Creativity Home And Abroad

Some literary escapism

By Gill Ward

Well around solstice time we are entering into hopeful thoughts. Yes?

The days are getting longer, if not brighter so let’s slip into some literary escapism and intellectual exercise.

Oh well I can hear you mutter – she’s a fine one to be talking about intellectual exercise. Why?

Did you just see me throw down my London Review of Books in despair and run to write this instead? There was one thing in the edition that appealed.

They run a ‘personal column’ I don’t think it’s quite as funny as the ones in New York Review of Books but then I haven’t been reading that lately. 

Some funnies from the personal columns

I was astonished to find an article written by Anatole Broyard in 1982 (!) on this matter written in the New York Times.

Here’s some quotes from some of his finds

A man who is a serious novel would like to hear from a woman who is a poem.” Has anyone ever made a more wistful request? ”A spiritual student of sunrises,” ”a bighearted man who can climb a mountain and quote Blake” – God bless them and their standards.

David Rose in 2013 wrote a book about the personal ads in the London Review of Books. It is called Sexually I’m more of a Switzerland. What a wonderful title. It is filled with quotes from the Personals.

Here’s a bit of one I read yesterday, a man describing himself: Less like Heathcliff, more Sancho Panza (sans corpulence). Seeking female, close in age, willing to meet a man of no magnitude.

I do hope he found that female.

A great book from Mary

This month local poet Mary Cresswell published her 4th book, not counting another she wrote with 3 poets in 2003. It was launched at Mahara Gallery where they have her book on sale. Titled Field Notes (Makaro Press) it is a treasure trove of wit, humour, whimsy and intellect.

Mary’s love and knowledge of the natural world is strongly evident. Mary gave me permission to include one of her poems. In her book there is a poem about the freeway. It’s too long to quote and I have an antipathy regarding quoting pieces of poems out of context, but when you buy this book or read it in the library that poem is called Moving.

Here is a shorter one, set in America from whence she came to live in New Zealand in 1970. It will resonate with so many of us; either when we were children or when we travelled with them:

Landscape with hopelessly restless figures

In the car they whined and squabbled:

limericks, word games for hours, forever.

The road barely touched the horizon.

Outside, the green grain rippled and waved

for miles, identical miles. We called

it a sea. Look, we kept saying, look,

have you ever seen a sea of grass?

They were outraged, yet another lie,

like, It’s not far now. We’ll be there soon.

I strongly recommend this refreshing book which deftly displays that a poem does not have to be long to be strong, sound and rewarding.

The distinguished Bob Orr at “Poets to the people”

Poets to the people on Sunday 27th August has Bob Orr as our guest. Bob is currently the writer in residence at Waikato University.

He was reading at the Arts Festival in Wellington last year and to his astonishment was awarded the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award for Distinguished Contribution to Poetry in New Zealand is a biennial award which is jointly administered by Lauris Edmond’s literary estate and the New Zealand Poetry Society.

Funded by Victoria University Press and the New Zealand Poetry Society, this award is given to a poet who has contributed greatly to New Zealand poetry.

Bob was obviously surprised saying ‘I just thought I had come here to read poetry.’ For 30 years Bob’s also worked as a waterman for Ports of Auckland, taking pilots out to vessels from super yachts to tankers. He has written 8 books of verse.

Bob is coming all this way to share his poetry with us. Do read about him online he is versatile and interesting.

There’s an article there  written for Metro in 2002 by Tim Wilson, seems a long time ago but an enjoyable read which gives you something of the essence of Bob.

So High Tide Café, Marine Parade 4 – 6pm on  27 August.

Am I “the queen of digression”?

There are factions of the community who regard me as the queen of digression and on reading this back I tend to agree.

But one last thought – what a good party game this could be –  everyone writes a ‘personal’ about themselves in a metaphorical literary tone and they are all gathered up and passed out then read aloud one by one and you have to guess who it is.

Oh well it is winter so we are allowed to digress and hibernate our brains a bit.

Here’s something true:

People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy. Anton Chekhov

And you know…just the worst time of the year for a journey…

Stay warm if you can and read a lot if you can. Wishing you some happiness be it in winter or summer.