many moons

moons_1Hello! Its been a few moons since I posted…I took an unintended break there for a bit!

What have I been up to? (I’m going to assume the fact you are reading my website means you are interested…ha ha.) Last year I received a grant from the Earle Creativity Trust to write a book about my life-long practice of keeping a journal. It was so wonderful to get the grant and I’ve been busy working on this time-bound project, which has to be completed in 2016 (a condition of the grant.) It will be coming out SOON and I will write some more about it later this week.

Here’s a bare bones catch-up of the rest of my working/writing life since I wrote my last blog post: I finished year one of a permaculture design course last year, but took this year off the course to work on the journal book. I also had a go at making yoga teaching my main source of income, really didn’t like it and am back to teaching just two classes a week, which is just the right amount for me. I had a year’s contract working for an environmental trust, doing communications and events work, and now I’m back at Massey, teaching writing.

Working with the Palmerston North City Library, I edited this anthology – you can download a .pdf version here. I gave a talk about nature writing at the Massey University-based symposium, ‘Working With Nature: understanding entanglements of humans and nonhumans in the Anthropocene’.  I have a lot to say about nature and writing and nature writing, so I really enjoyed being a part of this great event.

I taught at the 2016 Kahini Retreat – it was terrific, a whole weekend of being steeped in writing and writing conversation. There will be another one in March next year, in case you like the sound of it! Kirsten from Kahini interviewed me for the last one. 

Me and my dear friend, Nga Taonga Puoro artist Rob Thorne  collaborated on a performance combining poetry with music, called ‘Tohu’. Huge satisfying fun, and we hope to do it again soon.

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I was part of Massey University’s ‘writing in / writing of’ talk series, in a panel about Manawatu writers.

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In May, I read with Janet Charman, Belinda Diepenheim and Johanna Aitchison at the Palmerston North City Library. I’ve loved Janet’s writing for a long time, so it was a real privilege to read with her when she visited Palmerston North from Auckland.

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Last Friday was National Poetry Day and I read with other Seraph Poets and friends at Vic Books in Wellington, Paula Green took some great photographs. 

I also started (with my friend Marolyn Krasner) a writing group we call the Manawatu Sunday Writers Group. We meet, you guessed it, one Sunday per month. There is always tea and cake, it is very casual, very supportive and we don’t intensively workshop stuff (unlike other groups I’ve been part of in the past). We read our work out loud to each other, share writing-life news and opportunities, and have a lot of fun!

Whew! I think that is all the major stuff I’ve been up to over the last year…I’ll probably think of a bunch of stuff I forgot as I drift off to sleep later tonight – that’s usually how it works, right?

My most recent creative act, though, has been painting moons. My friend is opening a shop in town with a theme of earth-based and earth-friendly hand made things. So I’ve been making moon gift tags, wall strings and cards for the shop. It is so much more enjoyable than writing poetry, which is always kind of masochistic and gnarly for me.

I promise it won’t be many moons before I write again!

 

 

black river / peoples’ river

Last Friday the public collaboration phase of BLACK RIVER was launched…with a haka, a song and some morning tea.

In this phase, people are invited to contribute writing (there are two typewriters in the space, plus lots of pens and paper) or visual art and they can immediately hang it, becoming part of the exhibition.

Also, all of the involved poets and artists have their drafts/sketches on display in a cabinet. The idea of this was to share creative process with the public.

It is a little bit exposing/embarrassing/weird to have my scrawling, messy poem draft on public display, however I believe in the reason behind it (sharing creative process). (It doesn’t help that the other poets seem to have basically ‘cheated’ (I say this jokingly) and submitted fairly polished, finished poems for display so mine looks all the more deranged. Ha ha!) Oh well, all I can say is I STUCK TO THE BRIEF.

The pollution of the Manawatu river is quite a political ‘hot button’ in my region, so I am looking forward to seeing the public’s take on it.

Here is the cabinet with the sketches and poetry ‘drafts’. My mess is on bottom left – notice how much longer it is than the other ‘drafts’? Ahem.

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On Friday, there were already quite a few public responses. Here are some of my favourites:

Whoever this person is, they have great handwriting…

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River as hair + a great sentiment….

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River is DEEP.

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LOL, indeed.

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the drought breaks and with it my rage and I farewell the tomatoes

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It’s been raining a good few days now – after nine weeks without rain, this wet stuff falling from the sky seems a miracle. How quickly the garden wakes up, too. From desperate and dusty, to enlivened, greening…drinking it all in…

Just as well, because I was getting major ‘drought-rage’. What’s drought-rage?

Drought-rage is walking past a house where someone is using multiple sprinklers to water their….lawn.

Their f**king lawn! …….when there are water-restrictions in place! It made me want to run in, turn off their sprinkler and throw it through their front window. Selfish sh*ts.

Drought-rage is seeing a man using precious water to clean his…..driveway. Yes, the concrete which his car drives up. Because it’s so important that HE have a clean driveway, right? I mean, droughts get dusty, after all. Surely anyone who cleans their driveway must be sociopathic?

Drought-rage is hearing the DJ on student radio saying she ‘really hopes it doesn’t rain because (she) has to walk home’. Yes, because the weather is all about you, honey. Never mind if there are no vegetables to eat this winter because the market gardeners couldn’t irrigate their crops.

You get the idea.

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Oh boy, the profound disconnect of people….with the weather, the local eco-systems, food sources, this earth which is our home. It pains me. It hits me in the heart.

On the recent writing retreat, my friend Helen said ‘there is a lot of rage in your writing at the moment…a bit of a rage-theme’ which made me laugh. Yep, I get ‘the rage’ about injustice and human stupidity often and intensely, but that is because I also get ‘the joy’. Two ends of the same spectrum. I love this world and this life so much that rage flares when I see people asleep to the riches around them and what their part is in the stewardship of what we all share…but joy rushes up just as quickly. I prefer my rage/joy existence to a sleepy/numbed/re-or-de-pressed one.

I was reading some yoga philosophy recently and it was describing how our environment, where we dwell, is part of our extended body. It described our physical body as our local body and our environment as our non-local body. It made total sense to me. The air we breathe becomes part of our body. The food we eat becomes us. Therefore our bioregion IS our extended body. Therefore, we should not waste the precious resources (like water when there’s a drought on) of OUR OWN BODY. & If our extended body is in drought, we ought to be happy to have to walk through the rain…in fact, if we are connected and awake…

that rain will feel like a baptism and a gift.

The magic in your life depends upon the quality of your attention. 

Anyway, I didn’t mean to write a rave – I meant to write about how the wet weather got me out into the vegetable garden, which as I mentioned in an earlier post, I had somewhat neglected because of the drought.

I pulled a whole lot of crops, the rest of my squat little carrots, the last tomatoes, the last of the summer beans…(I’m going to make a big pot of ‘farewell tomatoes’ soup this afternoon)….I gave the chooks a good go at what was left and am now deep into planning the autmn/winter planting.

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I’m inspired to make it a good season, despite the stalled start.

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain…

See you next summer, tomatoes. x x x

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a retreat into writing and resting

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Recently I took occupation of the Beatson’s Foxton house, which is generously rented out to writers at an inexpensive rate so that even people on a poet’s wage (cough cough) can afford a retreat, for a weekend with three writer friends.

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It’s a beautiful house overlooking the Manawatu Estuary, it has all the things you need for a retreat – a nice view, hundreds of books, a fire…(I don’t have a fire at my place. I do miss having a fire!)

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While I’ve been working away at my writing when I can, the year began with the daunting task of helping to run a Yoga Studio for ten weeks while our head teacher was away in India, plus my freelance work has been good and busy….so this retreat weekend fell just after the studio-sit finished (whew! we kept the place afloat with no major mishaps) so was a lovely opportunity to celebrate that work and to sink into my writing.

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I took a bundle of new poems to share with my retreat-mates, and they most generously workshopped ALL OF THEM which was very helpful indeed.  I also printed out (for the first time!) my manuscript which I began during last year’s Massey Visiting Artist residency. I have been working away at that, without looking too much over what has come before – just focussing on generating new work. It printed out to be a solid bundle of pages, but I have to admit…I didn’t end up cracking open the blue folder I took it along in. I thought I was ready and that the weekend would be a good space to read over what I have so far, but nope. It’s still sitting on my desk, un-peeked at. I take that to mean I’m not ready and so I will just keep writing for now, but I have given myself the deadline of the end of June and THEN I have to print everything out, read it in one go and start the bit of the writing process where the real work begins….editing. All I know at the moment, is that I have written a big pile of material. Whether any of it is any good – well, I’ll let you know in July.

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Even though I didn’t do that, it was great to have some new poems workshopped and I did some new writing and lots of yummy reading – Louise Erdrich poetry, Gary Snyder prose and lots of incidental reading of poetry books on the shelves in the Foxton house.

((We cracked ourselves up reading aloud and miming a poem from the 1980s by a NZ poet in which he described doing a ‘naked plie’ and admiring in the bathroom mirror the plum line of his penis. I know, super-mature, right? (Maybe you had to be there…))

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We also walked along the estuary, ate several very good meals, took one jaunt into Foxton to cruise the junk-shops and generally had a great, restful time. I do love going away with evolved, fully-realised women – there is an organic, seamless way in meals occurring, fires being lit, cups of tea being made, outings suggested…somehow everyone contributed enough and yet everyone was looked after by the others enough. Very lovely. I also like going away with people who aren’t afraid of silence.

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This year has been PACKED with good, rich stuff. Feeling very blessed, right now.

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KUPU, part two

Looking through my photographs from recent times I realised I forgot to post more photographs of KUPU, the ‘poetry off the page’ installation which I did in the Palmerston North City Library with fellow local poet, Leonel Alvarado.

First installment was back HERE, when they had only installed one poem.

Here are some photographs of the other poems. The poems are still up and will be left up until the vinyl letter starts deteriorating. (Or kids work out they can pick them off, lol!)

Glimpses of Leonel’s poems (his were harder to photograph in their entirety than mine):

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And the other two of mine which I hadn’t shared with you yet:

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what you hold on to

On Sunday the sun came out after two days of heavy rain. Various plants were doing a beautiful job of holding water on their surface…jewel-like, shining in the sun.

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I have just two weeks to go of the residency! It’s gone SO FAST. BACK HERE I said I was going to write about it here on the blog. Well, looks like I didn’t. I’ve been too busy in it, living it, doing it to reflect on it much. You can take it as a good sign that I didn’t write about it much – all the writing was happening within the residency! It’s been so rich and rewarding and I’ve gotten lots of work done. It’s been a real gift and I feel so lucky!

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There are various duties I have to do in my last couple of weeks as artist-in-residence, so I can see the last fortnight is going to romp by. The time of it being deep, contemplative, solo and quiet is over. Consequently, I’ve been a bit sad about that this week…ah well, time passes. Fact of life.

I hope to hold on to the routine I’ve established during the residency going, which is: drop M at school, nice brisk walk, make tea, write write write….and while I won’t be able to justify spending whole days at it post-residency, my aim is to do two hours each day in the morning. I don’t want to lose the momentum I’ve achieved!

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As part of my residency, I’m running a workshop soon – there are still five places if you’d like to come…. (it’s in Palmerston North, of course) Poster below. Maybe see you there…

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mycology walk

After I read that Emma had spotted an autumn toadstool on her walk, I had a yearning to go on a mushroom/toadstool hunt in the bush. So last Sunday I took my family out for a ramble around a bush track on the Woodville end of the Manawatu Gorge, looking out for autumnal fungi. I was not disappointed!

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There were some wonderful red toadstools.

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Bright orange fungus:

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Tiny ethereal mushrooms (hard to photograph! This one was not much bigger than a pea and I liked the way it was growing upwards towards the light from underneath a log.)

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Warty armies of toadstools:

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Odd phallic looking ones with speckles:

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I don’t know enough about wild mushrooms to know if any of these are edible, so I let them be and just took photographs.

After our walk, we stopped for a simple picnic of pikelets and feijoas.

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Back home in the fridge was a package of field mushrooms my friend Nat had picked from her farm. I cooked them in garlic, onions and lots of green herbs, stirred in cream right at the end of cooking and ate it on pasta. Amazing.

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And of course, I can’t go anywhere these days without spotting a dahlia:

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