Bill Direen, writer/musician, is a Kiwi legend of low-fi. At the launch of his doco film, A Memory of Others, directed by Simon Ogston, I was lucky to pick up his 2017 vinyl rerelease Chrysanthemum Storm, which shows why he is so renowned in this genre. At times part of the Flying Nun stable, Direen/Bilders have woven consistently rewarding sounds over a long career and toured extensively.

A seasoned performer Direen can cross over genres with ease, and then enter into a moment of poetry/drama on stage similar to the great Jim Morrison. His latest release for me is more in the category of Spoken Word, or poems set to music rather than being a rockin’ low-fi recording.

Move Along Love Among is a downloadable album (or cassette release in Germany) complete with booklet containing photos and lyrics. There are 11 tracks recorded on 11 December 2020 at Strath, Taieri, Otago. Mastered by Johannes Contag of Cloudboy.

I was impressed at the simple sound constructions on offer. Tracks like Valve convey the sense of the heart beating and pounding away with Direen’s incessant words delivered over the top: Valve once open valve must close, / heart quickens heart slows. In a time when recording artists like Halsey and Lana Del Rey have entered into publishing poetry books, Direen’s album is not far off what Del Rey has achieved with her poetry album CD: Cinema of love never more true, / in campervan road without end.

My favourite track is probably the mystical and passionately delivered lyric World of the Winds. A Persian feel to it. Tales of the winds / & valleys and thieves / The rat makes no move / it escapes by instinct / Silence its harmony/  darkness its dress. This track hits your senses like you’re inside a passing desert sand storm, a jellaba covering your face.

A couple of lyrics are very short. Rain on the Strath has echoes of Andrew Fagan’s short Spoken Word sound pieces. The Calmest Story shows Direen’s evocative storytelling ability. The folk musician meets Dylan Thomas: When I hear the beauty / of her voice falling from her window / into the bright blue empty sky. / Not straight down but like a ribbon / in the old paintings, / lines that a scarecrow might scribble. Another good release from Bilders. All proceeds to “Book Guardians Aotearoa to the fight to save the National Library International Research Collections”.

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).  He has followed Bill Direen’s music and writings for many years. He has published Direen’s writings in his journals JAAM and broadsheet, and stayed with Direen in Paris in 2005. PANZA owns and holds a number of Direen’s poetry volumes.

Mark Pirie, with Bill Direen at his Wellington concert, October 2016
Photo: David Moore

The Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa (PANZA) now has over 5,000 titles.

Thanks to all those who have donated to the Archive over the past year.

The Poetry Archive of New Zealand catalogue has now been updated to reflect new acquisitions May 2021-June 2021.

The Archive began in February 2010 with around 3,000 titles and has grown substantially in the past few years. PANZA would particularly like to thank Auckland poet, editor and novelist Alistair Paterson, Wellington poet/publisher Mark Pirie, Wellington publisher Roger Steele, Cecilia Johnson and the late New Zealand anthologist, poet and memoirist Harvey McQueen for their sizeable contributions to the fast-growing collection.

A full list of donations is listed in each issue of Poetry Notes, the PANZA newsletter.

The 40th issue of the newsletter from Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa is available now for download as a pdf.

Inside Autumn 2021, Volume 10, issue 4: Comment on the Wilsonville Collective by Niel Wright; classic New Zealand poetry by John Daubé 1938-2010; new memoir by Australasian poet Stephen Oliver; Michael O’Leary visits the Hawke’s Bay; A note on the poetry of Christina Fulton; new publications by PANZA members; donate to PANZA through PayPal; recently received donations; about the Poetry Archive.

The Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa (PANZA) now has over 5,000 titles.

Thanks to all those who have donated to the Archive over the past year.

The Poetry Archive of New Zealand catalogue has now been updated to reflect new acquisitions February 2021-April 2021.

The Archive began in February 2010 with around 3,000 titles and has grown substantially in the past few years. PANZA would particularly like to thank Auckland poet, editor and novelist Alistair Paterson, Wellington poet/publisher Mark Pirie, Wellington publisher Roger Steele, Cecilia Johnson and the late New Zealand anthologist, poet and memoirist Harvey McQueen for their sizeable contributions to the fast-growing collection.

A full list of donations is listed in each issue of Poetry Notes, the PANZA newsletter.

The 39th issue of the newsletter from Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa is available now for download as a pdf.

Inside Summer 2021, Volume 10, issue 3: Albania-Kosovo in New Zealand Literature by Mark Pirie; classic New Zealand poetry by Gwen Harwood 1908-1996; comment on the poetry of Margaret Jeune; poetry in translation by Basim Furat; obituary: Julie Leibrich 1947-2021; Roger Steele awarded New Year’s honour; new publications by PANZA members; donate to PANZA through PayPal; recently received donations; about the Poetry Archive.

The Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa (PANZA) now has over 5,000 titles.

Thanks to all those who have donated to the Archive over the past year.

The Poetry Archive of New Zealand catalogue has now been updated to reflect new acquisitions August 2020-January 2021.

The Archive began in February 2010 with around 3,000 titles and has grown substantially in the past few years. PANZA would particularly like to thank Auckland poet, editor and novelist Alistair Paterson, Wellington poet/publisher Mark Pirie, Wellington publisher Roger Steele, Cecilia Johnson and the late New Zealand anthologist, poet and memoirist Harvey McQueen for their sizeable contributions to the fast-growing collection.

A full list of donations is listed in each issue of Poetry Notes, the PANZA newsletter.

The 38th issue of the newsletter from Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa is available now for download as a pdf.

Inside Spring 2020, Volume 10, issue 2: John Gallas’s epic poem The Little Sublime Comedy by Mark Pirie; poetry by Jim Consedine; letter by Niel Wright; obituary: Yilma Tafere Tasew, 1957-2020; report: Poet Laureate inauguration by Michael O’Leary; new publications by PANZA members; donate to PANZA through PayPal; recently received donations; about the Poetry Archive.

This year’s National Poetry Day poem is a classic New Zealand poem by a rediscovered New Zealand poet, Stella D Capes.

PANZA researcher/archivist Mark Pirie recently noted the poet in one of journalist and writer Pat Lawlor’s memoirs More Wellington Days (1962), with her poem tribute to New Zealand’s famed writer Katherine Mansfield, dated 1949, and written in Capes’ 30s. Her name was not known to PANZA.

Stella Dorothy Capes (née Bryant) was born on 1 August 1913 and died 20 November 2003 at 90 years old. She was said to be active in Pukekohe as a poet in 1949.

A letter in the Auckland Star, 8 August 1931, states she was a member of the Peter Pan Club in Auckland and showed wide reading and literary knowledge as a girl. In fact some 33 results are returned in Papers Past for Stella Bryant of Huapai and Manukau Road, concerning competitions and prizes and letters to the Auckland Star and short stories or poems published as a girl.

She married the market gardener Vincent John Capes in Auckland on 11 March 1939.

After her marriage, Stella appears on the Franklin Roll 1946-1963 and the Albany Roll 1978-1981.

The deaths of Stella and her husband both occurred in 2003 in Tauranga, so it is presumed they retired there to live. It is not known what happened to her poetry or how long she continued to write it after her early promise as a girl.

A search of the National Library online catalogues shows her correspondence with Pat Lawlor is listed in Tiaki, yet there appear to be no printed book publications of her poetry in New Zealand Library or the British Library catalogues.

This is the full text of Stella D Capes’ poem tribute to KM reproduced from Pat Lawlor’s book:

You sought the clear beauty
Of the white moon;
The vision of the bright star
In its timeless vigil;
Strove for the clarity
Of spring waters,
Leaping from the bush-clad hills.

Oft, as the blue petals,
Of the tall delphinium,
Delicate your artistry,
Tender as the uncurled fern;
Then—like the rapier—
Deep, thrust your words
Probing the truth you knew!

Stella D Capes, Pukekohe

 

Katherine Mansfield. Ref: 1/2-002594-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22601543

 

I reviewed Andrew Fagan and the People’s Admiral of the Narrow Seas, their previous gem, for the Poetry Archive in 2011. Get Light from that disc is one of my all-time favourite Fagan pieces like Now You Know from his ’90s Blisters solo album.  Since then Fagan did a solo poetry/spoken word disc in 2018 and did gigs with UK performance poet John Cooper Clarke on his poetry tour to New Zealand.

Now Fagan and the People have returned after a 9-year absence with much good indie and low-fi tunes and there is anarchic fun behind it. I doubt they knew of the COVID-19 lockdown coming worldwide when the album was officially released in February 2020 but the inside photo of his band in full PPE gear fits the times as does the album’s title Act Normal. Well, we do try to.

The title track Act Normal is a good pub anthem and crowd pleaser on a Saturday night: “They’re almost here so scull your beer / Act normal …”. I would describe these latest tunes as uplifting, looking on the brighter side of life, “just endure it and you’ll be fine/ Just enjoy it and you’ll be fine.” (You’ll Be Fine). The track Someone More Gorgeous Than Me probably rivals Rod Stewart’s Do Ya Think I’m Sexy. No mean feat and just as funny as Stewart’s. Elsewhere Fagan’s songwriting gift comes to the fore again on tracks like Fuse to Ignite, which is a great piece of songwriting, unique and poetic. Darryn Harkness does solid work on guitar, keyboards and saxophone throughout and is a sound collaborator.

There is much variety here with harder edged tracks (Something’s Going to Happen) and slower pop/acoustic melodies (Move On), and the final track On Channel Me (a satire of celebrity living on social media and reality TV) comes in four versions. Take your pick: rock, low-fi, electro pop or dance/trance. I can imagine the dance/trance version of On Channel Me (“places to go and people to be … I’m on Facebook”) being approved of by John Lydon who teamed up with Leftfield back in the ’90s. I used to thrash their Open up, “burn Hollywood burn…” as a student dee-jay on Radio Active in Wellington.

Andrew Fagan and Jordan Luck have been my favourite two frontmen besides the likes of Shayne Carter and Martin Phillipps. The Mockers still tour every two years around NZ, most recently with Midge Ure. The Mockers and Fagan’s best lyrics, My Girl Thinks She’s Cleopatra or One Black Friday, have always stood up to most in NZ, from Flying Nun to Finn Brothers, The Exponents to Dave Dobbyn.

Overall, Fagan and the People’s Act Normal is essential for these times we are in, and should give long-term fans much enjoyment as well as those new to his music. Don’t miss out on this one, and try to get yourself a copy of Admiral of the Narrow Seas, if you can.

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).  He has followed Andrew Fagan’s music and poetry closely since he first started listening to pop at age 11 in 1985 and counts himself a Fagan fan. He was the publisher of Fagan’s poetry book Overnight Downpour in 2006. PANZA owns and holds all four of Fagan’s slim volumes.

The 37th issue of the newsletter from Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa is available now for download as a pdf.

Inside Winter 2020, Volume 10, issue 1: All You Need to Know to Have an Intelligent Computer by Niel Wright; poetry by Stephen Oliver; poetry on the Australian bush fires; review: Act Normal by Fagan and the People; new publications by PANZA members; donate to PANZA through PayPal; recently received donations; about the Poetry Archive.