Naseby farmer and bush poet Ross ‘Blue Jeans’ McMillan has died.
The ODT profiled him here a couple of years ago.
His son wanted a reading for his father’s funeral.
The father was a farmer and I found one the whole family agreed was just right.
It was Shut the Gate by Norm Murray, from his book Exit Lines.
Norm has been a funeral director and celebrant for more than 20 years, the book is a collection of his original verse based on the lives of ordinary people.
Tonight I’m grateful for the words that allowed a son to farewell his father so appropriately.
Bill English brought his valedictory speech to an end with a reference to James K. Baxter’s poem New Zealand.
These unshaped islands, on the sawyer’s bench,
Wait for the chisel of the mind, . . .
You can read the whole poem at the Poetry Foundation.
It’s our twentieth anniversary! This year’s packed programme features more than 100 dynamic and accessible events, workshops and competitions, featuring acclaimed poets, new voices, young writers, and poetry enthusiasts. From slam poetry to sonnets, from stages to pavements, poetry will be created and enjoyed in a myriad of venues around the country: cafes, bars, schools, university campuses, community centres, retirement villages, marae, libraries and theatres – as well as on buses, trains and ferries. . .
I can do doggeral but real poetry defies me.
That doesn’t prevent me from enjoying it.
And to those who ask what’s the point?, I offer this from the Tuesday’s Poets in answer to why they gave their poems for free:
“Tuesday Poem’s poetry is offered ‘for free’ because we believe in community and in the idea of a gift economy in which our poets’ words facilitate relationship and connection and are a voice for a diverse group people. Poetry is a way to build bridges and celebrate our common humanity.” Claire
“People are still touched by poetry and search for it for this reason. There is something sustaining there. Something we need. People need poetry for other reasons too – for personal reasons: consolation, etc – the compressed language and short controlled lines paradoxically restraining and releasing feeling. Oh, and there’s more – I do think poetry goes to the heart of what it is to be human, which is based on the deep need we have for language and rhythm and music. Something beyond the basic physical needs. Something that you would call spiritual, or perhaps ‘being open to wonder’.” Mary
It has been a privilege and very great joy being in this poetry boat with you all. Warmest gratitude to all our poets and our readers near and far. T. S. Eliot wrote ‘We shall not cease from our exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’. Which takes us back to the opening lines of our collaborative poem –
now you are privy to
a thousand thousand things. Jennifer Compton . .
If you click on the Tuesday Poem link, you’ll find the rest of the collaborative poem and five years of Tuesday’s poems.
You have to listen to your own voice. Not your heart, not your instincts, not any of that self-permissive psycho-babble stuff. No, none of that. If it was just about instincts and bright ideas it wouldn’t need to be a voice. It’s about words. You hear them, read them, then you write. But mostly read. Read the bloody poems. – Fleur Adcock who celebrates her 83rd birthday today.
Prime Minister Bill English is better known for his grasp of numbers and being more prosaic than poetic.
But he reminded us he graduated with an MA in literature yesterday when he quoted this line from a poem:
Lead by digging up diamonds in those around you
It’s from Lead by Selina Tusitala Marsh.
You can read the whole poem at The Spinoff.