An insightful and generous review of Ambient Terror by Piet Nieuwland, alongside reviews of the great Peter Olds and Auckland poet Shane Hollands. Nice to be in such company.
“[A] rolling, blustering word-river of nanobytes, phrase chunks, alliterations and acrobatic satirical loops, held together by number-eight wire rhyme – great fun . . .
My favourite poems in this collection have a distinctive urgency and rhythm and frequently use strong rhyme that drives them along. It is easy to imagine Billot on stage, performing them with energy and enthusiasm, whether it’s ‘Ghost beat’, ‘FVEY’ or ‘The oversharing economy’. The more time I spend with them, the more they infiltrate . . .”
I enjoyed writing a poem for the Given Words competition as part of National Poetry Day. Five words were supplied which you had to include in your poem. The winner was a fellow Dunedinite Elizabeth Brooke–Carr who wrote a very good entry (which is now translated into Spanish) and who also had a poem in the recent Manifesto anthology.
However I was pleased to get a small mention in the Judge’s notes too for my entry. Here it is:
The Finishing Time
In life’s corner, you’re painted in.
You wait upon the finishing.
The burden of care is loosened,
the kaitiakitanga of your days,
of family, home, and work,
slips from you, slack and frayed.
In the finishing of things
each slim scrap of life claimed
exhilarates those who remain,
those who stay to walk in light
and struggle in their measure.
The lonely stuff of used up days
assembled in static display,
crumbs of biscuitchip grow soft
on the margins of an unswept floor.
Here in these dim latitudes,
time is a guttering match,
there are no more rooms left,
when the forgetting has begun,
and you await the finishing
Let’s make sure this remains a morbid fantasy not a fact. Vote on 23 September. – VB
we celebrate today The Surplus.
From all levels of the Survival Dome,
we gather in solemn appreciation
in a National Minibreak of Gratitude.
Could all digital devices
and personal teleportation equipment
be turned to apocalypse mode.
Decision making has been handed over
to an AI called Craigsy
who freelances as a virtual panelist
on a gladiatorial sports chat show.
Today his message to the nation
will be delivered by a cloned avatar
of Paula Bennett via hologram
from the inspiring venue
of the Sky City casino, rising above
Wellesley Lagoon as a symbol
of our freedom of choice.
Maintenance staff imported
on casual short term contracts
from the refugee fleets of the Pacific
are on standby in case of extreme weather.
A special shoutout to our peeps in the
Autonomous Economic Zone of Lactopia
(formerly known as the South Island,
and now under the joint administration
of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army
We celebrate how the perfection
of reverse ageing therapy
means the eternal rule of baby boomers
who have reclaimed their golden youth
in the legendary fountain of capital gains.
We celebrate the wonders
of fiscal stability and incremental progress,
of genetically enhanced cows expressing
coconut milk for the export market,
of beggars on Queen Street
collecting likes on social media,
of a twelve lane gigahighway
terminating on the cliffs of Cape Reinga.
The last Kiwi floats sedated
in a see through vat of nutrient soup
in the foyer of Te Papa,
the tourist dollar has become
the Revelations renminbi
and style conscious survivalists
tote Prada bags through the
priority billionaire queue at
Tauranga International Hoverport.
We take comfort that if our last stand
here on Planet Earth is in vain,
the future of humanity is secured
above us in the orbiting space cruiser Sir Max Key
with its precious cargo of retired Cabinet Ministers.
Outside, in the dead lands,
those who have made poor choices
reflect on their lack of aspiration
and shelter from the scorching sand storms
of our final years.