A stick of dynamite

This blog has been very quiet lately, I know. In the last couple of months all of my confidence in writing, and in having anything of worth to say, has just been detonated. If we think of confidence as being a sperm whale – deep-diving, seldom seen by humans – imagine that the whale has become disoriented and has beached itself, and despite the community’s efforts to save the whale, it’s quietly died, and later the authorities have come along and put sticks of dynamite in the whale and exploded it. I’m not sure why this has happened. I’m not sure why I have chosen this terrible metaphor, either. It was an ignoble end.

I do have some blog posts on the boil. One of them is about the ontology of smiley faces. Brace yourselves.

In the meantime, I’ve posted a brand new poem by the poet Lee Posna. The poem is called ‘Ants’ and it’s over here under Things I Like. Lee grew up in New Jersey and lives in Paekakariki now. He’s also an essayist. I recently marvelled at his piece on hypochondria, Distant Stills In Our Lives, on the Pantograph Punch. He has a poetry chapbook forthcoming with Compound Press, a brand new Auckland-based press run by Chris Holdaway and Samuel Carey. Lee’s work is unusual and wonderful. I’m always unnerved and amazed and slightly daunted by it, in equal measure. Reading and rereading a Lee Posna poem sometimes feel like watching glass shatter over and over again – it always shatters in a different way. Whenever I hear Lee read his work aloud, I sometimes find myself thinking, ‘Wait – wait – can he really be saying these things?’ These are good signs.

This week I wrote a poem too, for the first time in about a year. I genuinely didn’t think it was still possible for me to write poems. I wouldn’t have written one if I hadn’t been asked to do it, but I’m glad I was. The poem was in response to Colin McCahon’s late beach-painting Walk (series C), which is on display at Te Papa at the moment. (I’ll be reading my poem there in about a month’s time, along with other folk who were asked to write Walk poems.) McCahon finished the painting in 1973, a few months after the death of his friend James K. Baxter. I could look at the painting for hours, and I probably did. I’ve spent the last month in London, and it was very strange to look at that painting of a lonely Muriwai Beach, on my computer screen in my brother’s basement flat in Brixton. (I did look at some other paintings too, at the Tate and at the National Portrait Gallery and so on. By the way, I wonder if anyone has ever done a study of the deep exhaustion that is only induced by walking around art galleries. I spent a lot of time sitting down on those long squishy benches, actually panting, my heart thudding, while the fitter gallery-goers sailed by.)

Brockwell Park

Brockwell Park

About ashleighlou

Person, usually on bike
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7 Responses to A stick of dynamite

  1. Tim says:

    Thanks for introducing me to Lee Posna’s work – I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t heard of him before. Such a strange, good poem.


  2. ejneale says:

    Les Murray has some interesting things to say about exhaustion, art galleries, sleep and the subconscious in one of his essays – I think it’s in _The Paperbark Tree_ out of print now, unfortunately. My copy is in another island at the moment so I can’t be completely scholarly and dig it out – a reminder to work on a better retentive memory, I guess – but I thought you might find it interesting if you don’t know it already….


  3. David Geary says:

    My feet hate art.


  4. Fergus says:

    You’re suffering from Stendhal’s Syndrome.


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