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Poets on Trains! (Going West Writers Festival)

12 Sep

If you happen to be traveling on a train heading west tomorrow between 4:30-5:30pm, you might just see me performing some poems as part of the Going West Writers Festival!

I can’t find anything about this online, but I have a nice letter from Auckland Transport, allowing me free passage during that time – so it must be legit!

Poetry Live – 25th June

22 Jun

Come along to Poetry Live at the Thirsty Dog this Tuesday evening and let me talk at you for half an hour!

There will be an open mic set to begin, followed by the guest musician John Goudge, followed by me (the guest poet for the night), and ending with another open mic set.

Poetry Live has been running for over thirty years, and happens each Tuesday night.

Guitargh Nonet – this Friday!

17 Jun

This Friday I’m going to be transformed into one of these guitar-plucking, hat-wearing man-clones, as I perform in one of the guitar trios that make up the Guitargh Nonet event.

At the Audio Foundation, under the Parisian Tie Factory on Poynton Terrace (right beside Myers Park), this Friday the 21st, 8pm. Koha entry. Come along!

 

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.