Five Blogs I Like. Chapter 2: The Bloggening

Just over a month ago, I started an occasional series of blog posts under the heading “Five Blogs I Like”. Now it’s time for another instalment.

Janis Freegard’s Weblog: Janis blogs about matters that generally relate to her very fine poetry and fiction. A recent article about Poetry and Gender in New Zealand Publishing was especially interesting.

Incidentally, Janis is the guest reader at the next Poetry Café in Wellington, on Sunday 21 March: 4pm – 6pm, Ballroom Cafe, cnr Adelaide Rd and Riddiford St, Newtown. It’s great that Poetry Café has restarted in Wellington, and though I couldn’t make the first session, I’m hoping to attend this one.

Joanna Preston: A Dark, Feathered Art: Joanna’s poetry collection The Summer King won the 2008 Kathleen Grattan Award, and I interviewed her in 2009. Joanna’s blog is frequently provocative. She says what she really thinks – a valuable service to other, more timid souls!

Harvey McQueen: Stoatspring: Harvey is a poet and educationalist whose blog, frequently updated, ranges across Harvey’s long involvement in matters poetical, educational and political. I’m looking forward to the imminent release of Harvey’s new collection, Goya Rules.

Jack Ross: The Imaginary Museum: Jack is a polymath: a poet, fiction writer, critic and academic with a head full of fascinating and provocative thoughts. His blog posts are mini-essays which range freely across the cultural landscape.

Reading The Maps: Like Jack Ross’s blog in breadth of content, but different in tone, Reading the Maps is the work of a trio of bloggers who look at a range of cultural and political issues from a (mostly) non-dogmatic Marxist perspective. Always well-argued, often well-illustrated, and well worth reading.

So far, all the blogs I’ve highlighted have been from New Zealand. Next time, I’ll speed bonny boat like a bird on the wing to foreign parts to investigate five examples of the bloggy goodness to be found there. And that wins the prize for most mangled metaphor hands down.

Blogs in Their Summer Clothes – 2

This is the second in an occasional series highlighting blogs and other sites to which I link from “Books in the Trees”. In the first instalment, I said a little bit about the blogs of Harvey Molloy, Helen Rickerby, Giant Sparrow, Meliors Simms and Kay McKenzie Cooke. Here’s another four blogs, and one web site, worthy of your attention.

  • I mentioned in the first instalment that Harvey and Helen’s blogs had served as role models for me when I first set up this blog. That’s true, but going a little further back, it was Fionnaigh McKenzie’s blog Beautiful Monsters that first made me realise that a blog could be a work of art – not that I’m claiming the same status for “Books in the Trees”. Fionnaigh, who was another member of the CREW 256 “Writing the Landscape” class in 2003, is a fine poet who infuses her blog with the same spirit as her poetry.
  • I met Edwin McRae through the New Zealand Society of Authors Mentoring Scheme. As well as being a cyberpunk writer, Edwin is a storyliner for Shortland Street – so he knows the inside goss before anyone else, because he thinks it up!
  • Reading the Maps is a multi-author blog about literature, Marxism, and much else besides. I got in a bit of a stoush with them over their coverage of Bernard Gadd’s death and literary/ideological views, but I still return there regularly for refreshing literary and political opinion.
  • James Dignan has a website rather than a blog – but “Blogs and Websites in Their Summer Clothes” sounds cumbersome, so I’m not going to change the title. I have known James for many years – since around 1986, in fact, when we were both involved in organising Halleycon, that year’s NZ National Science Fiction Convention. A writer and musician when I first met him, his career as a visual artist and art reviewer for the Otago Daily Times has since taken off.
  • Finally for this instalment, I don’t know John Crowley personally, but I do know and love his fiction, which occupies a space all of its own, somewhere between metaphysics, fantasy and realism. High points of his career include Little, Big; the Aegypt tetralogy; and The Translator. He’s the only fantasy writer I know whose work has been ringingly endorsed by Harold Bloom

Enough for now. But I’ll be back with another five blogs (or sites) to watch out for sometime in the not too distant future.

Speaking Ill of the Dead?

I posted back in December about the death of poet and anthologist Bernard Gadd. Mark Pirie recently sent me news that that the New Zealand Poetry Society has set up a Bernard Gadd Memorial page and that Michael O’Leary’s obituary of Bernard in the Dominion Post is available online.

Today, I received a comment to my obituary of Bernard which provided links to a couple of pieces from the Reading the Maps blog which are critical of Bernard’s writing and political positions. I was inclined not to allow the comment at first – partly because it was anonymous, and partly because of the tone of the content about one so recently deceased – but in the end, I decided to. Since the article links would otherwise be buried way down in my archive of postings, here they are:

Bernard Gadd’s Quest for Security.

Bernard’s Fling with TINA.

My own view is that these postings, the first in particular, are evidence that left-wing sectarianism – that narrow obsession with “purity” of political thought and hewing to the correct “line” which keeps the left squabbling over trifles rather than working on real, difficult issues – is alive and well in New Zealand.

But maybe I’m over-reacting. What do you think?