Monday, January 21, 2008

Two-Part Poetry Post

For the past week or so the New Zealand newspapers have been full of the death of Sir Edmund Hillary, his life and the funeral plans. And so another death, although attracting quite a few obituaries and attention, has been rather overshadowed - the poet Hone Tuwhare, at the age of 86.

The link is to the tribute on our local library's website. His poems were lyrical, sometimes political, but accessible - he came from a working class background, while many other esteemed New Zealand poets were university educated.

You can read some of his poems here including "No Ordinary Sun", a protest about the bombing of Hiroshima, and "Albatross" (Kay, are you reading this? I thought of you when I saw that one). "No Ordinary Sun" was 11th on the list of New Zealanders' favourite poems, and Rain was in first place.

And now that I have left you some poetry to read, I have to confess I haven't written any myself for a while. Instead I thought I would offer a giveaway.

I have here a couple of sets of "Kiwi magnetic poetry". The words in these sets are New Zealand vernacular and rather colourful idioms of the sort that I can imagine a Southland cow cockie using (cow cockie = dairy farmer). I've thought of trying to use them in poems, which would be an interesting challenge. It occurs to me that if any poet could slip these into a poem and have them sound natural, it would be Hone Tuwhare.

So, I offer you a few of the phrases from the set. If you would like to win a set, leave a comment to that effect. I'm leaving the conditions of entry open. "Please" might do it, but I'll be more impressed if you offer an accurate answer as to the meanings of the phrases, or even better, an inaccurate but entertaining answer, or if you offer me a short poem using one or more of the phrases. Use your imagination. I'll leave the entries open for a couple of weeks to give you a chance to think about it.

stone the crows
across the ditch
bit of a dag
down the gurgler
shoot through
hit the sack
suck the kumera
sparrows fart

For more poetic inspiration (if you haven't come from there), hop on over to readwritepoem


Crafty Green Poet said...

Oh gosh, thanks for the link to No Ordinary Sun, I love that poem, I first read it years ago and had lost it - thanks for helping me find it again!

Interesting that there's a Kiwi magnetic poetry set. i wonder if there's a Scots one? I'll think about the phrases, though we hit the sack too when we go to bed, I assume the meanings the same for you?

Anonymous said...

This is a very informative post. I will go check the link.

Out of the set, I only know Hit the sack. I think I will give all those a guess!

Anonymous said...

This was fun, Catherine. Here's a little thing I wrote, completely guessing at the meanings. I confess I don't know anything about New Zealand vernacular. I'd love to visit your country someday and learn more.

Anonymous said...

Oops! Forgot the "poem".

Stone the crows
to save the crops
glass houses tend to break.
Across the ditch
life could be better
if you don’t tend
to the side you’re on.
Bit of a dag
got you down?
There’s no need to fret.
A friend or two,
and a pint of brew
down the gurgler
will set you right.
Shoot through
the rapids, leave fear behind.
Then when you’re tired
hit the sack before you
suck the kumera – no one wants
to die before their time.
Sparrows fart is the tiniest
sound you can hear.
Sit still, breathe,
and maybe you’ll get lucky.