28 February 2012

Tuesday Poem: Beige Keeps Being Born, by Madeleine M. Slavick

        The first appearance was a pair of tall pants that came all the way
from Germany, with two fashionable legs of beige suede standing up a strong and tender woman,
and the balance of beauty was wanted

                                                     instead of Maine teenage
      faces foundationed a false brown, and Imedeened Hong Kong women lightening
      their born color, not to be touched, just looked at, like
                  an advertisement for a certain chosen future

                                                                        not found in the house's one hundred
and twenty seven shelves of careful literature, some Southern, most modern, and the
contemporary having creamy pages, thick, the edges feathered, pretending
              to be just as natural

                              as a trillion grains of policed sand in Santa Monica and Rio de Janiero,
two open oceans trying to bring answers to people with or without money, homes,
                 minds - no poverty, begging, allowed

                                                              in the anytime clicking of mah jongg on the table,
eight hands moving the batter, wild cards, private line drawings, and following
          the boxy ivory or plastic tiles go where they go

                                                                                                                  like a lover, traveling
along the body, making a home, rich as Indian tea, empty as sunned bamboo.

Poet's note: Imedeen: a beauty product to lighten skin

Credit note: This poem is from Madeleine M. Slavick's collection "delicate access", poems in English with translations into Chinese by Luo Hui, and is reproduced by permission of the author.

Madeleine M. Slavick is a writer and photographer. Madeleine has several books of poetry and non-fiction and has exhibited her photography internationally. She has lived in Germany, Hong Kong, the USA, and New Zealand. She maintains a daily blog: touchingwhatilove.blogspot.com - and Madeleine has a witty visual reference to "Beige Keeps Being Born" on her blog here: http://touchingwhatilove.blogspot.co.nz/2010/12/extras.html.

Her books include Something Beautiful Might Happen (Tokyo, 2010), My Favourite Thing (Beijing and Taipei, 2005), Delicate Access (Hong Kong, 2004), Round - Poems and Photographs of Asia (Hong Kong, 1998) and Fifty Stories, Fifty Images, forthcoming. Her photography has been exhibited in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

"Beige Keeps Being Born" image courtesy of Madeleine M. Slavick.

Tim says: This poem took quite a bit of effort to format, but I think it's well worth it. I love the elegance of the language and the way the poems twists and turns around its central metaphor and its many vivid images.

You can check out all the Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog - the hub poem in the middle of the page, and all the other poems in the sidebar on the right.

24 February 2012

Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part Four

There are some things to dislike about summer nearing its end, but one of the good things is that, as the days draw in, the monthly poetry reading sessions in Wellington resume.

Earlier this week, I went to the first sessions for the year of two of Wellington's longer-running poetry reading sessions: Poetry at the Ballroom Cafe in Newtown on Sunday afternoon and then the New Zealand Poetry Society (Facebook | Twitter | Web) at the Thistle Inn on Monday night. The respective lineups were:

* Ballroom Cafe: open mike (good mixture of performance and "page" poets), musician (jazz pianist Gilbert Haisman), and guest reader (poet Pat White). I had to leave before the end of Pat's reading as I had something else on immediately afterwards, but there is a quiet power to his poetry that becomes evident as he reads it.
* New Zealand Poetry Society: open mike (one of the best I've heard at the NZPS), guest reader (poet Teresia Teaiwa).

I enjoyed both sessions very much, but the absolute highlight from me was hearing Teresia read. I'd heard her read a few poems before, but the way she put the reading together and wove her poems in with a narrative was an absolute treat. If you get the chance to hear her read, I advise you to take it!

All being well, I'll be doing some more guest readings this year, partly on the back of Men Briefly Explained. The first of these will be in Porirua in April as part of the monthly Music at the Metro series - I am looking forward to it.

I don't believe I will be required to sing, but if I was, I would naturally sing this, since it's referenced in the Men Briefly Explained poem Queens of Silk, Kings of Velour:

21 February 2012

Tuesday Poem: Landlines (a re-post from February 2011)

Note: This is a poem I wrote in response to the Christchurch earthquake of February 22, 2011. I thought it was appropriate to re-post it today.


It began with a tremor in the wires,
a voiceless howl of anguish.
Within minutes, the waiting world
has heard the worst — but there's no news of you.
Amanda Palmer, an Olympic rower, former neighbours
are online. But you depend on landlines,
and the lines are down.

Were you at home when it struck? Were you
trapped on a fatal cross-town bus,
walking a hill track bombarded by boulders? Were you
unlucky under verandahs? I strategise
with relatives I barely know, plead on Twitter
for tiny clues, ask Google for your name.
I lift, and set down, and lift the phone.

At last we hear you're safe at home,
barely touched, offering neighbours shelter.
My voice explodes with joy and messages.
I'm gabbling. I slow down. The bigger picture
presses in: so terrible, a city centre
crumbled into bone. I lift the phone.
It rings. You speak. I know, at last, I'm not alone.

Credit note: "Landlines" was first published as the Thursday Poem in the Dominion Post newspaper in Wellington on 3 March 2011.

Tim says: When the Dominion Post asked me to write a poem about the Christchurch earthquake of 22 February, I was on the verge of saying "no", because as a non-Christchurch person, I didn't think that I could do justice to the subject. Then I decided I could write a poem about my reaction in the aftermath of the earthquake, and the search for information on what had happened to my father and stepmother, who were living in a Christchurch retirement village at the time of the quake.

You can read all the Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog - the hub poem is in the centre of the page, and the week's other poems are linked from the right of the page. Several other Tuesday poems this week, some by Christchurch poets, address the quake and its aftermath.

17 February 2012

The Apex Book Of World SF Volume 2 Now Available For Pre-Order - Including My Story "The New Neighbours"

A while ago, I blogged about how pleased I was to have my story "The New Neighbours", first published in my second short story collection Transported, included in The Apex Book Of World SF, Volume 2, edited by Lavie Tidhar.

Things went quiet after a while after that, but I am now delighted to report that The Apex Book Of World SF, Volume 2 is now available for pre-order. Take a look at the cover below, then check out this impressive list of contributors from all over the world. I am really looking forwards to reading this!

Apex Book of World SF, Volume II: Table of Contents

Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (Philippines)–Alternate Girl’s Expatriate Life
Ivor W. Hartmann (Zimbabwe)–Mr. Goop
Daliso Chaponda (Malawi)–Trees of Bone
Daniel Salvo (Peru)–The First Peruvian in Space
Gustavo Bondoni (Argentina)–Eyes in the Vastness of Forever
Chen Qiufan (China)–The Tomb
Joyce Chng (Singapore)–The Sound of Breaking Glass
Csilla Kleinheincz (Hungary)–A Single Year
Andrew Drilon (Philippines)–The Secret Origin of Spin-man
Anabel Enriquez Piñeiro (Cuba)–Borrowed Time (trans. Daniel W. Koon)
Lauren Beukes (South Africa)–Branded
Raúl Flores Iriarte (Cuba)–December 8
Will Elliott (Australia)–Hungry Man
Shweta Narayan (India)–Nira and I
Fábio Fernandes (Brazil)–Nothing Happened in 1999
Tade Thompson (Nigeria)–Shadow
Hannu Rajaniemi (Finland)–Shibuya no Love
Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Mexico)–Maquech
Sergey Gerasimov (Ukraine)–The Glory of the World
Tim Jones (New Zealand)–The New Neighbours
Nnedi Okorafor (Nigeria/US)–From the Lost Diary of TreeFrog7
Gail Har’even (Israel)–The Slows
Ekaterina Sedia (Russia/US)–Zombie Lenin
Samit Basu (India)–Electric Sonalika
Andrzej Sapkowski (Poland)–The Malady (trans. Wiesiek Powaga)
Jacques Barcia (Brazil)–A Life Made Possible Behind The Barricades

Since I wrote my initial post, I have got to know several of these authors a little over Twitter - so, as well as the stories by Ekaterina Sedia and Nnedi Okorafor, whom I mentioned in the post linked to above, I am also especially looking forward to reading the stories by Joyce Chng and Fábio Fernandes, plus the many other authors whose work I don't yet have the pleasure of knowing.

13 February 2012

Tuesday Poem: Norah Jones Or System Of A Down

I'm visiting Lemmy from Motorhead.
"Lemmy," I say, "how did you get that
bass sound in 'The Watcher'?"
He shows me the fingering on his Zimmer frame.
He's forgotten most of Motorhead
but he's frighteningly lucid on Hawkwind.

Unasked questions throng my head.
Lemmy, who was your favourite band?
Lemmy, what drugs do they still let you take?
Lemmy, when did you start growing old?
"Lemmy," I say, "are you cold?"
He is. I wrap him in my coat.

Visiting hours are over.
I shake the maestro's hand.
The warts on Lemmy's ravaged face
stand out like sentinels
defeated by the beat of time.

There's music piped into the rooms.
It's Norah Jones or System of a Down.
I take my leave.
I brace myself against the cold.
I embody the presence of silence.

Credit note: "Norah Jones or System of a Down" was first published in papertigermedia 04 (October 2004) and included in my second poetry collection, All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens (HeadworX, 2007) - signed copies still available from me for $10 (plus p&p) - email me at senjmito@gmail.com if you'd like one.

Tim says: Another of my little run of poems about music and musicians from All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens. Ian Fraser "Lemmy" Kilmister is, as far as I know, still alive and kicking up merry hell, and not in an old people's home. The last line of the poem is adapted from a remark by Lemmy's near-contemporary, but complete opposite in temperament, the guitarist Robert Fripp.

I first posted this poem on my blog in 2008, but as the Tuesday Poem wasn't going then, I have given myself free rein to repost it here.

You can check out all the Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog - the hub poem in the middle of the page, and all the other poems in the sidebar on the right.

09 February 2012

Flash Frontier, Frankfurt, Two Kinds Of Monster, And The Octacon Reunion

I've decided this year that writing comes before blogging, and that, while I'll always aim to put up one blog post per week, I may not always put up a second post.

That means that, when I do put up a second post, there will be lots to talk about - as there is today.

Flash Frontier

Michelle Elvy is a new - to me! - and energetic figure on the New Zealand literary scene, and I have enjoyed becoming involved in a couple of projects in which she is a prime mover.

Firstly, I have a story in the first issue of Flash Frontier. This is a new New Zealand literary magazine, edited by Michelle Elvy and Sian Williams, that specialises in flash fiction - very short fiction, which in the case of Flash Frontier means an upper limit of 250 words. I don't often write flash fiction, but I can tell you that it is lots of fun to write, and that Flash Frontier is looking for more of it!

My story "The Beginnings of America" is one of 16 stories in the first issue, which also carries this interesting interview with Graeme Lay, who edited several NZ anthologies of short-short fiction.


Another Michelle Elvy initiative, this time with Dorothee Lang, is the Frankfurt Book Fair 2012: An Aotearoa Affair - A Blog Fest from Kiel to Kaitaia.

It's an excellent blog which brings together work from New Zealand and German writers, some translated, in the leadup to the Frankfurt Book Fair - and you can join the blog and get involved in its many projects.

I was very chuffed that my poem The Translator was selected as the first of the blog's Weekly Highlights, and it has since been joined by work by Marcus Speh, Emma Barnes, and Patrizia Monzani, with more to follow!

Helen Lowe also mentions this Blog Fest on her blog - with good reason, as the German translation of her novel The Heir of Night is being published in 2012. Congratulations, Helen!

Two Kinds of Monster

The blog tour for my 2011 poetry collection Men Briefly Explained is not quite over yet! Bookiemonster has published a pair of interviews on her blog this week that form part of my and Keith Westwater's blog tours:

Keith Westwater Interviews Tim Jones About Men Briefly Explained

Tim Jones Interviews Keith Westwater About Tongues Of Ash

The Octacon Reunion

In 1982, a science fiction convention was held in Dunedin that changed lives and changed underwear. It went down in history as Octacon, and now, thirty years later, those who experienced Octacon for the first time are condemned to relive every agonising moment. What's more, it is even possible for others to join them in their communal madness. Look upon the mighty Octacon Reunion Poster, ye mortals, and despair! (Or, if your motto is 'nil desperandum', contact 2012octacon@gmail.com for further details.)

07 February 2012

Tuesday Poem: An Adventure

He put his Steely Dan CDs
in a box under the bed
bought three pairs of baggy shorts
wore his cap backwards
learned to swear like Fred Durst
(or was it Kirsten Dunst? He could
never be entirely sure.)

Took to clubbing. He sought out
young women with black hair
(or auburn — almost anything but that particular
shade of bottle blonde)
and more money than good sense.

For a while it all went well.
With the little blue pills
bought cheap online
he gave them a good time
every time.

Then, in a private moment
one of his conquests
caught him listening to the Moody Blues.
When she spread the word
the good times were over. He hung up his cap
gave the shorts to charity
and subscribed to Sky instead.

Credit note: "An Adventure" was first published in JAAM 22 (November 2004) and included in my second poetry collection, All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens (HeadworX, 2007) - signed copies still available from me for $10 (plus p&p) - email me at senjmito@gmail.com if you'd like one.

Tim says: There are a few "midlife crisis" poems in my latest collection, Men Briefly Explained, but this is my first attempt at the genre, from my previous collection. This is Fred Durst. And this is Kirsten Dunst.

I first posted this poem on my blog in 2008, but as the Tuesday Poem wasn't going then, I have given myself free rein - free rein, I say! - to repost it here.

You can check out all the Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog - the hub poem in the middle of the page, and all the other poems in the sidebar on the right.