Posts Tagged ‘Baxter’


Ok, I FAIL….I missed yesterday but today I’ll post twice to make up for it!

I have been reading with interest the Tuesday Poem thing that has sprung up and was hoping to find some great poem about visual art. I didn’t. There was “Ode on a Grecian Urn”  which I hate so….anyway I ran out of time and gave up pretty quickly. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

I did think about the associations between Colin McCahon and Jim Baxter and John Caselberg and his own poetry, some of which can be found in Rita: Seven poems and I like these two little quotes:

McCahon said that “words were necessary to get his message across”. He wrote in a letter to painter friend Patricia France that “poetry, before painting, is my friend. The one without the other can’t exist”.

“I WILL NEED WORDS… Words can be terrible but a solution can be given. In spite of a message which can burn I intend a painting in no way Expressionistic but with a slowly emerging order…” Colin McCahon to John Caselberg A Survey Exhibition – Auckland City Art Gallery 1972

Also McCahon’s scrolls – this based on Peter Hooper’s “Poetry is for Peasants”

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I am still working away on something BIG (well for me anyway) It’s all been quite laborious but nearly there. I have been thinking about the blog and just wanted to post about a few bits and pieces.

Last night I managed to get the launch of Vanda Symon’s latest crime novel. It’s a great book and I tell you Vanda’s frock was really superb too :-) Some funny moments to be had as well.

I was talking to someone about the intersection between art and my life. I ended up best summarising it by the day I attended Jim Barr and Mary Barr’s floor talk on ‘Kind of Blue’ at DPAG (entertaining and informative as always) with my handbag stuffed with the catalogue to the Tom Kreisler exhibition and a Farmers bag of Strawberry Shortcake training pants I’d just bought.

As always I have been thinking about the cultural heritage of this place. I’ve written something about it (hoping for publication some time some where) but in my research I found this wonderful website. I particularly liked the photo of the Robbie Burns Hotel.

Homage to Baxter – Resonance XXV – Robert Burns Hotel – (2000) Lloyd Goodman

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Today is Montana Poetry Day. I’ve been thinking for a while what I’d pick to post here on this occasion. Had to be a NZ poem for a start and apt somehow. I wanted to post Dryads by Martin Edmond but maybe a little too x-rated :-).

So I reached for “Under Flagstaff” an anthology of Dunedin poetry and found this, which sums up where I am at (maybe)

Dunedin by CK Stead
(Remembering James K. Baxter, 1966)

Evening where Taieri moved
between dark McCahon hills

fog threatened. You were back
in your aquarium town

wearing your flesh and blood
as if it belonged to you.

Would I get out? Would
it close on Momona?

In the womb we were all
fish. Once was enough.

Any bad-coloured sky
I’d have risked climbing

scaled any barnacled chain –
yet there you went, at home,

submariner for God
telling the squid and the skate

‘Open your gills, my brothers.
Enjoy the life of the deep.”

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My dear friend Helen H posted today about lessons from her garden and letting things lie fallow. Here in the COLD south we got in to double digit temperatures for the first time in weeks. People let their gardens lie fallow or plant a crop just to be dug in, in the spring. From this I am taking that maybe its ok to hibernate a bit in the winter months. Maybe even necessary.

Another poet friend Helen L put it beautifully here.

“I am a bottle of olive oil when you put it in the fridge – my usual sleek green goes solid, cloudy. I won’t pour. I am stuck in the vessel.”

But as you can read – she can pour, as the prose/poems on her blog show. And of course here, who needs a fridge? The olive oil in the pantry has been clouding for months.

I have made efforts to find meaning in my location (I keeping thinking ‘exile’) and have been delving into Baxter and McCahon’s Dunedin works. Yesterday I went to Peggy’s Hill but it was foggy and I couldn’t get photos. I read Baxter’s poems and in particular, the Pig Island letters. Not a good thing for a suburban housewife to do, as Baxter is harsh on us, although maybe things have moved along a little from 1966 (you’d hope…). The book “James K. Baxter: A Portrait” by W.H.Oliver has a photo on the cover. Its the view from JKB’s childhood room at Brighton, looking out at Scroggs Hill. I see this hill from the western side but I don’t feel poetic.

Sometimes I feel I am tracing steps, someone talks of a sketch McCahon made after seeing the ancestor portraits of the Settlers Museum. I was there yesterday. I look for St Matthews to see if the view is the same. Mostly I feel I am bumbling in the darkness. I have empathy for that relationship between Baxter and McCahon. I am looking for my candle.

..the painting [A Candle in a Dark Room] demonstrates McCahon’s high esteem for Baxter. This regard was reciprocated. The poet wrote to McCahon in November 1947 ‘I think you put onto canvas something I know about N.Z., but have not learned to say. The raw vitality and brutal simplification.’

A candle in a dark room (1943) Colin McCahon

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