the dada lady of the sonnets

posted by Michele

Shakespeare’s Sonnets are 400 years old this year and the Bard himself has reached his 23 April 2009 birthday/deathday. With poet and blogger Jack Ross, our Poetry off the Page students took sonnets, scissors, real and virtual glue to remix, blog and then perform some 21st century recensions in honour of WS. The Dada Lady of the Sonnets, a video record of the occasion, puts a new spin on an old mystery, and Jack presents the exercise in full at The Imaginary Museum. Happy 445th Birthday Bill!

Highbrow Sonnet – Blanks Inserted, by Matthew, Diane and Robin

Of with and remembrance before many, by Tricia and Alex

location collaboration performance

posted by Michele

Chris Cole Catley, convenor of the recent North Shore Young Writers’ workshops for the Michael King Writers’ Centre, has kindly sent along photos taken during the final afternoon, when writers, chalk and Sunday strollers shared pavements around the library in Devonport.

The 5 April workshop had begun a couple of hours earlier, taking for its keywords location, collaboration and performance. Using each other as sounding boards, pairs of students started by carefully detailing their movements (actual or fictional) from waking that morning until walking into the writing workshop. The hubbub of voices then gave way to intent scratching of felt tips on A3 as everyone got their morning down on paper. More noise as partners read and responded to each other’s drafts, then a round-the-room reading followed by simultaneous rendition, everybody and everything all at once. There is something immensely satisfying about making a ruckus in a library. Well, in a library seminar room.

Part two of the exercise involved taking a page each of the Sunday newspaper and with the help of a partner’s stabbing finger, finding interesting fragments to insert between the lines of the personal text. POETRY IS NEWS was the title we gave to the juxtapositions of life and newsprint that ensued, and a massed rustling of newspaper was improvised between voices in the spirited reading of it. Some of the NEWS made it to the pavements outside, then it was up the hill for afternoon tea and farewells at the Michael King Centre.


Top: Students (right) Augusta Connor and Melissa Low. Tutors (from left) Jo Emeney, Ros Ali, Michele Leggott and Chris Cole Catley. Photo credit: Martin Cole.

Bottom: Back row from left at the Michael King Centre on Mt Victoria, Devonport: tutor Chris Cole Catley; Donna Chan, Glenfield College; Jenny Matthews, Takapuna Grammar; Augusta Connor, Kristin School; Melissa Low, Long Bay College; tutors Ros Ali and Jo Emeney; Lydia Warren, Northcote College; Liam Winter, Rosmini College; next row, guest tutor Michele Leggott; Leighton Watson, Rangitoto College; Alex Simmonds, International College; front row, Peter Yoo, Rosmini College; Kaitlyn Crabbe, Kristin School; front at left, Katie Carey, Rangitoto College. Photo credit: Martin Cole.

catching breath

posted by Michele

It's been a busy couple of months finalising the manuscript of MIRABILE DICTU, the book of poems to be published 30 June by Auckland University Press. Here is the string of events which enlivened the process:

19 February Devonport Library Associates reading with local writers Helen Sword and Julia Brennan. I read 'keep this book clean,' a poem about an old library book that survives in my family, and reprised shore space.

26 February Houses by the Sea: Robin Hyde in Wellington, with Lydia Wevers and Derek Challis. I read from Hyde’s sequence 'The Beaches' and talked about some of the textual discoveries made about the poems when I was working on Young Knowledge: The Poems of Robin Hyde. Listen to Helen Morse read ‘The Beaches’.

4 March launch for Michael Harlow's The Tram Conductor's Blue Cap at Parsons Bookshop, Auckland. Our Poetry off the Page students have now completed a digital translation of the title poem as a course assignment, which Michael has responded to with enthusiasm.

12 March launch for Selina Tusitala Marsh's Fast Talking PI at the Fale Pasifika, University of Auckland. The coordinator of Pasifika Poetry Web debuts her first collection with an accompanying CD of performance and music mixed and mastered by the redoubtable Tim Page.

14 March family wedding at Clearview Estate, Hawke's Bay, with a honeymoon in Mexico to follow.

20-22 March Creative Hastings Festival of Writers 2009 with Martin Edmond, Roger McDonald, Sarah Quigley, Karl Stead, Peter Wells, food writer Catherine Bell and wine writer John Saker. The matua tokotoko returned to home base and was passed around the Assembly Room again.

25 March MC for LOUNGE #6, 10 readers at Old Government House at the University of Auckland. LOUNGE features experienced writers alongside student writers, everyone reading five minutes for a free drink and an attentive audience.

27 March studio recording of 'peri poietikes / about poetry' for the BBC essay series A Laureate's Life, to be broadcast late April. The early morning-late evening link up to Bristol worked flawlessly, thanks again to Tim Page.

2 April MNZM investiture at Government House, Auckland for services to poetry.

5 April Poetry is News workshop for Michael King Centre Young Writers programme, Devonport. By the end of a fine Sunday afternoon there were chalk poems and young writers from North Shore schools on the pavements around the library.

6 April the liberty of parrots goes live in Best NZ Poems 2008, edited by James Brown.

Images, from top:
Michele & Selina Tusitala Marsh. Photo courtesy Godfrey Boehnke.
Selina reads from Fast Talking PI. Photo courtesy Godfrey Boehnke.
Martin Edmond, Michele Leggott and Mark Fryer with the matua tokotoko in Hastings. Photo courtesy Maggie Hall.
Michele in the clock tower, April 2008. Photo courtesy Tim Page.