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Geysercon!

30 May

This year is New Zealand’s 40th National Science Fiction and Fantasy Con – GEYSERCON– held in Rotorua this Queen’s Birthday weekend.

I’ll be milling about, a pile of books in hand (no doubt), attending the panels and workshops, and also starting off the Poetry Slam event at 4pm with some of my latest speculative fiction poetry.

One of my poems is also published in the con book, which you receive when you arrive!

Middlemarch

7 Jun

In March I attended a writers festival in Ohakune – a little town at the foot of the majestic Mt Ruapehu. On the final night I stood up nervously in front of a room full of respected NZ writers and read Middlemarch, a poem told in the perspective of a woman who is unhappy with her marriage. It was the first time I’d read one of my poems to pretty much anyone other than my six old son, who is nearly always nice about it (though actually, everyone at the festival was nice about it too). I then returned to my cold and tiny backpackers room to find an email from Landfall, informing me that the very poem I had read was to be published in their next edition. I was absolutely thrilled!

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This fruit is called a Cape Gooseberry, or a Ground Berry. I think they’re awesome.

It’s taken me a shamefully long time to announce this properly. In fact, it’s winter now, and this was an autumn edition. I think this is because the poem was written about my own failing marriage – now recently failed – but hey, really that’s no reason not celebrate a publication. I’ve begun reading the other poems and stories contained within, and am proud that Middlemarch is tucked in among them. The full list of contributors can be found here.

 

Caterpillar season

2 Jan

I love this time of the year. Summer is in full swing (with another few long months of sunny weather to go), the ocean is warm, the insects are humming, dairies are making a killer trade in iceblocks. And one of the highlights, for me at least, with my tiny inner-city balcony garden, is that the monarch butterflies return around this time of year, and begin laying their eggs on my swan plants.

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Here’s one of the older, fatter ones.

Last year I had far too many caterpillars for my single swan plant, and I had to buy another two. The shop assistant at the plant store told me that each caterpillar eats 16 leaves on average. She also told me to “squish” the smaller caterpillars so the bigger ones had enough to eat (yeah right). This year I bought another SEVEN plants to keep up with them. Let’s hope they grow quickly!

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The latin name is Gomphocarpus physocarpus, sometimes called “balloon plant” because of it’s balloon-like seed pods.

I’ve counted at least fifteen caterpillars so far this year, and I watched a butterfly lay an extra twenty-or-so eggs on the backs of the leaves.

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Caterpillars jostling for space.

Recently someone told me that butterflies remember where they hatched, and return to that very place when it’s their turn to lay. I thought that was neat – whole generations of the same family being born on my balcony. However,  I did a little research on this, and it appears that butterflies just have a very good sense of smell. They can smell the swan plants (a species of milkweed) from a long way away, and hone right in. I imagine that in the CBD there aren’t too many swan plants to go around.

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My garden might not be a butterfly paradise. But it’s something!

I’ll take some more pictures when they’ve hatched.

Short Story Competition

13 Aug

SpecFicNZ, for those who don’t know, is an association for New Zealand writers, creators, and fans of speculative fiction. I found them a few years back, after having been told (by a respectable member of the New Zealand literary community) that there wasn’t really a market for speculative fiction in NZ, that no one published it, and that I’d have a near-to-impossible time going down that road at all. (Doh!) Really, all it took was a quick search on-line, and I found a whole community of not only NZ speculative fiction writers, but publishers too. It does exist, thank you very much.

I’ve been a member of the organisation pretty much since I learned about it, and as of last month am now also a member of the core committee, and the current treasurer. (You gotta love a good spreadsheet.) Writing can be a rather lonely journey – just you and your characters (who sometimes aren’t that nice) – and so being part of an organisation with other like-minded people can make you feel a little less like the straggly, dried leaf-in-your-tangled-hair outsider that you really are. Plus, you get to hang out an conventions, learn about writing opportunities, and receive info about competitions such as:

COMPETITION

SpecFicNZ’s Spooky Bookshop Challenge.

Halloween this year falls on NZ Bookshop Day, so the aim of this competition is to write a 1000-2000 word story that both incorporates Halloween (or general spookiness) and bookshops. There’s a small cash prize, and the three winners’ stories will be published together as an e-book.

Deadline: September 30th.

To enter, you’ll need to be / become a member.

Me and my smart phone

11 Apr

So, I was given a smart phone recently, after losing about five crappy old Nokias in a row (“hey look! it has predictive text, wow!”) and now I’m on the mission to become technologically / logically techno savvy.

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I’m not even quite sure what this means, but I think it means I need my own writer’s facebook page, and a twitter account, and maybe other things I’m unaware of at this point…. (suggestions welcome)

So – as of now you may, if you so desire, follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IKPatersonHark

Or like my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ikpatersonharkness

Excellanto.

Auckland Street Art

11 Apr

In the dwindling light of afternoon I set off with my camera to capture some of the new street art that has suddenly popped up within my neighbourhood (the streets surrounding K Rd, Auckland). In the space of only a few blocks I found seven murals either newly finished or mid-creation.  I don’t know if it’s a new council initiative or what? Are there more to come? (I hope so). I’m not overly fond of drab concrete walls, so if there’s a mural-movement going on then I’m all for it.

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At the bottom of Mercury Lane. A crowd had gathered…

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On Upper Queen Street. I think this is awesome.

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Also on Upper Queen, not quite finished. Not entirely sure what it is, either? Can anyone help me here?

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Poynton Terrace.

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Is this new? I really like it. Also Poynton Terrace.

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Pitt Street, next to the Methodist Church.

I saw this one being finished up today – on East St, against the wall of the needle exchange.

 

I did a quick search to find out something (anything) about the increase of street art in the area, but came up with nothing. I’d be keen to find out what it’s all about / who the artists are, if anybody knows.

Flotsam and Jetsam

28 Nov

These past couple of weeks I’ve had the privilege of creating a music video for this beautiful song, by Sarah Macombee.

Filmed at Karekare, North Piha, and Laingholm’s little beach, we were buffeted by the wind, showered by rain – but the dolls didn’t complain, so neither did we.

And it was nothing that a cocktail coudn’t fix, after a few hours holding up a camera, bracing myself against the bluster.