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.

Chain Reaction: Book launch

writers-readers-logo_1A 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

The New Zealand Poetry Day

types-738846Doctors of lit in sensible shoes,
Rural iconoclasts from the back of Waiku.

Daughters of Polynesia tapping on an iPad,
green ink scribblers who’ve got the bug bad.

Sentimental, romantic or existentialist gloom,
in the House of the Word there are many rooms.

The ghost of James K. wanders George Street
and in neon squiggles a homey rhymez to phat beatz.

Earnest young fellows squinting through spex,
just stick to the landscape and don’t mention sex.

Octogenarian memoirists browse the pastures of youth
and others scratch code on a telephone booth.

Insiders, outsiders and those in between
all play their part on the stage of this scene.

Glossolalians, textophiliacs, poetasters together –
metaphorically speaking, we’re all birds of a feather.

A short history of The Future

In order to commemorate the Flag Referendum, a new low in New Zealand’s political incoherence, mashing up neoliberal branding by clip art, patriotic zealotry for a nation of post colonial amnesiacs, and a general sense of sourness, a nation building exercise turned feral …. a poem for the times.

In the fifteenth year of the new millennium,
we will be monitored by virtual pins stuck in Google Maps
while the national insecurity is measured in terror bytes,
lorded over by the eye in the sky Pry Minister.

The State is a self-select committee of corporate Boy Racers
doing it for the lolz and drifting into the economic gravel,
while Leader of the Opposition: Your Choice is secretly pre-filmed
for streaming on X Factor with final decision by 0900 viewer poll.

Smug hipsters facebook for a frack free future
from organic iPads manufactured from flax root and sunflower seed.
The national bull rush team is first amongst equals,
beating out South Vanuatu in extra time,

while the old timers croak Go West young man
as Kiwi refugees flood into Sunshine Coast retirement camps
or telecommute to the Outer Pilbara
from Kaikohe, Johnsonville and Geraldine.

The Trans Pacific data artery is clogged
by fibre optic broadband botulism
as crisis response mobilizes crack focus groups in social media rebrands
to placate the prosumers of our white gold.

In a DIY nation of passionate foodies and celebrity nobodies,
climbing financial snakes and property ladders,
to be initiated in the Reality CV of self-improvement gurus
where who you are is defined by who you want to be.

Te Wai Pounamu is given over to platinum class luxury lodges
(overlooking canals of deodorised effluent)
so the Chief Operating Officers of the weightless economy
can score a hole in one from the summit of Mitre Peak.

All we can do is thumb twiddle YOLO furiously
from inside the GFC car wreck,
deregulated, desensitised, dumbed up and sold out,
reciting the Prayer of Public Private Partnership:

Give us this day our Daily Weetbix,
Give us this day the Cup, the Shield, the Glory;
kids locked in the subterranean car park of Sky City,
100% pure, yeah right, yeah nah,

while an invisible hand remotely controls
the eyeballs of couch bound supplicants.

(First published in Mad Skillz for the Demon Operators.)

Climate science

They say the weather’s changing, tropics moving,
loose heat banging on the greenhouse roof,
whirlwinds in the western suburbs,
as we are blown out to sea on the hot air
of an 100% pure clean and green branding campaign,
marooned in the shimmer of an Indian summer.

A long dry, twenty days until precipitation for the nation,
a soothsayers educated guess by balancing probabilities
on the head of a random isobar –
translation is a hill cracked like a split lip,
and scabby grass gone to stalk and umber
factoring in the account deficit and the dairy dividend,
the clover is over is what the joint is trying to tell us.

A rug of fog clamps on the northern hills,
rising damp from the Pacific Basin
leaving the transmitter tower
a red periscope poking out to the blue evening
that warms the washing dry and tempers even
and contains the latency of a distant threat.

Digital metaphors

Has anyone noticed that spam is sounding more like strange alien prose poetry these days? Here’s a cut up from some of the rubbish filtered out of my inbox.

Gorgon touched reasonable distance,
these his monster seemed far
formidable talons
serious side effects
generic zoloft
royal way have died
lost his vision
soul began tapping years old
turn back drug interactions
celebrex tramadol cyclobenzaprine
little minds that mush
heart will arrow
incomplete, lost
die the unspoken
forbid this form
the ways how hard
hardly needed the pain
limp soul was pleased