Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday Poem: The Herbert Plot, by Jenny Powell

The Herbert Plot

for Donna Demente

As if you were chasing summer
and taking an apartment on the Riviera

or travelling on a tour of galleries
and architectural treasures,

you announce a stopover
at Herbert, ticket purchased,

documentation all in order,
the plot written and waiting

for an opening, there on those
green hills. Not highland hills

or Emerald Isles but Mount Charles
where the heart's land rises

hill upon hill and in their bones
history rattles. The slow gaze of time

wraps a hundred shades of love
and sorrow in a convergence

of yellow and blue, the last echo
of life tumbling down to the sea,

lifting into the requiem of night,
Donna, Donna, Madonna.

- Jenny Powell


A week or so back I had the pleasure of attending the launch of three new chapbooks published by Cold Hub Press. Among them was Jenny Powell's new collection , Ticket Home. Jenny was kind enough to give me permission to use a poem from the collection as my Tuesday Poem this week. I have been enjoying reading her poems very much. As often happens, to navigate the difficulty of choosing among them, I settled on one with personal resonances - I remember stopping off at the Herbert cemetery referred to in the poem some years ago, to search for the graves of my great great uncles and their families. It is a lovely small graveyard on a hillside shaded by pines and other trees. Donna Demente is an artist and gallery owner from Oamaru. Jenny says "The poem was inspired by an exhibition of work by Donna Demente in Oamaru's Forrester Gallery. I didn't want to think about her chosen place. As with many things we don't want to consciously consider, the unconscious has a way of retaining them, hence the poem."

Jenny Powell is a Dunedin poet who has written five individual collections of poetry. She has worked with other poets to produce two collaborative collections, 'Double Jointed' and 'Locating the Madonna.' Her latest collections are 'Vietnam: A Poem Journey' (HeadworX, 2010) and 'Ticket Home' (Cold Hub Press, 2012).

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the hub site to check out the main post for the week, and to visit other Tuesday Poets linked in the sidebar.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Beckenham Mural

This mural appeared on the brick wall of the pharmacy in Beckenham (a suburb near me) in the last week or so. Some of the buildings depicted were destroyed in the earthquake, including those on the now vacant lot next to the wall. I suspect the appearance of the mural means that nothing will be built there any time soon.

It was estimated that, to replace all the buildings that were destroyed, a new one would need to be completed every four days for the next ten years. And ongoing insurance problems are slowing the rebuild. It will happen, eventually, but in the meantime it is good to see artwork like this to brighten up the city.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tuesday Poem on Wednesday


I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

- Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 - 1822

I find this vision of ancient ruins keeps popping into my mind, with the growing number of demolitions around our city, and the controversy over the future of the Christchurch Cathedral. So I thought I would post it for my Tuesday Poem this week, though I am a day late due to some rather late nights out.

Meantime, at the main Tuesday Poem website, the Tuesday Poets have been building a collaborative poem for our second birthday. We have constructed it by contributing a line each in turn. It was great fun to do (and challenging, as well).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday Poem: Easter, by George Herbert


Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delayes,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more, just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or, since all musick is but three parts vied
And multiplied,
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

I got me flowers to straw thy way;
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.

The Sunne arising in the East,
Though he give light, & th’ East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume.

Can there be any day but this,
Though many sunnes to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we misse:
There is but one, and that one ever.

George Herbert (1593 - 1633)

This seemed an appropriate song to post as my Tuesday Poem this week. There is an extensive discussion of the poem at Patrick Comerford's blog here.

Monday, April 09, 2012


I went into the city today (as much of it as is open) for a bit of gift shopping. Then I browsed round a bit and took some photos. You can stand on a corner and in one direction the view looks like this:

(apologies for the poor focus)

and then in the other direction it looks like this:

It's not only the leaves that are falling. The pace of demolition is increasing, everywhere there are unsafe buildings being torn down. Crowds of people used to stop to watch the demolitions, now hardly anyone bothers. In the meantime much of the city remains off limits. I stopped to help out some overseas visitors, trying to find a gift shop which had advertised on an obviously out-of-date brochure (there are far too many of those around still). I had to tell them that, no, that address was firmly behind the cordon, and suggest other shopping areas they might be able to reach on foot. When last seen they were heading off to the museum and its gift shop - one of the few nineteenth century Gothic revival buildings that has survived, having been earthquake strengthened some years ago. Many other supposedly earthquake strengthened buildings have not survived - I guess they weren't earthquake strengthened enough.

Easter trading hours are a bit strange in New Zealand. Good Friday and Easter Monday are officially public holidays. But back when the public holidays were gazetted, nearly everybody worked Monday to Friday, so it didn't occur to our law makers to make Easter Sunday a public holiday. They did however make it one of the few days a year on which shops (with a few exceptions) are not permitted to trade. So now that shops open all weekend, and on most public holidays as well, the result is that the shops are closed at Easter on Friday and Sunday but open on Saturday and Monday (apart from some garden centres which open and get fined for doing so. No doubt it's profitable for them).

Our public libraries on the other hand, were open on Sunday - because it's not a public holiday and they are not covered by shop trading hours rules - but closed on Easter Monday. Bizarre.

I didn't manage to spot an Easter Bunny road cone - though there are hundreds of road cones not too far from here begging to be "bunnifed". So, if you would like to see what they look like, head to my daughter's blog

or Cheryl Bernstein's

or Christchurch Daily Photo.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Tuesday Poem

No Tuesday Poem this week becuase life is keeping me busy. Nothing particularly exciting - work, autumn tidy up in the garden, jam making, family coming for meals and the like. If you need a fix of tuesday poetry, do go over to the main hub site where all the participants are listed in the side bar, and where there will be a special poem developing for our second birthday - growing a line at a time over the next couple of weeks.

I have managed some poetry related things recently. A poetry class with Joanna which comes with plenty of homework, some poetry submissions sent out to various publications, and the news that one of my poems placed third in the inaugural Poems in the Waiting Room competition. So if I keep writing, I may have some more of my own work to post on Tuesdays, which will save me the effort of sending out all those permission requests.