Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tuesday Poem: The Brazilian Priest's Flying Ship, by Sue Wootton

The Brazilian priest's flying ship


Scallop-hulled, my lovely vessel plies the air
on feathered wings. Her bowsprit beak splits clouds,

streams tufts of cumulus and stratus past
her flanks. Her rigging's no frayed salted grid of rope

mast-glued to crawling seas; she hoists no canvas tower
nor stands a man in any so-called nest - nay, she is the crow,

the actual bird, the raptor, gull, horizon-hunting
albatross. Her stately pinions beat. Her canopy's

an iron net strung liberally with amber beads. Gentlemen,
it's by this secret, modern, scientific operation (and by

God's will) we'll keep aloft. And swift, so swift! Two hundred
miles per day - unhindered reef-free sky! Flamboyant

whoop-whoop birds ablaze with jungle song ne'er heard by Christian ears
will roost with us on Tuesday, will decorate our snow-view

Andes Thursday plates with gaudy spectrum (plucked) of plump!
And never becalmed1 Bring forth the bellows. Pump, gentlemen, pump!

-Sue Wootton

Note a description and engraving of this flying ship was published in the Gentleman's Magazine 56, 1786. Invented by a Brazilian priest, the vessel was to be covered by "iron wire, in the form of a net, on which are fastened a good number of amber beads, which by a secret operation, will help keep the ship aloft'. It would offer fast travel ('200 miles in 24 hours') and utilize the latest modern technology (a pair of bellows stored fore and aft) to combat the doldrums.

Sue Wootton is a Dunedin poet and writer, whose work includes three poetry collections Hourglass (2005), Magnetic South (2008) and By Birdlight (2011), and a children's book, Cloudcatcher. This poem is taken from her third collection, By Birdlight, and the associated image is the cover image for the book.

I am giving away a copy of By Birdlight along with other books, in the Big Poetry Giveaway. I will be drawing the winners not too long after the end of the month, so if you would like to enter, add your name to the comments of this post.

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site where you will find a poem by Lee Posna this week, and links to other participants in the side bar.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Poem

State Highway One, South of Oamaru

Horse heads of smoke rear into the sky
from late autumn burn offs. A hawk hovers
over road kill, wheels away as I approach.
Possum spilling its guts on the centre line.
In the autumn blond fields, a crease
backed by a line of dark trees -
a country creek like any other
except for its name
Baghdad Creek
In the distance, I hear gunshots.

© Catherine Fitchett

I am taking part in the Big Poetry Giveaway. This poem appears in Flap: The Chook Book 2 which is one of the books that I am giving away. For more details of my giveaway, see this post.

Note: possums in New Zealand are not the same as the North American opossum, they are the Australian species - protected native animals in Australia, an introduced pest species here. No one that I know gets too upset over possum road kill! There really is a Baghdad Creek, named after a nineteenth century sailing ship that brought early settlers to New Zealand.

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


One of the things I have been working on lately. Now that we have our new home and know the wall colours, I have started a quilt for our bed. The colours are based on a fabric which depicts paua shells, beautiful shells with a lining of purples, blues and greens. These pieces are pinned to a flannel backing, so some of the light areas are gaps, not light pieces of the quilt.

Since I last posted about NaPoWriMo, the writing has slipped back.I wrote nothing for about a week. It doesn't look as if I will manage thirty poems this month, but I have written three more in the last couple of days and, in total, way more than I wrote all last year. So I am happy with the results so far. Especially as nearly all the poems I have written are ones I want to work on and keep, rather than being contrived around a prompt for the day, just for the sake of writing something.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Tuesday Poem: Temptation


The rind falls on the benchtop
in the shape of her initial.
He slices the fruit in thin segments
with hands pleated by age
and stippled like the skin of the pear.

He arranges its slices on a plate
translucent as the delicate skin
around her eyes. Carries it
in shaking hands to where she sits
deep in a chair, shrunken in its arms,
propped on pillows.

Once he courted her with apples.
This pear now, softer and kinder
to aged gums. He feeds her
slice by slice. She sucks the sweetness.
A trickle of juice runs down her chin.
Winter will come soon enough.
He is feeding her the sun.

© Catherine Fitchett 2011

After I posted the autumn photos in the previous post, I recalled this poem. I have always thought that if I were Eve, I would want Adam to tempt me with pears rather than with apples.

This poem was placed third in the inaugural Poems in the Waiting Room poetry competition and was published in their poetry cards for Winter 2012.

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site and see what others have posted.

Remember, I am participating in the Big Poetry Giveaway. To win free poetry books, see this post.

Sunday, April 06, 2014


Because not everywhere on the internet is in the northern hemisphere :)

We have two apple trees and three pear trees in our new house. The apples are very good for cooking, too tart for eating. The other apple tree didn't produce anything this year. The three pear trees produced really well, each is a different variety although I have no idea what they are. The ones in the photo have quite blemished skin but they taste delicious.

A reminder, I am participating in the Big Poetry Giveaway this month. If you want to win free poetry books, go to this post.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Problem with NaPoWriMo

NaNoWriMo was first - a movement to write a novel in a month, or at least, write fifty thousand words of a first draft of a novel. If the novelists could have a month, then why not the poets? And so someone started NaPoWriMo. Which is like NaNoWriMo, but different. It's the differences that are causing me problems.

Firstly, in NaNoWriMo, there has never been any suggestion as far as I can tell, that you should post your fifty thousand words on your blog for the world to see. There are all sorts of ways to connect with other people doing the same thing, there is merchandise to buy, there are ways to be accountable for your goals, but posting your work on the net isn't one of them. There are currently two places I know of posting daily prompts to assist the poets, (here and here) but to really join in the fun, you have to post your work. Which is a problem because firstly, it is bound to be a very rough draft (unless you are extraordinarily talented) and secondly, if you want to have your work published in a print (or online) journal, there are fewer and fewer editors who will consider work that has appeared on the internet, even in rough draft form.

The second problem for me is the idea of a "poem a day". For some, that might work. Others, like me, may have days when there is little time to write. Days when I work all day, get in my daily walk on the way home, throw some dinner on the table and go out again to meet an evening commitment. In NaNoWriMo, you can write consistently about 1700 words a day - or you can write 12,500 words every weekend - quite doable - or have a binge over the last few days and do it all then, or whatever you like. The "rules" of NaPoWriMo seem much more rigid.

None of which really matters - after all, I'm a grown-up, I can make my own choices. However, I do like the accountability, the idea that lots of other people are all aiming to write lots of poems this month, the sense of companions on the journey. So, for what it's worth, I am attempting to write thirty very rough drafts this month. There won't be any haiku, because I don't feel as if they really count. Not that good haiku aren't poems, but it is so easy to write a bad haiku that it's too tempting to dash one off and call that my poem for the day. Each poem will have a title, and be of reasonable length, and you won't see it here because it will need lots of revision some time after the end of the month.

And just for an added challenge I'm toying with the idea of having at least one title for each letter of the alphabet. (Kelli Russell Agodon's book Letters from the Emily Dickinson room was my inspiration for this idea). I'm not sure if I'll manage it, we'll see.

So far, I have four very rough drafts, one title with a chunk of brainstorming - too early to call this even a rough draft - and a sixth title with a sort of an inkling of the structure of the poem that will go with it. So I am up to date at the moment, no doubt I will slip back during the week and need a catch up next weekend.