Thursday, September 30, 2004
Great day at Otaki. Dad's lemon and orange trees are doing well though the Tuis have demolished the Kowhais. Dad, Roishan, Rory and my nephew Campbell (5) drove down to the beach, and admired snow on the Tararua mountains, the beauty of Kapiti and Mana islands and, visible in the distance, the peaks of the south island. Then dad said 'Why don’t we drive down to the mouth of the river?' and we said OK. So we drove down over puddles on the hard track along the beach but Dad wasn't concentrating and has never been a good driver anyway and the car got stuck in the pebbles. The kids started to cry. So we left the car, good job it was a lovely late afternoon, and we walked a while before we saw these guys driving a pick-up truck. So we stopped the car and this Maori guy with hardly any front teeth and a moko popped out with his pakeha mate and they agreed to give us a hand. We had a fun bumpy ride back to the car. After quite a bit of pushing we got the bloody car out and took the kids to the park. When I got home I saw this job for a position at the polytechnic and wondered if I should apply for it or not. I mean why not? Kiran starts her new job as a researcher for the Justice department on Monday.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Monday, September 27, 2004
Ako Pai Marae
I worked last night on a new poem 'Pluto.' Not sleeping that well. Kiran bought season 4 of Sex and the City with my book tokens. Memories of Singapore. Watched Live Forever about Brit pop last night. God, 1995 seems like another workld now; a better world I guess. I'm off to the marae for a sleepover tonight for a Te Reo session so I'll be back tomorrow. Need a little more energy. We all sleep together on the floor of the marae, traditional Maori style. Arohanui.
Sunday, September 26, 2004
Saturday, September 25, 2004
I garden all day and listen to music. My neighbour prunes my trees. I go into the grove and turn myself inside out. I wait for the secret space. I wait and wait and wait. The kids walk to the diary and my PC gets a virus. I'm still waiting.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Which reminds me that yesterday I continued to work on my poem 'dealing in futures' chopping out the first verse, adding more lines until I decided that no way is this going to be ready by the month's end for the competition. I tweaked 'Decision' and will submit that instead.
Presents so far? Over the weekend I received a book tokens worth $50 from my Indian in-laws (not spent yet) and a Te Papa diary from the lads. I also received a hallmark card from my folks ("Son you are loved. Not a day goes by that you're not thought about and wished only good things") inside Dad writes "Many happy returns. Have a lovely day. Love you dad" and Mum writes "Hi Arcite. Have tried to contact you a few times but no reply. Glad that you are not in communications. Never mind will try again. Have a lovely Day. Mum." The card unsettles me somehow in a unreasonable, childish way, given that I feel that I call my parents about six times more than they call me. We are just not close, I'm afraid.
Last night I meditated and thought "what matters isn't enlightment, or God, or realization, or Duty (Hindu dharma, such a drama, end up dry and rarely a charmer), or lots of money" but the good. The good as in the caring, the sustaining, the loving, the nurturing, the compassionate, the awake. Am I a Platonist yet? And that good cannot be absolute must has to be bound to intentionality and to a state of being (grace or bodhicitta). The good knows no law. I think this along with the sense that we are all in flux and connected is my only spiritual understanding--but, hey, at least I'm trying to work it out now for myself rather than just reading a lot of dumb books or mouthing words or pretending a la my 20s, 30s.
Friday, September 17, 2004
Two weeks teaching in a low decile school. How do I feel?
Brilliant. Happy. What have I done today? A performance poetry class on Jabberwocky and a class reading of Billy Elliot. Teaching drama iz de bomb (Am I sounding Boston Public yet)?
I'm finding teaching high school more satisfying than teaching tertiary. Part of this is the new emphasis on drama. I don't have that ennui that I had in Singapore, that sense of setting suns. The kids today went ape when I gave them sticks, empty milk bottles, empty ice cream containers to make sounds for Jabberwocky. they were rude, noisy, boisterous, loud. They enjoyed themselves and then some of the slowest readers in the class got up--after shouting and nagging--and had a bash at the poem. I can tell that they are enjoying this class.
Yum yum. Lager. Yum.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Morehu means 'survivor' in Maori. I have NZ citizenship and I can't even pronounce his name. Yes, that's pathetic but it reflects the sort of education I had after coming from the UK (no Maori at all) compared with the sort of education my kids are getting. Roishan visited Ako Pai todayw ith his class.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Why is NZ good (patriotism)? Coz most 14 year olds read a novel version of Billy Elliot, or similar text, that skirts around gender though the dreaded ‘g’ word is never used. My mentor at the college—who loves vocab tests-- was telling me how proud she was of her kids for not making a big issue of the other g word 'gay' (Miss something btw)—and she also feels that a kid in the class is obviously 'gay' and the text speaks to him. And my mentor looks to me like a crusty English-teacher mam-type Anglican. I’ve said this so many times on this blog: as a Buddhist, I say God bless thinking Christians! I’m a card-carrying dharma fan, man, don't send me no spam, but in my book they along with non-cynical whatevers are the backbone on which the world rests, wakes up, and stands tall. (How school-teacherish is that?) Of course, she could worship SATAN.
Monday, September 13, 2004
Worked on 'glyphs' for just a little while between chores. Chip, chip, chip. Returned A History of Psychiatry to the library. Yes, I'd read it but will the next book ever be written? I suspect that it actually might not be feasible at present.
Rory (6) is going for a special lunch with his principal and some other kids because he's an outstanding student and was awarded a certificate from his school. Good lad.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Friday, September 10, 2004
Moves and lines, steps
your arms fling a gesture
and there’s this bootstomp glitter
sweeping time, thunking
always better with champaigne
oh to be a girl again
(and twice today when I’ve tried to write I’ve been interrupted as if to write was a call for conversation even though I’ve said, no interruption)
friday night kid, chill
i’m so tense and wound up
crabby nebulae, nova to blow
time to get to bar bodega….
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
- I'm out of shaving cream
- I can't believe how much some high school teachers teach: all the time
- I'm teaching performance poetry to 14 year old next week: Dahl, of course
- Good art teachers improvise with keen eyes and ears
- Most high school teachers are better at teaching that their tertiary counterparts
- Poverty, low self-esteem and racism are evil
- All that corny stuff about positive vibes coming from the heart is true
- Art history is an underappreciated subject--we still favour words
- Schools are total institutions--but so are families
- On a clear night in Wellington you can see the double stars in Scorpio with the naked eye
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
My career path is fractal, wasteful, multi-hued but never boring.
I was very happy with my drama class--they all did the exercises, drew the characters and developed them--I thought behaved well.
But the real teacher insisted that I leave the room whilst she berated them for talking when I was trying to get their attention. Oh, big deal!
I was actually a little miffed at this--after all, I had encouraged group work and performance. Which they did--so why was total obedience to the master needed? Beats me.
So a couple of 14 year olds talk while I'm talking and don't snap to attention. I thought they were generally pretty well-behaved. Remember: I come from an Aspie house & from Oldham, Lancs. We don't do perfect. Talking a little does not equal disrespect in my book--the kids were fine.
Monday, September 06, 2004
Worked on ‘Glyphs’: adding, cutting, elaborating, extending. Poetry seems to take more time to grow than ever before even though the initial sketch is always unthought, immediate. New title: “Dealing in futures.”
Reading Elizabeth Smither’s journals. So encouraging to hear her talk about a pile of rejection slips received while she was a writer-in-residence.
I’m increasingly interested in poems that explore a central image or cluster of related images—this is what characterises my best poetry.
A scene or exchange between two people. No witnesses. Neither person discusses the exchange with anyone or ever refers to the exchange again although the exchange is significant. What do we call this sort of incident? I’m interest in the private incidents which are never spoken or told to another. What kind of event is that? Surely this is not the same as that hoary chestnut of the repressed. Not to speak or mention something--is this not perhaps also a type of power or magic over the event by not sharing it with another? What are the ethics or limits of what needs or does not need to be spoken?
Good talk with Kiran yesterday re. The book project. Either we get more speed on it this month or we let the project go and give the publisher plenty of warning. We have more than a year to go so it is not too late but it’s been hard finding the time to write.
My first drama lesson tomorrow—most people don’t teach on their first teaching Experience but the drama teacher is unwell and I’m happy to jump in to teach drama.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
And it's good ole commercial father's day but as I got the DVD of Lost in Translation I ain't complaining…
Someone should tell Google NZ that the Olympics is over. Does the rest of the world still see Olympic-themed graphics on Google?
Friday, September 03, 2004
In the post, Brittle sends me a welcome compilation. I haven't had a chance to play it all yet, I tend to replay the first ten tracks & take it slow, but some shine on first hearing:
Dry your eyes. The Streets. This is getting a fair whack of commercial play here given the number of times I've heard it as part of the incidential soundtrack to my life that plays on other people's radio. Nice video, too. When you think about men upset, not many songs come to mind and those that do are often polemical; eg. The Cure's brilliant 'Boys Don't Cry' and the overblown 'Real Men' by Joe Jackson (oh dear.) Masterful understatement and pathos here as our heartbroke hero fumbles with the empty language of consolation: "plenty more fish in the sea." I will be listening to A Grand Don't Come for Free on the strength of this writing. Me and Roishan used to laugh a lot at 'Geezers Need Excitement.'
Blue Jeans. Ladytron. You can't get further away from The Streets than this cold, robotic, impersonal, frosty, mechanical, ludicrous song. If vacume cleaners made pop then the Hoovers would rock to Ladytron. Such fun! Kraftwerk in Camden; so very London suburbian Grammar school chic and let's not be snobby and northern prole and nod & say that there's nothing wrong with it at all..
Toutes les Nouvelles Parlent d'Hier. Orwell. God, I should practice my French after I finish next term's basic Te Reo course--though with my family trying to improve my abysmal Hindi would be a good idea. Anyway, my schoolboy French reads this as "All the news talks of yesterday" or, better still, "All the news is of yesterday." Then the song just blurs. Great song, very 60s Cream, a track from which speeds in a plane towards the King of Brittle.
More later, kittens. I have to shower and get ready for performing arts. Wish I'd slept better. Hey I didn't tell you what happened in last week's P. Arts class. We all had been working in pairs on developing a drama/dance class. The usual gruelling regime. Then at the end of the four hour marathon (with break) we we're asked to share our thoughts on the exercise we had worked on with our partner. One woman, Rita, freaked out and said "I felt totally fucking humilated and dominated by my partner. I'm a dancer and she's a drama person and she just took over and I felt like complete fucking shit...etc etc." I have never heard such an outburst in all my life and we all sat around the studio looking gobsmacked in a trackpants & sweats as we chugged water and tried to re-hydrate. Bizarre. Then the teachers go into damage control about how this can happen when you're working on projects, etc. I kept quiet but said to the woman who received the abusive criticism--who is strident and does talk a lot--that I thought that Rita should have chewed her out outside the class rather than blowing up in front of us. Don't spoil the performance. There are only three guys in Performing Arts (I'm such a girlie boy, ha ha--it's the dance component that the kiwi guys can't handle) and as we'd been split into groups of three I was the only bloke in this lesson. Ha ha. I hated their dance exercise anyway as it was so complicated and exhausting and I can't bloody dance for my life though I'm doing well at drama and mime.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
This is for Doug!
I sent them poems off to Baravod and this morning I got an email saying
Issue #3 is full but we'll consider them for issue #4.
So I sent a polite reply saying "Great but please let me know ASAP if you
don't find them suitable."
I'm not really annoyed but I'm a little miffed. Now, if you have a deadline,
say Sept 1, then really aren't you supposed not to start selecting material
until all the work comes in? You see, now the poems may well sit at Baravod
for a good long year until they make up their minds. I know that these are
small mags run but enthusiasts, good on em, etc...but now the poems have gone
into poetry limbo unless Baravod is doing well and intends to speed up its