Blog Carnival 5: A VIEW FROM HERE

INTRO

This is the last of the Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnivals before the Frankfurt Bookfair — happening this week, October 10-14. For this carnival, we asked contributors to share entries for the theme A VIEW FROM HERE and we ended up with a beautiful collection of photography, poetry, story and reports from all around New Zealand and Germany. We begin in the north of New Zealand and meander through Northland to the west coast, from big city to country meadows, and all the way to ChristChurch — and in between we scoot from Bavaria to Scotland, from Berlin to Hikurangi.

Welcome to A VIEW FROM HERE. 

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Trish Nicholson // 90 Mile Beach, Northland, NZ

1 x 90 Mile Beach. Words not supplied.

Trish Nicholson, a much travelled anthropologist, now writes short stories and creative non-fiction. Author of two recent eBook travelogues for Collca, she is currently writing a travel memoir of Papua New Guinea. But Trish was a photographer before she was a writer, grabbing her mother’s Box Brownie camera at the age of three and shooting the family dog in the rear. She lives in the Far North of New Zealand and posts words and pictures on her website Words in the Trees.  

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Beate Jones // Waikato, NZ

Memories

Once autumn was a symphony for me

Of colours and of falling leaves

Of soft footsteps in frosty grass

Of secret rustles in the park nearby

The grey of cold damp mornings

And of foggy dusks

was part of it

As was the blazing blue

Of the clear skies around a dazzling, icy sun.

Once that was so -

Today the autumns are a gentle song

Leading me from the glory of hot summer days

To winter’s mild downpour of ever-present rain

While far away the dreamy buds

Of a new spring

Unfold.

Beate Jones has been teaching German for more than 20 years at the University of Waikato. She is currently enrolled in a PhD in Literary Translation at Victoria University in Wellington. Writing poetry, short stories and the translation from German to English of a range of texts has been an interesting and challenging sideline to her work.

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Paula Green // Auckland, NZ

Thursday
(for Jen)

If you look beneath the floorboards
of this poem you might find
the endless days of rain and wind
on the Waitakere ranges.

Between the walls you might see
a garden that needs spring plants.

You might stumble upon
the story of a mathematician
who knits a patches for a quilt because she
can never remember what she saw
the month before

or the story of a philosopher
who walks in circles
to touch the meaning of life
or lost things or why the heart
and not the lungs
registers the pulse of love.

My house waits
with its creaking walls
and everything
is the same and then
different.

The wind crackles.
The bouillabaisse needs stirring.
Perhaps it needs more salt.

Paula Green is a poet, reviewer, anthologist and children’s author. She also has a doctorate in Italian literature. Paula has published seven poetry collections including several for children. She reviews poetry for the New Zealand Herald and visits schools regularly. Co-written with Harry Ricketts, her book 99 Ways into New Zealand Poetry was short-listed for the 2010 NZ Post Book Awards. She has recently edited Dear Heart: 150 New Zealand Love Poems and is a judge for the 2012 NZ Post Book Awards, has edited Best NZ Poems and judged the NZ Post Secondary School Poetry competition. Her new collection of poems, The Baker’s Thumbprint, will be published next year.

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Siri Emblem & Gus Simonovic // somewhere between Auckland and…

Gus Simonovic and Siri Embla view the world through poetry and play. Here’s just one view from them.

Gus Simonovic has lived in other countries and spoken other languages. He has toured his spoken-word poetry and multi-media performance art in the UK and Europe as well as at home in New Zealand. Apart from his own poetry collection, his work has been published in a few NZ magazines and anthologies. Read more at Printable Reality.
Siri Embla is a Norwegian-Kiwi dancer and artist. For more about her views on art and life, read an interview with Renee Liang here.  

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Christopher Allen & Gill Hoffs // Munich, Germany & Ayr Beach, Scotland

Christopher Allen runs an expat interview series at his blog I Must Be Off. Here he interviews writer Gill Hoffs in Scotland who shares her notion of the eccentricities of “feeling Scottish” as well her new book Wild – and the importance of clean socks.

Ayr Beach, home of writer Gill Hoffs

Christopher Allen is the author of the absurdist satire Conversations with S. Teri O’Type. His fiction and creative non-fiction have appeared in numerous places both online and in print, including Flash Fiction FridaysSTRIPPEDThe Best of Every Day Fiction 3, and forthcoming in The Best of SmokeLong Quarterly (2013). In 2011 Allen was a finalist at Glimmer Train and a Pushcart Prize nominee. He blogs at www.imustbeoff.com.

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Andrew Bell // Christchurch, NZ

THAT TUESDAY

Driving down Lichfield Street,
that modern automaton achievement,
total concentration supposedly on road awareness,
defensive driving
only, deep down, even cops would admit we’re
all over the place,
aa
thinking about an apricot and chicken Panini
washed down with a
aa
thought about the germination of a play
aa
or was Roy (substitute any generic Euro/Pakeha name)
giving you the evil eye because you looked
at his missus just a little too long and lateral
or a million fuckin’ other insignificances

When Mother Nature got one shit-kicking
surprise for you, Jack (or Roy if you’d rather)

aaand She gonna whip your ass with some p-wave
or s-wave or whatever-wave
and suddenly I thought I’d blown a back tyre,
but She was having none of it,
raining down masonry like it was a lolly scramble
.

And I, a pseudo Southern Man,
transplanted to this city,
weep to see it go down, to go down
on Kai Tahu, Pakeha, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese
aa
and so on, not the Whitebread city it used to be,
not Skinhead Central,
going down, twisting in agony over Bridle Path,
writhing in pain through London Street
and the Square, not hip, Daddy-O,
but the heart of old, white squattocracy
torn out and aa
 trampled underfoot.

We lost, we gained,
we waxed, we waned.
Ranginui ripped out our hearts
and Papatuanuku aa
 spat us out
like seeds from a watermelon.

Andrew M. Bell writes poetry, short fiction, plays, screenplays and non-fiction. His work has been published and broadcast in New Zealand/Aotearoa, Australia, England, Israel and USA. His most recent publications are Aotearoa Sunrise, a short story collection, and Clawed Rains, a poetry collection. Andrew lives in Christchurch and loves to surf. More of Andrew’s poetry can be found at Bigger Than Ben Hur. Or check out his website here.  
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A Dialogue Between City & Country // Berlin & smalltown, Germany

A photographic dialogue between city and country with Marcus Speh (Berlin) and Dorothee Lang (southern rural Germany)…

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Piet Nieuwland // Whangarei, NZ

Two views…

(from Town Basin, Whangarei)

35 43.43S
174 19.60E

On this viewpoint of land
island of blood

falls a corpus of light
and the pollen of stars

in the lunar calm of sleep
lies a white body of silence
the rain sleeping in the soil, the sand, the earth

in the penumbra of dawn
violins of fog and the curling mist of your hair
a line unravels from beyond a dream

your soul of vivaz
spills a volcano of flowers
roses of a million petals
burst with elliptic kisses

wing beats of embrace
fan your phosphorescent waist

from the catalytic fires of my bones
I kiss your hands with acrobatic glances

Your eyes of kohl undress the afternoon
in feverish rapids of flesh

delirious floating stanzas
blushing vermillion buds
with lips laughing threads of honey
in kaleidoscopes of golden hours
raining mosaics

opalescent amorata
of diamonds and lace
gorge viveza

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(from the Coromandel)

Coromandel islands

Coromandel islands of the imagination

My heart aches on the headlands of youth

Sings on the trigonometries of those peaks,

And ridgelines plunging into coves,

The rhythms of bay, headland, cove, reef, bay, beach

Laughs at the space and distances

Classic scenes of identity,

Kauri, the scents of gum

Kanuka, the white cloaks of bees

The grazing sheep, alert and shorn

Pohutukawa foaming bubbles of reds,

Kowhai weeping with tui

The firth flat and low

Its breathing mud’s popping

Aromas of fresh caught snapper, gurnard, kahawai

The butter sizzling,

Liquid days of summer

Blues pouring from the sun into parabolic nights

Pancake moons in the vast altar of sky

The hard clay track, dusty

Piet Nieuwland  is of Dutch, English and Australian extraction. He lives in Whangarei, New Zealand, and is a member of the Take Flight poetry group. In 2010 he was one of the judges for the Northland National Poetry Day competition. He makes occasional appearances at Auckland’s Poetry Live events as well. His poetry has appeared in Takahē, Landfall and A Fine Line

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Leanne Radojkovich // Auckland, NZ

Leanne Radojkovich brings flash fiction to life with new perspective on her YouTube channel. Here’s one of her stories, ‘The Missus’.

Leanne Radojkovich’s flash fiction appears in Turbine and several readings are on YouTube. Her short stories have featured in various places from Takahē to Radio New Zealand. She won the Lilian Ida Smith Award in 2009 and gained a Master of Creative Writing the following year (see her Slideshare presentation “Literary Benefits of Linguistic and Cultural Hybridity” for an overview). 
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Marcus Speh // Berlin, Germany

Marcus Speh tells a 21st-century fairy tale from Berlin: equality and prosperity in equal parts in English and in German.

Living in the Plattenbau: A Post-Communist Fairy Tale

A certain Herr G. who lives in Berlin, Germany, in a building called a ‘Plattenbau‘ on Leipziger Straße, collects very short stories at random. He’s content, this Herr G., more or less, his moods are changing with the weather, which is a good thing really because the weather is mostly grim. More… 

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Leben im Plattenbau

Ein gewisser Herr G, der in Berlin in einem Plattenbau auf der Leipziger Straße lebt, sammelt Kürzestgeschichten, ohne dabei methodisch vorzugehen. Er ist mehr oder weniger zufrieden, dieser Herr G, seine Stimmungen schwanken mit dem Wetter, was nicht übel ist, denn das Wetter ist meistensgrimmiger Laune. Mehr hier…

Marcus Speh is a German writer who lives in Berlin and writes in English. His short fiction collection Thank You For Your Sperm  will be published by MadHat Press later in 2012. He blogs incessantly at marcusspeh.com.

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Frances Mountier // Christchurch, NZ

Christchurch 

Siobhan and Jilly came from a flat city where you had to lock your helmet to your handlebars, not down by the body of your bike, in case a dog came past and pissed on it.  They came from a city where the ‘forefathers’ left a massive green stretch in the CBD.  Where school kids in geography debated housing developments vs. keeping the uninterrupted skyline.  A city that got the country’s first casino in 1994 when Siobhan was three and Jilly five.  A city where you could go to the movies and TimeOut in the old railway station, and find in the car park out back a memorial to those who lost their lives at work.  A city of sad days and Sunday days, where they lay about on the couch and stared at the tree outside, rain dripping off its leaves.  They watched re-runs and videos they’d seen before.  Sometimes Jilly would make pumpkin soup or help Mum make pumpkin soup.  That huge pot dragged out from under the sink, the pumpkin from on top of the fridge.  The cursing that came with chopping a whole pumpkin with a blunt knife.  They come from a city where girls like them kept diaries where they recorded what they’d been doing, gold and silver and glitter pens circling tickets from movies they’d been to and little photos taken in booths.  A city with ten pin bowling and an ice skating rink and advertisements on the back of buses, ‘Mum wants me to meet an Ice boy,’ and a multitude of mini-golf courses.  A city of swamp music.

They grew up in a city which had had its fair share of protests and Communist Party branches, Labour Party branches.  The Alliance.  The Avon Loop.  They grew up in the city with its marriages and its funeral homes.  A back-to-front city with the rich suburbs under the flight path by the airport, the poor suburbs by Brighton beach.  They grew up dancing around the kitchen to their mum’s loud music.  They grew up in the country’s second largest city and they never went to Auckland.  They had storms and once a tornado, snow most winters.  School sports and pushbikes, passed down kid to kid to kid.  They had the customary newspaper run, the babysitting jobs, the waitressing work.  They grew up in a city knowing they had big brothers who might or might not still live there.  They grew up imagining a family tree that went horizontally not vertically, like the paper dolls their mum cut for them from folded paper.  Sam is the big brother of Jared, and they are the big brothers of Jilly and Siobhan, and they are the big sisters of Tommy and of Erin.  Maybe the boys had other half-siblings, too, who might have other half-siblings of their own.  They grew up in a city of hot summers, where they would lie stifling at night, reciting this family tree, damp facecloths on their foreheads, or sit on the floor in the heat during the day, their mum yelling at them to get a move on.

They grew up with a younger brother who didn’t talk much but who loved soccer.  They grew up and left him to play with Erin, the baby.  They grew up and started kissing boys, exactly two years apart.  They grew up in a city where grandparents, aunties, uncles, sisters bring up children, as anywhere.  They grew up in a city where the Council was the second largest land owner in the country, after the Government.  They grew up in those Council flats.  They grew up at Addington School, at the Selwyn Street shops.  They grew up on bikes or pushing Erin around in his pushchair.  They grew up until Siobhan had left town and Jilly walked in a blouse and tidy jeans to the bus stop every day for her job in admin.  They grew up until Siobhan was so determined not to regret her decision, even when she was homesick, that she’d say ‘I hate that place’ to anyone who asked.  ‘Bloody Christchurch,’ she said, until she had no doubts herself.  They grew up under the nor-west arch.  They grew up until Jilly realised she had no intention to leave, and found a boy who was the same.  They grew up in a city where people who said they were ‘from Christchurch’ meant it and likely had family there too.  They grew up until Jilly had a tiny baby of her own in that same pushchair, and Tommy was the one who went to Hagley Community College.

They grew apart from each other and from their mum, and instead grew close to others.  They grew apart until it felt like an age ago that they had come home from school and gone into their shared bedroom to do homework, or to the living room to play, while Mum cooked dinner and did evening things.  They grew apart until it even felt like an age ago that they didn’t come home and didn’t do homework.   They grew up in the city and then the city broke.

Frances Mountier grew up in Christchurch and now lives in Petone.  She holds an MA in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters (2009).  Frances has also studied writing at the Christchurch School for Young Writers and at Whitireia Community Polytechnic.  Her work has appeared in Turbine, SportTakahē, Renegade House, Hue & Cry, JAAMand Flash Frontier.  She is working on a novel about a Christchurch family.
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Hinemoana Baker // Paraparaumu, NZ (but you just might catch her in Berlin, Germany)

GIVING MYSELF A HAIRCUT AGE FORTY

Hinemoana Baker at around 4

before I am tempted to take
the advice of any hairdresser
I use the ends as a guide

four finger-widths from there
is where the scissors go
blunt as hell

notice how the blunt ended
tapers curl in the sink
into letters: C O S

my first haircut in a small envelope
stuck with yellowed tape
in the back of my Plunket Book

filament ends of a pinkish world
me growing up and out of myself
golden in the sun

right off the height and weight charts

Hinemoana Baker is a published poet, a singer-songwriter, recording artist and occasional broadcaster. Her first book of poetry, ‘mātuhi | needle, was co-published in New Zealand and the US in 2004. Actor, writer and artist Viggo Mortensen‘s publishing house Perceval Press co-published the book, which features the paintings of Ngāi Tahu artist Jenny Rendall.  Hinemoana’s first album, ‘puāwai’ (Jayrem Records, 2004) was a finalist for the NZ Music Awards and the APRA Silver Scrolls Māori Language award. Her second collection of poetry, ‘kōiwi kōiwi | bone bone’ (Victoria University Press), was launched in Wellington in 2010. She co-edited the anthology ‘Kaupapa: New Zealand Poets, World Issues’ in 2007, and has released four more CDs of music and poetry. Hinemoana was Arts Queensland Poet in Residence in 2009 and writer in residence with the International Writing Programme at the University of Iowa in 2010. She has appeared at festivals and events in New Zealand and in Australia, Indonesia and the US. 
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Andrew Bell // Christchurch, NZ

A second view…

Ghost Town

Picture Clint’s flinty-eyed stare
as he squints into the harsh sun
down an abandoned street.
Ears attuned for the chink-clink of the villain’s spurs
hear only the eerie moan of the nor’wester.

Silt swirling in small twisters is
flung like an insult into Clint’s eyes,
the grey, turgid liquid that spewed forth
now desiccated by the unforgiving Canterbury sun.
Cue tumbleweeds,
but the sole arrival is a family carload
seeking the solace of the state-sanctioned sea.
Dad winces as he drives through Dodge City,
and his suspension surrenders to another pothole.

Dusty venetian blinds are
closed like the eyes of the dead,
the blanched grass clutches at the windows,
and weeds suffocate once proud gardens,
fissures scar the lawn
with the earth’s vengeance.

Clint springs like a cougar at
a shadow in his peripheral vision,
but the villain is already out of range,
running carelessly towards a life full of promise.

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Lesley Marshall // Maungatapere, NZ

Long Distance

The Skype call costs nothing – the amazement of modern technology.  Every time she phones me I think of those poor nineteenth-century mothers whose daughters travelled the other way – by sailing ship – and effectively vanished from their lives.  I’m so lucky, I remind myself.

“I miss you,” comes down the line in bubble-form, like an underwater whale-sob.  “It’s hard here.”

“We miss you too,” I say back, thinking, Come home, then, but not saying it.  This is her journey, not mine.

I try to bolster the failing resolve.  “Have you thought about going up to London to do a museum crawl?  Vanya might meet you for lunch.”

The underwater gloom lightens.  “Oh, yes, she likes museums – she might even come with me.”

“Yes,” I agree.  “Phone her.”

We talk more, and by the end of the phone call the graph line of her confidence is back up – before a final plummet at the moment before we hang up (Love you to the stars and back, we tell each other).

Afterwards I listen to the silence from the other side of the world.  Yes, the Skype calls don’t cost anything.

In dollars.

Lesley Marshall lives in Maungatapere and divides her time between teaching and editing, and answering needy phone calls from various children, both biological and surrogate.  It makes for a very interesting life.

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Rae Roadley // Kaipara Harbour, NZ

Rae Roadley shares an excerpt from her novel Love at the End of the Road: Finding my heart in the country  with us for this blog carnival. This is from Chapter 31.

Looking up the Otamatea River from Batley on a sunny day.

That evening, as Rex prepares to set the flounder net at Fish Factory Bay, I stand by the water’s edge and gaze up at the house. The macrocarpa trees behind it have already darkened from deep green to shadowy black. We launch the dinghy then row down the river. The harbour is deserted, the light fading.

As we round the point the western sky glows hazy and golden pink as the sun slips over the horizon. When I look up the river, there’s no trace of sunlight and the sea is mid-navy under a matching sky.

Kaipara Harbour was named by a Maori chief who was served para – fern root – and liked it (kai means food), while Otamatea River got its name after a visiting chief, Tamatea Pokai Whenua, found himself surrounded by Ngati Whatua warriors. He sought help from his god Raiera who kindly morphed into a rock onto which Tamatea climbed. It floated to the middle of the river at which point, curious and no doubt deeply impressed, Ngati Whatua induced him to return. After enjoying their hospitality, Tamatea thanked them by leaving Raiera in the river as a bridge for his descendants to use. The river became known as O-Tamatea – Tamatea’s River. The name Otamatea was later used for the settlement until it was named Batley.

The net, with an anchor and float at each end, is piled in a bin at the dinghy’s stern. As it’s not too windy I row. Dad taught me in Bambino, the red, white and blue dinghy he built.

Rex says that when he was a kid, he was often oarsman in Aro while his father set the net. ‘He’d sit in the back telling me I wasn’t rowing fast enough or straight enough.’

Luckily for Rex, he doesn’t critique my effort. After he’s dropped the second anchor and float, we leave the boat at Fish Factory Bay so it’s nearby in the morning.

‘I set nets when the tides are right – high in the evening. I’ll clear it on the high tide tomorrow morning,’ he says as we amble back to the house.

Despite the absence of smart restaurants and funky bars, could this be my most unusual date in the most romantic setting? Quite probably, and yet I’m relaxed, at ease. The butterflies that would normally take flight if I sensed pressure for intimacy when I wasn’t ready – or, indeed, when I was – waggle their antennae but sit with their wings neatly folded.

Rae Roadley is an author, journalist, writing tutor and columnist whose memoir, Love at the End of the Road (Penguin 2011), tells of her life, with its highlights, heartbreaks and humour, after she fell in love with a farmer and swapped high heels for gumboots and life in an isolated historic villa on a Kaipara Harbour peninsula. You can visit her website/blog, meet her on Facebook or buy her book here at Fishpond

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Pecha Kucha // Whangarei, NZ 

In the September 20 Pecha Kucha in Whangarei (City # 291), Michelle Elvy worked with Michael Rewi-Thorsen and Peter Larsen to bring together a collection of photographs and words from around the world on August 18. What you see below in this presentation — One Day: August 18 2012 Around the World — is a collection of poetic meanderings, wordplay, reflections, travel commentaries and frank observations from 20 different views. These views are organised sequentially from the first view of the day (7am, Greenwich, London) to a final view of the night (Sydney, Australia).

Participants in the August 18 One Day project, in order of appearance in the presentation, were Julian Reid (Greenwich, London), Christopher Allen (Italy), Tamara Roscoe (Western Australia), Robin Grotke (North Carolina), Ian-John Hutchinson (South Korea),  Abha Iyengar (New Delhi, India), Gus Simonovic (Norwegian Film Festival, Haugesund, Norway), Kulpreet Yadav (New Delhi, India), Vivian Prescott (Sitka, Alaska), Dušan Nešković (Serbia), Jaypee Belarmino (Gore, New Zealand), Rose Hunter (Chacala, Mexico), Hilary Derrick (Nepal), Dorothee Lang (smalltown Germany), Aaron Edwards (Viñales, Cuba), Walter Bjorkman (Rome, New York), Adam Newman (New Orleans), Kara Dodson (Ayers Rock, Australia), Axelle Faur (Amboise, France) and Kokkai Ng (Sydney, Australia). 

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Helen Lowe // Christchurch, NZ

“John’s car”

Helen Lowe took us seriously when as asked for a ‘View From Here’. A multi-faceted writer, Helen took the theme and offered us several different slants. In her own words:  “The four perspectives were to be the view from: my study, from Christchurch, from New Zealand, and as expressed through my books. But when I began writing the view from Christchurch, it just took off and had a life of its own..” And so she begins with a view of Christchurch, and she addresses post-earthquake issues of health and safety, legal matters and environmental concerns. She then takes the micro-view of her own space, where you can view her view out her own window here. From there, Helen takes a look at New Zealand as a whole, and how Kiwis view themselves and the rest of the world; she includes a brief discussion of some Kiwi authors who resettled elsewhere, some who went and came back and some who’ve achieved international status. And for those of you who tend to lump EnZed and Oz together in one geographical soup just because we share the same sea between us, consider this:

“People from other parts of the globe are often surprised to learn, for example, that London is closer to Moscow than either Christchurch or Auckland, New Zealand’s two largest cities, are to Sydney, in Australia.” More here… 

Finally, Helen looks at what it means to be a New Zealand writer, by examining her own books and also considering what may or may not make New Zealand writing unique.

“New Zealand is also allegedly one of the world’s least corrupt societies: this suggests a concern around justice and fair play that may come through in our storytelling. Whether it does and whether it is distinctive or not—perhaps that is something only those outside of New Zealand, who read our literature, may judge.” More here…

Helen Lowe lives and writes in Christchurch. Her first novel Thornspell (Knopf NZ /Random House Children’s Books USA) won the Sir Julius Vogel Award 2009 for Best Novel: Young Adult and was a Storylines Childrens’ Literature Trust Notable Book 2009. Her  most recent book The Heir of Night is the first in the 4-book The Wall of Night epic fantasy series and is published by Eos (HarperCollins USA), Orbit (Little, Brown) in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and Luitingh in The Netherlands. Forthcoming in France & Germany 2012. The Heir of Night won the 2012 Gemmell “Morningstar” Award for Best Fantasty Newcomer.  More about Helen and her books here

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Karen Tribbe // Auckland, NZ

the writer in her teacup…

A Series of Observations

Cicada choirs deafen
my self-doubt.

Cockabullies keep
me company on the rocks.

Pukekos paint
me with their cheerful disposition.

Southern-cross stars signal
my centre.

Toi tois teach
me to stand tall.

Piwakawakas survive
by small steps and small strengths.

Pohutakawas prove
that obstacles can be overcome.

I listen to the lessons of this fault-lined land.
They are still and steadying
when I am shaky ground.

Karen Tribbe works in images and exhibitions at the Auckland Museum by day and dabbles in words and motherhood by night.

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Vaughan Gunson // Whangarei, NZ

Hikurangi
lovin’ the liquidambar next door, the red leaves
that fall down on us.
the railway track over the fence
aaaaaaaaawhich you can look down both ways
to a vanishing point.
the 4 damn churches. the toi toi in bloom,
with the morning sun shining through like a halo,
blessing us all.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaathe view of town
when you come over the top of King Street:
looking like the wild west. the Hikurangi Hotel
with its dark wood interior, pokie machines
& whale’s dick over the bar.
the Saturday night bands with their names in chalk.
the guy who wears overalls, who crosses the road
at the same place everyday with his two dogs,
who gruffly says hello.
the reggae that blasts from the house 3 up from ours.
the dairy, its cracked blue ceramic tiles
& corner relief of a bull’s head;
the Four Square that sells
ready-made vegetarian curries.
the miner’s cottages & villas; the eastern hills
with chopped down pine, gorse & scrub,
so that it’s not picturesque.
the crossroads 6.7km out of town
in the middle of the swamp, where you can stand
in silence.
the old stone path that gets covered in leaves,
broken glass, cigarette butts & tinnies.
the young scruffies outside the Ruraltec
talking about cars, girls & Xbox.
the primary school, the old classrooms in winter
when it’s raining & the heaters are on;
being 7 years old.
the dump & its growing piles
of usable junk, the cheap framed photos on the fence,
the bending of the rules.
the limestone rocks that tourists used to visit.
aaaaaaaaaaa     because there’s room to imagine
being somewhere else.
& our hill, the hill that Ngapuhi forgot.
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Vaughan Gunson is a writer living in Hikurangi, Northland. His poems have been published in a number of publications in New Zealand. His new book of poetry this hill, all it’s about is lifting it to a higher level has just been released (Steele Roberts, 2012). More can be found here

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Gus Simonovic // Auckland and… the world

two views… 

Where Shadows Meet

one more time
the sun is young
the shadows long,
culpable
as if carrying remnants of the night, from the other side of the sphere

moon still,
pastel-ed up in the sky. its invisible body effortlessly wears its visible part, like a hat
as it conducts another ocean morning-symphony of invading waves

a scattering of copper-coloured clouds,
floating on the surface of the sky, mirroring a few early sails on the Harbour

trees, tremble and flicker
with their leaves, like football players offering to exchange shirts after a match

one more time

early risers, denizens and citizens, are walking their best, elongated friends.
workers, quickly disappearing into buses, reducing their individual body contours
to a closely dispersed row of head-shapes, that stride across the curbs and bus stations

and of course,
a polluting bunch of hysterical 1000-kilos-of-steel
cleverly-designed to carry one or two bodies noisying around, chasing their silhouettes

city buildings,
somehow bigger, desiccated. as if crossing the highway
angling
to bath in their park-grounds-skyline

Rangitoto
throws its shadow accross the Harbour to quietly wake up Auckland,
one more time

the Big bridge arches,
like a spine
carries the weight of the city, as it hugs its profile in the water

ocean waves twirl by the beach, backward and forward ( where Chinese are dancing their tai-chi tango of shadows ), pirouette by the port on their blue and white tiptoes
( not to scare the big dinosaur-looking cranes ) as they sneak in, under the bridge, to embrace the city ( and take all our shadows away )

one more time

~

and another from Gus, inspired more locally… 
The Unusual Event – NZ Herald October 2011

What is the easiest way to get to know a town?
Let your senses find out
aaaaaahow the people in it live, work and have fun.
In our little big city
all three are usually done along the same lines,
with the same pragmatic, casual air.

The seasons barely change, and nothing else.
All that tells YOU that spring’s coming is
aaaaaathat rain gets warmer and sails unfurl out on the harbour.
During summer the pohutakawas
aaaaaapaint the blues and greens red.
Autumn and winter strip the town back to grey.

The truth is that the town is bored,
and we devote ourselves to cultivating our sections.
Our citizens work solely with the objective of getting bigger and getting smaller
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa(bigger house, smaller laptop – bigger car and smaller waistline).

And then The Unusual Event occurred.
What it is that makes us so settled one day
and then overnight
changes those shades of grey to full and joyful black?

Who am I to tell what actually happened?
Who am I to surmise?
They came and they play!
Around the Southern Cross it seems the stars are shooting,
the Pointers are partying with us in the Cloud.
We are so lucky to be here, painted faces,
hosting the world.

Now – conjure up a picture of a town with seagulls …
and ferns flying, pumas and wallabies prowling the beaches,
where you hear the beat of dragons’ wings and the rustle of maple leaves,

a thoroughly positive place for many Octobers to come.

Gus Simonovic has lived in other countries and spoken other languages. He has toured his spoken-word poetry and multi-media performance art in the UK and Europe as well as at home in New Zealand. Apart from his own poetry collection, his work has been published in a few NZ magazines and anthologies. Read more at Printable Reality.

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A Dialogue Between City & Country // Vienna, Austria & North Island, New Zealand

Mother and daughter Cecelia Wyatt and Michelle Elvy share scenes  from city life in Vienna  (Cecelia) to coastal views of Aotearoa (Michelle).

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Christopher Allen // Munich, Germany & beyond

Christopher Allen has just launched his new book, Conversations with S. Teri O’Type: A Satire, and along with the book came a rowdy, rambunctious blog tour. It’s a colourful jaunt around the globe with interviews, chapter excerpts and lessons in Greater Gayness. An excerpt from one of his interviews gives you a taste for what awaits:

CA: Well, I’d like to think the Conversations hold literary water. I’ve often toyed with banging the book into the genre of literary humor, but I’ve never researched enough to know whether “literary humor”  is even a genre. These lessons in Greater Gayness are indeed something else entirely, and Teri is someone else entirely as the old buddy he claims to be. I’ve tried to be subtle enough so that the reader doesn’t lose interest in Teri’s “efforts” to “help” Curt.

Satire is slippery. Is there anything more misunderstood? When I first started workshopping the Conversations, I got dozens of responses every day. I’d open one that said something like “OMG! I KNOW someone just like OMG! and I love him!” and then one that would say “How dare you make fun of gay men! Are YOU gay? I’m appalled!” And then I would make the “I’m appalled” gesture to myself—spread palm to clavicle per Teri’s example—and laugh. Neither one of these readers understood what I was doing. I’m going to be misunderstood. I know that. And that’s why I know it must be literary.

Christopher Allen is the author of the absurdist satire Conversations with S. Teri O’Type. His fiction and creative non-fiction have appeared in numerous places both online and in print, including Flash Fiction FridaysSTRIPPEDThe Best of Every Day Fiction 3, and forthcoming in The Best of SmokeLong Quarterly (2013). In 2011 Allen was a finalist at Glimmer Train and a Pushcart Prize nominee. He blogs at www.imustbeoff.com.

.
.

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Maureen Sudlow // Northland, NZ

REMEMBERING THE BULLER

Our son
cigarette dangling from the side of his mouth
serving hot drinks
from the Salvation Army truck.

On the steep Karamea road
a Brethren
and a Catholic Padre
shift an errant boulder.

Draping a train of fences
the bull charges.
My husband is yelling at me
to cut it off.

A nice cup of tea
spoiled
by the decomposing possum
in the water tank.

I sit in the bath
as a slip
rumbles towards our cottage
visions of floating
into the Tasman.

In the middle of the night
a neighbour
clad only in short pyjamas
chases marauding dogs.

Remodelling the cottage
with a chain saw.

Marching from Granity
to Westport
the Hikoi of hope
mo te Tumanako
mo te Rawakore.

Maureen Sudlow is an associate member of The New Zealand Society of Authors (Northland) and writes mainly poetry and children’s picture books.  Her poetry has been published both on-line and in magazines such as A Fine Line.  She has a Diploma in Creative Writing from Whitireia, and was short-listed for this year’s Joy Cowley Award.

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Dorothee Lang // Wernau, Germany

Dorothee Lang‘s window series originated with a challenge that  a traveller once posted in the Lonely Planet travel forum:

“Take a photo from the window of the room you are in.” 

Dorothee writes: “Many responded, some with stunning city skylines. Someone posted a simple image of a small garden, with some houses and trees beyond. ‘Nothing special, just the view from the window here,’ the traveller wrote. To which someone answered: ‘Those views are special — because they are ours.’

“I still remember that line:’because they are ours.’

“For me, it was the starting point of an ongoing photo series of sky photos from this window here. It’s sometimes easy to get lost in the stream of media with all those stunning photos and spotless settings inhabited by perfect persons — and even though we technically know that a lot of the images and persons in TV and in magazines are set up and heavily photoshopped, they leave their traces. A while ago, I read an interview of a photographer who said that during his first longer journey he took lots of photos — and back home he realized he photographed it all in a way he was accustomed to, a way he had seen the places photographed before.

“Maybe that’s also where my fascination for online communities and blog carnivals like this one: each is a celebration of ‘just the view from here’.

“And to add another layer to the views:  maybe in the sky series, it is also about exploring how many images one place holds. And how rich life is, everyday.”

Here’s the link to Dorothee’s whole series: life as a journey of changing skies

Dorothee Lang, German editor of Aotearoa Affair Blog Fest, is into roads, stories, places, crossings, and all the things they lead and connect to. For more about her, visit her at blueprint21

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Michelle Elvy // Whangarei, NZ

Koru Kids by Rachel Weti

Daisy Chain (first published in Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction)

You see them crossing the street – Father and Mother bookending Boy and Girl in the middle, bundled tight in faux-fur jackets with pom-pom hats, Boy’s fringe poking out the front of his hat and Girl’s plaits flapping on her shoulders as she skips along, both swinging locked hands with each other in a rhythm all their own, while their other hands grip parents on either side. A daisy-chain of colour on a winter afternoon.

As they draw near, you see Father, dark-browed and thin-lipped, his irritation with Boy’s incessant chatter written across his face. He is tugging Boy’s hand hard with a hurried stride. Girl follows Boy who follows Father, and Mother is gripping Girl and looking away to the left, a vacant expression on her face which you can now tell has become habit, borne out of measured practice. Her weak smile is cold like the winter day.

You see this and more as they arrive on your side of the street. Toe touches kerb and you feel the break, Father disconnecting, pushing ahead. Boy and Girl holding each other but slowing to uncertain steps. Mother, halfway gone and feeling only a vague grip on Girl’s hand, her gaze elsewhere entirely. You fear that any second now she might let go completely.

They walk down the sidewalk away from you now, the daisy chain broken and the petals falling softly to the ground where they will wilt in the winter sun.

Michelle Elvy is a writer and editor living in Northland and the co-ordinator for Whangarei’s Pecha Kucha series. She can be found at Flash FrontierBlue Five Notebook and A Baker’s Dozen, and along with Dorothee Lang curates the Aotearoa Affair Blog Fest, celebrating Kiwi and German writers in anticipation of the 2012 Frankfurt Bookfair. A Pushcart nominee and a two-time Glass Woman Prize finalist, Michelle has published poetry, fiction and non-fiction in various print and online journals and is presently working on a collection of very short stories set in historical New Zealand.

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We hope you have enjoyed this month’s Blog Carnival and the tour through so many different views. Thank you for reading and viewing and enjoying. Please feel free to share, tweet, connect via Facebook and comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

We are nearing the end of our Aotearoa Affair, as this project was organised to celebrate New Zealand and German writers leading up to  the Frankfurt Bookfair, where New Zealand is the Guest of Honour this year. Before we close up shop, however, we have a few more things in the works. Stay tuned at the Aotearoa Affair in October/November for more posts in our Highlight series and also a feature from the Fair itself.

Thank you to all our contributors. How interesting and also wonderful seeing the world through your eyes.

From the editors Michelle Elvy and Dorothee Lang

6 thoughts on “Blog Carnival 5: A VIEW FROM HERE

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