Tuesday Poem: The Sublime by Amy Brown

Monday, 14th June, 2010




Ever since the self-defence lessons,

when I was twelve, when we were told

always to appear as big as possible

so from a distance we seemed male,

I've drawn myself up in the dark.


Last night,

at the end of the alley,

a silhouette walked,

short and broad

with a male gait.


My Philosophy of Aesthetics lecturer once said

she found androgynous people sublime.

Because of the double-take you must make,

the awe of not knowing.

We'd been talking about sunsets until then.


I wasn't afraid of the figure --

light bulbs glowed through

the pittosporum hedges.

But it walked so slowly I couldn't say

if it was coming towards me or going away.


Propaganda Poster Girl

From The Propaganda Poster Girl, published by VUP.

This is the opening poem of Amy's first book. There are re-occuring images throughout the whole collection that are disturbing, the threat of danger, which this poem illustrates. I really like the way this poem ends. We never find out the gender of the figure or if anything happened or even which direction he/she was walking in. There is just the menace and the illusion.

Amy Brown was born in 1984 and grew up in Hastings before moving to Wellington to study English literature and philosophy at Victoria University. She taught English and travelled for six months in South East Asia in 2005, and has subsequently completed an MA in creative writing, for which she won the Biggs Prize for Poetry, and a first class honours degree in English literature. She is books and creative writing editor of online arts journal The Lumière Reader, and occasional book reviewer for the NZ Listener. Her poetry has published in Sport, Turbine, Snorkel, the Listener, Landfall and Hue & Cry.

For more Tuesday Poems visit the Tuesday Poem blog.

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If I owned a TV station

Thursday, 10th June, 2010

If I programed a television station these are the sorts of shows you'd be watching (in no particular order):

Six Feet Under - life and death (but mostly death)

True Blood - Life after death (and sex)

Carnivale - Weirdness on the road and a great opening sequence.

Midsomer Murders - The pretty English village that no-one leaves alive.

Antiques Road Show - Where people find a ten thousand pound painting in their attic.

Meet The Ancestors - Dig up bones and trace their DNA to a chap still living in the same village.

Firefly - Creator of Buffy goes space cowboy.

The House of Elliott - Long before Project Runway and so classy!

Grand Designs - Dreams are free.

Outrageous Fortune - Bogans in New Zild yeah!!

The Singing Detective - One of the best tv shows of all time. So there.

Tales of The City - Get ma Gay on! (& so much better than Sex and the City!)

So there you go - would you tune into my channel? Well then, you're one of my peeps!


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What Defines Me?

Tuesday, 8th June, 2010


I decided to join in Bindu's challange to spend the next 21 days writing 800 words a day (#215800) and doing some yoga everyday (Join me if you like!).

Today I worked on an idea I have to help people kick-start their creativity, then I wrote this short piece:

What defines me?

I guess most of us have some big things that happened in our lives that go towards defining us. One of the things that has shaped me most as a person is the death of my mother when I was 19. Like most teenagers I had a complex relationship with my mother, we were often arguing and I frequently said things to her that in hindsight must have been hurtful.

She was a complicated woman who found it hard to demonstrate affection or talk about emotional matters. So many things were left unsaid when she passed away. Even now, 20 years after she died there are moments when my grief is still raw, she never met my partner or children, she never saw me graduate or achieve any of my significant adult milestones.

When she was ill I waited for her to start talking about things, open up like in the movies, but she never did. This made me very angry, she was so stubbornly in denial and denying me any closure (I hate that word but there you have it). She wasn't how I thought a mother should be.

How has this shaped me? I tell my children and partner I love them everyday. I try to name things for what they are. I try to forgive her and see her as a woman doing her best just like I am. I try and be the best I can be for her and for me.


My mother is a poem

I'll never be able to write,

though everything I write

is a poem to my mother.

~Sharon Doubiago


 Did you have a complicated relationship with your mother?

I'm off to do some yoga...

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Tuesday Poem: Foolscap by Lynn Davidson

Monday, 7th June, 2010

How to Live by the Sea


I am strangely deaf

to the scuttles and shifting of the classroom.

The hat, Dunce, black on white

pulls in the tips of my ears.


It crushes my hair.

Cardboard brackets my temples

rubs and hisses when I move.


Light comes through the window in waves

like pages.

Page after page.

My still self,

the one strange letter.


I don’t know how to act,

how to pull this off.




I jump away.

A collection of bone-hard legs

the flint of iron hooves.




My name is now the measure of paper

the fool’s head and cap

the floppy points, the bells -

a watermark.


I dip my name in ancient ink.

A well, a shade.


I fold a page five times

and hide it in my sleeve.


I am delivered by carriage

to a desperate lover


I flap in the hand

of the girl outside the café


I rest in a lap lapped by snow


I sit inside a prayerbook

between chapters


I am in the jacket pocket

of the best man


I am eaten by the liar


My name is the measure of paper.


I wear it.

Believe me.


This is where I set the bar

and this is how I rise.


Foolscap comes from Lynn's second book of poetry - How to Live by the Sea (VUP, 2009).

fools·cap (ˈfuːlzˌkæp)


1. Chiefly British. A sheet of writing or printing paper measuring approximately 13 by 16 inches.

2. A fool's cap.

[From the watermark of a fool's cap with bells originally used for this paper.]

I like the way this poem plays with language and meaning, then  trips off on a "Thirteen Ways" journey. Most all I love the last sentence, how uplifting it is literally and figuratively.

Lynn says:

Interesting that you chose Foolscap. That wasn’t a particularly easy poem to write – just in terms of knowing how to approach it or something – it went through many drafts before I felt it rang true.

Lynn Davidson is the author of two previous collections of poetry, Tender, and Mary Shelley’s Window, and a novel, Ghost Net. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in Sport, Landfall, Turbine and The Red Wheelbarrow. In 2003 she was awarded the Louis Johnson Writer’s Bursary. Lynn teaches creative writing and lives in Nelson.

For more Tuesday Poems check out the Tuesday Poem blog.

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Uppercase Magazine

Wednesday, 2nd June, 2010

I'm chuffed that one of my photos has been selected for the Shoegazing article in the forthcoming issue of UPPERCASE magazine.

Uppercase is a gorgeous magazine for the creative and curious put together by Janine in Calgary.

Have a look here:

UPPERCASE magazine, issue 5 from UPPERCASE gallery on Vimeo.


Oh, and the picture that's going in? My crazy dress sense revealed below!

Funky feet


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Tuesday Poem: Lucky Lucky Life by Jo Aitchison

Monday, 31st May, 2010

Luck lucky life




Johanna lives in Palmerston North with her partner and 13-month-old son, Lennox. She has published two books, A long girl ago (VUP) (Shortlisted for the 2008 Montana New Zealand Book Awards) and Oh My God I'm Flying (Pemmican Press). She teaches creative writing at Massey University and College Street Normal School.

Jo says:

This poem was written a long time ago--perhaps a year and a half ago--and I resurrected it as a result

of the wonderful Tuesday Night Poetry Club at Barista Cafe on George Street founded by current Massey

Writer-In-Residence, Jennifer Compton. Jen suggested that I "go hard out" and play around with fonts,

and just have a whole lot of fun with the poem. She also psychoanalised the poem (me?), and this is what

what she said (in brief): "You lacerate yourself. You want to compete, but you beat yourself up about it."

Joan Fleming from the LUMIERE READER:

The deliberate disorientations in this collection are reined in by its emotional earnestness. Aitchison’s lively experimentations step outside the parameters set up by much contemporary, lyric New Zealand poetry – and that’s a breath of sea air.

Fore more Tuesday Poems visit the Tuesday Poem site.

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A Free Lunch

Monday, 31st May, 2010

Free Store

Yes, there is such a thing as a free lunch!
FREE STORE, at 38 Ghuznee Street, (Wellington, NZ) is a Letting Space Project by Kim Paton and is planned to run for a fortnight. Shop hours are 10-6pm, Monday- Saturday until June 5th. 


Paton says her store will be a collection point for those who want to provide any excess stock to key social agencies, and will be working with existing food banks to clear anything that is left at the end of the day.


“Free Store is making public the point in the supply chain that is usually unseen. I hope to raise discussion around how we define the value of a product and what we do with our waste,” says Paton.


Some of the comments from the visitor's book:

Very civilized, feel like I’m in a quaint French grocery


Mean chur best idea since TV


Finally: a place for Samoans


Crazy cool idea ‘guys’. Much appreciated by the studenty-people


Thanks food for my dog


Awesome banana


Great initiative – this is good supply and demand – real free market – wondering about a sustainable option – rent cost? Other costs? Possible voluntary or sponsored option?


Wonderfully good idea – got the town talking


My friend is battling cancer and can’t work so great for her


Packet of chips just what my 10 year old feels like.


Best idea ever.


Creative, socially aware and well marketed


great psychological experiment - like it - the whole taking without paying is somewhat uncomfortable - feels like stealing... is the bread still good?


Will donate consistently if this continues


Much easier than dumpster diving!

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Tuesday Poem: Tell all the Truth but tell it slant – Emily Dickinson

Monday, 24th May, 2010

Emily Dickinson

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant —

Success in Circuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth's superb surprise


As Lightning to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually

Or every man be blind —




Confession – I didn’t organise a poem early enough so I had to use an out of copyright one. However I do really love this poem. I quote it in the preface of my manuscript and if you have a look on Harvey Molloy’s blog today there is a poem by me that is, in some ways, a response to this poem (well you could say that about my whole manuscript really!). Dickinson is so spare and precise and yet manages to capture the big human issues while rhyming and not sounding like a Hallmark card. Big ups Emily.

 Go here for more Tuesday Poems.


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Sunday, 23rd May, 2010

Vida Textiles cushion

A little return to some homely making today.

I recently helped a friend set her business up with social media and in exchange she gave me some gorgeous organic cotton fabric (don’t you love the green dollar?). I made some cushions out of it this weekend. Love, love, love them! Have a look at the Vida textiles shop, blog and Facebook page or tweet her – she’s new and could do with some online buddies!

Speaking of Twitter - twittering about my Chickpea and Pumpkin Curry brought on some requests for the recipe. It’s one of those dishes I just chuck together so I had to sit down and think about it first. Here we go:


Helen’s Chickpea and Pumpkin Coconut Curry


1 small butternut pumpkin or about 700 gms of any kind of pumpkin

Put pumpkin in oven whole and roast until you can easily poke a knife into it then take out. Cut off the skin (which should now come off easily) and scoop out the seeds. Chop into cubes (about golf ball size) and put aside.


2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 onion, chopped fine

1 Tbl spoon of either good curry powder or paste

1 Tbl spoon of coconut oil or sesame oil

Fry together in a large casserole dish (I would use a le creuset if I could afford to buy one) until the onion is soft then add the chopped pumpkin and:

1 x 400gm tin of coconut cream/milk

then fill the tin up with water and put that in too (the water not the tin silly)

add any stray veges you have in the fridge that need using up.

I quite like to put in cauliflower – say a couple of good handfuls (chopped),

spinach, carrots, kumara (sweet potatoes), zucchinis, what-ever.


Then stir in a good 2 cups of pre-soaked chickpeas or a large tin (800gms?).

Cover and simmer, stir occasionally until the pumpkin has gotten so soft it is practically soup then stir in a couple of handfuls of chopped fresh coriander – yum!

If you can’t find fresh then a couple of teaspoons of that slop in a jar would do at a pinch.


Serve with rice and garnish with more coriander. If you really like coconut then you can cook your rice with half a tin of coconut cream in with the water to make it extra yummo.


I think that’s it – enjoy!


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Tuesday Poem: One Art - Elizabeth Bishop

Tuesday, 18th May, 2010

This Tuesday poem is an often quoted one but for good reason. I was given a copy of these revisions stages of the poem at a workshop I did years ago and they really brought home what the art of revision was all about.

Here is an early draft

One Art




And then a revision

One Art




and then the final version

One Art




You can see other Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem Blog.

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