the view from the tower

arcite's day

Thursday, March 31, 2005

The good news: Word-girl has had a story accepted for an anthology of very short fiction. There's a yearly competition in NZ for the best very short story. The winner recieves a $500 prize and the best 90 or so are published by Random House in an anthology that seels quite well here and has, in the past, received a fair amount of publicity on National Radio.

Yesterday was a frustrating, tiring day. The weather has turned nasty as only Wellington can and I'm feeling tired from my seemingly never-ending work as a student teacher. I had another evaluation from a teacher at the high school (the head of English) and tomorrow I'll be evaluated by someone from the Teachers' College. I'm only teaching for another 2 1/2 weeks and I have in total another four evaluations to pass: two from the college, two from the high school and then a massive teaching portfolio report that is actually due during the school holidays (I reckon because someone in admin made a stuff up). I'd like to say that I'm the world's greatest junior school teacher but it just ain't so--it's a very difficult skill. But neither am I terrible at it.

Anyway, at least we have something to celebrate at the end of the week.

...arcite at Thursday, March 31, 2005...

Monday, March 28, 2005

Cuba Mall

Easter Sunday in Wellington reminds me of the old tourist joke about New Zealand: “We went to NZ and it was closed.” ‘Dead as’ is how you say it around here. I got up and finished my poetry review then worked on that batch of poems for Poetry NZ—I’m struggling against the limits of my talent, as you do if you’re an amateur—and then finished the poem for the children’s anthology. God knows what they will make of it. I suspect that the anthology will never get off the ground anyway. The weather’s too overcast and drizzly for gardening.

Then we drove into an almost deserted Wellington. We park in Lambton Quay and Tyger sees the double-decker London Routemaster bus that he’s been dying to ride on. So we all pile on and it’s not too expensive at all and ride around Wellington in a double-decker. We then go for lunch at Plum café in Cuba Mall and the boys sip Coke and eat french fries while we read the newspapers. Outside, we watch a juggler throw knives and flaming torches on a variety of stunt bikes.

...arcite at Monday, March 28, 2005...

Friday, March 25, 2005

She plays an actress
playing an actress

she plays the house
for all its worth

but why after the finalé
does she dine alone

why that final tear
& on whose cheek

does it fall?

...arcite at Friday, March 25, 2005...

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

I have to blog this story from BloodySingapore because it upsets me. Obviously the rumblings of change heard around 1998-2000 have turned to naught after the succession of the son to the throne.

Singapore film-maker pulls political movie
Staff and agenciesTuesday March 22, 2005

A film-maker has withdrawn his documentary about Singapore's leading opposition figure from the city-state's annual film festival, after the government warned him its political content could land him in jail.Martyn See's short film focuses on Chee Soon Juan, a frequent government critic who was ordered to pay S$500,000 (£160,875) to Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and former leader Goh Chok Tong for defamation during the 2001 elections.See decided to pull his movie from the Singapore international film festival after the country's censorship board warned him he could be jailed for up to two years or fined if his 26-minute film was screened.Singapore's the Straits Times reports that the board had also advised festival organisers to remove See's documentary because it was a "party political film."

Under Singaporean law, local films that "contain wholly or partly either partisan or biased references to or comments on any political matter" are banned, the paper added.Despite its strictly controlled media, Singapore has been seeking to promote itself as a centre of Asian arts, with the international film festival one of its cultural highlights. Still, Singapore regularly bans movies, on the grounds that it needs to maintain ethnic and religious harmony in the south-east Asian country of four million.

Well there goes the promotion of Singapore as a centre of Asian arts. And all despite the recent call for a Singaporean Michael Moore."He pointed to how wacky political websites and show business figures such as film-maker Michael Moore led the way in encouraging turnout among young voters during last year's US presidential elections."

...arcite at Wednesday, March 23, 2005...
Teaching four or five hours a day does rush you off your feet, especially when you are often being observed. After Easter, I'll still be teaching at Capital Central for a few more weeks with a reduced load--my teaching load is extremely heavy for a trainee and I like to think that they are putting me through my paces to see if I'm worthy of being offered a job. I've also agreed to write a review for the poetry society, due on Thursday, so my time has been a little tight lately.

...arcite at Wednesday, March 23, 2005...

Saturday, March 19, 2005

My evaluation was cancelled at the last moment due to an impromptu full-school assembly. I'm a little shell-shocked from the school this week. I feel kind of dumb: not happy, not sad, but more leaning towards the blue than the red. But this mood often ties into writing and afternoon beer drinking. This week or so I've had three poems rejected by PNZ ('extravagent') but with a clear request in the letter to send in another five poems quickly to PNZ. This is a kind of a rejection but show me more sort of affair. Anyway, I stayed up late last night, sans ale, pruning, clipping, cutting, shaping. On the same day I got the reject letter the NZ Anthology of SF Poetry accepted a poem and I would have been crestfallen not to be in such an anthology. I mean, how crushing is it not to get into the obscure corners of literature?

...arcite at Saturday, March 19, 2005...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Capital Central feels more like a polytechnic than a high school. There's no school uniform and very few school rules. I am starting to teach an awful lot and there are no set texts--you devise all the lessons which is fun but time consuming. The school is located literally right next to a university so there's this interesting interface where you can't tell the tertiary students from the senior secondary ones. I'm being assessed today from the college--a very formal matter with many intimidating forms--so I hope it goes well, naturally. But I do feel comfortable with becoming a secondary teacher. I'm sure that this was the right decision. I'm not used to this feeling as I've had few changes in my working life.

...arcite at Thursday, March 17, 2005...

Monday, March 14, 2005

Another day in the multiverse
where will our thoughts take us?
what choices shall we make?
at 4.30 am i felt the quake
a train coming over a distant hill
pass the house
shaking the bed
& tyger crawls into bed
with such tiny brilliant hands

...arcite at Monday, March 14, 2005...

Sunday, March 13, 2005

“a flat iron in the window”

1. un chien andalou. tango argentinos (1928)
2. krafty. new order
3. the english motorway system. black box recorder
4. daft punk is playing at my house. LCD Soundsystem
5. some velvet morning. primal scream. feat. kate moss
6. no-one like you. strawpeople feat. pearl runga
7. see it in a boy’s eyes. jamelia
8. the golden age (101 mix). the flaming lips
9. face the face. pete townsend
10. maybe tomorrow. stereophonics
11. scholarship is the enemy of romance. billy bragg
12. time is my everthing. ian brown
13. passion. trinity roots
14. little acorns. the white stripes
15. just like honey. the jesus and mary chain
16. more than this. roxy music
17.interview. man ray
18. bring me the disco king (lohner mix). bowie
19. thank you jack white. the flaming lips

“every old sock needs an old shoe”

1. also sprach zarathustra. deodato
2. the andy warhol effect. strawpeople (nz)
3. blue in green. miles davis
4. brother. nesian mystic (nz)
5. burnt out car. st.etienne
6. cigarettes & chocolate milk. rufus wainwright
7. crop
8. a foggy day in london town. bowie & angelo bandalamenti
9. i want to be the boy to warm your mum’s heart. the white stripes
10. moments of pleasure. kate bush
11. sulk. billy bragg
12. treasure island. ck stead
13. vanishing point. new order
14. waiting for the moon. tindersticks
15. waterloo sunset. bowie
16. weekend. black box recorder
17. without you. brooke fraser (nz)
18. interview. max ernst
19. saturday night. suede
20. the last blues. john coltrane

Song o' the week: SF Sorrow is born. The Pretty Things. Minuit's 'The boy with the aubergine hair' also grows on you.

...arcite at Sunday, March 13, 2005...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

On Friday I start teaching one class of fourteen year olds A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a different class of Year 9 (14 year olds) a unit on poetry and a Year 12 class (NCEA Level 2) a different unit on ‘how to read an unfamiliar text’ (ie. an unfamiliar poem). I have till Friday to create all these units. I think for the younger class we should start with songs and lyrics and then move to the poems listening to rhythm, sounds and then metaphor and simile. You have to build all these resources and lesson plans up from scratch and there seem to be hardly any resources. We don’t even have access to the copy machines or the Net yet. But I don’t imagine that it’s like this all the time. You’re in the strange position of being a visitor to the school who’s also coming into teach.

...arcite at Wednesday, March 09, 2005...

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Catherine wasn’t at our four hour Performing Arts class on Friday; I suspect she’s working away at all those assignment due before we all set-off on Monday for four weeks teaching at a high school somewhere in NZ followed by two weeks assignment-stuffed holiday. We spend a long session on performance poetry: say the poem fast, then slow, as if frightened, as if horrified, crawling on the floor, as if appalled by the language, as if cycnical, as if the poem was a diatribe against human behaviour, as if delighted, as if excited, etc. And these, dear reader, are only the warm-up exercises for verily we spent another two hours on that skinny verse from a poem by Bernadette Hall. In these two hours we worked in groups of three to quickly present the poem in a variety of ways: I worked with Gail to ‘perform the poem as if two flirtatious soldiers’ followed by ‘perform the poem while pitching a difficult tent’ followed by ‘perform the poem as if it were a conversation between two friends’ followed by (working with music students) ‘perform the poem set in a tranquil underwater scene.’ By the last exercise I was feeling exhausted but I have to concede that these exercises seem a little like martial arts: drill the instructions into the body so the body knows what to do without thinking. I wished I’d studied acting earlier instead of leaving it until now.

...arcite at Sunday, March 06, 2005...

Thursday, March 03, 2005

4 nan

1. sweet child of mine. schmoof
2. heartbeat
3. sabotage. beastie boys
4. we’ve got a file on you. blur
5. point that thing somewhere else. the clean
6. plan a. the dandy warhols
7. moonage daydream. bowie
8. answering machine. the replacements
9. a fine day for a parade. fountains of wayne
10. highway 61 revisited. pj harvey
11. i can’t forget. the pixies
12. introducing the band. suede
13. little acorns. the white stripes
14. clock
15. my legendary girlfriend. pulp
16. krafty. new order
17. something better change. the stranglers
18. you’ve got her in your pocket. the white stripes
19. splash
20. such great heights. the postal service
21. tuis
22. not by wind ravaged. hone tuwhare
23. thank you jack white. the flaming lips
Word-girl just bought The Shins' Chutes Too Narrow when we met for lunch. Don't mind giving Shins and Sub-pop money.

...arcite at Thursday, March 03, 2005...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Tane Mahuta

We had English in a second-floor math classroom. Pictures of mathematicians and counting posters in Te Reo adorned the walls. I gave my presentation on body paragraphs and after they had finished the exercise I sat down. Sure, it had gone well but I felt this numbness tinged with melancholy that often follows public speaking in an artificial environment. But after a short video on Shakespeare it was time to peer review poetry. Catherine had already shown me over coffee her love poem to Tane. At first I thought it was a love poem to a guy called Tane but she explained that it was to Tane Mahuta, god of forests and also Tane Mahuta the famous tree. I told her that the best line was ‘sunbathing in your lashes’—especially since I now understand that Tane was a giant tree. My poem was called ‘brushwork’ but as Catherine didn’t ask to read it I kept it to myself and handed it at the end of the class.

...arcite at Wednesday, March 02, 2005...