Theatre Tuesday

October 9, 2017

Sedation group happy

So you’ve been feeling a bit past your use-by date, and a little tarnished by time.  Perhaps you are terrified that you are losing your way, and becoming the type of writer who repeats themselves, not to work and rework ideas like an artisan kneading bread, but because they can’t do anything else.  You meet that type, and they piss around the corners of conversations, lest new ideas insinuate and undermine their certainties.

And then someone* finds one of your poems, tucked away on this very blog, and includes it in a theatre work, and it is given a new voice and body by an actor**.  And you listen to it take its place in the work, and feel glad that someone felt its energy and its humour; a humour wedged between despair and hysteria.

Because you’re a total dag, you adopt a horizontal position in a photo amongst some of the other poets, and the actors.  You*** would underline how much the production meant to you in some alien form of punctuation.  You really need to discover decorum, rather than dwell in a cellar of rum.

*Adele Chynoweth, who directed the work Under Sedation, currently showing at The Street Theatre, as well as selecting/arranging the poems

**Ruth Pieloor (The other actor is Ben Drysdale and you can probably spot him in the photo above.)  The photo below shows Ruth adopting a Polonius stance, after the production.

r as p

***You obviously doesn’t mean you, dear reader.

 

On the sticky retirement of myth

Pegasus got too old
so Bellerophon melted him for glue.
Useless glue; for each pot is full
of feathers. Lovely scrapbooks
are ruined by inconvenient discards,
as grandmothers grow downy beards,
and babies sport Trumpy wigs.
And they fly into the air, too,
the photos, nay, the very books,
and escape into the ether,
to gallivant with feckless clouds.
Never use a famous wingéd horse,
where a broken legged nag will do.

P.S. Cottier

pale-horse

There’s a bit of my recently adopted veganism peeking around the corner of that poem!

A thoughtful review of my chapbook Quick Bright Things: Poems of Fantasy and Myth just appeared at the Science Fiction Poetry Association website (also extracts of the review appear in in Star*Line, the Association’s journal).  The reviewer is Sandra J. Lindow, a well-known poet in the speculative field.  (The review appears quite a way down the linked page.)

Ms Lindow writes of the chapbook that that ‘(t)he tone clip-clops down a slope elevated by the language [of] Victorian fairy-lore poetry…’.  I hadn’t consciously thought of that, but she is quite right.  That’s what happens when you write a PhD on Dickens, I guess!  And Goblin Market has always fascinated me.  The review refers to Christina Rossetti, author of that long poem.

Nice to have an Australian chapbook reviewed at the US based site.  I am a member of the SFPA, and recommend it to anyone interested in science fiction, horror, or fantasy poetry.

I was rapt to read that ‘P.S. Cottier’s slender chapbook of nineteen fantastic poems is like an elegant carriage ride through a department store of social criticism.’  Or perhaps I should say enraptured, in keeping with that older time?

Now I’m putting my fingers in my ears and repeating ‘la-la-la’ during a certain inauguration ceremony.  Feel free to join in.

It’s by link to Tim Jones’s site, where he posts a poem from my new chapbook Quick Bright Things: Poems of Fantasy and Myth.  He also gives some commentary on the poem and the book, which is cool as a sea cucumber.  (The poem is about a sunken city, hence the sea imagery creeping in there.  Or sliding, or however sea cukes move.)

I was thinking of posting an appropriate Atlantis type image, but here instead is the cover of the book once again, with the cricketing fairy drawn by Paul Summerfield.  You can buy a copy here.

quick-cover-copy-front-only-copy

Written Off

They had insured
and re-insured,
still it was not enough.

They hunched over maps,
consulted climate science.
Beachfront property

went with the stroke of a pen:
no possible premium
could insure that level of risk.

And floodplains:
why do people choose to build on them?
Bigger floods, more often: gone.

East Coast farmers, eyeball-deep
in debt, haunted by drought,
desperate to irrigate:

you backed the wrong horse.
Low-lying suburbs, factories
built next to streams:

there is no mercy
in insurance. The numbers speak,
and then there is no mercy.

Tim Jones

new-sea-land-front-cover

This poem is from Tim Jones’s new book New Sea Land, and deals with the effects of climate change in a particularly effective way, using deliberately simple language to describe a practical effect of rising sea levels.  It will become impossible to insure all those ‘desirable beachfront properties’, which may soon require scuba gear for inspection.

Tim’s book envisages the further changes that we may see (alongside those that we are already seeing) due to the global experiment that humanity is performing, without a control world to see if it’s a good idea.  The effects on the environment and people, both in his own country of Aotearoa/New Zealand, and worldwide, are the subjects of the book. The changes are envisaged in the very title of the book, with the shift from the words New Zealand to something recognisable, but quite different.

If the book’s topic sounds a little overwhelming, the poems themselves are witty, controlled and moving.  As someone who is trying to write on the same issues, without breaking into long and unseemly rants, I recommend this timely book to anyone who is concerned with climate change.  (Which is a bit like saying anyone who thinks, really.) Personal history is a concern in New Sea Land as well, notably in poems such as ‘The map’, but this is inextricably linked with questions of the treatment, control and ownership of land.

I have had the pleasure of editing a book with Tim, and is intriguing to see how he has moved his political concerns to the centre of his creative practice with New Sea Land.  And what a cover by Claire Beynon, showing a person teetering on a thin rope.  Tim’s poems are also attempts to find a way of walking the new landscapes we are creating, where loss and uncertainty surround us all.

New Sea Land is available from the publisher, Mākaro Press, who are producing great books.  Here are the details:

Title: New Sea Land
Author: Tim Jones
Publisher: Mākaro Press
ISBN: 978-0-9941299-6-3
$25 (NZ).

Review at Verity La

August 13, 2016

I just had a long review posted at Verity La, of a book called Backlash: Australia’s Conflict of Values over Live Exports by Bidda Jones and Julian Davies.  I love writing for Verity La, as it published both great poetry (modesty doesn’t prevent me…) and long form reviews.  Check it out.

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