Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year - New Reading Goals

I managed to read 51 books last year. This is way off my best year when I managed 160+. So this year the goal is a realistic 100.

I am also planning to make many of these reads from the library rather than by purchase. More eBooks are also on the agenda.

Who knows where my year of reading will take me? I am sure it will be a mixture of design tempered with serendipity.

Update - I got to 76 which considering I had the upheaval of moving to a new country was not too bad.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Writing versus Written

I came across this excellent quote today in my reading:

“I don't like to write, but I love to have written. Michael Kanin”

Excerpt From: Weaver, Steve. “Poetry in Flesh.” Steve Weaver. iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Check out this book on the iBookstore:

The quote was in the book referenced above which is Free at the iBookstore on iTunes. I like Weavers visceral and raw poetry.

As a poet I often don't want to write but when I do seeing the written gives me a great lift.

Check out my poetry blog at

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I increased my Book collection via Xmas

Well there are some good things about the Yuletide season. My lovely family and friends purchased more books for my library. Two novels by Charlotte Grimshawe; a book of short stories by Janet Frame (published after her death); a poetry anthology about the New Zealand landscape; a book of essays by a Guardian journalist and Witi Ihamaera's latest book based on Parihaka in the 19th century. A very satisfactory haul.

I am powering through my books currently helped on by my holiday. Have read a number of pages of Volume 2 of Proust. When I read him, I enjoy the experience but then find it hard to pickup again. I guess I need more discipline!!

What books did others get for Xmas?


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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Xmas Book Reading

I am now officially on leave for 3 weeks so will be on a reading marathon. Complete Volume 2 of Proust, letters of Patrick White, two of the latest Jason Fforde Books and Volume 5 of Virginia Woolf's diary and that is just for the first day.

Need to get these out of the way so that I can start reading my Xmas presents on the 25th.

Xmas Greetings to you all (or Seasons Greetings for others..) and may you end the year with a high tally of books read and an unrealistically high goal for reads in 2013.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

To Read is To Fly

“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.”

- A C Grayling, Financial Times (in a review of A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel)


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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Funny Librarian Quote

I was reading a book by Elizabeth Smither this morning. She is a famous poet internationally but was a librarian until her retirement. She was talking about how nice librarians are and mentioned the following quote from Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame.

“You see, I don't belive that libraries should be drab places where people sit in silence, that has been the main reason for our policy of employing wild animals as librarians.”

It conjures up a wonderful image about my favorite people being wild animals.


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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Words Chosen Carefully

In a recent post I mentioned a book that interviewed 12 New Zealand poets in 1985. I was wondering then what the same people would think now after 27 years. On Saturday I went to the library and found a book that answers the questions for several of the original poets.

The book is titled Words Chosen Carefully - New Zealand writers in discussion and is edited by Siobhan Harvey with photography by Liz March. Elizabeth Smither and C.K.Stead are in both books and one can see the development of their thoughts and observations on craft and the place of the writer in a New Zealand context.

In 1985 New Zealand still had a degree of cultural cringe and preferred literature from overseas, which was a reflection of the country's colonial past. In this post colonial and post modern world NZ writing is coming of age.

While this book of literary discussions is centered on New Zealand many of the observations equally apply to any country that has been colonized in he past.


Friday, December 14, 2012

The New Library Addition

My lovely and very handy wife has just built me a new bookcase that is 6 x 2 meters. This is awesome and I now have most of my books out with this new addition. All I need for my new library is a pipe, a decanter of sherry and a pair of slippers. I may never re-emerge.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Talking about Ourselves

I am reading an interesting book called Talking about Ourselves - Twelve New Zealand Poets. This book written in 1985 was based on conversations with Harry Ricketts, a British academic who teaches in New Zealand.

The 12 poets chosen cover a range of ages, stages and includes an interview with Fleur Adcock who sees herself as an expatriate as she has now spent a large part of her life in the United Kingdom.

The fact that this book was written nearly 30 years ago doesn't detract from its content. I must admit that I would like to see the poets still alive answer the questions again. While the book covers New Zealand poetry the themes are relevant internationally. Questions about local, regional, national and international poetry and influences are of particular note.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

IPad for Writers

I am finding my iPad to be a very useful writing tool. Not so much for composition but for taking notes and photographs of people and scenes that I may want to use later. Of course with Blogger on board it is great for writing blogs on the go.

It is a more up to date tool than a notebook and adds immediacy. I am taking a whole new approach to my writing now.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ode to a Bookshop

Seated in a comfy sofa
Regarding the shelves before me
Books everywhere
Topics History America
History of Things
United Nations.

Lovely baroque
Music unobstrusive
In the background
A literary feast
By the Brandenburg

The chosen books
Beside me on the arm
Of the floral easy sofa
The Common Place book
Talking about Ourselves
Spark to a Waiting Fuse
Under the Bridge and
Over the Moon
And last but not least
New Zealand Poetry Yearbook 1955
The year of my nativity.

Smither, ricketts
Baxter and Ginn
Ireland and a rabble
Rouse of Kiwi bards.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Check out Full of Crow

Check out Full of Crow Press for some edgy poetry.

The editors of Full of Crow are active in a number of writing and art collectives, independent presses, arts advocacy organizations, and projects. We encourage and support the promotion of work by frequently marginalized writers and the under-represented. We encourage submissions from emerging writers as well as those with numerous publication credits.

We are looking for content that is bold and unapologetic, presented in thoughtful and purposeful ways. We like work that touches on the surreal, the mythic… enduring themes and images that are rooted in something deeply personal but connect to something transcending and universal. As many editors say, we know what it is when we see it.

I liked the poems by Cat Conway


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