Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Waves of work

Reading Woolf's Waves
breaking on the sand
back and forth
in and out
I see the waves of washing
I am running back and forth to
check up on
watching the waves of weather
and the smalls
in equal measure
all the while
worrying in waves
that the wind will turn
the colours change
and the sky crash down
onto the sandy shore
with a big burly wave of weather
destroying all those little waves of work.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Turkey time

Somebody else's daughter in Istanbul
by artist Miru Kim 

I have one daughter. One is a very small number when it comes to daughters. And you really feel just how small a number one is when your daughter takes herself off to the other side of the world as our nineteen year old daughter did three days ago.

Yesterday we spent some tight time waiting to hear of her safe arrival in Istanbul, which finally came in at 4.00 am Turkey time. We are now on Turkey time. Tomorrow we will be on Greece time. After that Rome, and so on through another sixteen countries, all so far away they may as well be Mars for how long it would take us to get there should anything go...

Right now it's 10.20 pm Turkey time and we haven't heard anything since 4.00 am. That's a very long time in Turkey time! I've messaged her twice since then. I am tempted to make it thrice. In fact we have some good news to give her and want her to call. She got a Distinction in her Trinity College Drama exam, which she took ten days before she left, the day before a Law exam. Daughters do so much! Both our boys (21 and 16) are sleeping right now -- and it's 9.23 am (Amendment in the name of gender equity! Five days hence and the 21 year old is on a bus on his way to his first day of a summer internship in software engineering and it is only 7.55 am! He is not happy about it, mind, as the travel time on public transport is almost two hours each way and costs over $60, but mainly because it interrupts his mission to be top in the world in his chosen computer game; he is currently 9th, or so he tells me and I can believe it because of HOW MUCH TIME he spends on his computer not engineering. Still, he is not sleeping).

I have to get my book in on December 1, ten days hence, and I can't be on Turkey time for that. When you're a mother of a daughter and a daughter you are lucky if you know which time you're supposed to be on at any point in time. Right now I'm somewhere between Turkey time and Takapuna time. It's not easy being/having a daughter (or having two sons; just for VERY different reasons).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cold feet for Julia Gillard

I sometimes go to hear famous people talk about their lives and work: writers, entertainers, and the odd, extra-famous and interesting politician. These talks are usually wrapped up with a Q & A session for which I almost invariably have a good question on the tip of my tongue to ask and am on the edge of me seat throughout the Q & A, right to the bitter end when I find I can't quite find the nerve to ask it. I come out in a cold sweat, my heart starts racing at the thought of it, and I just can't do it. I did ask Prime Minister David Lange a question once, but only because my HOD told me to. I need a permanent HOD.

I don't consider myself a shy or retiring kind of person at all, though I am secretly more self-conscious than my outward profile and appearance would suggest. That however is probably true of most people. I was a student rep for a class of over three hundred Politics students in my younger days -- I was terrified when I had to address the class, but still I did it. I was also a university tutor and lecturer for several years. I give speeches at weddings.

A few months ago I got cold feet for Sandi Toksvig and wasn't able to ask my burning question: 'Do you think there's a place for comedy in politics?' The other questions asked, mostly by men, were not nearly as interesting, in my opinion. I think she would have appreciated the question and enjoyed responding to it, as she says she is considering getting into politics herself. I have regretted not asking it ever since.

You'd think I'd learn, but no. Two nights ago I got cold feet for Julia Gillard. Mark and I went to hear her talk at the university, and the chair of the discussion was a lecturer from my old department. I couldn't have been more at home! And I'm Australian, for pity's sake. There was a good amount of gender politics in her talk and I wanted to ask her what she thought of male and female co-leadership of political parties and governments, even as a compulsory leadership structure for all democratic countries to set a role model for gender equality and co-operation. It is a good question and she would have been an excellent person to answer it.

I wonder if David Lange spoiled me for the rest. When I asked my question he said it was a non sequitur and laughed. Still, he answered it in good humour and I now know what a non sequitur is. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Will I ever learn to ask my burning questions? That is a good question.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A cold blossom

A striped
a spotted
a warped
lets her slip
through unheard.

A cold
a strained
a fallen
beauty in tatters.

A red
a pink
a broken
a copper kettle.

A green
an orange
a work in
is all we've got.

A grey
a blue
the artist
to begin again.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Congratulations Jack!

Congratulations to my friend and mentor Jack Ross, on being appointed editor of Poetry NZ. I have no doubt he will be a fine editor with exemplary taste, although he has resisted, so far, the urge to include any one of my poems in his journal -- early days yet.

Jack taught me almost everything I know on the creative writing front and inspired me to dabble in poetry, which had always seemed much too terrifying to me. And on this very blog poetry has become rather more than a dabble, and I have Jack to thank for that.

Jack may not want me to put this connection of ours about, but he's fairly safe there, as I have such a select few loyal followers that there is not much danger of it getting about far.

But this is not about me...

Well done Jack, and well done to Poetry NZ for selecting such a fine editor. Long may you prosper poetically and in every other way.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014



Male film directors are a type
Like a bear
So many have abundant dark hair.

Francis Ford Coppola
Peter Jackson
Steven Spielberg
The director of Boyhood
All resemble bears.

Shaving, cutting hair, take time
Lack purpose. Direction
One must be quite still, going nowhere.

Dark bear hair adds
Shaving and cutting subtracts.

We saw a documentary on Coppola last night
The making of Apocalypse Now.
It took many years, sunk much of his own money
$27 million in the 1970's or more.

Brando was difficult and fat
Sheen had a heart attack
There was a typhoon
Sets were ruined.

Coppola risked everything. His wife found that sexy
She was responsible for much of the documentary
And no doubt the film
Portrait of the artists' wife
They had three young children at the time
During the filming in the Philippines.

He re-wrote as he went
Over a typewriter in a typhoon he bent,
As Brando spent
His $1 million dollar advance
Threatening not to take part.

Direction is risk-taking
Driving forward to an unknown destination
Steering out of control
Seeing and believing where others are blinded by doubt.
Letting go and holding on at the same time.
Secular faith at its scary best.
Knowing what to do in an apocalypse.

Monday, November 3, 2014

By A Lady

I don't know if I'd call myself a lady. 'Lady' has become a bit of a lightweight term these days, though my mum still prefers it. But Jane Austen, a little bit older than my mum, was definitely a lady...

I wonder if this reference to the nameless author being 'A Lady', on this first edition copy of her first published book, one of the first ever books published by a woman, indeed, is more about her class or her gender. I'm inclined to think gender, though as Austen's own writing shows, class status was very important, rather more than it is today.

I'm all about Jane Austen at the moment, though I haven't read this one. I will. Emma is currently blowing my mind, her female-male dialogue is second to none for gendered wit and repartee, and to my mind has hardly dated at all. I've actually set aside Dickens for Austen, quite appropriately, as she came first. I am so late to the classics that I read whatever comes to me, and Dickens came first, in a book store in Katoomba, NSW. Great Expectations. Great book. I read the first few lines and was hooked.

I love Dickens, as you know, but Chuzzlewit actually pissed me off recently after I liked the start and blogged about it here. But the fun he makes of the 'strong-minded' woman is disappointing, and not funny. Austen, unsurprisingly, deals rather more subtly with that subject, being a strong-minded woman herself. A strong-minded lady, indeed.