Saturday, October 03, 2015

Fonterra: No New Coal

Coal cooks the climate. It is the most carbon-intensive fuel. If we are to keep climate change to less than 2 degrees of warming, a goal most nations have agreed to, most of the coal that exists must stay in the ground. All coal users need to start phasing out their coal use and replacing with renewable energy.
In New Zealand, Fonterra uses more than half a million tonnes a year of coal. Worse, Fonterra is aggressively growing its coal use. Since 2008 its coal use has grown by about 38% and is planning another big plant with 4 new boilers.
I just signed a petition calling for Fonterra to use wood waste instead of coal in all its new boilers at its milk factories. 

Will you sign too?

You can get in touch with Coal Action Network Aotearoa directly by following these links here:

·  Join their mailing list so you can find out how to get involved in our current campaigns. Use this link: or email
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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Twenty-Five Books

A monster calls
recently read

1.      Strong motion. Jonathan Franzen
2.      Native bird. Bryan Walpert
3.      The night we ate the baby. Tim Upperton
4.      The world’s fastest flower. Charlotte Simmonds
5.      Death is not the end. Ian Rankin
6.      The embassy of Cambodia. Zadie Smith
7.      Farenheit 451. Graphic novel. Bradbury & Hamilton 
8.      The Daylight Gate. Jeannette Winterson
9.      Bones in the Octagon. Carolyn McCurdie
10. Clampdown. Rhian E Jones.
11. Nanotech.  Denis Wright
12. Metric Conversions.  Michael Howard
13. The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  Brian Selznick
14. Low. Hugo Wilken.
15. Derrida. Benoît Peeters
16. Black and Blue. Ian. Rankin
17. Phoenix without Ashes. Harlan Ellison
18.  Mr. Clean and the Junkie.  Jennifer Compton
19. The Islamist Phoenix.  Loretta Napoleoni
20. Aurora. Kim Stanley Robinson
21. Trotsky. Graphic biography. Geary & Helfer
22. The Mountains of Madness. Graphic novel. Lovecraft & Culbard
23. Sandman vol 1: Preludes &nocturnes. Neil Gaiman et al
24. Surface tension. Joy Greene

25. A monster calls. Patrick Ness

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tuesday Poem: hypocrisy by Joy Green

Today’s poem is hypocrisy? by Manawatu poet Joy Green who died unexpectedly this week.  I met Joy at the Wellington launch of 'Surface Tension' and I just finished her book. I am so glad that had the chance to meet and chat with Joy and I'm saddened at her sudden passing. I hope her family and friends accept my condolences. Thanks Joy for your poetry. 

More poems at Tuesday Poem.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Taran before the Ball

My son Taran before his year 13 high school leavers’ ball. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Stevens on 'the way of all mind'

I suppose that the way of all mind is from romanticism to realism, to fatalism and then to indifferentism, unless the cycle re-commences and the thing goes from indifferentism back to romanticism all over again .  .  .  At the moment, the world in general is passing from the fatalism stage to an indifferent stage:  a stage in which the primary sense is a sense of helplessness.  But, as the world is a good deal more vigorous than most of the individuals in it, what the world looks forward to is a new romanticism, a new belief.

Wallace Stevens

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tuesday Poem: The World Is Too Much With Us by Wordsworth

The World Is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

More poems at Tuesday Poem.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Spine Poetry

Poem by Danica Fontein

I don’t usually blog about school. It’s best to keep professional and personal lives separate.  Today’s an exception. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve run a competition at school, suggested by our school librarian, where students make spine poems.  A spine poem is a found poem composed solely from book titles. The poet arranges these titles, takes a photo,  then emails the shot to the competition address.  You can have up to ten books in a stack and up to five entries per entrant.  Students loved it—we were flooded with 70 or so entries.  It was so much fun. In the middle of a stack of marking and paperwork I once again felt very lucky to have to job where I can encourage this sort of creativity. (Without sounding greasy, thanks also to my school’s management who supported the competition with a book token prize. I bought some small runner-up prizes.) 

Friday, September 04, 2015

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Poetry Day Reading

Janis Freegard and Sarah Jane Barnett

As a secondary school teacher, this time of year is what I call “The Term three marking bender.”  I mark from dawn to dusk: mock exams, internal assessments, mock exams, internal assessments.  It’s quite crazy, really.  So small breaks when you get back to other aspects of your life are essential.  The reading on Friday for National Poetry Day at St Marks Church in Lower Hutt for Poetry Day was one of those breaks.

Vivienne Ball  who arranged the reading over at the lovely St Marks church put on a nice spread of hot drinks and cakes and it was great to meet up with other fellow poets Janis Freegard, Sarah Jane Barnett, Kerry Popplewell, Adrienne Jansen, Keith Westwater and my old cobber Tim Jones.  It’s a handsome church with fine acoustics. Naturally books were on sale and I picked up  Janis Freegard’s The Glass Rooster—which I’ve been meaning to read—and Kerry Popplewell’s Leaving the Tableland. Kerry’s work had been on my mind as last week I’d read her great poem ‘Seeing the Red Hills again’ in the wonderful anthology The Nature of Things edited by James Brown with photographs by Craig Potton.  As we all chatted there was talk of the upcoming NZ poetry conference which I’m looking forward to and for which I need to register.

I read three poems: ‘Udon by The Remarkables’ and ‘Tekapo Night Sky’ from my new book to published next year by Makaro Press and ‘Singapore Morning’ from Moonshot.  I thought ‘Tekapo Night Sky’ was received well which is good to know as it’s different from my other work and is unpublished.  Now, back to the bender . . .

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tuesday Poem: The City by C.P. Cavafy

I came across this wonderful Cavafy poem ‘The City’ in Kim Stanley Robinson’s incredible novel Aurora; a novel I think is the most powerful SF novel I’ve read since Gibson’s Neuromancer.  So much of the novel can be found in Robinson’s astute and timely reading of this poem.

More poems at Tuesday Poem.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Voice. Digital photograph. 2015

Thursday, August 20, 2015

2015 International Poetry Competition

This year I judged the Open Section of the New Zealand Poetry Society’s Poetry Competition the winners were announced last week and published on the society’s website along with my judge’s report.  I was honoured to be asked to judge the competition.  Competitions have their place but there's more to poetry than winning.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

TPPA No Way!

Even protests have their funny moments.

Today’s march against the TPPA was a good-natured event.  We met at Midland Park and walked over to Parliament.  I got to say hi to some old friends.

Parliament steps and the forecourt was off limits for us protesters as we gathered behind metal barriers to hear our speakers.

As Brian Bruce began speaking about the demise of democracy a troop of suited young college students walked awkwardly across the forecourt to enter parliament, well aware they were being observed by a crowd of 1000 protestors – a few of which called out to the young people.
“You’re on the wrong side!”  “Come join us!”  “Privilege!”   

But Latika and I knew who these well-heeled youngsters were—not Young Nats but senior college students taking part in a model UN Security Council scenario hosted at Parliament.

There in the line of sheepish, somewhat embarrassed students was our son Taran.   Standing in the front line of the protest we smiled and waved and I even flashed him a peace sign.  I wouldn’t blame him if he saw us and pretended he hadn’t noticed.  Little did the rabble know that Taran is a veteran TPPA protestor!

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Poetry Day: Reading at Poems of Place

This Poetry Day I’ll be reading some poems which explore landscape and place at St Marks Complex, Lower Hutt, 58 Woburn Road with fellow poets Anne Powell, Kerry Hines, Keith Westwater, Tim Jones, Keith Johnson, Adrienne Jansen, Kerry Popplewell along with an open mike session.
  The event runs from 7.30PM9.30PM and is free for all.

At school, a small cabal comprised of myself, a fellow English colleague passionate about creative writing and our school librarian are hosting a poetry reading combined with a ‘spine poem’ competition. I hadn’t heard of spine poems before today—you arrange book spines in a pile so that they form a poem.  Theres a national calendar of poetry day events for poetry day and a Facebook page which is quite handy for getting your hands on images to help promote events in your area.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

'White Noise': Séraphine Pick at The Dowse.

There are some artists you feel are indispensable, essential; that’s how I feel about Séraphine Pick’s work. Her landscapes were the grey washed, colour daubed stuff of Winter dreams.  In her work, pockets of deep time: that part of us which is animal, which follows the life cycle of an animal, which behaves as an animal in a flock or herd; but then that other part of us which is an individual, an ‘I’ wanting to be loved, wanting others, seeing ourselves in the mirror and wondering how others would see us if only we could reach the image of completion—a painter who always evoked, in some quite mysterious way, feelings from my adolescence—a sort of ‘gothic adolescence’;  all of these are my feelings when I remember Pick’s earlier work. Really, she’s a visual poet.

So the brilliant  “White Noise” show at The Dowse is a new direction for Pick.  There is so much colour here—unbelievable heady pinks and reds—heady is the word: you feel the reel of intoxication; the whole show’s awash in intoxication, you can’t help feel out of it.  These impressionistic well-oiled states of intoxication—so different from her earlier dreamscapes or, as I liked to think of them ‘imagined gardens’—are distinctly varied and this variation can be plotted on an axis of solitude and merged communal ecstasy.   Heady rock stars zonk out in their own garden spaces and these are contrasted with the tight claustrophobic works of the ‘wankered’ series: nasty abject sacrifices of the twenty-something blottoed to the dark gods of social media.  But it’s the large canvases which devour.  The communal nakedness of ‘Group Hug’ and the dancing around the maypole—so much colour, like Indian hali, like a festival to dancing gods—has that edge of disquiet, that off-kilter sense that I am not quite getting what’s going on which I love in her work. There are mysteries, even in the Rugby Sevens, in our social behaviours which have irrational, possibly terrifying, dimensions which we chose to turn away from as they point to uncomfortable aspects of our ‘whiteness’—for perhaps our perfect white imagined bodies shall devour us all in a million likes and we shall have it; we shall have it all, for one golden moment.

Tuesday Poem: Toby Fitch reads 'Blackout.'

More about Toby here and here.

More poems at Tuesday Poem.

I can’t get enough Australian poetry at present . . . 

Monday, July 06, 2015

on Nothing and Poetry (Heidegger)

                One cannot, in fact, talk about and deal with Nothing as if it were a thing, such as the rain out there, or a mountain, or any object at all; Nothing remains in principle inaccessible to all science.   Whoever truly wants to talk of Nothing must necessarily become unscientific.  But this is a great misfortune only if one believes that scientific thinking alone is the authentic, rigorous thinking, that it alone can and must be made the measure even of philosophical thinking.  The reverse is the case.  All scientific thinking is just a derivative and rigidified form of philosophical thinking.  Philosophy never arises from or through science.  Philosophy can never belong to the same order as the sciences.  It belongs to a higher order, and not just “logically,” as it were, or in a table of the system of the sciences.  Philosophy stands in a completely different domain and rank of spiritual Dasein.  Only poetry is of the same order as philosophical thinking, although thinking and poetry are not identical.  Talking about Nothing remains forever an absurdity and an abomination for science.  But aside from the philosopher, the poet can also talk about Nothing —and not because the procedure of poetry, in the opinion of everyday understanding, is less rigorous, but because, in comparison to all mere science, an essential superiority of the spirit holds sway in poetry (only genuine and great poetry is meant).  Because of this superiority, the poet always speaks as if beings were expressed and addressed for the first time.  In the poetry of the poet and in the thinking of the thinker, there is always so much world-space to spare that each and every thing —   a tree, a mountain, a house, the call of a bird — completely loses  its monotony and familiarity.

M. Heidegger.  Introduction to Metaphysics. Trans. G. Fried and R. Polt (29). 

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015