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This year’s National Poetry Day is being held on Friday, 23 August 2019.
PANZA has chosen a rare poem in memory of the New Zealand poet, typographer, publisher and wit Denis Glover (1912-1980).
The poem, ‘Farewell to a Poet’ is by the UK-born American poet and Professor Michael Duffett, who himself passed away on 9 July this year. Two months prior to Duffett’s death, his book The Presence of Love: Poems Selected and New had been released in New Zealand by my publishing company HeadworX. It’s nice to remember both of these poets on National Poetry Day in New Zealand, and recall their friendship.
Duffett once wrote: “[New Zealand] remains unique in my memory as the one land in my travels about which I have exclusively positive memories.” New Zealand turns up in Michael Duffett’s most well-known book of poetry, Forever Avenue, published in California in 1987.
Duffett visited New Zealand in 1979 and spent some time with Denis Glover in the final year of his life. Duffett visited him again a few weeks before his death in 1980.

On my return from the South Island, I spent time in Wellington with Denis Glover, to whom I instantly warmed. He was a force of nature, a booming laugh, a great bright alcoholically-reddened nose like Mr. Punch and an irresistible cheerful manner. I recall a visit to the bank with him and, on being asked by a timid young lady bank clerk how he would like his cash, he boomed in reply, “Any way at all, my dear. It all goes down the drain.” I have come to see that as an absolutely accurate assessment of the meaning of money.
On another occasion when Denis had cajoled my services to drive him to the Alexander Turnbull Library, I drove to his home. Denis lived in a curiously-designed house that had a bathroom on one side of the living room and a bedroom on the other. As I arrived (early, or maybe Denis was late) his wife Lyn hurried into the garden to meet me. I later realised it was to forestall me from bumping into a semi-clad poet on the way from bathroom to bedroom. Denis, to whom embarrassment was unknown, knew what Lyn was up to and bellowed from inside the house, “Let the bloody man come in if he’s here!”
Moments later, I sat with a cup of tea in the living room, the bathroom door opened and there was the great poet in his skivvies, giving me the naval salute to his Russian Commander’s hat (a gift from the Soviets). I wish I had had a camera!

Michael Duffett’s poem is of interest because it explores (with empathy) Glover’s decline. His official biographer Gordon Ogilvie, in Denis Glover: His Life (1999), recounts that Glover had fallen down steps during his shift to Breaker Bay Road from Strathmore, which led to his eventual death (four days later), with his wife Lyn by his bedside on Saturday, 9 August 1980. Yet Michael Duffett presents the further view of a Glover in decline, slipping in his bath. Duffett too acknowledges closely the coroner’s official view that Glover’s death was ‘bronchopneumonia’ from the effects of liver disease brought on by his drinking. Duffett appears to be a person or friend in the know.
The image of Glover being “innocent and free” in his death sums up perfectly the complexity of Glover’s persona and life, and is a profound image of Denis Glover, the man and myth.
It’s remarkable that an outside voice from overseas could come away with such an apt description of Glover, after only knowing him a short while. Michael Duffett shows the value of overseas commentators on New Zealand literature.

FAREWELL TO A POET

Once back in Wellington I rendezvous’d
With Glover, took him snoring home one day
Squeezed in the back. “Is that Denis Glover
You’ve got in there?” (as if I’d kidnapped
A national figure) the petrol-pump
Attendant asked, amazed. I took him home,
Arranged to take him into town next day.
I did and as we parted, fierce yet fond
And fondling yellow eyes gleamed at me,
Knowing they were seeing me forever.
We never met again; he must have known it.
Dear Denis, human man, fell in his bath
A few weeks later, and never rose again,
Went back to his Maker at that moment
As he came, as innocent and free
As naked, striding, new-born babe.

Poem © Michael Duffett, 2019

Article © Mark Pirie

Portrait of Denis Glover, 1973. Evening post (Newspaper. 1865-2002) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: 1/4-021052-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22828773

 

The 34th issue of the newsletter from Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa is available now for download as a pdf.

Inside Spring 2019, Volume 9, issue 2: W. Francis Chambers (1876-1954) by Rowan Gibbs; comment on Lynne Frith; report on PANZA Exhibition and Robin Hyde plaque; obituary: P V Reeves (1927-2019); poetry by Margaret Jeune; new publications by PANZA members; donate to PANZA through PayPal; recently received donations; about the Poetry Archive.

This year’s National Poetry Day is being held on Friday, 24 August 2018.
PANZA has chosen a rare rugby poem, ‘My Homage to Pinetree’ by Tula Regos, in celebration of the late Sir Colin Meads, who passed away last year. The poem is among the poetry donations recorded at the New Zealand Rugby Museum which I have recently written about in the latest issue of Poetry Notes, Winter 2018.  Thanks to Stephen Berg, the Director, for help in locating the poems.
The poem about Pinetree records the unofficial retirement of Meads, when he turned out for a President’s side in 1973 and defeated the All Blacks. Yet another fitting addendum to the Meads legend. The previous year he withdrew from the 1972 All Black trials, which signalled the end of his career.
The poet is Tula Regos, a Manawatu local, obviously writing under a pseudonym, and we are currently unable to find out who he was, as the name of the poet isn’t recorded with the poem donations by the New Zealand Rugby Museum. There are a sizable number of his poems held by the Museum (at least 36 donations recorded, and some are multiple poems covering individual test series), and Regos seems to have written mostly on and recorded All Blacks matches, 1972-84. There are poems on the Manawatu team as well.
A Papers Past search revealed that “Regos” is Turkish for “troubadour”.
On the President’s game itself, Alex Veysey’s indispensable biography of Meads from 1974 contains a photo of the President’s team. It includes former All Blacks Sid Going (Vice-Captain), Brian Lochore and Graham Thorne, a star in the backline. No doubt a more than handy and capable side to take on the current All Blacks that year.

 

New Zealand rugby union president’s team of 1973. Crown Studios Ltd: Negatives and prints. Ref: 1/2-190755-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22583350

 

Veysey writes: “One of the most affecting happenings in all of rugby occurred at Athletic Park, Wellington, on August 4, 1973, when Meads led the New Zealand Rugby Union President’s Invitation XV against the All Blacks. Though it was never officially stated, the occasion was taken by everyone – the great crowd, the players and, to be sure, the administrators – as being a tribute to Meads. For Meads himself, it was unreal. There he was, the supreme patriot of New Zealand rugby, leading his cosmopolitan side to victory over the team bearing the name he cherished most – the All Blacks. He found it difficult to walk into the All Black dressing room to pay his respects. He said ‘I’m sorry you lost.’ He doubts that many believed he meant it.  But it came from the heart.”
Here is Tula Regos’s poem on the famous game and moment in New Zealand Rugby.

MY HOMAGE TO PINETREE

The mighty All Black team went down
To the President’s Fifteen.
It was really Champagne Rugby,
A pleasure to be seen.
With Pinetree as their skipper,
Fourteen more famous guys.
The President’s Fifteen went out
And scored six mighty tries.
They thrilled the forty thousand fans
Who cheered them all the way
And when Varo scored the last try
It really made their day.
The old campaigners they were called
On radio and Tee Vee.
But it took the old campaigners
To show some strategy.
Now it takes a gang of Lumberjacks
To fell some old Pinetrees,
Yet a team of mighty All Blacks
Could not fell that gang of Meads’.
At the end of play when in his speech
He told them with a grin,
That he was sad to beat the side
He’d always helped to win.
Now this was all a mighty bluff,
He said it for a lark,
A return game he will skipper
This week at Eden Park.
We wish him well and hope once more
He really calls their bluff
When he proves that old campaigners
Are made of better stuff.
Whichever way the game may go,
We still will all agree
We will never find a forward
To replace our OLD PINETREE.

Poem © Tula Regos 1973

Article © Mark Pirie

Colin Earl Meads. Ref: 1/2-207960-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22737724

PANZA celebrates this year’s Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day, 25 August 2017, with a classic New Zealand poem by T E L (Thomas Edward Lloyd) Roberts b. Sefton 1873; d. 1952.
Roberts was one of leading poets of the Star group of Christchurch newspaper poets selected and arranged by PANZA Archivist Mark Pirie as a special issue of broadsheet, No. 12, November 2013.
T E L Roberts contributed poems to the Ellesmere Guardian in Canterbury prior to the Star and published the collection Rimu and Rata (1920) and two collections of memoirs about his time in Seddon and Motunau. He was a farmer and a well-known rural figure: Waipara County Council 1914-17; Executive Member of the Farmers’ Union; President of the Waikari Valley Sheepowners’ Assn.; and Secretary of the Meat Producers’ Union; he visited Britain and France in 1905.
Roberts wrote the memoir Motunau, or The Hills of Home, in 1946, same title as his poem below. His prose was reprinted in 1998 and is now considered a definitive history of Hurunui.
The evocative poem by Roberts certainly captures, in the tradition of landscape painters and Romantic poets, the beauty and locality of the place he lived in and roamed.
Like many early poets of the 1920s period, we are perhaps yet to fully come to terms with their contribution to New Zealand poetry.

T E L Roberts

THE HILLS OF HOME

A blush of rose is on our hills,
The sun is at the set,
The portals of the west are swung,
And many clouds have met
To fare him well and see him through
That shining gateway rolled,
That gateway with its closing bars
Of amethyst and gold.

How often have I watched him there,
In boyhood long ago,
A furnace on the mountain tips,
A fire among the snow.
It was but yester, so it seems,
And many mem’ries come,
As here I stand, grey headed now,
Among the hills of home.

The mako lifted forth her song,
That floated far away,
A vesper for the feathered world,
A requiem for the day.
But never comes her music now,
From all the dales around;
Her note is gone, that strange, wild note,
And once familiar sound.

She passed, and we who loved her then
Would it had not been so,
And long to hear her twilight call
Our children do not know;
But gone’s the home and, too, the flowers,
And our first loves with these;
Beneath the hills by Skylight Stream
Alone remain the trees.

We planted in our childhood there,
Neglected now and old.
Like battered frame with picture gone—
A story that is told.
We romped around their youthful forms,
We danced within their ring,
And there we felt the joyous thrill
When love is at the spring.

Still softly flows the stream as then,
The rocks we scaled are there,
Our bathing holes and fishing pools
Are still as then they were;
We paddled here with burnt brown feet,
And here we learned to swim,
And there on rude korari raft
That stretch we dared to skim.

How near to Nature’s heart were we
Who were the first to roam
As children quite unfettered, free,
Among these hills of home.
The spell of childhood grips me now,
The span of years is crost,
The scents of sweet wild flowers come down,
And all the man is lost.

Scargill

(The Star, Christchurch, N.Z, 24 April 1926)

PANZA Co-founders Dr Michael O’Leary and Dr Niel Wright now have their works published by HeadworX available in hardback, eBook and paperback at the leading independent Lulu online bookstore. Here are the Buy Now links:

F W N Wright (Niel Wright) – The Pop Artist’s Garland: Selected Poems 1952-2009

eBook version $AUD8.99

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

Hardback version AUD$35.00

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Michael O’Leary – Collected Poems 1981-2016

eBook version $AUD12.99

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

Hardback version $AUD40.00

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

paperback version $AUD24.95

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

esawxmassurprise2016cov

In the spirit of the Beatles who put out a Christmas record for their fans, Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop, the Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa (PANZA) and HeadworX offer to you, our friends and clients, this small token for your enjoyment.

Poems on David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, surfing, tennis, Christmas, poems in ‘inscriptive text’ by Niel Wright, and a short play by B. E. Turner.

Contributors: Michael O’Leary, B. E. Turner, F. W. Nielsen Wright, and Mark Pirie.

Download and view the free pdf of this book (file size 479KB):

http://markpirie.com/books/esaw-christmas-surprise-2016

logo_national-poetry-day-2016

 

PANZA celebrates this year’s National Poetry Day, 26 August 2016, with verses by a Samoan-New Zealand poet Sefulu Ioane, a Hamilton teacher of the 1970s.

Sefulu interestingly goes by the same surname as the well-known Auckland rugby brothers Reiko and Akira, two All Blacks Sevens players at this year’s Olympics in Rio.

It’s not known, however, whether there is a family connection between the three men.

Sefulu’s poem is a remarkable tribute to a deceased former Labour Prime Minister Norman Kirk (1923-1974), and breaks through the boundaries of politics, race and culture with poignancy and ease.

kirk

Prime Minister Norman Kirk. Macfarlane, Ian: Negatives of Graham Bagnall and Norman Kirk. Ref: 35mm-00277-b-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22910147

Perhaps one of the books missing in New Zealand’s poetry history is a reliable anthology of well rendered portraits of, and tributes to, politicians and including poems by poet-politicians themselves.

In the 19th century and early 20th century such poet-politicians/statesmen were the norm in New Zealand, e.g. Alfred Domett and William Pember Reeves.

Nowadays they are not so common but current Labour Opposition leader Andrew Little has delivered a poem in the House (republished in Tony Chad’s poetry magazine Valley Micropress).

More standard are political lampoons, protests and satirical attacks on politicians and their particular policies and taxes affecting the everyday life of Kiwis.

Former Prime Minister David Lange’s first wife Naomi published poetry (Itineraries, 1990), and Lange’s education aide Harvey McQueen wrote the sequence Beehive. More recently former Labour MP Bill Sutton has written and published poetry. His second book Billy Button: A Life was published this year by the HB Poetry Press.

Ioane’s poem is a memorable portrait in contrast to the usual political satires that have become well-known via newspapers.

The poem appeared in Norman Simms’ edition of the small magazine Cave, which he took over from the late Trevor Reeves, of Caveman Press. Cave became The New Quarterly Cave then Pacific Quarterly Moana then Rimu and later Cross Current.

TRIBUTE TO NORMAN KIRK

Poem adapted from the Original Samoan by Sefulu Ioane

I

They’ve lowered the balloon at Mururoa
Its airy splendor withers in quiet dissipation.
Nuclear fury now wallows underground;
Formidable wild boar of our age,
Tameless snorting sends tremors
To the dark confusion of the subterranean world.
In the brief hours of sunshine
The fisherman lays his net.

II

Once more, the star-fish are free
Dancing to the tango of sensuous rhythm,
In tune with the music of the night:
Tumultuous revelry in that twinkling paradise.
The Octopus is wise and a sitting majesty
Master of ancient ceremonies;
Its ritual, so clever
Was nearly forgotten.

III

Upon the reef, our mother, the sea smiles;
Her snowy hair befits her age.
Carefree children, gathering shell-fish;
Their hearts are gay, like their ancestors of yester-years.
Tomorrow is another day
But are now singing in the moonlight
And Trade winds bring showers
Of Clean, sparkling water.

IV

They say the Big Man, with the beating heart
And his friends, brought the balloon down.
Fearlessly that note resounded across the Sea,
Summoning warriors to the defence of Peace.
Was it madness or mere adventure,
Buzzing of the bee that the elephant should care?
Must the Sandpiper cry all day
Till its voice is heard?
I think not, but time will tell.

V

Yachtsman shared the sea with their Maori brother,
Faithful sisters, Waikato and Otago,
Obedient but gay at the altar.
The willing sailor whistles his tunes
Oblivious of unseen danger.
His country before him: the politician and the scientist,
Task masters of this century
Eagerly looking at Freedom’s eyes.

Sefulu Ioane, an associate editor of Cave; teaches biology at a Hamilton school.

(From Cave No. 7, c 1975)

[Sefulu Isaia Ioane wrote the Foreword to fellow poet Talosaga Tolovae’s 1980s book The Shadows Within and Other Poems, published by Rimu and held in the Archive.

Ioane also authored the teaching aid Handbook for Teachers of Pacific Island Children, 1977, 1978, 1982]

kirk2

Alongside the coffin of the late Prime Minister Norman Kirk at Parliament House, Wellington. Evening post (Newspaper. 1865-2002): Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: 1/4-021782-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22870322

Recently, the Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa featured in Jacket2, USA, in a series of commentaries by Vaughan Rapatahana on the small press and poetry scene in New Zealand.

“One such example of sterling input is the invaluable Poetry Archive of New Zealand. As Mark Pirie points out to us, ‘I co-organise the Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa  (with Dr Michael O’Leary and Dr Niel Wright, the founders) collecting poets back to the nineteenth century. There are more good poets than people realize reading mainstream historical anthologies of New Zealand poetry. I have realized this fairly recently after wasted years of looking at and learning from selective, academic anthologies ever since I was a student. Since 2010, I have edited the quarterly Poetry Archive newsletter Poetry Notes. This has featured many forgotten historical New Zealand poets and presented highly original research by myself, Rowan Gibbs, Niel Wright, and Michael O’Leary. The National Library of New Zealand online research tools like Papers Past have been vital to this rediscovery of early New Zealand poetry too. Poets like Robert J Pope, Ivy Gibbs, and A. Stanley Sherratt have had their work republished.’ It needs to be made clear that these three guys receive no emolument for their earnest endeavours and do rely on donations of both funds and poetry texts to proliferate their resource, ‘so very good historical and contemporary poets don’t get missed.’ Stalwarts all, indeed.”

Article: Slam, slam … & thank you Mams by Vaughan Rapatahana, in Jacket2 Commentaries, USA, 2015 (https://jacket2.org/commentary/slam-slam-thank-you-mams).

PANZA acknowledges the death on 11 April 2016 of one of New Zealand poetry’s major poets, Ruth Gilbert (real name Florence Ruth Mackay).

Ruth Gilbert was awarded the distinction of receiving the ONZM (New Zealand Order of Merit) for “services to poetry” in 2002.

Gilbert was well-known in her writing life and was widely anthologised in major New Zealand anthologies.

She was educated at Hamilton High School and graduated at the Otago School of Physiotherapy in 1938.

Chief among her works is The Luthier sequence first published by Reed in 1966, a remarkable work detailing the musical appreciation in her family between the poet and her father, a maker of violins. The sequence shared the Jessie Mackay Memorial Prize for 1968 with James K Baxter. Three times Gilbert won the award.

Her other works such as her Lazarus sequence from Lazarus and Other Poems (1949) were widely acclaimed in New Zealand poetry circles. She also wrote poetry on her experiences in New York and Western Samoa.

Gilbert’s poetry dates from 1938 and as recently as 2009, 71 years later, was still being featured in PANZA member Mark Pirie’s journal broadsheet, issue no. 4, with a cover drawing of Ruth in Western Samoa by Dr Michael O’Leary (featured below). O’Leary has written vividly of her in his doctoral thesis on New Zealand women’s writing 1945-70.

As a poet, Ruth stayed true to her lyrical and musical impulse for rhyme despite Modernist trends in New Zealand poetry since the 1960s, and was an early feminist poet.

Gilbert published a number of volumes, including her Selected Poems, 1941-1998 from Niel Wright’s Original Books in 2008. Wright did much to publicise and keep in print Gilbert’s work in the past two decades.

Among the positions she held are: President of PEN (the Writers’ Union); President of the New Zealand Women Writer’s Society; and a member of the New Zealand Literary Fund Committee.

Gilbert was 99 at the time of her death.

PANZA extends their deepest sympathy to her family and friends at this time.

gilbertdrawing

Ruth Gilbert in Samoa by Michael O’Leary, 2009

esawxmassurprise2015cov

In the spirit of the Beatles who put out a Christmas record for their fans, Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop, the Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa (PANZA) and HeadworX offer to you, our friends and clients, this small token for your enjoyment.

Poems on the railway, Auckland, cricket, netball, excerpts from Niel Wright’s Poetic Fish Hooks, and a prose piece by B. E. Turner from the recently published ESAW anthology Of Paekakariki edited by Sylvia Bagnall.

Contributors: Michael O’Leary, B. E. Turner, F. W. Nielsen Wright, and Mark Pirie.

Download and view the free pdf of this book (file size 527KB):

http://www.markpirie.com/books/esaw-christmas-surprise-2015