Friday, December 11, 2015

nzepc six pack sound #02

I have to say that I was pretty chuffed to see that the second set of "six pack" recordings was up on the nzepc. Why? Well, because one of them is by me, of course. But no, there are plenty of other reasons to feel excited by this initiative by the unfailingly inventive Michele Leggott, with her able collaborators Tim Page and Brian Flaherty.

Once again, the old jostles with the new, the "established" with the up-and-coming, in this interesting selection of six poets.

Last year it was Murray Edmond, Ya-Wen Ho, Alice Miller, Tessa Priest, Vaughan Rapatahana, and Steven Toussaint.

That is, admittedly, a pretty difficult act to follow, but this year Michele and co. have come up with Stephanie (the artist formerly known as Will) Christie, performance artists Makyla Curtis & Hannah Owen-Wright, Catalyst's Doc Drumheller, Fast-talking P.I. Selina Tusitala Marsh - me - and AUP poet Sam Sampson.

And there's some pretty trippy stuff up there by the various members of the gang. Go on, have a listen - you know you want to.

Jack Ross: Ice Road Trucker, designed by Daniel Fyles (2015)

My own selection is called "Ice Road Trucker," and is (I'm sorry to say) at least to some extent themed around my fascination with said reality show. Sorry about that. After America's Next Top Model, what's next?

There's lots of other crazy shit there, though, I promise you. Not to mention a few thoughts on mortality inspired by the recent death of my father.

The important point, though, is that I think this is another great idea from the nzepc. A small but instantly accessible selection of audio poems is a very useful thing for a writer to have. In many ways, it's the next step forward from our three Auckland University Press audio / text anthologies of New Zealand Poets in Performance.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Poetry NZ Yearbook 2 now available!

Cover image: Karl Chitham / Cover design: Anna Brown

Poetry NZ Yearbook
Editor: Jack Ross

(Volume 2 [Issue #50], November 2015)

ISSN 0114-5770. ii + 286 pp.

Auckland: School of English and Media Studies / Massey University, 2015

So, yes, it's out. And available for purchase from the website here.

Why should you buy it? Well, it's got reviews and essays and loads and loads of poems, and a fantastic cover image by artist Karl Chitham, and a cool cover design by Anna Brown, and it's really really long (288 pages this time), and it's got a poetry feature and an interview with the wonderful Robert Sullivan. Isn't that enough?

Robert Sullivan (2015)
photograph: Bronwyn Lloyd

If you're still not sold, you can find a full table of contents here. And, let's face it, what better Christmas present could you find for that special someone?

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The Spookers Experience

Jack, Anon. & Bronwyn At Spookers (6/11/15)

My birthday treat this year was a visit to Spookers. Spookers, for those of you who don't know, is a kind of horror-themed amusement park which has been set up in some old buildings at the back of Kingseat, once a dreaded Auckland mental hospital.

"How tasteless, how vulgar!" I hear you say. You don't know the half of it! The whole thing is in supremely bad taste, and is - perhaps as a result? - a huge amount of hokey fun.

The approaches

We'd hardly got out of the car before we were accosted by a particularly belligerent member of the walking dead, waving a cleaver, and from there things only got stranger. There was a kind of do-it-yourself enthusiasm about the staff: mad nurses, vampires, zombies, ghosts and all. They seemed determined to demonstrate their acting chops, and for all our fine talk beforehand, it wasn't long before we too were running and squealing like girls.

Closer up

The rather posed studio photo at the top of the page is optional, but I think you'll agree that it would be a shame to leave without such a memento of one's stay. And - all the gallons of fake blood, dusty hospital rooms, and chainsaws aside - there's no denying that Kingseat itself is genuinely creepy.

There were moments as we drove along the long deserted road from the motorway, penetrating further and further into the hinterland, when I began to feel as if I'd strayed into The Locals, my all-time favourite New Zealand rural paranoia film.

They're Dying to Meet You

I suppose, as a serious student of the paranormal, I should feel ashamed of going to such places. Guess what? I'm not. It was very entertaining, and there was clearly something about me that particularly riled the staff (the fact that I was thirty or so years older than virtually everyone else there might have helped). Not even the Guinness t-shirt Bronwyn persuaded me to wear could persuade them that I wasn't some kind of patronising intellectual looking for something to slag off.

Anyway, we survived (though I haven't yet heard the last of that moment in the forest when I inadvertently lost track of Bronwyn for a moment whilst fleeing from an axe-wielding fiend. "Hey, you left your lady behind," I could hear them shouting after me. Her own remarks on the subject were rather more succinct - which I think was a little rich, given the number of times she'd already thrust me in the way of ghouls or zombies to facilitate her own escape ...)

I highly recommend it - but probably with something resembling the proviso Dylan Thomas added to his praise of Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds: "Just the book to give your sister - if she's a loud, dirty, boozy girl." That shouldn't present too many challenges for most of my readers, surely?

Directions to Spookers:

Take the Southern Motorway, take the Papakura/Karaka offramp. Turn right if coming from the North or left if coming from the South onto Linwood Road.

Linwood Road leads into Kingseat Road. Travel 14kms from the motorway and Spookers is on your right.

Spookers is strictly R16 with No ID, No Entry on Friday and Saturday nights. No exceptions.

BYO torch for the Freaky Forest/CornEvil or you can purchase them here at Spookers for $15 (Spookers branded) Wear sensible footwear and you may get some 'fake' blood on you. This will come out in the wash.

The Original Version

Pictures from a Booklaunch - Wellington, 22/10/15

Photos by Jack Ross (the bad ones)
or Bronwyn Lloyd (the ones which show signs of centring):

Sarah Jane & book

Thom Conroy

Bryan Walpert

Bronwyn, Ingrid Horrocks and Tim Corballis

Sarah Jane reads

Rachel O'Neill reads

Sarah Jane and Therese Lloyd

Bryan, Ingrid & Thom

Congratulations, Sarah!

For more on the launch, you can go to Sarah's own blog, the red room.