Although today in Canada is yesterday for us, September 21 is Leonard Cohen’s birthday – a special one – his 80th.

Cohen is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet, and novelist. His work has explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships and his 13th studio album will be released tomorrow.

In 1957 Folkways Records released the “Six Montreal Poets” album with A.J.M. Smith, Irving Layton, Louis Dudek, F.R. Scott, A.M. Klein, and Leonard Cohen – all reading their own poetry on the record.  Leonard Cohen reads the following poems (recorded in 1957):

  • For Wilf and his house (1955)
  • Beside the shepherd (1956)
  • Poem (1955)
  • Lovers (1955)
  • The sparrows (1955)
  • Warning (1956)
  • Les Vieus (1954)
  • Elegy (1955)

All poems are from “Let Us Compare Mythologies

Listen to Six Montreal Poets.

Poetry-DayThe judges have conferred, and we have the winners for our National Poetry Day competition 2014. Thanks to you all for a bumper crop of fantastic entries. Poetry is clearly in rude health in Christchurch!

First place goes to Stephen Davies for Tongue tied. Congratulations to Stephe, his prize is book vouchers to the value of $100.

The runner up is Gem and Mineral Society Hall, Waltham Road by Catherine Fitchett. Catherine’s prize is a $50 book voucher.

Here are the two winning entries:

Tongue tied (by Stephen Davies)

There she was again!
Can’t stand it …
Heart palpitating – beating fast.
I’m breaking up Scottie,
Can’t hold it together,
Can’t last.
Palms sweating,
Perspiration on my forehead,
Breathing shallow and irregular.
Quick!!
Re-run the memory video.

Snatches of conversation – heard words.
SHE SPOKE – hung onto every syllable.
The way blossoms cling to trees.
Caught the scent of her perfume,
Loved the way she walked and talked,
And how her hand (mine) stroked her hair.

Couldn’t meet her eyes,
Didn’t know she knew I was there.
She’s two metres away.
Quick!
DO SOMETHING!!

Here it comes.
A damn of words,
Stirred, shaken and squashed down,
Bottled up torture
Waiting to erupt.

Engage your mouth before your brain
Before it’s too late.
Let it explode
With the suddenness and force
Of the ripcord of a parachute,
Struggling,

Thrusting,
Bustling,
Bursting through
Dry, cracked, parched lips and
Sandpaper tongue,
Crying out …

Too late!
She’s gone.

 

Gem and Mineral Society Hall, Waltham Road (by Catherine Fitchett)

Each time I pass it grows less,
two patient workmen unbuilding
brick by brick. Pallets at hand
to accept the neat stacks, two by two
this way then that. Eyes closed,
I rewind each image, build it once again.
The walls rise row by row. The roof replaced,
order restored to rubble.
People walk backwards, out and in,
out and in. Dresses grow long
and sweep the ground, passing cars
give way to horse and cart.
The hall grows new,
the lodge regains possession
There’s greatgrandfather Samuel
zipping backwards
in all his Masonic splendour.

I call to him,
but he doesn’t stop,
the rewinding gains pace,
all the costumed figures
stuttering backwards
up the gangplanks
the sails unlowered,
the ships reversing
through the harbour entrance
the swamp undrained
the great moas flashing past
and the hills shooting up
to three times their present height,
the lava roiling up the slopes into the crater
and finally a great stillness
as the land sinks beneath the sea.

Wind it forward again, then
leave them all in the past,
let the building rise and, shaken, fall
let the workmen have it
to finish their patient unbuilding.

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?

 

 

 

Cover of Rik Mayall's autobiographyThe wonderful Rik Mayall – comedian, actor, writer –  has died. He was in Drop Dead Fred, Bottom, Alan B’Stard in The New Statesman, Lord Flashheart in a brilliantly memorable Blackadder cameo, but for me (and lots of others) Rik in The Young Ones was his finest creation.  I loved anarcho-socialist Trotsky-loving people’s poet-student Rick. His shouts of Sexist!, Fascist!, and chronic uncoolness made me laugh through the 80s and bey0nd. Heck, I still have my dog-eared, falling apart copy of Bachelor Boys with its sections of Rick’s poetry.

Here’s the finale of “Rick’s teen anguish poem”:

could it be

that I’m going to grow up

to be a great poet and thinker, and all those other

wankers in my class are going to have to work

in factories or go on the dole?

yes, I think it could.

Youtube has clips of Rik in action as Rick – poetasting like a champion (poet Ashleigh Young picked this one on Twitter):

I didn’t know he had written an autobiography – Bigger than Hitler, Better than Christ (ahem) –  so am keen to read more about Rik. Because he was ACE.

Poetry and Short Story reference centreIf your knowledge of poetry amounts to dirty limericks written on toilet walls and you are still in recovery from the behemoth book that was The Luminaries then we have the electronic resource for you! Poetry and Short Story Reference Centre contains thousands of classic and contemporary poems, as well as short stories, biographies and authoritative essays on such topics as poetic forms, movements, and techniques.

It practically comes with a guarantee that once you start using it you will come over all wordy and enigmatic like Byron! Don’t know who Byron is? To the square for a public flogging I say.

 Poetry & Short Story Reference Centre provides:

  • Over 700,000 full-text poems, both classic, contemporary and international;
  • More than 51,000 full-text short stories;
  • Over 10,000 dramatic works;
  • More than 2,300 audio recordings of poets reading their own works and the works of other poets;
  • High-quality videos provided by the Academy of American Poets;
  • Over 450 explications of both classic and contemporary poems.

Expand your mind for pleasure or education with this resource that is available from home or in any community library. All you need is your library card number and password/PIN.

 

 

Christchurch music lovers – every week get your Freegal on and download your three free music MP3s. This week let’s take a look at some poetry and literary audiobooks.

Cover of William FaulknerA Junior Anthology Of English VerseCover of Arthur Conan Doyle - The Poetry Cover of Nicholas NicklebyCover of How to Get on in Society and Other Poems by John BetjemanHowl by Allen Ginsberg

Download with your library card and PIN. What have you downloaded this week? Do tell!

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