歌功颂德。书中呈现的是一位有七情六欲、经历丰富的文化人—有过儿时对战争的恐惧、青壮年时的壮志凌云、客居他乡时被排挤和最终的功成名就。

这本书的另一个读点就是它将余光中先生的一生不同时期的作品和他的生活境遇有机地结合起来以解读这些作品。读过该书,您会对下面一系列问题有更清晰的答案:为什么余光中先生在散文《从母亲到外遇》中说:“大陆是母亲,台湾是妻子,香港是情人,欧洲是外遇。”?《沙浮投海》《舟子的悲歌》表达了大师怎样的心境?为什么诗集《莲的联想》在台湾诗史的演进中很珍贵?《白玉苦瓜》的音乐性从何而来?余光中先生什么时候写了《三生石》

如果您喜欢读余光中先生的作品,《茱萸的孩子:余光中传》是一本必读的书。建议您首先读这本书,然后通过以上链接欣赏他的作品。这样,您可能对大师的作品会有更深的领悟。同时,也欢迎您加入我们的读书会微信群(微信号:hongwangccl),参加我们的余光中作品在线讨论。

Zhu yu de hai zi