Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Alan Loney has included me in the addenda to his top ten NZ poetry books.

It's a good list, I'd second books by Wystan Curnow, Michele Leggot, Murray Edmond and Tony Green, Though those listed by the latter three I haven't got copies of, and in the case of Tony's book I haven't read (I've got his three pamphlets from the 70s though - Doc Oxide, Londonettes/Underground Reading and Untold Angels (all published by Gee)). I'd replace Wystan Curnow's Cancer Daybook (though it is fantastic) with Back in the USA (Black Light, 1983), and add Ian Wedde's Earthly: Sonnets for Carlos (Amphedesma Press 1975), David Mitchell's Pipe Dreams in Ponsonby (Stephen Chan 1972), some of Alan's own work (though I'm not sure what at this stage - I do very much like his latest (?) Day's Eye (Rubicon 2008)- and probably some late period Allen Curnow, Probably Trees, Effegies and Moving Objects (Cats Paw Press 1972) or The Loop in Lone Kauri Road (Auckland University Press 1986).


Andrea said...

I'd definately include your book in a top ten. I remember enjoying Michelle Leggott's poetry back in 2nd year NZ lit, but have never got around to buying any of her books - I need to. I also like Robin Hyde's stuff. Is that David Mitchell from the 3D's? I haven't read any of his poetry. Bill Direen is another interesting musician/poet.

I need to add more NZ poetry books to my collection. It's all very 19th C. on my poetry shelves.

Ross Brighton said...

NO it's not that David Mitchell.
Bill Direen is great, as is Robin Hyde.
For Michele Leggott, the two best are DIA and As Far As I Can See.

Ross Brighton said...

And thanks for the compliment!

Andrea said...

Yes, I soon realised it wasn't that David Mitchell - was obviously in confused mode when I thought of that.

Ross Brighton said...

He's very cool - I wrote an essay on him in second year for Jeffrey Paparoa Holman's class on Poetry after Baxter. He only published the one book, and a chapbook that I've also got (though never seen anywhere else) containing one poem, The Orange Grove.
Some of his stuff is in anthologies, like Michele Leggot and Murray Edmond's wonderful Big Smoke: NZ Poetry 1960-1975, Ian Wedde's Penguin book of NZ poetry, and his My Lai/Remuera/Ponsonby is included in Jack Ross and Jan Kemp's Contemporary NZ Poetry in Performance, with him reading it on CD.
I think of him kind of as a NZ Lawrence Ferlengetti, but better.

You Going to Ducktails on thurs?

Andrea said...

Those books sound cool. Yes, I'm definitely going to Ducktails - looking forward to it.

Ross Brighton said...

cool - hopefully I'll see you there, in spite of my 8:30 start on friday morning...

Andrea said...

Well I'm the same and these things do have a habit of finishing pretty late, but I always stop myself when I start complaining about late finishes. I'm surely not quite old enough for that yet!

It should be a good gig, I think.

Richard Taylor said...

David Mitchell is ill (he is in Australia) but able to communicate and his daughter Genevieve Maclean (I know her quite well) and I met Dave quite a few times also in the 90s - he started public readings in Auckland the 60s but particularly in the 80s and I saw him at Auckland University in the 90s (I didn't know him before then) and also he gave a massively attended reading once in Auckland - he is highly thought of by the cognoscenti) is organising or trying to get a publication of his poetry - he wrote a huge amount more than Pipe Dreams.

I saw that endorsement by Loney of your book - he is indeed a major NZ poet. I have quite a lot of his books and bought Wystan's book 'Castor Bay' off Loney at the Tamaki Campus of AU where we talked - he was the printer there at Holloway Press for some time.

I haven't seen your book. But it is good you got that thumbs up.

Richard Taylor said...

I liked Robyn Hyde's "Wednesday;s Children" and "Nor the Years Condemn" which I read this year ...I haven't read her poetry. But those books are some of the best NZ (even other) writing I have read.

Ross Brighton said...

I've got a bit of Mitchell's stuff in various mags, mostly from the 80's and early nineties (printout, Islands, etc) - if his work finds print I'll be first in the queue.

I picked up Castor Bay off the Jason's books website, it's great.

Fro Hyde, Houses by the Sea is fantastic. Michele Leggott edited the Collected, and her Book of Nadath, which is a strange wee volume, but very interesting.

Richard Taylor said...

When I went back to Uni (about1990) we had NZ literature and I compared a Mitchell poem about My Lai (that massacre tormented him - I recall it also it occurred about the time of the US Moon Landing) to one by Curnow,and I felt his poem was better than the one by Curnow - mind you they were rather on different topics!

I heard his reading on Jack and Jan Kemp's CD and for me it was one of the best.

I knew a woman at or around that (1991 or so) time who had him living as a boarder - but he was pretty paranoid and wouldn't see anyone...he was also a nuisance when he came to lectures at AU - he used to turn up late and make a hell of noise and also leave early and so on...but the few times I met him he was interesting and quite nice...

Jason Books used to be run by Richard Poor...he was chess player but interested in maths but also in Borges etc He sold it and now sells online I think...as I do.

At one stage, about 1995-6, I ran readings at Ron Riddell's Dead Poets Book Shop and we had Loney and Wystan Curnow and many others read - Curnow had some fascinating stuff about the sea which I hoped would be in his Castor Bay book -but it was very reduced down as you know... so reduced I am not sure it words... Cancer Day Book (which for me DOES work)I showed to my sister when she was recovering from bowel cancer... which Wystan had - I took it to her - she liked it - even found it comforting. And she is not big on reading - likes art though. So - a use for poetry!

I want to get the Book of Nadath some time...(I did order it but then the seller didn't have it and so on...) I was put off by Hyde's poems all being so long.

Ross Brighton said...

Hyde does have some shorter ones, I think there are some in one (or both) of Allen Curnow's anthologies (the Caxton and the Penguin). I really like Cancer Day book, and I think it works well with Back in the USA, there's the parallel (tinged with bitter irony) poems, the USA one being
Place Names

Name Places

and the daybook one being

For Get

Me Not

It's very powerful. I wrote an essay on My Lai/Remuera/Ponsonby for a class on contemporary NZ poetry. If I remember rightly, there's a note in Pipe Dreams that says that there was a soldier involved with the same name - I've just checked and i'm right -

"newspapers released in '69 the names of the GI's principally charged with th atrocities in the vietnamese hamlet of my lai (song mi) one of these was cpl david mitchell aged 29"

Robert McLean said...


I must need my head read, but today in an op shop I saw a copy of The young New Zealand poets ed. Arthur Baysting (Heinemann, 1973), which contains 15-20 pages of D. Mitchell's ampersanded poems. If you want it I'll grab it and post it to you.



Ross Brighton said...

Thanks for the offer, Robert, but I've already got a copy.