Posts Tagged ‘Heath’

For a few weeks I’ve been wanting to write about a chapbook I received from Seraph Press – Watching for Smoke by my dear friend Helen Heath. I wasn’t sure about writing this because I have a strong bias here. Helen basically kept me together last year, especially when I was preparing for the big move South!

However this is a stunning little book. Helen’s poetry cuts to the bone and I can frequently see myself  reflected back to me in these poems. It’s undeniably domestic work, mothers and family are central themes but never trite. It’s true and telling and honest. I am certain any woman can find herself in there somewhere.

The book itself is a small work of art. The books have a wrap-around cover, which fastens with a knitting needle or crochet hook (mostly needles) and have a cut-out through which the title shows. The cover is grey card, and it’s all bound together with red hemp thread. Publisher Helen Rickerby has put in a huge amount of work on this. It’s a beautiful result.

Cover image from Helen Rickerby’s website

The chapbook will be launched by Dinah Hawken on Sunday 18th October at 3.30 pm in St Peter’s Hall, Beach Road, Paekakariki. There will be bubbly, there will be scones, there will most likely be tea and coffee, there will be music. I wish I could be there. A momentous occasion for the Helens. Long distance hugs!!

And I’ve been wanting to post this for an age from Fairy in Rimbaud’s Illuminations. (for my 3 Helens – the 3rd being writer, Helen Lehndorf).

For Helen’s childhood thickets and shadows trembled, the breasts of the poor, and heavenly legends.
        And her eyes and her dance superior even to the precious gleams, the cold influences, and the pleasure of the unique scenery and hour.”

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Stuff (NOT the website) has taken over my life. I am feeling a bit like the Junk Lady from the film Labyrinth, overwhelmed by things. Which has led to a reduction in blogging – and other writing projects.

Several interesting things have come my way though. Firstly I was sent a great MP3 of Dave Hickey speaking (audio file here – its big!) He made some excellent points and I felt they were very relevant to the New Zealand institutional art scene. [Hatip MC for the link]. One take away message though for me was that art is an elective, not a compulsory course, so to speak. Art is a luxury. As my twitter followers will know, I can be a bit whiney about my relatively comfortable middle-class existence. Art (in its broad sense) is my luxury and I should probably appreciate that more instead of moaning that I can’t get to see more exhibitions or buy more books. Deviating a bit from Hickey’s view, and whatever their state, I am very appreciative of public galleries (and libraries!) as I get to see so much at very little cost.

I have also been very lucky to meet with some extremely interesting people of late and to read some great poetry. It’s been awesome to be able to help out a little by scrounging for knitting needles for the binding of my good friend Helen Heath’s forthcoming chapbook Watching for Smoke. This is being published by another wonderful Helen (Rickerby), at Seraph Press. Its very energising to be around people who are passionate about what they are doing and how they are doing it. In this vein, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Dean Havard at Kilmog Press, who produces beautiful handcrafted books and have had great discussions with poet Michael Steven. Kilmog has just published his chapbook Centreville Springs and its a good one!

All the literary talk prompted me to have a hunt for Fernado Pessoa books in Dunedin’s excellent 2nd hand book shops (reuse!). I had a great conversation with one ‘bookshop guy’ which went something like this:

“I am looking for anything by Pessoa”
“Oh, the Portugese chap? No sorry not at the moment”

I was so impressed that ‘bookshop guy’ knew Pessoa (and on my last visit taught me how to pronounce ‘Camus’ properly) that I ended up walking away with Rimbaud’s prose poems which was at the top limit of my budget. As this flying bookshop visit was on the way to a family outing to the Botanical Gardens I also ended up carrying Rimbaud and a copy of Edmund White’s ‘The Flaneur’  with me around the park which felt a tiny bit surreal.

The park has some interesting Peter Pan statuary. Apparently you can find these all over NZ but I found the detail in the base of this one a tad creepy. The statue is of Peter standing on a tree stump. In the tree roots are all sorts of creatures – and babies. It hadn’t occurred to me that the ‘lost boys’ were once ‘lost babies’ which I find a little disturbing and reminiscent of The Importance of Being Earnest where a baby was left in a capacious handbag “in the cloak-room of one of the larger railway stations in London.”

This baby looks quite forlorn in it’s tree root ‘cage’

On the recycle front so much has been happening but probably only of interest to me. But in the spirit of ‘recycle’ , here is a cover of Word Up – played on the ukulele. Yes, I have also been neglecting my ukulele fetish even though I am actually taking some lessons. WORD


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