Thanks to Caroline Davies and her fantastic online magazine Down in Edin that features a vast range of local arts and creativity for publishing these two poems (and Caroline’s spooky photograph that accompanies them.)
Port, Dogtown, Koputai, names good and ill,
you look outward to oceans, waiting for the world.
Cruise liners and log boats snuggle your wharves.
A thousand trunks of Pinus Radiata are matchsticks
piled before your crow’s nest lookout,
the channel a blue stripe down ruffled green fur.
Ships glide through the throat of the harbour,
models inserted into the glass bottle of summer.
Nudged under the crook of cliffs, a camel hump
scattered with draughty villas and stone churches,
where wharfies in orange overalls pop in
for a flash coffee, or pie from the dairy.
From ships we live, proclaims your bronze plaque:
and now in place of wool and frozen mutton
are megacubits of golden butter,
and the determined tramp of tracksuited pensioners
embarking from the Princess of the Seas.
Steam curls in fluffy ventings from the flanks
of your looming woodchip mountains,
while the permanent hum of industry pervades you,
wasp yellow diggers growling across yards,
lanky straddles speed-looping the terminal with boxes
to stack and stow in perpendicular precision.
When I was twenty, buzzed on magic mushrooms,
we walked around the fence to Back Beach,
watching giant machines in shadowless glare,
feeling the subterranean drumming
of a goods train clambering through your tunnel.
Now a bark and a cough as monster trucks change down
on George Street, where crusty old hands
mix with tryhard metropolitan newbies, and cultural tourists
wandering the retro boutiques and studios
where bohemians assemble in creative endeavour.
The grey page of evening is inscribed
by the querulous drone of free noise guitar improv,
the demented squawk of a feral rooster,
and the clink of beer bottles from the rugby clubrooms.
The channel lights wink the way home
in a cheery salute of green and red.
Released 10 May 2017 at the Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival, Ambient Terror is the third volume of poetry from Dunedin writer Victor Billot.
Refusing to be confined into one stylistic box, Ambient Terror is propelled forward by a sense of urgency reflecting the compressed reality of the 21st century. It is poetry that is equally up to the task of attacking socio-political themes or experimenting with language. It ‘takes in the world’, whether discussing depression and anxiety (Ambient Terror and Ghost Beat), mortality (Voice in Darkness and Selene), contemporary political topics (The Oversharing Economy and Beast of the Hour), or personal relationships (Congress and Monsoon Season).
“Billot can be compelling and punchy. He is an exciting, wild noise, yet one supported by genuine imagination and ingenuity.” (Otago Daily Times review 6 May 2017)
“ . . . brilliantly wry and trenchant observations of our contemporary political culture and its mediation by pop culture and social media.” (NB Dunedin Libraries magazine, July 2017)
Massive week at the Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival 2017. Launched Ambient Terror at Chain Reaction, a multiple book launch with fellow Dunedin Writers Peter Olds, John Gibb, Paddy Richardson and Huberta Hellendoorn, at the Athenaeum on Wednesday night, followed on directly by MCing the launch of Manifesto: 101 Political Poems at the Leviathan. Friday night was back down to the Leviathan to discuss the End of the World with Toby Manhire, Jean Balchin, Craig Cliff, Lucy Hunter and Joe Higham.
Friday 11 May 8.30–9.30pm at the Leviathan Hotel, Dunedin – entry by koha
Writers get together with host Victor Billot and share a mix of theories, essays and stories about life at the End of the World, over a beer. A recent New Yorker article titled ‘Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich’ revealed that wealthy Silicon Valley doomsdayers are looking to far-flung Aotearoa as the favoured spot in the event of a cataclysm.
Where our isolation was once considered a major flaw, it’s now one of our greatest assets. But is it – or will it really be – so safe down here at the end of the world? Join us for a close consideration of our slice of paradise and its merits … or lack thereof. Featuring English student and writer Jean Balchin; 2017 Burns Fellow Craig Cliff; Critic editors Lucy Hunter and Joe Higham; and Spinoff political editor Toby Manhire(pictured).
Please note that space is limited so admission cannot be guaranteed.
Curated by Pirate & Queen. Sponsored by the Department of English and Linguistics, University of Otago.
A group book launch to celebrate a goodly crop of new publications: Peter Olds’ poetry collection Taking My Jacket for a Walk (Cold Hub Press); Paddy Richardson’s novel Through the Lonesome Dark (Upstart Press); Victor Billot’s third volume of poetry Ambient Terror (Limetone Singularity); Huberta Hellendoorn’s memoir Astride a Fierce Wind (Makaro Press); and John Gibb’s poetry collection Waking by a River of Light (Cold Hub Press).
Wednesday 10 May, 5.00–6.30pm
Athenaeum Library (Free), The Octagon, Dunedin