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.
My attempts at writing poetry have had little success. I can do doggerel but anything more serious defies me.
That doesn’t stop me from enjoying poetry and admiring poets who manage to say so much so succinctly, use language in innovative ways and paint word pictures that encourage readers to use their imaginations to see more than is one the page.
Today I’m grateful for poets and poetry.
(Whoops I’m late again, this is yesterday’s post for National Poetry Day).
Life is passion. At least that is how you and your BFF see things. You’re absorbed with living and, like Neruda, are in touch with all the sensations that life presents. A friendship between you and this Chilean revolutionary would be founded on your mutual passion for justice and freedom and cultivated by sharing your open and artistic perspectives on life and love.
Take a break from writing your political manifesto, put on some sensual jazz, and check out one of your bestie’s most romantic explorations of love.
“If You Forget Me”
I want you to know
You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.
If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.
if each day,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.
I like the few of his poems I’ve come across, including this.
I did the quiz again with different answers and got Tennyson and Crossing the Bar.
Agricultural growth predictions for the coming decade – Keith Woodford:
New estimates of global food demand and supply through to December 2023 have recently become available in a joint publication from the OECD and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations). One big message is that demand for most products will increase by between 10 and 20 percent from 2014 through to 2023. A second big message is that the overall increase in supply will at least match the increase in demand. Hence, for most products, and particularly the staple grains of rice and wheat, any price increases will be at a lower rate than overall inflation.
About half of the overall rise in demand for food will be due to increasing global population. This global population will increase at about 1% per annum, driven primarily by growth in Asia and Africa. The other half of the demand increase will come from rising consumption of protein based foods including meat, fish and dairy. This will increase the amount of animal feed that needs to be grown. . . .
Golden times for genetics firm – Yvonne O’Hara:
The sheep and beef sector stands to gain by a potential $845 million in added value during the next 20 years once a new Dunedin-based genetics research and development entity hits its stride. Yvonne O’Hara reports.
Upgrading the Sheep Improvement Limited (SIL) database, developing a ram and bull selection app, and contracting out genetics research projects for both sheep and beef are expected to begin later this year for the Dunedin-based Beef + Lamb Genetics (BLNZG).
BLNZG signed a $15 million funding contract for the next five years with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment earlier this month.
The balance of BLNZG’s $44 million five-year budget will come from sheep and beef farmers and the wider red meat industry. . .
Strong global demand for premium Wagyu beef has created an opportunity for dairy farmers to share in the returns this spring.
Firstlight Wagyu managing director Gerard Hickey recently returned from visiting markets in United States and Europe, buoyed by the positive feedback and strong sales figures his company’s grass fed Wagyu is enjoying there.
In response to the positive market conditions, Firstlight Wagyu has ramped up its supply of bulls and semen for artificial breeding (AB) this spring. . .
According to Airborne Honey, New Zealand’s oldest and most technically advanced honey brand, the Interim Labelling Guide for Manuka Honey that was released by the Ministry of Primary Industries last week needs to become closer aligned to the CODEX International Standard for Honey if the aim is to regulate the industry and restore global trust.
The Codex Commission is a group run by the United Nations FAO and represents countries with over 99 percent of the world’s population. According to CODEX, honey may be designated according to a floral or plant source if it comes wholly or mainly from that particular source and has the organoleptic, physicochemical and microscopic properties corresponding with that origin. . .
It has taken 6 weeks, in four winegrowing regions, with over 45 budding viticulturists applying and now we are down to our five regional finalists that will compete in the Grand Final of the Young Viticulturist of the Year 2014.
Introducing the Five Finalists: . . .
Deer farmers are being strongly advised to use three drench families in combination to keep parasites under control.
This follows four years of research showing that internal parasite resistance is becoming widespread across the industry. Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) producer manager Tony Pearse says the use of one drench family – mectins – applied as pour-ons, along with poor application technique, are the cause.
“Replacing a mectin pour-on with an injectable can dramatically improve growth rates, but the best bet – based on recent on-farm trials – is to use a triple mix: a mectin injection, plus a white/clear combination oral drench.” . . .
Agnus Dei by Marty Smith – Tuesday Poem:
I carried the lamb in a sack on my horse
the tongue hanging grey and limp.
It’s buggered, said Dad, throw it in the creek.
The creek leaped, dimpled. Small bubbles
whirled, it rumpled where I was looking
the water shadowed half-blue-black
deep just there with duckweed floating out
the yards behind all noise, the cattle swirling
up air swelled with dust and bellowing. . .
If you’ve reason to rhyme or in the mood for metaphor, today’s the day to do something about it.
It’s National Poetry Day:
Now in its 15th year, National Poetry Day sees poets – both fledgling and award-winning – take to the streets, cafes, auditoriums and class rooms all over the country to read, rap, dance and sing.
The breadth and diversity of this year’s National Poetry Day performances are cause for celebration says event organiser and published poet, Siobhan Harvey.
“More than ever before the shows are interactive and visual, and there are some truly creative events using multi-media.
“There’s something for everyone. National Poetry Day isn’t just for established poets; it’s also for people who simply want to give poetry a go. So if you harbour a desire to perform a piece of your own, this is the day to throw caution to the wind.”
A full list of events celebrating poetry is here.
Tuesday Poem is a good place to start if you’re looking for poetry.
If the proximity of the Olympics has led you to thoughts of sporting poems, there’s a good selection here.
And for no better reason than it’s the first poem I can remember learning at school and I’m sure it’s out of copyright:
Eletelephony by Laura Elizabeth Richards
Who tried to use the telephant—
No! no! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone—
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I’ve got it right.)
Howe’er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee—
(I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)
In honour of what would have been Banjo Patterson’s 148th birthday:
Mulga Bill’s Bicycle
‘Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said, “Excuse me, can you ride?”
“See here, young man,” said Mulga Bill, “from Walgett to the sea,
From Conroy’s Gap to Castlereagh, there’s none can ride like me.
I’m good all round at everything as everybody knows,
Although I’m not the one to talk – I hate a man that blows.
But riding is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;
Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wildcat can it fight.
There’s nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel,
There’s nothing walks or jumps, or runs, on axle, hoof, or wheel,
But what I’ll sit, while hide will hold and girths and straps are tight:
I’ll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight.”
‘Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that sought his own abode,
That perched above Dead Man’s Creek, beside the mountain road.
He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray,
But ‘ere he’d gone a dozen yards it bolted clean away.
It left the track, and through the trees, just like a silver steak,
It whistled down the awful slope towards the Dead Man’s Creek.
It shaved a stump by half an inch, it dodged a big white-box:
The very wallaroos in fright went scrambling up the rocks,
The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,
As Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.
It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree,
It raced beside a precipice as close as close could be;
And then as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek
It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dean Man’s Creek.
‘Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that slowly swam ashore:
He said, “I’ve had some narrer shaves and lively rides before;
I’ve rode a wild bull round a yard to win a five-pound bet,
But this was the most awful ride that I’ve encountered yet.
I’ll give that two-wheeled outlaw best; it’s shaken all my nerve
To feel it whistle through the air and plunge and buck and swerve.
It’s safe at rest in Dead Man’s Creek, we’ll leave it lying still;
A horse’s back is good enough henceforth for Mulga Bill.”
It’s National Poetry Day.
The Hieroglyph Moth by Pascale Petit was featured at Tuesday Poem last week.
Contributions from Tuesday poets linked in that blog’s sidebar include:
Three Roses by Timothy Cahill.
Midnight Pantoum by Saradha Koirala.
The Gazelle by Rainer Maria Rilke.
My Minion by Alicia Ponder.
Love in the Suburbs by Peter Lach Newinsky.
And a visual poem: Cut by Orchid Tierney,
The Map (you give me) by Stephen Bett is the feature poem at Tuesday poem.
Other poems linked in the side bar include:
Lovliest of Trees by A.E. Housman
Irina by Andrew Bell
Too Many Daves by Dr Seuss (with a discussion on poetic depth).
Man with Children by Ross Donlon
The Evening is Loud with Life by Claire Gaskin
A Poem: the movie by Mary MacCallum
The Poet and I at Lalialand
Rembrandt’s Late Self Portraits by Elizabeth Jennings was featured as last week’s Tuesday poem.
(Yes, I do mean last week, life got in the way of my good intention to post this earlier).
Among others linked in the sidebar were:
Yellow by Mary McCallum.
Clouds Caught on Fence Posts by Clarie Gaskin.
A Series of Titles for Books I Might Write by Saradha Koirala.
This New Place by Robert McGonigal was last week’s Tuesday Poem.
As always there are other gems from Tuesday poets in the side bar including:
For My Daughter in her Fifteenth Year (for International Women’s Day) by Catherine Bateson.
Maginificence by Mary McCallum.
Mule Heart by Jane Hirshfield.
and Orchid Tierney who has 3 x Flashcards asks what happens when cultural signs and processes become disturbed?
Excerpt from 15 Flower World Variations by Jerome Rothenberg was featured this week on the Tuesday Poem blog.
Some of the Tuesday poets linked in the sidebar responded to the earthquake:
Songs and Dances of Death by Catherine Fitchett
Storm Front by Helen Lowe
As the Earth Turns by Mary McCallum
Flutter by Brian Turner
Epicentre by Jennifer Compton
Kiwi Heros by Alicia Ponder
this fly – earthquake by Jeffrey Paparoa Holman
Christchurch to Greymouth by Renee Liang
Among some of the other Tuesday poets linked in the sidebar are:
Treasure by Saradha Koirala
Venice by Robyn Rowland