Sunday, October 11, 2015

Lounge 47 Reading (Wednesday 21 October)

The latest in the long series of LOUNGE readings in Old Government House, Auckland University.

Here are the details of the event:


with readers:

Stu Bagby
Peter Bland
Roger Horrocks
Sophia Johnson
Michele Leggott
Bronwyn Lloyd
Vana Manasiadis
Elizabeth Morton
Lisa Samuels
Robert Sullivan

MC: Jack Ross

Wednesday 21st October, 5.30-7.00 pm

At Old Government House
Auckland University City Campus
corner of Princes St and Waterloo Quadrant

Free entry. Food and drinks for sale in the Buttery.
Information Michele Leggott, or 09 373 7599 ext. 87342

The LOUNGE readings are a continuing project of the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre (nzepc), Auckland University Press and Auckland University English, Drama and Writing Studies, in association with the Staff Common Room Club at Old Government House, and — in this case — Poetry NZ.

See you there!

There will be a number of giveaways during the evening: free copies of Tender Girl, by Lisa Samuels; A Clearer View of the Hinterland, by Jack Ross; and a voucher for a free copy of the unfortunately-not-yet-back-from-the-printer Poetry NZ Yearbook 2.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The Intrepid Ghost-Hunters (3): Home Turf

Poltergeist (1982)

There was a lot of noise in the house on Monday night as I was trying to get to sleep. I could hear what sounded like a radio playing a series of emetic pop-songs. I assumed it was coming from the supermarket carpark next door, or possibly from someone parked in the street in front.

Usually such sounds just go away. The truck-driver closes the door of his cab, or the young couple patch up their differences and drive away. Not this time, though: the noise just went on and on. After a while I put in my earplugs and rolled over to leave them to it.

After three or four songs it had woken up Bronwyn, though. She poked me in the ribs, and asked (or so I presume: I couldn't hear past the earplugs): "Do you hear that? Where's it coming from?"

After trying a few mollifying phrases about how it must be coming from next door, and other futile attempts to cling to sleep, I resigned myself to getting up to investigate. And, sure enough, a strange strobe-like light was emanating from the living room.

I went in. The TV was on. The sounds were coming from Free-to-air channel 11, the Edge. I turned it off. End of story.

But wait, not really end of story. Why did I only become aware of the music after I'd been lying in bed for half an hour or so? It wasn't on very loud, but it was quite perceptible even from the next room. It's true that I was watching that channel briefly before turning the TV off, but I did turn it off. I must have done - the screen was dark when we went to bed, and we'd been talking in the lounge for quite some time after it was turned off.

Is it normal for TVs to come on by themselves? Static electricity? Power-surges? Not this one, at any rate. It's never done it before (so far as I know), and it hasn't shown any signs of abnormality in the couple of days since.

Come to think of it, there have been a couple of other odd things in the house lately. Bronwyn tidied up the kitchen and washed up all the dishes the other day, but when she came back into the room there was a little plastic-handled knife lying in the middle of the bench.

Also, on that same night, the night of the self-turning-on TV, our cat Zero made a loud whimpering meow in the middle of the night - as if she'd just seen something odd, or someone (something?) had ruffled her fur. She's never done that before, not in quite that way.

There've always been quite a lot of strange bumping noises from upstairs in our house. It is quite old, after all - the boards tend to stretch and settle. The hair does occasionally stand up on the back of your neck. But there was no movement to be noted in the trigger object Bronwyn left in the lounge last night.

It's true that we've both been reading an interesting book called The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, by John and Anne Spencer (London: Headline Book Publishing PLC, 1992) which I picked up for a couple of dollars in the Browns Bay market the other day. Perhaps that has made us a bit over-sensitive to things.

But then who knows? Has your television ever come on by itself? We'll keep you posted if anything else happens.

John & Anne Spencer: The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits (1992)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hamilton Book Month


pictures from the Hamilton Book Month facebook page:

Mark Houlahan introduces me

me reading poems

Mark and I talk


Well, I'm pleased to announce that I've been asked to take part in two events in this year's Hamilton Book Month.

The first is a poetry workshop for secondary school students at Wintec at Thursday 27th August at 1 pm:
Students from five Hamilton secondary schools have been selected to participate in a two hour writing workshop held at Wintec with Dr Jack Ross. The interactive session will cover a range of writing techniques and expose students to a variety of poems including haiku and tanka and give ideas for creating and developing their work.

Dr Jack Ross is a senior lecturer in creative writing in the School of English and Media Studies on Massey University's Albany Campus. He has written and edited a range of books, magazines and journals including Landfall, Poetry NZ and Spin and his work has appeared both here and overseas.

The second is a poetry reading at Creative Waikato Big Space (131 Alexandra St, Hamilton) on the same day at 6pm:
Jack says, "I once read that more people write poetry in New Zealand than play rugby. Whether or not that's true, the fact remains that it's one of the things we're keenest on (and best at) as a nation".

"For myself, all I can say is that it's the best way of sorting through feelings, thinking things through, and making sense of the universe that I know of. It's not so much that I choose to write it as that I have to".

Quotes on poetry:
Once you’re caught on the plateau of your own “poetic practice” (your “voice,” if you prefer), no further progress is possible. Even Rainer Maria Rilke wrote a series of secular hymns extolling the cleansing properties of conflict in the opening days of World War I before he came to his senses.

Poetics may sound a bit tedious at times, a distraction from the sheer fun of monkeying around with language. … At its best, though, it is meant to act as an antidote to such systems for normalising the aberrant and abhorrent. In a sense, then, Shelley was quite right when he called poets the “unacknowledged legislators of the world.” It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.

— Jack Ross, “Trouble in River City: How I learned to stop worrying and trust poetics." Poetry NZ 47 (2013): 93-103.
Jack will be in conversation with Mark Houlahan about his writing and will read from his work and take questions from those present.

I have to say that I'm immensely chuffed to have been asked. Last year Elizabeth Knox was in this slot, so you can see I have some pretty giant shoes to fill ...

Hamilton (