How to read a poem

August 24, 2018

Today is National Poetry Day:

National Poetry Day was established in 1997. A one-day national poetry event extravaganza, it is held on the fourth Friday of August each year.

From seasoned poets, to total newbies, to the simply-a-bit-curious, participants in Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day 2018 — on Friday, 24 August — will have the opportunity to be touched by the magic and excitement of poetry, to get involved in the poetry community, and to discover New Zealand poets, share poems and explore and experience what poetry is all about. . . 

I love poetry.

With or without rhyme, the economy of words, the way a poem helps me understand something I feel when I haven’t the words to explain it myself, the poet’s ability to say something with what is left out as well as what is put in . . .

But how do you read a poem?

Dunedin poet, Diane Brown provides her answer to that question:

“How do you read a poem?” a woman asked as we aqua-jogged. Despite years of writing and reading poems and a degree in literature, I had no easy answer. My pool friend was talking of the poems in The Weekend Mix and in particular poems without the certainty of rhyme and meter that she was familiar with. Many modern poems have irregular lines and seem to follow no pattern. Where does the emphasis go, how do you know when to pause? And how do you interpret?

The Romanian poet, Paul Celan said: “A poem, as a manifestation of language and thus essentially dialogue, can be a message in a bottle, sent out in the -not always greatly hopeful – belief that somewhere and sometime it could wash up on land, on heartland perhaps. Poems in this sense, too are under way: they are making toward something.”

I find this a helpful way to think of a poem. A bottle lying on the sand. You pull out the paper and unfold it. It’s in hieroglyphics. Imagine the frustration. All you know is that you have received a message from far away. A person reaching out. To you. Maybe you have to live with the uncertainty, maybe you can find tools to help decipher. . . 

Interpreting a poem can require a consideration of sound, appearance, surface and underlying meanings, and more words than the poem itself. And it’s easy to beat the life out of them.

Dear Reader, I urge you to simply enter into a dialogue with the poem and listen to what it has to say. Even if you get a glimpse of understanding, in the same way as you communicate with speakers of other languages. That’s more than you had before. Don’t be afraid, keep an open mind and enjoy the meeting.

If you’re of a mind to meet some poetry, you will find some of Diane’s  at her website.


365 days of gratitude

June 16, 2018

Take 11 women with a wide variety of life experiences.

Add tutor poet and memoirist Diane Brown.

Mix with exercises to suit the theme: Muse over Memoir.

Blend thoughtfully for five hours.

Drive home with gratitude for the inspiration and creativity.


366 days of gratitude

August 17, 2016

I spent today at the beautiful Centrewood Estate near Waimate, Finding a Story – taking part in a writing workshop taken by poet and teacher Diane Brown.

I am always impressed by how quickly trust is built established so quickly in workshops like this when most participants haven’t met before.

We had an educational, inspiring and at times unexpectedly moving day as we shared what we’d written, and there was a delicious two-course lunch as a bonus.

I’ve come home with fresh enthusiasm and motivation and I’m grateful for that and the workshop, teacher and participants that gave me the boost.


Fleur honoured for service to food

January 2, 2013

Fleur Sullivan has been named as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the food industry.

. . . Although Fleur’s Place was named by Cuisine magazine as one of the ”100 best things about New Zealand” in 2010, she said her abiding principle as a restaurant owner had always been to promote local produce, whether in North or Central Otago.

”Food is part of our identity and cultural heritage and the aim to keep the connection between the food we eat and the land [and] ocean it comes from preserves, supports and promotes a sustainable system.

”So it is great to be recognised at the grass-roots level for my contribution to this industry.”

Ms Sullivan is also a member of the New Zealand Restaurant Association’s Hall of Fame.

The award could also have been given for services to tourism.

Fleurs Place attracts visitors from all around New Zealand and the world.

The food lives up to its reputation for quality and freshness but Fleur is also a vital ingredient in the restaurant’s success.

Other southern rural people honoured include:

Emeritus Prof Roger Field, Wanaka, for services to education and land-based industries.

Emeritus Prof Roger Field has had a 41-year involvement with Lincoln University, where he promoted agriculture and the land-based industries of New Zealand as vice-chancellor. . .

Geoffrey Watts Neilson, Mosgiel, for services to agriculture.

Geoff Neilson (70) played a leading role in the eradication of the hydatids disease in New Zealand. . .

Peter Thomas Cummings, Lawrence, for services to agriculture and the community.

For about 50 years, Peter Cummings (70) has been ”very much” involved in serving his community. . .

Another recipient of an honour from the south is Dunedin poet Diane Brown who received an ONZM for services to writing and education.

. . . Brown has a long-standing voluntary involvement with the New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) and has tutored a wide range of creative writing courses.

She was creative writing co-ordinator and tutor at Aoraki Polytechnic from 2001 to 2011, taught creative writing courses at Paremoremo Prison and recently established Creative Writing Otago – an online creative writing school. Brown has published six books, including Before the Divorce we go to Disneyland (1997), Eight Stages of Grace (2002) and Here Comes Another Vital Moment (2006).

She has won the Michael King Writer’s Studio Inaugural Residential Fellowship (2005), the Montana Book Awards Best First Book of Poetry for Before the Divorce we go to Disneyland and the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship (1997) and was a finalist in the Montana Book Awards in 2003.

She also won the 2012 Janet Frame Memorial Award.

The south gained a new knight in the New Year’s honours list – Julian Smith, OBE is now Sir Julian.

The Dunedin businessman – the chairman and managing director of Allied Press, publisher of the Otago Daily Times – has been made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to business. . .

Like most other successful business people he is also a philanthropist.

The full honours list is here.

Rural recipients, or those with rural links include:

Mr Mark Wiremu Solomon, of Christchurch. For services to Māori and business who was also knighted.

Mr John Kenneth Buck, OBE, of Havelock North. For services to the wine industry and the arts, CNZM.

Dr Philip Seabrook Yates, of Auckland. For services to agribusiness, ONZM.

Mr Ian Trevor Corney, of Taumarunui. For services to agriculture, MNZM.

Mr John Graham Hartnell, of Christchurch. For services to the community and beekeeping, MNZM.

Professor Vincent Ernest Neall, of Palmerston North. For services to Earth science, MNZM.

Mr Peter James Ombler, of Te Puke. For services to the kiwifruit industry, MNZM.

Mr John Raymond Wheeler, of New Plymouth. For services to the horse racing industry, MNZM.

Mr Ross Malcolm Gordon, of Methven. For services to Land Search and Rescue, QSO.

Mr Noel Dawson Anderson, of Riverton. For services to the Coastguard, QSO.

Mr Raymond Baker, of Auckland. For services to the Jewish community and the racing industry, QSO.

Mr Warren David Barker, of Fairlie. For services to the community, QSO.

Mr Frederick Charles Cooper, of Gore. For services to the community, QSO.

Mrs Mavis Jessie Davidson, of Owaka. For services to the community, QSO.

Chief Fire Officer Raymond Peter Dever, of Tolaga Bay. For services to the New Zealand Fire Service, QSO.

Chief Fire Officer Ian Moffat Lindsay, of Winton. For services to the New Zealand Fire Service, QSO.

Chief Fire Officer Robert James Lunn, of Greymouth. For services to the New Zealand Fire Service, QSO.

Every time the New Year and Queens Birthday honours are announced people think of those not included who would be at least as deserving.

Anyone can nominate someone for an honour.

Information on how to nominate someone and a link to the nomination form are here.

I have made two nominations.

One was successful the other, equally deserving and supported by references by a wide range of people, was not.

I am sure it had nothing to do with the worth of the nominee and everything to do with the then-government’s view of my political links.

I am pleased that this government sees beyond politics when recommending recipients of honours.


Waimate writer wins SST short story contest

October 28, 2009

Waimate writer Sue Francis has won the open section of the Sunday Star Times short story award.

Her winning story, The Concentrators, is set in Temuka and she describes it as a coming of age story.

This is Sue’s second writing success this year. She has recently had a story published in the latest volume of Random House’s Best New Zealand Fiction. 

Sue is a classmate in the writing course I am doing at Aoraki Polytech. The win is also a good reflection on our tutor, Diane Brown.


Learning to Lie Together

October 23, 2009

 Learning to Lie together is a collection of poems by Diane Brown.

It starts with a possum falling out of a tree in Who makes the first move and finishes with an analysis of a relationship in The maths of happiness.

In between is a selection of poetic reflections on everything from the discovery that in Korean the word for poem means fart to long distant love.

 The poems are very personal, but most deal with universal themes. They reveal enough but not too much, they show but don’t tell and all trust the reader to find what s/he will between the lines.

 

dairy 10008

Post 23 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge.

book month logo green

Over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on Eel Dreaming by Helen Taylor and Ben Brown.

Oswald Bastable  posts  on  Tararua, the story of a mountain range Chris Maclean.


Here Comes Another Vital Moment

October 16, 2009

Diane Brown combines poetry, memoir and travel in Here Comes Another Vital Moment.

She has a poet’s gift for making every word count, painting word pictures and trusting the reader to see beyond the surface.

I loved the way she wove poetry into the prose:

From the Dom zu Berlin rooftops: a man clinging to the rounded blue glass of the new hotel roof as he adjusts something. Dizzy, I hold my breath, look away. Over in the distance, a think blue line on the horizon.

Those of us born on islands

always interpret blue

as sea, a distant line

 

as horizon to slip over . . .

It’s an original approach which makes this book so much more than a travelogue.

dairy 10007

Post 16 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge.

book month logo green

Over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on Maraea and the Albatross by Patricia Grace, illustrated by Brian Gunson.


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