Out The Tent, by Madeleine Marie Slavick

Early night hills move
to profile, wear bushy velvet skirts
with some outcrop warts

Coming closer, five feral cows
chew old rice terraces and step
down the series like a lesson in obedience

Crabs, shy in their uneven saddles,
scurry in grass as dry as newspaper,
their hole in one of these sands

Then boat engines chainsaw
at our thin tent, police angle shouts
into shoulder radios, helicopter lights scan our fear:
A man has disappeared

We hear the myths: a spearfisher
from a dark rock corner, diver and shark,
nightsurfer, swimmer in the undertow
of three great things: night and sea and solitude

We become different lumps of sleep
and wake each time we turn over
The dogs at the next tent sigh

One of us leaves to sleepwalk
and arrives at the wet sounds below,
a beach toppled with the unattached

Where is all the light from anyway?
The sky stays grey
and the tides patient,
rinsing everything out twice a day,
like new parents

Credit note:This poem is from Madeleine M. Slavick’s collection “delicate access”, poems in English with translations into Chinese by Luo Hui, and is reproduced by permission of the author.

Madeleine M. Slavick is a writer and photographer. Madeleine has several books of poetry and non-fiction and has exhibited her photography internationally. She has lived in Germany, Hong Kong, and the USA, and was until recently based in New Zealand. She maintains a daily blog: touchingwhatilove.blogspot.com.

Tim says: I suspect this poem wasn’t written about a night in the New Zealand bush, given the mention of old rice terraces, but it reminds me very much of nights spent outside in the rain in a tent, and mysterious lights that pause and move on. I’m a sucker for a great last line or couplet – this one is wonderful!

You can see all the Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog – the hub poem in the centre, and all the week’s other poems on the right.

The Men Briefly Explained Blog Tour: First Interview Up

I’m going on a blog tour to promote my new poetry collection Men Briefly Explained.

What that means is that I will be visiting a series of blogs over the next few weeks to talk about Men Briefly Explained. As the interviews go up, I will be posting links to them here.

My first interview is with Australian poet PS Cottier, whom I will in turn be interviewing on my blog in a few weeks’ time.

Check out the interview here – and look out for new ones:

27 November 2011: Of Poems and Men: Interview with Tim Jones, by PS Cottier

What Readers Are Saying About “Men Briefly Explained”

Readers are saying some very nice things about my new poetry collection, Men Briefly Explained.

Here are three comments from people who have read the collection:

Tim, your book arrived this morning, and I’m having to FORCE myself to stop reading and get on with the work I need to do. I am especially moved right now by “The Problem of Descendants”. It’s a magnificent book. – Johanna Knox

By the time you reach the third age of man you want to turn to the toddler pages and live the whole book again – Rachel Fenton

By turns poignant, insightful and laugh-out-loud funny, Tim Jones brings his trademark dry wit to a great new poetry collection. Thoroughly enjoyable! – Mary Victoria

This reviewer and this reviewer have said nice things, too.

We are approaching a time of the year when many people give gifts, so if you would like to buy a copy of Men Briefly Explained, here’s how to do it:

In Person

You can order Men Briefly Explained through your local bookshop. Please tell them the title, the author name, the publisher (IP/Interactive Press) and (just for good measure) the ISBN, which is 978-1-921-86932-7. They should have no problem getting hold of it.

Or – even simpler – just email me at senjmito@gmail.com and I will make sure you get a copy.


Here you have a wide range of options:

Go on – you know you want to, and based on what other readers have said so far, you won’t regret buying a copy.

Tuesday Poem: The Reader, by Robin Fry

The new anthology is here.
I read through it
turning the pages          on and
from its end to its beginning
seeking connection

And —
here it comes
surprising me at last —
the rare, the numinous one
like the flick of a silver tongue
light falling
from another room.

Credit note: “The Reader” is from Robin Fry’s new collection Portals, published by Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop, and is reproduced by permission of the author.

Portals is available directly from Robin for $15, sent to Robin Fry, 19 Bolton Street, Petone, Lower Hutt 5012. Robin can also be contacted by email: robinfry@paradise.net.nz

Here is an excellent article* from the Hutt News about Robin and her writing: Life’s experiences inspire words.

*Stuff’s page title is wrong, though – this is Robin’s fifth collection.

Tim says: I went to the launch of Portals at the Lower Hutt Library, which was a great success: 60 or so people came along, Jo Thorpe gave an excellent introduction which you can read on the ESAW website, lots of people bought the book, and Robin read very well.

I have been reading Portals this week and, among a number of poems I like very much, “The Reader” jumped out at me because it so well conveys the experience of looking at a new anthology and hoping to find one or more poems that take the breath away.

There are some fine poems in Robin’s previous collections, too – here are links to a couple from her previous collection, Time Traveller:

Riverine Elements

You can check out all the Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog – the hub poem in the middle of the page, and all the other poems in the sidebar on the right.

Why I Won’t Be Voting National

I won’t be voting National at this year’s General Election.

Now, this won’t come as a great surprise to those who know me. My opposition to the National Party started in the Muldoon years and hasn’t wavered since – so a government which is Muldoon 2.0, but with a friendlier smile, isn’t likely to appeal to me. I live in Wellington Central, and for the record, I will be giving the Green Party my party vote and Labour MP Grant Robertson my electorate vote.

But I think I have got some particularly good reasons for not voting National this time – and ironically, perhaps, they date from before the 2008 General Election. At that time, I was the Convenor (and I’m still a member) of the Sustainable Energy Forum, and, much to my surprise, I was invited to a lunch with National Energy spokesperson Gerry Brownlee and a whole lot of energy company heads.

I felt like a fish out of water, but more to the point, Gerry felt he was among friends, and he told those energy company heads, in no uncertain terms, that when National came to power the shackles would be off. They could forget any concerns the Labour Government might have had about climate change or the environment. You dig it or drill it or mine it, Gerry said, and we’ll back you up.

You could say many things about Gerry Brownlee, and I’d be happy to join you, but you couldn’t say that he hasn’t been true to his word. From the moment National came to power, they have shown a complete disregard for New Zealand’s and the world’s environment. While cynically promenading a “clean and green New Zealand” brand in international tourism markets, they have thrown the doors open at home to:

  • Mining in National Parks – yes, they lost the first round on that issue, but they haven’t given up
  • Offshore oil drilling in waters even deeper and riskier than the Gulf of Mexico
  • The mining of massive quantities of lignite in Southland which would release billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere
  • Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) to extract more oil and gas – a dangerous technique which has already been shown to lead to both groundwater contamination and localised earthquakes when used overseas, and which has been banned by France, a country not known for its environmental credentials
  • A massive and vastly expensive programme of motorway building to serve the interests of the trucking industry, which is also being served by National’s downgrading of our rail system.

In other words, National are taking our economy back to the 1950s and massively increasing our dependence on fossil fuels.

And how do National propose to reconcile all this with New Zealand’s international commitments to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions? They don’t, perhaps because the Cabinet is full of climate change sceptics – as recently as 2005, John Key professed himself among them. They simply hope that the international audiences to whom they promise action on climate change won’t notice what the Government is doing at home.

Now, there are lots of other excellent reasons not to vote for National. But New Zealand’s environment is the foundation of New Zealand’s wealth, and in turn, the liveability of New Zealand depends on the world having a liveable climate. John Key’s Government has shown utter disregard for any meaningful action on climate change, either with New Zealand or internationally, and complete contempt for the New Zealand environment. That’s why I won’t be voting National.

Tuesday Poem: Video Poems from the Book Tour + Radio Interview

I was going to resume normal Tuesday Poem service this week, but instead, here is some YouTube video from the Men Briefly Explained / Tongues of Ash book tour, plus a radio interview I did for Radio New Zealand’s “Arts on Sunday” programme.

If you think “I would love to buy one of the shiny books featured in this video”, here is how to do so:

Video Poems from the Book Tour

These video highlights from our Wellington event at the Wellington Central Library and our Eastbourne event at the Rona Gallery and Bookshop include (a) Keith Westwater reading (actually, this is the whole vid) …

… and (b) Tim Jones reading:

Radio New Zealand interview

Sonia Sly of Radio New Zealand interviewed me for the “Arts on Sunday” programme on Radio New Zealand. Here is the interview in mp3 format:


Next week, I promise, I’ll have an actual Tuesday Poem up on my blog! In the meantime, you can check out this week’s Tuesday Poems here: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com

Buy One Or The Rat Gets It!

And no, I am not talking about Men Briefly Explained. (A rat did take up residence at our house a while back – the cat brought it in, let it go, and proved completely inadequate to remove it. In the end, I played “St. Anger” at it until it ran away.)

I am talking about this rat, here: http://rosamirabooks.blogspot.com/2011/10/slightly-peculiar-love-stories-perused.html

Rattie has moved on from occupying Slightly Peculiar Love Stories to occupying Rosa Mira Books as a whole, and he has begun to make marketing decisions – like halving the price of both Slightly Peculiar Love Stories and The Glass Harmonica for this week and next week.

But that’s not all. The rat has let power go to his head, and he’s making publisher Penelope Todd draw a cute little picture of him each time you buy one of these ebooks. But, like a rodent Scheherazade who has had a gender change and isn’t married to the sultan and er I think I’ll stop now, his continued portayal depends on you, gentle reader, buying ebooks from Rosa Mira Books.

You don’t need an ebook reader to read them – you just need a computer. They are amazingly easy to read on the screen. And they are bloody good.

So go to it. Take the plunge. Buy an ebook from Rosa Mira Books, and keep the rat in cute little outfits.

The Load-Out

The Men Briefly Explained / Tongues of Ash book tour is over. I’m back in my home, Keith is back in his, our publisher David is back in Australia, and the roadies have loaded the last of the gear into the trucks … OK, I may have made that last part up. They actually loaded the gear into pantechnicons.

We travelled from Dunedin to Auckland via Christchurch, Wellington, Eastbourne, and Paraparaumu. Along the way, we slept under hedgerows, in deserted fields under the stars, and in the houses of friends. At our performances met up with real-life friends and friends from the Internet. We sold books. We signed books. We read organised sequences of words from books. We got in cars and planes. From the planes, we could see clouds. From the cars, we could see election billboards. We saw John Key a lot. We didn’t see Phil Goff. We saw Annette King, though – she came to our Wellington launch.

We didn’t have contract riders, but if we had, they would almost certainly have stipulated only macrobiotic food, a room set aside for meditation at every venue, and the removal of all the brown M&Ms.

Actually, I like the brown M&Ms.

Tim reading at the Rona Gallery launch event in Eastbourne. Thanks to Sally McLennan for the photo.

Sometimes, I read before Keith, and sometimes, Keith read before me. Sometimes, David read before both of us. I quickly discovered which poems from Men Briefly Explained worked well in front of a live audience, and which didn’t. I attended an excellent voice workshop for poets a few days before the tour started, and in tribute to this, I used my voice quite a lot on the tour. By our Auckland gig, it was showing definite signs of wearing out.

Seriously for a moment: though it was tiring at times, I enjoyed the tour very much. The physical touring is over, but now there’s a virtual tour to think about. Watch several other spaces!