Rugby League Poems: Carlaw Park and The Rapture In Reserve Grade

Growing up in Southland and Otago, I was a weirdo because I preferred soccer (football) and cricket to rugby. Rugby League was the code that dare not speak its name, but when I did see occasional footage, it was usually from the mudbath that was Carlaw Park, the then home of rugby league in Aotearoa.

For National Poetry Day on Friday, Mark Pirie posted a poem about, and entitled, “Carlaw Park”, by Francis Cloke. You can read Carlaw Park on the Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa (PANZA) website.

PANZA is a valuable historical resource on New Zealand poets and poetry that, in my view, doesn’t receive the attention it deserves. I encourage you to check out the site and read the PANZA newsletter – the latest issue has an in-depth obituary of Canterbury poet John O’Connor.

In contrast to rugby union, which has received plenty of attention from New Zealand poets and anthologists, not least Mark Pirie himself, and cricket likewise, I don’t know of much New Zealand poetry about rugby league. (If you know of rugby league poets and poems, please mention them in the comments!)

But I do know this one, because it was included in my first collection, Boat People:

The Rapture in Reserve Grade

Fifth tackle, and they’re kicking
when the last trump sounds.
The chosen players rise
but fail to catch the ball
as it spirals sinfully to ground.

It’s six a side in heaven,
seven left behind. No tackler,
no first marker. The halfback,
that cocky little rooster,
grabs the ball and scoots away.

No fullback, either. He’s
showing a clean pair of heels
diving beneath the crossbar
and taking the conversion
as the first drops of blood touch the crowd.

6 Facts About My New Novella “Landfall” (#5 Will Shock You!*)

*If you are very easily shocked.

1. It wasn’t always called “Landfall”.

My novella “Landfall” started life as a longish short story called “Pilot”, which was told entirely from the perspective of Nasimul Rahman, the Bangladeshi climate refugee who is one of the two main characters in the novella. “Pilot” was Nasimul’s nickname. But I could never get the story to work as I hoped until I introduced the second major character, Donna, the somewhat accidental member of the Shore Patrol. Their intersecting narratives now drive the story.

2. Why Bangladesh?

Bangladesh is one of the countries most at risk from sea-level rise. In 2007, 46% of the Bangladeshi population lived within 10 meters of the average sea level.

3. Sea level rise in my story has been speeded up from what is currently expected.

For story reasons, “Landfall” is set in a world in which sea levels rise over the next few decades faster than is predicted by the IPCC, which is predicting (to greatly simplify a complex matter) sea level rise of up to a metre by 2100, depending on the extent of greenhouse gas emission reductions embarked on in the coming years.

However, the IPPC’s sea level rise predictions depend on modelling which, when projected backwards, has generally given sea level rise estimates lower than actual observed sea level rise. My story imagines a very high end scenario, with catastrophic ice sheet collapses – which are by no means out of the question – leading to rapid sea level rise.

4. I thought the treatment of refugees in “Landfall” was far-fetched when I wrote the story. Sadly, it’s all too realistic.

In “Landfall”, a future New Zealand Government meets boatloads of refugees with torpedoes and machine-gun fire. Even last year, while finishing the novella, I thought that was more far-fetched than my sea level rise scenario. Sadly, this year’s scenes from Europe – and from Australia – have convinced me it is an increasingly likely scenario.

5. “Landfall” is shockingly cheap!

You can currently buy it for $2.99 on the Kindle and $3.50 on the Kobo! Don’t allow the after-effects of shock to keep you from clicking on one of those links!

6. “Landfall” is one of six novellas which together form Paper Road Press’s “Shortcuts – Track One” series.

Find out about all the novellas in the series – and experience more thrilling shocks at how reasonably priced they are, too – on the Paper Road Press website.

One night. One life. One decision.

That’s the great new tagline Paper Road Press has come up with for my novella Landfall – and I love it – both very true to the story and very stylish:

One night. One life. One decision. ‘ LANDFALL Kindle Kobo

So, if you haven’t picked up a copy of Landfall yet, get one now to find out what that decision is!

National Poetry Day, Friday 28 August – Updated Info: Lower Hutt, Wairarapa, Wellington, Kapiti, and Nationwide!

Janis Freegard Added To Lower Hutt Poetry Day Event

As I posted last week, I’m going to be reading at the National Poetry Day event in Lower Hutt on Friday 28 August. In addition to the excellent lineup of poets previously reported, Janis Freegard has now been added to the lineup. I have recently started reading Janis’ latest collection The Glass Rooster and am enjoying it very much.

With Janis’ addition, here is the full lineup of poets plus other details:

Where: St Marks Complex, 58 Woburn Road, Lower Hutt: opposite the Lower Hutt Library

When: Friday 28 August, 7.30 – 9.30pm.
Admission: Free. Open to all ages. Sign up for the open mic on the night.

We live in a land of hills, river and sea. We experience wild changes in our weather and our remoteness affects who we are as a people in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Much of our literature and poetry reflects our unique landscape.

Come and hear writers reading their landscape poetry and reflecting on what this means for them.

Featuring Anne PowellKerry HinesKeith Westwater – Tim Jones – Keith JohnsonAdrienne JansenKerry PopplewellHarvey MolloyJanis Freegard

Followed by Open Mic – Everyone is welcome.

Facebook event

Contact: Viv Ball for further information:, ph 027435-8543, 5895-868

Wairarapa Poetry Day Events

There’s a very full slate of National Poetry Day events in the Wairarapa – you can check them out of their Facebook page:

One in particular I’ve been asked to share is Selfie Poems:

Selfie Poems: In the Wairarapa, National Poetry Day starts at the midnight hour. From 00:01am, or thereabouts, take a photo of yourself and post it on the When Poetry Comes to Town Facebook Page with a poem of your choosing. Enjoy the poetry all day long, for one day only. Who knows where the words might come from? Wairarapa Word, the community organisation coordinating the 24-hour event “When Poetry Comes to Town”, welcomes poems from everyone in the web.

Wellington, Kapiti Coast, and everywhere!

There are also poetry events in Wellington – featuring Helen Rickerby and many other fine poets – the Kapiti Coast, and all around the country. Check out the full list of events here: 

National Poetry Day, Friday 28 August: Poets of Place: Landscape Poetry – with Open Mic – in Lower Hutt

National Poetry Day is on Friday 28 August this year. There are events all around the country, and I’ll be taking part in one in Lower Hutt. There is an excellent lineup of poets plus an open mike – I hope you can make it along, if not to the Lower Hutt event then to one of the many other events. Here are the Lower Hutt event details:

Poems of Place: Landscape Poetry and Open Mic

Where: St Marks Complex, 58 Woburn Road, Lower Hutt: opposite the Lower Hutt Library

When: Friday 28 August, 7.30 – 9.30pm.
Admission: Free. Open to all ages. Sign up for the open mic on the night.

We live in a land of hills, river and sea. We experience wild changes in our weather and our remoteness affects who we are as a people in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Much of our literature and poetry reflects our unique landscape.

Come and hear writers reading their landscape poetry and reflecting on what this means for them.

Featuring Anne Powell – Kerry Hines – Keith Westwater – Tim Jones – Keith Johnson – Adrienne Jansen – Kerry Popplewell – Harvey Molloy

Followed by Open Mic – Everyone is welcome.

Contact: Viv Ball for further information:, ph 027435-8543, 5895-868

My New Novella Landfall Now Available For Both Kindle And Kobo

My new novella Landfall is now available for both the Kindle and the Kobo – and you can now also read an extract on the Paper Road Press website.

Here’s an extract from the extract:

Wife gone, son lost to cholera back in the camps before he had lived out his first year, Nasimul shivered and heaved up his food and crawled into a nest of damp clothing night after night, and somehow survived. The ship drove forward. The temperature warmed fractionally. The sky flamed red at dawn and dusk: ash and smoke from Australia, someone said. Perhaps the whole continent was burning.

And then, on another night of storm and cloud, the New Zealand Navy came, destroyers surging over the eastern horizon. There was no point in running, and nowhere to run. The Jamalpur-2 wallowed in the waves and waited for the end, while the people aboard made for the last slender hope, the lifeboats.

You can find out whether Nasimul Rahman makes it ashore – and what happens next – in Landfall.

And don’t forget to check out the full Shortcuts series of novellas.

Landfall … in Unknown Seas

When I announced the publication of my new new novella Landfall by Paper Road Press, I also announced a competition: everyone who correctly named the famous New Zealand poem it’s titled after went in the draw to win a copy. Out of the entries, almost all correct, I’ve now picked the winner, and it’s Benjamin Dodds. Congratulations, Benjamin!

Simply by sailing in a new direction
You could enlarge the world.

Landfall in Unknown Seas is a poem by Allen Curnow set to music by Douglas Lilburn. Curnow was commissioned by the Department of Internal Affairs to write a poem to mark the tercentenary (13 December 1942) of Abel Tasman’s arrival in New Zealand. The resulting poem is an icon of mid-twentieth-century Pakeha nationalist literature, expressing the growing sense of separation from the “Mother Country” – a movement with which, in music, the composer Douglas Lilburn was also identified.

This is also the poem from which the literary magazine Landfall takes its name.

In 2015, those “sailing in a new direction” to escape poverty and the effects of climate change find the world shrinking away from them. My novella takes place in a near-future New Zealand in which refugee boats are met by Navy torpedoes and any who survive must run a desperate gauntlet to make it safely ashore. When political parties that have traditionally welcomed immigrants find it politically expedient to change their tune, the seeds of such a Landfall are all too easy to see.

Win A Copy Of My New Novella “Landfall”

I’m very happy to say that my novella Landfall has been published today by Paper Road Press as the fifth in their Shortcuts series of novellas, and is now available from Amazon for $2.99. It’s had its first review, too, by Lee Murray, and I think it sums up the story very nicely:
In Landfall, by Tim Jones, a survivor reaches the far flung shores of New Zealand, where xenophobia is the order of the day. A commentary on racial tension and the impacts of socialisation, this novella hit home for me in the light of current anti-Chinese rhetoric regarding foreign investment in New Zealand property. History, it seems, likes to repeat itself, and this dystopian future cuts close to the bone. With his typical raw and poetic prose, and a highly topical theme, this is a must-read for all New Zealanders.
Landfall is available in .mobi format for the Kindle and will also be available for the Kobo.
How to win a copy of Landfall
By commenting on this blog post, or by responding on my Twitter or Facebook accounts, tell me the answer to this question:
Which famous New Zealand poem does the title of Landfall refer to?
I’ll select the winning entry on Monday 3 August from those received and will ask the winner for their email address so their copy can be delivered. All correct entries will be considered.
I’m very happy with Landfall – I hope you’ll like it too!