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Today is National Poetry Day. PANZA (Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa) would like to celebrate by posting a classic New Zealand poem by John Henry Dillon (1860-1922).
Dillon was a New Zealand-born Manawatū poet and builder, living in Palmerston North. He was the son of John Frederick and Maria Dillon.
His only collection Echoes of the War and Other Poems, appeared in 1897 printed by Wm. Hart, Caxton Printing Works, Palmerston North, and J C Andersen lists it in his 1936 Author’s Week bibliography.
As well as poems concerning the land wars of the 19th century (‘The Fall of Von Tempsky’ for instance) and pioneering bush-life, the book contains a moving poem about the wreck of the steamship Wairarapa on the Great Barrier Rocks in 1894.
Andrew Fagan recently revisited this tragedy of New Zealand’s past for TV One’s series about New Zealand disasters, Descent from Disaster.
Dillon’s poem further illuminates the tragedy by offering a powerful insight into the ferocity of the ocean and illustrates the helplessness of the passengers aboard at the time the ship struck the rocks.
The poem will register strongly for all who lost family members in the tragedy.
PANZA recognises John Henry Dillon as a rewarding and worthwhile poet of the 19th century. He doesn’t appear in any New Zealand poetry anthology that PANZA is aware of.
John Henry Dillon
The Wreck of the Wairarapa on the Great Barrier Rocks
On a dark October evening, at the silent midnight hour,
Through the surge of maddened waters as they rush around her side;
With her head towards the harbour, though the storm clouds darkly lower,
Sweeps the steamer Wairarapa like a giant in his pride.
’Twas a summer Sabbath evening that had lulled them to their rest,
Who were sleeping in their cabins, dreaming little as they lay
Of the danger just before them, as they broke the billow’s crest,
Ploughing onward in the darkness o’er the dawning of the day.
For the fog was thick about them, hanging like a winding sheet,
And the waves beneath it murmured sullen, as they hurried by;
And the winds with fiendish hissing round about the rigging bent,
As they swept towards the danger hidden from the keenest eye.
Danger! what of danger was there when the ship was stout and tried,
She had breasted many a billow, passed unscathed through many a gale;
When the tempest in its fury swept across the ocean wide,
She had kept undaunted onward, never did her engines fail.
Danger! yes, when darkness gathers o’er the bosom of the deep,
And a heavy fog sinks slowly like a pall o’er land and sea;
Then ’twere better to be tossing on the wide expanse than keep
Where the jagged rocks are jutting, and the shore is on the lea.
For she speeds across the billows, cutting through the sheets of foam,
Still unchecked, though prudence whispers caution on so wild a coast;
And a sense of dire forebodings fill the anxious souls of some,
Though the captain keeps his vigil, and each man is at his post.
Yet they watch with straining vision through the darkness of the night,
For the friendly beacon flashing o’er the dense enfolding gloom;
Hoping still to catch the glimmer of the Mokohinui light,
Never dreaming they are dashing madly onward to their doom.
Sudden breaks a cry of warning from the look-out all too late,
As with eager eyes down-bending through the gloom he sees below
Whitened foam and curling waters; telling of a coming fate,
And the startled winds give echo, breakers underneath the bow!
All too late; one moment longer, o’er the man beside the wheel,
Quick to action, hears the order of the captain, comes the shock;
With the dreaded awful grinding of the fated vessel’s keel,
As she goes to helpless ruin on the jagged Barrier rock.
God can this be true! that blindly, on this wild temptuous night,
Far away from friend or succour, far away from human care;
Midst the heavy brooding darkness, with the tempest of its height,
They have rushed upon destruction in their madness unaware.
Was it madness! who can answer? Only on the Judgement Day,
When from silent depths of ocean shall the dead return again;
And the veil that shrouds the future be for ever rent away,
Will those lost effects and causes, with their issues be made plain.
Ah, but then that scene of terror, as the waves like wolves in chase,
Swept across the hapless vessel all unhindered as she lay;
Like a worn-out panting quarry, in the long and weary race,
Driven from its native refuge, hunted down and run to bay.
Then above the raging water, reaching upward to the sky,
Mingled with the storm wraiths shrieking, burst that helpless frenzied wail;
Moan of mothers in their anguish, sending up the pleading cry,
Most for loved ones swept to ruin where no help could e’er avail.
For like sheep without a shepherd, scattered impotent and frail,
Helpless in their awful peril, racked with anguish and despair;
How they battle with the fury of the unabated gale,
Lifting still the heart’s petition in the broken voice of prayer.
Flung in helpless dire confusion, on the wave-washed slippery deck,
Hurled resistless from their foothold, swept away across the side;
Tossed like bubbles on the billows, as they broke around the wreck,
Till the living hope within them and the breath of courage died.
Women frail of form and lacking strength to buffet with the wave,
Reared in luxurious lap and nurtured in the midst of warmth and ease;
Now the sport of angry waters where the strongest and the brave,
Sink in helplessness and shudder in the trough of angry seas.
Tossed about amongst the wreckage, bruised and battered on the sand,
Caught upon the backward roller as it followed in retreat;
Lifted up upon the breakers, flung again upon the land,
Till the spark of life was stifled and the heart had ceased to beat.
Never from the jaws of ruin, yawning ready to devour,
Struggled mortal in his peril, grappling fiercely with his doom;
More than they who with the fury of the tempest in its power,
Fought with death amidst the waters in the almost stygian gloom.
See those manly swimmers striking bravely for the wave-beat rocks,
Where the slippery foothold threatens death e’er they shall reach the crest;
Scarcely refuge there for human, where the screaming seagull flocks,
And amongst the ragged ledges high above them builds her nest.
Now they reach the place of safety, now the life-line stretches tight,
Down whose narrow way of rescue they who cluster on the deck;
And amongst the clammy rigging in the bitter blasts of night,
Fain must pass to leave behind them all the perils of the wreck.
But alas! no hand can ever reach to rescue those whose life
Ended with that Sabbath sunset, never more to see the light;
Lost amidst the briny waters in the vain unequal strife,
As the billows broke above them in the death fogs of the night.
Morning breaks, and through the mistage looks the sun o’er sea and land,
On the wreck amongst the breakers, on the wreckage on the beach;
On the lifeless forms now scattered in the seaweed and the sand,
Flung like refuse of the ocean up beyond the billows reach.
Morning breaks to wails of sorrow from the hearts bereft that mourn,
Far and wide, in hall and cottage, waiting vainly evermore,
For the loved ones lost and sundered, riven from their lives and torn,
Loved ones whom with greeting never shall they welcome at the door.
Though mayhap when years have ended, when the storms of life at last,
And the partings borne in anguish, and the waiting days are o’er;
Hands may join in tender greetings, while the memories of the past
Cease for ever in the sunlight of that bright eternal shore.
Poem © John Henry Dillon
Friday 27 July 2012 is National Poetry Day. PANZA would like to celebrate by posting a classic New Zealand poem by Ivy Gibbs (1886?-1966).
Gibbs is an internationally published poet and children’s writer of the period 1920-50. Little information is available on her early life but PANZA thinks she was born in England and moved out to Australia as a child or young woman before arriving in New Zealand in 1926.
Gibbs’ poetry (inspired by Ragtime music, fairy tales and Romantic English pastoral poets) was widely published in Australia before New Zealand. She appeared in various Australian papers and journals in the 1920s such as the Sydney Morning Herald, Green Room May, Birth: A Little Journal of Australian Poetry, the Triad, the Australian Woman’s Mirror and the Sydney Bulletin.
In New Zealand, her poems were published in The New Zealand Radio Record, The New Zealand Mercury and The New Zealand Herald. Quentin Pope selected her for his anthology Kowhai Gold in 1930 and John O’Dreams [Helen Longford] for the anthology A Gift Book of New Zealand Verse (1931).
In the 1930s, she was on the committee of the New Zealand Women Writers’ and Artists’ Society (1932-34) in Wellington.
Two books of her poetry were published in England: Six Days in a Pensive Mood (Ilfracombe: Arthur H. Stockwell, UK, 1949, no item details found) and The Day is in a Pensive Mood (Ilfracombe: Arthur H. Stockwell, UK, 1949, 26 page booklet). Significantly the latter book is held by The Hocken Library in Dunedin, showing a further connection with New Zealand.
On 3 October 1966, Gibbs died in Auckland. A service was held for her at the Waikumete Chapel Crematorium.
PANZA recognises Gibbs as a significant and still largely unrecognised New Zealand poet. Mark Pirie and Original Books have recently published three archival booklets of Ivy Gibbs’ poems collected from anthologies, newspapers and magazines and Pirie has written a bio-bibliography for her. The National Library of New Zealand holds copyright deposits of these booklets.
As soon as yellow day leaves the dull town
I love to see the small white moon look down
From evening’s clear and lilac-tinted sky.
As shyly as a girl wakened to love,
As frightened as a little quivering dove,
Reluctant, yet in haste its wings to try
Upon the blue and shining leagues of space.
I love her little white dream-haunted face.
I wonder what she thinks when, from a tree,
She peeps in wistful curiosity
Down on our little green and glowing earth.
I think at times I’ve seen a gentle mirth
Shake her as lightly as a bee a flower,
Seeking his treasure through a transient hour.
I’ve often wondered, little wistful moon,
Who is your lover. For once, far and high,
I heard the young wind near your lilac sky
Tenderly piping a thin silver tune!
Poem © Ivy Gibbs 1925
(From The Bulletin, vol.46 no.2389 26 November 1925, p.7)
Children’s author Margaret Mahy died this week.
Mahy was an internationally celebrated author of books, children’s stories and children’s verse.
Her poems such as ‘Bubble Trouble’ were included in national and international anthologies, including Bill Manhire’s 121 New Zealand Poems (2005), Our Favourite Poems: New Zealanders Choose Their Favourite Poems (2007), The Quentin Blake Book of Nonsense Verse (1994), The Puffin Book of Nonsense Verse (1996) and Pumpkin Grumpkin: Nonsense Poems from Around the World (2011).
Tessa Duder edited her Word Witch collection of ‘magical verse’ in 2009.
PANZA member Mark Pirie remembers reading Margaret’s contributions to The New Zealand School Journal and books like A Lion in the Meadow as a child at WadestownSchool. He greatly enjoyed Margaret’s work.
PANZA extends their sympathies to Margaret’s friends and family at this time.
Cyril Childs (1941-2012), a cricketer, scientist, leading haiku poet and editor of national haiku anthologies died recently aged 70. Childs had an international reputation in the haiku field.
His influence and encouragement of other haiku poets in New Zealand was considerable and, in Bravado 3 (November 2004), Childs wrote an article offering a new definition of the form and exploring the development of haiku and its evolution.
In 1993, he edited the New Zealand Haiku Anthology for the NZ Poetry Society and in 1998 brought out its sequel, The Second New Zealand Haiku Anthology, again for the NZ Poetry Society. With Joanna Preston, he co-edited the Christchurch haiku and haibun collection, Listening to the Rain (2002), and contributed to The Taste of Nashi: New Zealand Haiku (2008).
Fellow poet and friend Sandra Simpson wrote in tribute of Cyril: ‘Thanks to his efforts in editing and publishing the first and second New Zealand Haiku Anthologies … the haiku community in this country not only began to coalesce, but to flourish to the point where several Kiwi writers – Cyril included – are recognised internationally.’
He also wrote in other poetic forms like free verse. His poetry appeared widely in international magazines and anthologies such as contemporary haibun online, Modern Haiku, Frogpond and Wind Over Water: an anthology of haiku and tanka and in New Zealand journals, including Poetry NZ, JAAM, Kokako, CommonTatta and Bravado. His book reviews appeared in JAAM, New Zealand Books and on the NZ Poetry Society website.
In 2000, Childs self-published the autobiographical collection, Paper Lanterns: A Journey with Cancer, detailing his (and his first wife Vivienne’s) experiences in prose, free verse and haiku. Vivienne died from the disease in 1997.
Childs had a keen interest in sports such as rugby and cricket and in 2010 appeared in the cricket poetry anthology A Tingling Catch: A Century of New Zealand Cricket Poems 1864-2009. An article on Childs’ cricket haiku appears on Mark Pirie’s Tingling Catch blog. Childs also contributed a Second World War cricket poem by Jack Gallichan (brother of New Zealand cricketer Norm Gallichan) to the weblog.
Childs, himself a promising cricketer, played as a right-hand batsman and leg break bowler for Otago Under 20s in 1960/61 in the Brabin Tournament and in 1961/62 in the Rothman’s U23 tournament as well as representing Southland against Fiji at Queen’s Park, Invercargill, that same season. Childs was also a Double Blue at the University of Otago (rugby/cricket).
Childs’ numerous science publications since the 1970s concerned New Zealand soil mineralogy for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research in Wellington as well as other work on thermodynamics, palaeobotany and palaeoecology.
Childs was living in Port Chalmers near Dunedin at the time of his death. He is survived by his son Norris, his daughter Lia and his second wife Christine.
PANZA offers their condolences to Cyril’s friends and family at this time.
Other links on Cyril Childs:
NZ Poetry Society Memorial in memory of Cyril Childs (1941-2012) http://waitingroompoems.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/in-memory-of-cyril-childs-1941-2012/
Sandra Simpson’s funeral address for Cyril Childs: http://www.poetrysociety.org.nz/cyrilshaikujourney
Australian Haiku Society: http://www.haikuoz.org/2012/01/cyril_childs_19412012.html
Tingling Catch tribute to Cyril Childs: http://tinglingcatch.blogspot.co.nz/2012/03/tingling-catch-contributor-cyril-childs.html
Cricket Archive player page for Cyril Childs: http://http.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Players/950/950374/950374.html
Andrew Fagan, poet, musician and sailor of the South Pacific seas, returns and in fine form. To those who are fans of Fagan’s music from way back, Admiral of the Narrow Seas (put out by Big Ears Music NZ) will not disappoint and will soundtrack your Kiwi summer.
Like a lot of people I best remember him as charismatic front man for The Mockers in the ’80s who penned Kiwi classics like ‘Forever Tuesday Morning, ‘Another Boring Day in the Amazon’ and ‘My Girl Thinks She’s Cleopatra’ so much a part of my teen years.
Later in the ’90s he went solo with Blisters (1993) which contained memorable songs like ‘Now You Know’ and ‘Jerusalem’ and then moved to London for a while where he worked as a roadie and lived on a houseboat on the River Thames, while playing in various creations like Lig in Camden Town.
Now back in Auckland, New Zealand, working in broadcasting with Kiwi FM and Radio Live, he has delivered once more with his long-awaited release from Fagan and the People.
I say ‘long-awaited’ because I heard early demos of some of these songs when Fagan was a guest at a poetry event I co-organised in 2006 called Poetrymath (after the Rolling Stones’ Aftermath album). That year I published his poetry book, Overnight Downpour, through HeadworX. I’ve always like Fagan’s work as well as his dark lyrics, he has that rare gift to write well-crafted and layered pop tunes.
Tracks on this new album ‘Get Light’ and the opener ‘Enjoy the Show’ carry that sonorous, melodious approach resonant of a lot of UK and NZ Indie pop. There is also a feel of UK acts like Bloc Party in tracks like ‘Religion’, ‘Clemency’ or the powerful drum-laden and mad cap ‘Messiah’: ‘I am your Messiah/ I aim take the species higher’ which has a great little guitar solo near the end, a good album closer.
I wouldn’t like to focus on what his songs sound like too much as clearly Fagan is a mature songwriter now and is his own singular artist. The album title, Admiral of the Narrow Seas, for instance is pure Fagan like his lyrics and is ‘a sea phrase that comes from an 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.’
My favourites are the rockier and heavier pop tunes like ‘Prised’, ‘I Know’ and ‘Blame Me’, where his peculiar genius shines through. I also like the use of trombone, sax and trumpet in various places on this album as well as the restless range of musical styles on show here. It gives the album an eclectic mix and variety.
Congrats to all those who worked on this. I would expect this album to rock played live. Fagan has always been a crowd-pleaser and willing to engage his audience. I hope he tours near my place soon.
CD reviewed by Mark Pirie for Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa website
Mark Pirie is a Wellington poet, publisher, PANZA member, and a former dee-jay on Active 89FM (1993-1996). One of his favourite concerts at Bar Bodega, Wellington, in 1994, was on Fagan’s Blisters tour where, among other things, the audience received a generous dose from Fagan’s Vodka spray bottle (aka ‘Trance Fluid’). He has followed Fagan’s music and poetry closely since he first started listening to popular music at age 10 in 1985 and counts himself a Fagan fan. He published Fagan’s poetry book, Overnight Downpour, in 2006. PANZA owns and holds all four of Fagan’s slim volumes.
You can now become a friend of PANZA or donate cash to help us continue our work by going to – http://pukapukabooks.blogspot.com - and accessing the donate button – any donation will be acknowledged.
PANZA celebrates Rugby World Cup 2011 with three historic rugby poems found by PANZA member, publisher and cricket poetry anthologist Mark Pirie, from New Zealand Free Lance (c1920s) and The Evening Post (c1930s).
The first humourous poem is on picking the team for the 1924-25 All Blacks “Invincibles” tour, from New Zealand Free Lance, and the second poem, ‘The All Blacks’, is on the team’s victorious return and was offered by Pirie and republished in The Dominion Post, 22 September 2011 as “The Thursday Poem”. The third is a more general poem on players in the game, from The Evening Post.
Robert J Pope (1863?-1949) was a Wellington poet and noted club cricketer in his younger years. Pirie has previously written on Pope in Poetry Notes, Vol.1, No. 1, Autumn 2010.
The poems discovered by Pirie are not in Pope’s two published collections: Some New Zealand Lyrics (1928) and A New Zealander’s Fancies in Verse (1946). A visit to the Turnbull Library (when Pirie was looking for cricket poems for A Tingling Catch (2010)) unearthed them in Pope’s manuscripts. They had been cut out of New Zealand Free Lance and The Evening Post by Pope and glued in to his manuscript books; the third was signed in The Evening Post as “R.J.P.” Pirie is currently working on a fresh selection of Pope’s verse.
PANZA is also aware of another prominent New Zealand rugby poet published in newspapers from this period: Ernest L Eyre, of Devonport, Auckland. Niel Wright wrote an essay on Eyre in the latest Poetry Notes, Vol. 2, No. 2, Winter 2011. Eyre wrote a history of the North Shore Rugby Club: C’Mon Shore! (1973). He was a player and official from 1904-67.
Here are the three poems by Pope:
Robert J Pope
“THE ALL BLACKS: MY SELECTION”
The Free Lance has ordained that all
Must pick a team of “Blacks,”
That shall the stormy ocean brave
And face the British packs;
A sense of duty urged me on
To honour this decree,
But sorely was I puzzled what
The personnel should be.
I read reports by ev’ry scribe
From Auckland to the Bluff,
But very soon I learned that this
Would hardly be enough;
For there are countless players who
Are born to kick unseen;
Yet, nathless, mighty champions
Upon their native green.
The “Oio Examiner” I
Indeed was forced to scan
To see if there was a mention of
A real outstanding man;
I found at least, a dozen that
‘Twas held, must find a place;
While the Kawa Kawa “Sentinel”
Had thirteen in the race.
There was seventeen from Auckland,
And nineteen from Hawke’s Bay,
All positively certainties,
Whose claims none could gainsay.
Only eight I found in Southland,
Who were sure to be included;
But from Canterbury’s fertile plains
“All Blacks” in scores exuded.
Otago’s quota to the team
Was put down as eleven,
And five of these were forwards who
Would grace a team from heaven.
The “Times,” indeed, had qualms about
The eighteen from outside;
And wound up thus: “Our men have claims
That cannot be denied.”
I read the Westport “Sun’s” reports,
And there I quickly learned
Of a full-back and three forwards,
Who had fern-leaves safely earned.
The “Examiner” of Woodville
Was but sparing in its claims;
The list of men it termed “foregones,”
Comprised just seven names.
The Marlborough“Express,” I found,
Took quite a gloomy view
Of the number of its candidates,
And put it down as two;
The Nelson “Weekly News” complained
Of being in the cold;
Yet “Apple Land” had five great backs,
Perforce must be enrolled.
To Taranaki’s claims I then
Directed my attention,
And in the “Herald’s” columns, ten
Had honourable mention.
“These two,” ‘twas said, “must sure find place,
Let those stand out who must;
But, lacking these, we’d have a team,
New Zealand dare not trust.”
Such multifarious reading had
By now my mind perplexed;
The problem of those Twenty-nine
Was making me sore vexed.
I totted up the certainties
And found them sixty-one;
But, sixty-ones in twenty-nine –
It really can’t be done.
I sat me down and scratched my head.
Now aching – when, anon,
I found I’d made a blunder great –
I’d left out Wellington;
Then rapidly I conned the notes,
Of “Drop Kick” and “Touch Line,”
And found the local certainties
A modest twenty-nine.
THE ALL BLACKS
Sound, trumpet and drum,
For the All Blacks have come,
Bowed down ’neath their burden of glory;
They have put in the shade
Old Achilles, and laid
On the shelf all the heroes of story.
Neither England nor France
Could withstand their advance,
Though ’gainst Newport they had a near squeak;
Old Ireland fought gamely,
Nor did Wales suffer tamely
The process of eating the leek.
Nicholls, Nepia and Cooke
All played like a book,
As did Parker, the Brownlies, none fleeter;
And more I could name
Who have just as much claim,
Were it not for the bonds of my metre.
Yet it might be as well,
In case our heads swell,
To remember a former mishap;
Let us not crow too loudly,
Or bear ourselves proudly.
South Africa’s still on the map.
Then here’s to the boys
Who have made such a noise
In all lands where the oval is kicked,
While they’ve burnished her fame,
They have guarded her name,
And returned to New Zealand “unlicked.”
(Poems from New Zealand Free Lance)
KINDNESS ON THE FIELD
(For the Post)
Be kind to the hooker, or else in the scrum
Thy poor tender shins he will hack;
Or take the first chance that is offered to him
Of planting his foot in your back.
Be kind to the hooker, he’s hidden from view,
And can work his revenge in the dark,
So if you insult him, as sure as you’re born,
He’ll deprive you of some of your bark.
Be kind to the half-back, he’s nippy and sly,
And will grab you when rounding the scrum,
Or will collar you low, your heels up he’ll throw,
And bang on the ground you will come.
Be kind to the half-back, that watchful young man,
If you hurt him he’ll likely feel wild;
And if he should meet you again in the field,
You’d probably know why he smiled.
Be kind to the winger, or you he may prod
In the home of your afternoon tea;
He’s fond of a scrap, and won’t mind a rap
If your eye comes to grief on his knee.
Be kind to the winger, he’s out for a go,
And promptly pays all that he owes;
So be careful to give him no more than his due,
Or he’ll give you the change on your nose.
Be kind to three-quarters, they’re heady and strong,
And can run like their master, Old Nick;
So if you tread hard on their corns beg their pardon,
Or limp off the field with a rick.
Be kind to three-quarters again let me say,
For their hatred of roughness is such
That, if you should fend them, or neatly upend them,
You’ll travel henceforth on a crutch.
Be kind to the full-back or, when in his grip,
He’ll handle you roughly for sure.
He’s a virtuous fellow, and hates fast young men,
So take care that your language is pure.
Be kind to the full-back, ’tis kindness well spent,
Don’t approach this stern player with vim;
If to score you must try, put your collar-bone by –
A collarbone’s nothing to him.
(From The Evening Post)
Poems © Robert J Pope
PANZA would like to acknowledge the publication of the late New Zealand poet Hone Tuwhare’s collected works, Small Holes in the Silence by Godwit Random House NZ. It’s a wonderful book that selects the best of Hone’s work and is a must-have collection for any poetry lover’s book shelf.
Further information on Hone at the Hone Tuwhare Charitable Trust: http://honetuwhare.org.nz/
PANZA offers their sympathy and condolences to friends and family of Dame Christine Cole Catley who died last month. More information and a press release from the family at: http://beattiesbookblog.blogspot.com/2011/08/chris-cole-catley-rip.html
Chris Cole Catley’s imprint Cape Catley Ltd was an occasional publisher of NZ poetry, whose list began with Douglas Cole Catley’s book of limericks in 1973, and this year they published Johanna Emeney’s debut collection Apple & Tree. Other poets on the Cape Catley list included Kevin Ireland and Bernard Brown as well as the anthology of North Shore poetry and fiction, Golden Weather, edited by Jack Ross and Graeme Lay.
PANZA would like to congratulate Ian Wedde on his recent appointment as New Zealand’s Poet Laureate.
More information at the National Library’s website: http://www.natlib.govt.nz/about-us/news/ian-wedde-poet-laureate/
A link to the Poet Laureate Blog is in our list of Links.