Was Pooh Bear a romantic?

15/02/2011

Discussion with Noelle McCarthy on Critical Mass began with the Last Post on Stoatspring in which Anne Else, his widow, gave the news of his death.

In response to that she is now using her blog, Elsewoman, to write about learning to live by herself for the first time in her life.

Still on the subject of love we looked at the 10 most romantic lines in English Literature.

Emily Bronte penned the winning words: ” Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same” in Wuthering Heights.

A.A. Milne’s Pooh Bear (or was it Christopher Robin to Pooh?) was voted second with:  “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you” .

If you find this to sugary, pop across to Today Is My Birthday for Ally’s amusing reaction to the romance.


Reading Janet Frame

12/01/2011

This Tuesday’s Poem is Reading Janet Frame by Harvey McQueen, which is part of a tribute to the poet who died on Christmas Day by Mary McCallum who also posted Harvey McQueen RIP on her own blog.

Other tributes from Tuesday poets include:

After the Disaster chosen by Helen Lowe

Tribute to Harvey McQueen by Helen Rickerby at Winged Ink

Harvey McQueen 1934-2010 – an appreciation by Jeffrey Paparoa Holman

Farewell to Harvey McQueen by Saradha Koirala

Tuesday poem to remember Harvey McQueen That Selfsame Song by Thomas Hardy, from Mariana Isara


Death of a poet and blogger

04/01/2011

Stoatspring was a relatively recent addition to my list of regular blog reads (thanks to a recommendation from Deborah).

I enjoyed the mix of poetry, philosophy and general ruminations on many topics including gardening,  food, current affairs and life.

 He started blogging because he had inclusion body myositis, a rare muscular degenerative disease which made him increasingly disabled but still able to type.

He was open about the condition, it’s impact and frustrations but never self-pitying.

I was very sorry to read the last post, written by his wife Anne Else, follow Harvey’s death on Christmas Day.

A couple of weeks ago I bought his last book, These I Have Loved, my favourite New Zealand poems. It is a fitting legacy for a man with such a fine appreciation for good writing who wrote so well himself.


Why Do We Do What We Do?

21/12/2010

This Tuesday’s poem is Why Do We Do What We Do by James Brown.

Sarah Jane Barnett who is this week’s editor paired the Tuesday Poets in a poetic version of  ”Secret Santa”  to post a poem or other offering by their ‘partner’ poet.

The results are linked in the sidebar and include:

How She Holds Her Head by Mary McCallum

Grapefruit by Clare Beynon

Cake With Fruit by Therese Clear

Christmas Baubles from Northland by Elizabeth Welsh

The Middle Ground by Belinda Hollyer

Elizabeth and Mary by Kathleen Jones

Kitchen Sonnets by Catherine Fitchett

Albedo by Harvey Malloy

Unnoticed by Harvey McQueen

countadowncountdownAuckland Countdown by Renee Liang

Xmas by Susan Landry

Christ in Aotearoa by Andrew Bell

Nerves by Sarah Jane Barnett

Burning With Joan of Arc by Helen Rickerby

Christmastide by Helen Lowe

Barksoup Winter by Jennifer Compton


Cow Poem

16/11/2010

Tuesday’s poem goes rural this week with Cow Poem by Chris Mansell.

Other Tuesday poems with links in the sidebar include:

Under the Influence by Mary McCallum.

A Manner of Speaking by Clare Beynon.

Rudyard Kipling’s Smuggler’s Song at An Affliction of Poetry took me back to primary school:

If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse’s feet,
Don’t go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street,
Them that ask no questions isn’t told a lie.
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by.
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark –
Brandy for the Parson, ‘Baccy for the Clerk.
Laces for a lady; letters for a spy,
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by!  . .

Then there’s two which are both sad and powerful:

Vesper Sparrow’s How I died and Harvey McQueen’s Life Sentence.


Truths

03/11/2010

This Tuesday’s poem is Truths by Helen Heath.

Alicia Ponder who selected it says:

On the surface it is straighforward, but underneath it has an elegance and grace that is quite breathtaking.  I could wax lyrical, but that is hardly necessary as the poem speaks for itself. It stands alone, a beautiful truth, as rare as any jewel,. . .

It is. I’ve read it six times since coming across it on Tuesday and each time I find something more in it.

Among the links to other Tuesday poets in the sidebar are:

if it be your will by Leonard Cohen at Type What You See.

Beyond Silence by Saradha Koirala at Lalialand.

What You Take With You by Mary Mcallum.

Rural Delivery by Vivienne Plumb at Winged Ink.

The Pensioner by Harvey McQueen.


Ode to Chocolate

29/10/2010

This Tuesday’s Poem is the delicious Ode to Chocolate by Barbara Crooker.

Tow other Tuesday poets who celebrated food:

Harvey McQueen with To Autumn by Ian Wedde.

Clare Beynon with her own Doris Plum.


The Time of the Giants

20/10/2010

The Time of the Giants by Anne Kennedy is this Tuesday’s Poem.

Among contributions from other Tuesday poets  are:

 Deep Sea Swimming by Pam Morrison at Cadence.

Harvey McQueen’s Reading Janet Frame at Stoatspring.

Sotto Voce by Clare Beynon at All Finite Things reveal Infinitude.

Thanks by W.A. Merwin at Belinda Hollyer.

Savai’i by Mary McCallum, at O Audacious Book.

And Mariana Isara at Type What You See chose Being the Poem from Walt Whitman’s preface to Leaves of Grass.


My Soul’s Companion

21/09/2010

This Tuesday’s Poem is My Soul’s Companion by Doug Poole.

It’s a prose poem and is accompanied by a painting by the poet’s partner, Penny Howard.

Among the other contributions from Tuesday poets linked in the sidebar are Afterword by Clare Beynon and Harvey’ McQueen’s Unexpected Tui.


Lines from Larkin and Nabokov

08/09/2010

This week’s Tuesday’s Poem post is: The Poet as absent-minded neuroscientist: The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin & Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov.

The commentary by Auckland-based novelist, poet and playwright Zireaux,  who chose the excerpts for this week’s post, is illuminating.

As always there are other poems to be found by following the links in the side bar.

Among them:

I was moved by Story Teller Vine, Rega by Melissa Shook.

Helen Lowe’s Outback expressed what we saw on a recent visit to Australia’s Top End.

Ode to Tomatoes by Pablo Neruda (translated by Margaret Sayers Peden) is a mouth watering offering from Belinda Hollyer. You can read it in Spanish here.

Sarah at The Red Room chose another of Neruda’s poems – September 8th (in Spanish here).

My Grandmother’s Love Letters by Hart Crane was Elizabeth Welsh’s choice.

Clare Beynon celebrates Eggs.

Mary McCallum manages to mix and make sense of a breast scan, a mouse trap and an earthquake in Victory.

Harvey McQueen sings  A Song Of Spring.

 Tim Jones walks Down George Street In The Rain.

While on poetry – Beattie’s Book Blog has September Quake by Jeffrey Paparoa Holman.


Critical mass on cleaning and cooking

07/09/2010

Ha-Joon Chang’s theory that the washing machine did more for productivity than the internet (see two posts back) was the starting point for my chat with Jim Mora on Critical Mass  this afternoon.

While on matters domestic we moved from cleaning to cooking and had a look at Something Else to Eat the blog of writer, feminist and keen cook Anne Else.

Her love of words and food is obvious in her posts which are a delight to read and, thanks to the photographs, look at.

I was part way through her post on making pancakes when I realised she’s married to Harvey McQueen and I’d read the post he wrote on eating the pancakes.

The contrast between her description of following his directions And his matter of fact account of the same incident amused me.

She said:

 First I asked where the recipe was. “I just use the Edmond’s one”, he said. So I got it out and showed it to him, because I’ve learnt from long experience that he doesn’t often follow a recipe exactly. . . 

He said:

Anne made pancakes for our brunch this morning. One of life’s pleasures, a simple dish yet tasty.

Deborah at In A Strange Land suggested I look at food blogs, not professional ones but home cooking enthusiasts (thank you).

In doing some very quick research this morning I came across some other gems but ran out of time to discuss them. They’ll keep for another time.

Other suggestions for themes, blogs or websites which might be suitable for future Critical Mass spots are welcomed.


Love at Livebait

03/08/2010

This Tuesday’s Poem is Love At Livebait by Gillian Clarke.

As always the links in the sidebar lead to other poems.

I read  Havey McQueen’s Just So: A Love Poem of Sorts  last night and am still thinking about it. It follows a post  he wrote about Inclusion Body Myositis, which makes the poem even more poignant.


Sab

27/07/2010

This Tuesday’s poem is extracts from Sab  by Maria McMillan.

The sidebar has links to other Tuesday poets.

I was moved by Cheers – the poem and the explanation which followed – by Harvey McQueen at Stoatspring.

And was charmed and impressed by both Where She Comes From by Clare Beynon and the story behind it.

 This doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the other offerings, just that these two stood out.


Blogging as therapy

13/07/2010

Toll calls were very expensive and we didn’t have mobile phones or the internet when our son was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disorder.

We made a few calls to immediate family but telling most of our friends throughout New Zealand and overseas was done by writing letters and posting them.

There had been little technological improvement in the following two years when we got the diagnosis for our second son. Mobile phones were becoming more common when he died five years later but we still hadn’t heard of the internet.

Now, when people want to spread personal news, good or bad it’s relatively cheap and very easy to do it by text, email, Facebook or blogging.

Writing can be therapeutic for both the writer and those who read it and that’s what prompted me to choose blogging as therapy for my chat with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today.

Blogs I mentioned were: Annie Fox –  written by Anna Wolfe who among posts on politics and life, wrote about cancer. The last post was written by a friend and includes tributes given at her funeral.

Kismet Farm wrote a variety of usually light hearted posts but mentioned a diagnosis of cancer earlier this year. The last post a few days ago was written by her husband, telling us she’d died.

We Remember is written by Lee Ann from Maryland whose son was killed in Iraq. The name was chosen because

 . . it seems more positive than simply not forgetting. Remember those we’ve lost, remember those left behind, remember why we are here. . .

Stoatspring is a mixture of reflections on life, retirement, reading and disability in poetry and prose by Harvey McQueen. He explains why he started blogging:

 . . . I’ve been diagnosed with inclusion body myositis, a rare muscular degenerative disease. . . . I cannot travel. I can’t garden and I can’t cook for I cannot plant seedlings or lift a casserole out of the oven. . . .  I’ve had to give up driving which means I’m dependent upon other people. It’s very rugged on my wife Anne for it means I can’t help around the house  . . . Thank heavens, I still can read, use the computer, watch television and DVDs, talk to friends. From being a participant in life I’ve become an observer. Hospital waiting rooms loom large as other events narrow down. So I begin this blog to widen my contacts

The last post was a recommendation from Deborah at In A Strange Land. Had Jim and I not run out of time today, I’d have mentioned that she is helping herself in her determination to stay off the demon drink for a month in aid of Dry July with a virtual star chart. A page with links to each day’s post is here.


The Garden in Autumn

29/04/2009

We were still enjoying summer yesterday but the temperature dropped over night reminding us the season has changed and prompting this choice for today’s tribute to poetry month.

The Garden in Autumn  by Elizabeth Smither comes from The Earth’s Deep Breathing, garden poems by New Zealand poets  edited by Harvey McQueen and published by Godwit.

The Garden in Autumn

 

Summer comes to abandonment.

Winter to total abandonment.

Spring to total lack of control.

 

But autumn shows the way to go

like an old-fashioned usherette

in an old-fashioned cinema

 

when a torch was required

and a gentle, ‘Follow me, ;lease’

and the light directed back

 

at your feet while hers remained

in the darkness as she stepped

unfalteringly down the slope

 

until it shone on the row

‘Two in the middle’ or ‘Two from the end’

and the torchlight turned and went

 

bobbing again up the slope

with more grace than many films.

So autumn shows us how

 

to go about gardening. It clears

a path for the virtuous

to follow and pull a weed.

 

– Elizabeth Smither –


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