the book and the cd

posted by Michele

It’s done and (almost) dusted! The laureateship is finished (long live the laureateship) and in Wellington on Tuesday 30 June the book and the cd were launched in style at the National Library. Chris Szekely, head of the Alexander Turnbull Library, was MC for the evening, introducing Sam Elworthy, Auckland UP’s publisher and Ian Wedde, who launched Mirabile Dictu. Congratulations to Ian who is the just-announced 2009 University of Auckland / Creative NZ Writer in Residence at the Michael King Writers’ Centre.

Elizabeth Caffin, long-time director of Auckland UP and publisher of my books 1991 through 2005, then launched the third cd of New Zealand Poets / The Laureate Series, a selection of my work from Like This? (1988) to Mirabile Dictu. My thanks and admiration go to Robbie Duncan and Chris Price of Braeburn Studio for their dedication to the task of getting quality recordings from the difficult situation of a sight-impaired poet reading from a touch screen laptop. It seems to work, but only after much technical ingenuity on Robbie’s part.

The finale of the evening was a words and music performance by Robbie, Chris and I of ‘letter to dulcie jackson,’ my grudge poem about the frustrations of learning to touch type at the end of last year. I still don’t type fast or very well, but the poem is a lot of fun to perform, especially with the addition of musicians and Aesop, the talking keyboard on loan from the Foundation of the Blind. ‘letter to dulcie jackson’ is in Mirabile Dictu and on the cd.

letter to dulcie jackson

dulcie jackson is someone
I want to meet     she waits
at the close of lesson 15     undecided
about the quote on her alterations
which is higher than she expected
but even to talk about this
I have to leap ahead
or look at some of my fingers
how long will it take I wonder
to get it all together     dulcie
I wish I was there with you
we would lift a glass     a real glass
to those weird characters I met
along the way     the builders
with their bright blue bricks
the child who cut the cherry cake
and the burglars hiding
by the blackberry bushes      they are
so sweetly idiotic      they deliver
the vehicles carefully      dulcie
can you have a word with them please
we need q z x      the numerals
the commands and all the punctuation
dotted about the stalls at the village fair
this silky tie really is stylish
they say they study their salary
she yells as fiery tigers terrify her
dulcie     I have just one more thing
to say to you      !@#$%^&*()      !@#$%^&*()
cabbages in a row      grilled fish      or maybe
the tester tasting the fatal tarts
I am writing this with my eyes
closed      I am writing this
with my eyes xlosed      trying hard
to picture your face above
my belief that beef is the best buy
dad’s red leather shed in the suburbs
and some of the sillier circular saws
are you pretty      do you have
a soft heart      certainly your best
foot went west some time ago
I saw it making tracks with
one of the huge baboons we loosed
from the metropolitan library     see
what I mean      nothing is innocent
this year the dairy sells yeast
your vegetables were halfprice
at the market yesterday     I had
no o no n m p or w but they have
to be here so I skipped the dumb lamb
cucumber formalities and let them in
woo moon now poop mow noon moo
they have received their velvet jackets
my eyes are still closed      what
will happen when I remove
the slinky covers      dulcie will you be
all smiles and jiggles      waiting
impatiently for the poem of the universe
to begin its fevered song      the pitch
of the upright piano is almost
perfect      opulent purple poplin drifts
across the canopies of the bazaar
usually they live very active lives
he suggests a dull red rug at the hut
zebras and gazelles arrive with axes
zebras and gazelles arrive with bazookas
dulcie is your dirigible
capable of adequate evasive action


James Fryer's cover design for Michele Leggott / The Laureate Series
Scenes from the launch: Ian Wedde, Michele, the performance

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