Monday, September 01, 2014

From Above


I spent the weekend attending a number of sessions at the Word Christchurch Writers' Festival. The "fringe" events on the Sunday took place at the Physics Room, a gallery and exhibition space on the fourth floor of the old High Street Post Office building which now houses C1 Expresso and Alice in Videoland. So I clambered up the four flights of stairs, stepped inside the gallery and was mesmerised by this view. It occurred to me that I hadn't been this high up since the earthquakes. In fact there are not many functioning tall buildings left in the city.

The wooden trees that echo the forms of the cabbage palms in the foreground are a recent sculpture installation. On the left, the empty area where there is a mini golf course was once an area of narrow lanes with quirky shops. Just out of view, behind temporary fencing is the damaged building that housed the Twisted Hop, the scene of a poetry book launch I attended a few years back. So much of the city is now just a memory.

Elizabeth Knox apparently described Christchurch as "a city living in memory and expectation, with ghost streets and dream buildings". It seemed an apt description.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Birds of a Feather

As a would-be wildlife photographer, I am not very successful. My photo files reveal plenty of attempts to photograph birds, but mostly they come out blurred, tiny dots in the distance in the middle of the photo, seriously backlit, or just plain boring (endless photographs of gulls, which at least tend to stand still and not fly away until you come really close).

I recently visited an exhibition from the New Zealand Society of Nature Photographers at the Canterbury Museum, and the stunning photos there reminded me just how far I have to go to match their skill level.

Nevertheless, here are a few bird photos for Carmi's theme of the week.

I captured the pied stilt while having a lakeside rest break on our recent trip to the North Island.

The rest of the photos were taken around Christchurch:


The gulls were bathing in a rainwater puddle in our rather earthquake damaged central business district.


A kereru (New Zealand wood pigeon) enjoying a berry feast in Victoria Park, a local park popular with hill walkers and mountain bikers.


There are some rather swampy paddocks at the foot of the hill where we live. It's a popular hang out for pukeko (also known as "swamp hens", although this name is being used less often these days).


And lastly, gulls and ducks on the golf course in Hagley Park. This one makes me smile, because they didn't want to move, despite the best efforts of the man with the golf club. I guess they are very used to golfers, and rate the chance of being hit by a golf ball too low to make the effort to move out of the way.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tuesday Poem: Morning Glory, by Siobhan Harvey

Morning Glory


These final moments of sleeping
cradle something which can never be

reclaimed. Like land and water, we
have shared the space, the companionship

of mother and child. Now posed in simple relief,
your marble body, your eyes closed appear, like a statue,

imagined of substance which might simply break.
Soon, you’ll wake up anew

to friends, books and independence strangers will measure
out with their invisible, impartial scales. In metamorphosis

quick as an intake of my breath, you’ll be dressed
in your first uniform. As swiftly, I’ll see you own it

and so will attempt to still a need to cry.
For all the years I’ve held back the stirring

of these things with a sentinel’s weakness, I break
the slumber of our moment by calling our your name.

**************************

"Morning Glory: is taken from Siobhan Harvey's recent collection, Cloudboy which won the 2013 Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award.

Some poetry books can be dipped into here and there. This is one I read straight through from beginning to end. It gains power as it goes, being an account of the author's relationship with her autistic son, and his difficulties entering school. The poem above is a lovely example of the sensitivity expressed in the collection.

Another poem from the collection, Cloudmother was earlier posted on the Tuesday Poem main hub site, with a commentary by the hub editor, Helen McKinlay, and Siobhan's own comments on the collection. To these, I have little to add, and recommend clicking through to read those comments, if you haven't already done so.

Thanks to Siobhan for permission to post "Morning Glory" here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday Poem: Christian Milne (1773 - ?)

On a Lady
Who Spoke with Some Ill-Nature of the Advertisement of
My Little Work in the
Aberdeen Journal

Says pert Miss Prue,
"There's something new
In Chalmers' weekly papers -
A shipwright's wife,
In humble life,
Writes rhyme by nightly tapers!

"That folks of taste
Their time should waste
To read them, makes me wonder!
A lowborn fool
Ne'er bred at school,
What can she do but blunder?

"Write rhyme, forsooth!
Upon my truth,
"Twill put it out of fashion;
She can but paint
In colors faint
Rude nature's lowest passion.

"A wife so mean
Should nurse and clean
And mend her husband's jacket,
Not spend her time
In writing rhyme
And raising such a racket!"

**********

While on holiday it was a delight to discover several excellent second hand bookshops, at one of which I picked up a fat volume "British Women Poets of the 19th Century". There were a few I had heard of, such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Christina Rossetti, and many many more that I hadn't. Perhaps sentiments such as those expressed in the poem above - women should stick to domestic business - explain why so many female poets didn't receive greater recognition.

I enjoyed the humour of this poem, and was interested to read about the author, who was the child of a carpenter. Her mother died soon after her birth, and her stepmother tried to prevent her learning to read and write. She married a ship's carpenter, and they had eight children. I was intrigued to read that she received 100 pounds for her only volume of poems, and that she invested it in a sixteenth share of a ship. So her poems must have been quite well received, as it seems unlikely that publication of a book of verse today would earn sufficient funds to buy one sixteenth of a ship, even a small one!

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site.

Strangers from Afar


Carmi's Thematic Photographic theme for the week is strangers from afar. Looking into my photo files, I find I don't do that very much. I did, however, find the above photo that I took a couple of months back, outside Christchurch's transitional cathedral. Something about the electrician's kneeling figure intrigued me. Perhaps it is to do with the motto "laborare est orare" (to work is to pray). (Which reminds me, I intended to write a poem based on the scene).

To find more, I had to go back much further in my files. It turns out I'm less shy of taking photos of strangers when I travel overseas (which is not very often).


The modern centurion in the photo above seemed to have echoes of the fellow in the photo below:



The last of my selection was taken in Singapore.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Orchids


Photographed at Te Puna Quarry Park.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Lenticular Cloud over Wellington


We were up early last Monday morning on our way to the ferry terminal, and spotted this amazing cloud over the hills at sunrise. I had heard of lenticular clouds before, but never seen one.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On the Beach


We have been on holiday.More photos to come, in the meantime here is an image for Carmi's Thematic Photographic. This week's theme is look straight down, which this photo seemed to fit, more or less.